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Live horse racing under scrutiny in Great Falls


August 26, 2005     E-mail this page to a friend!

Cascade County Commissioners are waiting for final figures to come in before they can determine the future of live horse racing for the State Fair Race Meet in Great Falls. Three years ago the commissioners made a commitment to the public to sustain live horse racing through the 2005 season, at which time they said they would re-examine the viability of live racing in the Electric City.

Along with the question of whether or not racing is self-sustaining in Great Falls as it is now structured, questions have been raised by the Montana State Board of Horse Racing as to whether the state should consolidate live racing at one racetrack.

A series of state-wide meetings conducted by the MBOHR have already been held on the topic and another one is scheduled for September 10 in Billings.

As of August 23, Cascade County Commissioner Peggy Beltrone said the commissioners had some concerns about any possibility of making Great Falls the central location for racing in the state.

“We’re not comfortable at this point with the proposal we’ve seen from the Montana Board of Horse Racing, to roll the dice and give them a commitment for the next five years,” Beltrone said.

Financials for the 2005 season in Great Falls, which ended July 31 after 10 days of live racing on weekends, will hopefully be forthcoming in September. Whether they will be ready by the September 10 racetrack meeting date in Billings is not clear.

After financials are received and the commission has reviewed the racing picture for this past season, there will be room for comment from the community.

“We’d like to be able to have the decision and not have it pre-empted by the Board’s decision (to consolidate racing),” Beltrone concluded about the future of live racing in Great Falls.