No horse racing in Fargo in 2011
FARGO - Though the debt from the 2009 season is nearly paid off, there will be no horse racing in Fargo in 2011. The state's Racing Commission declined a request for about $308,000 to fund three weekends of races at North Dakota Horse Park in nor...
FARGO - Though the debt from the 2009 season is nearly paid off, there will be no horse racing in Fargo in 2011.
The state's Racing Commission declined a request for about $308,000 to fund three weekends of races at North Dakota Horse Park in north Fargo, said Winston Satran, racing director for the commission.
In December, the Racing Commission had approved dates for four weekends of racing in Fargo from July 22 to Aug. 14. The grant proposal turned down at a Tuesday commission meeting would have helped pay for operating expenses and purses for winning horses.
While the park closed in April 2010 because of about $150,000 in debts racked up in 2009 - the last year there were races at Fargo's track - Satran said those bills are almost entirely paid.
However, the bill-paying has left the nonprofit that runs racing at the park, Horse Race North Dakota, with little in its reserve accounts, Satran said.
"It's disappointing, but we all have to take a mature look at this," he said.
Mike Cichy, president of Horse Race North Dakota, said race organizers agreed with the commission that there wasn't enough cash available to go ahead with Fargo races this summer.
"We have to get there a year from now," he said.
Satran said the proposal for Fargo racing called for $144,000 from the state's purse fund and $163,500 out of the promotion fund.
Covering the expenses of a weekend of Fargo racing costs roughly $95,000, Satran said. Unavoidable overhead runs about $50,000 per weekend, Cichy said.
Off-track betting supplies Horse Race North Dakota with the bulk of its income, but simulcast parlors are on the decline, Cichy said. He hopes to see an increase in online horse wagering.
"That's where the money has to come from," he said.
With the goal of having $200,000 in the bank to fund a four-week season, Cichy puts the odds at 50 percent that racing could return to Fargo in 2012.
Satran said three weeks is likely the shortest the Fargo racing season could be and still remain plausible for horse owners.
"One weekend of racing is not logical," he said.
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are both Forum Communications Co. newspapers.