Racing at Retama Park.

Racing at Retama Park.

Coady Photography

Retama Park's Future in Question

Employees hopeful there will be no major staffing changes when Pinnacle takes over.

The Texas Workforce Commission was notified the week of Nov. 19 that the 296 employees at Retama Park near San Antonio, Texas, would be laid off due to the termination of its management contract.

In spite of the news, however, Retama employees are still hopeful Pinnacle Entertainment, which in April announced one of its subsidiaries had bought a majority interest in the track, will keep the same team in place and will therefore not make any major staffing changes in the coming months.

Pinnacle, a casino operator which also owns Belterra Casino Resort in Indiana and River Downs in Ohio, said it will pay $28.8 million to acquire the share from Retama Partners Ltd. The company also will pay $7.8 million to purchase "debt securities and other interests," and "cash consideration" of $15 million to refinance Retama Development Corp.'s debt and provide working capital.

A spokesperson from Retama told the Texas news station KSAT 12 that following the end of Retama's meet Dec. 29, Pinnacle would begin managing the track and would make no new changes to the management team. Seasonal employees would be required to re-apply for their jobs as usual.

While track employees are optimistic that Retama's business will remain solid with the change, some trainers expressed concern for the future of the racetrack.

"If we don't get the slot machines in here, I don't think it's going to be open very long (before the track closes)," Retama-based trainer Fred Falldorf told KSAT 12. "The money is just not that good. I don't think people are going to stay around for that kind of money."

According to KSAT 12, the Texas Racing Commission will consider the effects of the Pinnacle takeover next month.

Also, during the next legislative session in January, the Texas legislature is slated to discuss a bill that would allow casino gambling in the Lone Star State.