Posted: Feb 25, 2013 8:43 PM by Erin Schermele - MTN News
It's been two years since horse racing has come to the Montana ExpoPark, but a Great Falls group is hoping to see that change.
When electronic gaming came into the picture in the 80's, horse racing handles slowly started to decrease; now, they are almost non-existent across the state.
But the Montana Board of Horse Racing along with turf clubs across the state are working toward a change.
Live racing in Montana used to span 120 days from May to October.
For the summer of 2013, the Board of Horse Racing is proposing a 25-day circuit in hopes of reviving the sport.
Tom Tucker of the Montana Board of Horse Racing said, "'We have about $90,000 set aside, which is not enough to help all the race tracks but there's enough interest out there especially with the Great Falls Turf Club to try to get at least a few days of racing, with the hopes and anticipation that next year we will have more revenue and build upon that."
The money comes from a percentage of gaming revenue, and will be split between cities who have applied to host part of the circuit.
So far, four communities are in the running.
Chuck Olson, Montana ExpoPark Advisory Board chair, said, "Horse racing has been down nationwide for a few years. It's a tough go with how the economy has been, fuel prices have been up. It's tough. If everyone doesn't open their races it's hard for it to be worth the while. "
But before Great Falls can be considered, the idea must by passed by Cascade County Commissioners.
Tucker says the turf club has created a solid plan with plenty of passion to get horse racing to another chance: "There is that love for it. People that aren't in the industry don't quite understand it, but there is a tremendous passion. It won't die."
The Turf Club will present their proposed budget and proposal for horse racing to the County Commissioners on Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. at the Paddock Club.