The Austin Jockey Club has reluctantly decided to withdraw its application to the Texas Racing Commission to build a new racetrack in Pflugerville, Texas.
"We felt our continued presence in Pflugerville was causing too much controversy and was not good for the city," said Bryan Brown, Austin Racing Partners vice president and Retama Park chief executive officer.
Late last year, the club was almost set to construct a new track in the rapidly growing suburb north of Austin in Travis County. The Pflugerville City Council voted unanimously last October to let the club proceed with plans to build the facility, which would have had a one-mile dirt track and 240 stalls on 228 acres.
However, when the club asked the commission to render final approval for the track last November, the racing commission heard objections from a group called Pflugerville Pfamilies Pfirst. The group argued the proposed track would promote compulsive gambling and the legalization of video lottery terminals, an issue the Texas legislature is debating during its current session.
After a long discussion, the commission put the track on hold and gave the club until August to demonstrate it would serve the public interest. But the outlook for the proposed racing plant declined drastically in February, when the results of a non-binding referendum in Pflugerville indicated more than 70% of voters opposed construction of the track.
According to reports, the Pflugerville mayor and some city council members have recently announced their withdrawal of support for the proposed track.
"We are looking for another site in Travis County but have not found one," Brown said. "There is no time frame for going back to the Texas Racing Commission."
Austin, the capital city, is served by Manor Downs, currently in the midst of its live mixed meet. The facility also is open for year-round simulcasting. The Gillespie County Fair, located west of Austin, offers limited live racing in the summer but also has a simulcast facility that's open year-round.