Remington Park Forced to Run Quarter Horse Dates

The Oklahoma Racing Commission denied Thursday a request by Remington Park to eliminate its Quarter Horse dates for the time being and run only 65 days of Thoroughbred racing next year.

Following a marathon meeting attended by about 500 horsemen, the commission voted 6-1 to give Remington Park 34 days of Quarter Horse racing, according to The Oklahoman.

Debbie Schauf, who is president of the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association, called the commission's vote a "bold decision" that would protect the state's $2 billion horse industry.

Remington Park executives and officials with owner Magna Entertainment said the decision puts the future of the racetrack in jeopardy. The racetrack provided the commission with audited financial statements showing a $4.7-million loss last year. By eliminating the Quarter Horse meet, Remington Park had hoped to save about $2 million.

When asked after the meeting if the track would close, a somber track general manager Frank Deal reportedly said, "We're going to meet on that right now."
Magna's general counsel Ed Hannah would only say an announcement would be made in the future.

While Remington Park argued the Quarter Horse meet generated less money, Quarter Horse racing representatives said the trackês own numbers disputed the claim.

"It is a myth to suggest that it is less profitable to race Quarter Horses than Thoroughbreds," Terry Tippens, attorney for the Quarter Horse Racing Association, told The Oklahoman. He supplied the commission with charts showing the racetrack's average daily handle and average attendance were higher during the Quarter Horse meet than during the Thoroughbred days. Tippens accused Magna of misrepresenting the track finances.

Hannah vehemently denied Tippens claim.

"The losses are real," he said during the meeting. "Not only is the industry in crisis, but Remington Park is in crisis. The industry has to stop fighting within itself."

Remington Park's proposal would have consolidated the state's Quarter Horse dates at Fair Meadows, near Tulsa. Ron Shotts, Fair Meadows general manager, suggested the proposal during the summer because he believed it would have kept Remington Park viable.

"We're in a heck of a mess; if Remington Park closes, it will kill us," Shotts told The Oklahoman after the meeting. Oklahoma tracks have year-round simulcasting only because they can share dates from each other. If Remington closes, Fair Meadows and Blue Ribbon Downs near Sallisaw would lose about half their simulcast days. Under state law, a trackês simulcast days must be half the number of its live racing days.

Currently, Fair Meadows offers simulcast races six days a week and Blue Ribbon Downs offers simulcasting every day. Without Remington Park in the mix, both tracks would have a total of 56 simulcast days next year, according to Shotts.