Oregon bill threatens future of local horseracing

MEDFORD, Ore.– Oregon Senate Bill 871, sponsored by Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, would prohibit anyone from holding exhibition racing in the state. Violators of the ban would be subject to jail time and a fine.

“I’m really disappointed in the way our system works,” said Josephine County Commissioner Dan DeYoung. He joined his fellow board of commissioners in sending a letter to Oregon State Legislators, saying racehorses live healthy lives.

It says while horse racing involves risks, the benefits to racehorses as well as spectators and horse owners far outweigh those risks. Not to mention the heap of money that’s gone into upgrading the grants pass fairgrounds in the past few years. It’s currently the only horse racing track in the state.

“To get this far into it… I’m not talking tens of thousands of dollars, I’m talking millions of dollars invested in this venture,” said DeYoung.

Randy Evers, president of Grants Pass Downs, says he’s not too worried about the situation. There are several steps the bull must go through before his company faces any real threat.

Evers said, “Its our understanding the bill probably wont go anywhere this session. We want to understand more clearly the concerns that Senator Courtney has. We believe we have a really good, fun, safe racing experience at grants pass downs.”

Evers says despite the improbability of the bill becoming law now, he appreciates the county backing him and his business.

He says, “We heard several local legislators also speak very passionately about our CEO Travis Boersma’s commitment to the economic development of horseracing in southern Oregon.”

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