Horse racing meets expected to be held this summer at Grants Pass Downs under SOHRA

GRANTS PASS, Ore — A local organization is aiming to keep horse racing alive in the state, following the Grants Pass Downs’ recent decision to not hold meets this summer.

Southern Oregon Horse Racing Association informed NBC5, that it filed to host seven fair horse racing meets at the Downs beginning in June. Rod Lowe, recently re-elected as president of the association, said the move was made last minute – in an effort to ensure there was some form of racing in the next few months.

“Our passion and goal is to keep horse racing not only in southern Oregon but in the state,” Lowe said. “We as an association and stakeholders were concerned that this would be the end of horse racing in Oregon.”

In February, the Oregon Racing Commission voted to formally deny historic horse racing (HHR) machines to the Flying Lark. Weeks prior, the Grants Pass Downs noted that it would not hold a commercial racing season if the Flying Lark could not open.

Owner Travis Boersma, informed ORC commissioners during the February meeting that he would personally fund this year’s horse racing events out of pocket. After announcing the dates for the races, the Grants Pass Downs canceled the season because it, “lost its economic engine” as a result of the denial of the Flying Lark.

RELATED: Grants Pass Downs cancels horse racing season

According to Lowe, the difference with fair races compared to the Downs’ traditional commercial racing, is that betting can only be done at the facility and will not be televised.

“It will be seven days of racing compared to commercial of 35,” Lowe said. “Once TMB racing decided to cancel meets this year, several associations involved in horse racing wanted to put something together.”

Lowe said the Oregon Racing Commission will hold a special meeting next week to discuss the races and licensure. If approved, meets will be held on June 19-21st, June 27th-28th, and July 3rd-4th. He thanked Boersma and TMB racing for helping the initative including buying necessary equipment.

“We’re hoping the community will get behind us. We’ve made a lot of progress and headway, to make an easy transition,” Lowe said. “Everybody has come together and really helped us make a good transition. I think it will be good for the racing industry.”

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