GRANTS PASS, Ore.– Fathers everywhere were being celebrated today and for some families, that celebration meant going to the horse track.
In the first weekend of races at the Grants Pass Downs, father’s got in for free and tried their luck at making the day even better.
“Grants Pass is the lynch pin of the summer season. No doubt,” said Jack McGrail, executive director of the Oregon Racing Commission.
It may not be the Kentucky Derby but for everyone involved, the excitement on opening weekend at the Grants Pass Downs is just the same.
“There’s tremendous community support as far as our fans and the businesses and our corporate sponsors,” said Tag Wotherspoon, marketing director for the Southern Oregon Horse Racing Association. “So this really means a lot to the community.”
And on a day like Father’s Day, it’s tradition for some families in the community to come out and celebrate.
“I get the most out of it. I very seldom miss a day,” said Donald Chandler.
For Chandler and his family, the passion for horse racing has been passed down through the generations. Chandler, himself, has been coming to the Grants Pass Downs for some 20 years and on each Father’s Day his family makes sure to be there with him.
“Actually they came up from Redding today, to come up here to be with us because it’s a family event.”
That devotion is just one part. Plenty of other fans come from far and wide to take part in this nine day event. Each summer bringing what organizers estimate is $8 to $10 million.
“It’s a great thing for this community. wWe have horsemen that come from Arizona, Washington, Idaho, Montana, California, Oregon,” said Wotherspoon. “People come from all over because they enjoy coming to Grants Pass Downs.”
For families like Chandler’s, they count themselves as one of the many that love what the track brings, especially on Father’s Day.
“We make it a picnic,” he said. “It’s good clean fun, we enjoy ourselves and we enjoy the sport.”
NBC5 News Reporter Miles Furuichi graduated from Chapman University with degrees in English and Journalism. He received post graduate experience in Los Angeles in photojournalism and commercial photography. He also spent time in Dublin, Ireland working in print journalism and advertising.
Miles is a Rogue Valley native, raised in Ashland. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking and photography.