Racing Likely to Return to Yavapai in 2013

Racing Likely to Return to Yavapai in 2013
Photo: Coady Photography
Yavapai Racing

While it could see a new name, plans call to reopen Yavapai Downs in 2013 after a bankruptcy court approved this week a prominent Arizona horsemen's purchase of the Prescott Valley, Ariz. track.

Thoroughbred owner Gary Miller purchased the property out of bankruptcy for $5.5 million and plans to run the usual 60-day summer meeting in 2013 beginning Memorial Day weekend. The track has not raced since 2010 and last year former owner Yavapai County Farm and Agriculture Association filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The largest creditor out of that bankruptcy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Rural Development with more than $14 million owed on a loan, has initially agreed to the $5.5 million purchase by Miller but there will be a couple months allowed for due diligence before final approval.

Miller is a former executive with mining company Asarco and he currently is a commodities trader. While he serves as president of the Arizona Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, he purchased the track on his own.

Tom Metzen, executive director of the Arizona HBPA, said the return of the summer race meeting will be important for both horsemen and the Prescott Valley community. He noted that without summer racing, many local horsemen either had to ship long distances or rest their horses until the start of the Turf Paradise meet.

"They're the happiest people in the world right now," Metzen said of Arizona horsemen.

Metzen said a network of off-track betting venues has served the state well and he is confident that a revamped meet at Yavapai, which he said could see a name change, will succeed. Metzen said civic and business leaders rallied behind bringing back the races.

"The community is completely behind it," Metzen said. "I think they always enjoyed the races but when the meet stopped, I think a lot of people realized the nice thing they had. They worked to get it back. We've had people offer to work for free to get the track back up and running."

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