North Dakota Sets Racing Dates for New Track

A racetrack is part of the plan for the North Dakota Horse Park, a multi-purpose facility tied to the North Dakota State University's equine studies program.

The foundation has announced race dates for 2003 for Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, and other breeds. There will be 13 days of racing from Aug. 22-Sept. 14 at the facility located just north of Fargo.

According to the foundation, the North Dakota Racing Commission has provided $300,000 for purses, and another $100,000 in breed incentives for North Dakota-breds. Purses for the inaugural meet will average about $3,000.

North Dakota is home to limited mixed-meet and Standardbred racing at fairs, but it has a successful simulcasting network that has grown exponentially in recent years. Even with very little live racing, handle on horse and dog races totaled $86.5 million in 1999.

Various industry participants have pushed for a longer meet at a new racetrack. The North Dakota Horse Park, located on 113 acres, will have a 6 1/2-furlong racing surface that will accommodate races from 220 yards to 1 1/2 miles. The track will use a 10-horse starting gate.

The first phase of construction calls for a temporary grandstand, though a permanent structure is part of the second and third phases.

The university, which owns 14 acres at the site, has begun construction of a 400-stall barn that will be available for use by racehorses. The horse park will also be used for horse shows, rodeos, clinics, and fairs.