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Archive for Sunday, July 5, 2009

Smaller Kansas racetracks face uncertain future

July 5, 2009

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— Two small-town Kansas racetracks face an uncertain future with the loss of simulcasting revenue after two larger tracks closed.

The state’s small tracks have depended on the larger ones since 1992 when the Kansas Legislature approved simulcasting and gave a third of the taxes from wagers to the smaller tracks to pay for operations and purses. With simulcasting, racetracks air races live at other locations to get more bets.

Stephen Martino, executive director of the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission in Topeka, said Eureka Downs in eastern Kansas and Anthony Downs in south-central Kansas will likely become “collateral damage” in the collapse of the state’s racing industry.

“These tracks face an enormous challenge to construct budgets and put on programs that will attract horse owners to race and spectators to wager and watch,” Martino said.

The tracks have long histories: Eureka Downs was established in 1872, and Anthony Downs was built in 1904.

But they have been struggling since Wichita Greyhound Park closed in 2007 and The Woodlands dog and horse track near Kansas City closed last year.

Rita Osborn, general manager at Eureka Downs, said she would like to find ways to keep the track open next spring.

Dan Bird, of Anthony Downs, said he’s relatively sure the Anthony track will close.

“The racing side is out of funds,” he said.

Anthony received $168,000 in simulcasting money generated by the larger tracks in 2008, down from $185,000 the year before. Eureka got $215,000, down from $438,387.

The tracks won’t get any money next year.

Eureka Downs had its last race of the year scheduled on Saturday. Anthony Downs has races scheduled July 10-12 and July 17-19.

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