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Montana tracks put in date requests


December 1, 2006     E-mail this page to a friend!

Race date applications to the Montana State Board of Horse Racing (MBOHR) were due November 1. By that date in Kalispell, Flathead County Commissioners made it plain they would not pursue live horse racing at the Northwest Montana Fair for this season or in the future. This news came despite the fact that 7,000 fewer people attended the fair this summer. Commissioners noted that regardless of the drop in attendance, revenues were up by over $70,000.

However, a new venue for live horse racing may be approved in the state. Pikuni Racing in Browning has requested three race days on July 12, 13 and 14. Great Falls has requested an identical schedule to last year’s dates, which this year includes July 14, 15, 21, 22, and 27, 38 and 29. The final weekend is the first weekend of the State Fair in Great Falls.

Representative for Pikuni Racing, Patrick Blackweasel, explained that a half-mile track has been in existence in Browning for about four years, and the Blackfeet are interested in state-sanctioned pari-mutuel horse racing.

“We’re still in the planning process,” Blackweasel said. He explained the organization, Pikuni Horse Racing Commission, is a new group of local volunteers.

“We have 100 brand-new stalls, and we’re probably going to rent some more to have a meet. It’s basically in the planning process.”

The group’s requested race dates are during the North American Indian Days, which are held from July 12 through 15.

A date hearing of the MBOHR on December 16 in Helena is intended to finalize date requests with the board and should determine whether the conflicting dates with Pikuni Racing and Great Falls pose a serious problem.

Miles City Bucking Horse Racing begins the live racing season in the state with a request for dates of May 13, 19 and 20. Missoula is requesting the traditional six-day run during the Western Montana Fair from August 7 through 12. Yellowstone Downs in Billings is requesting August 17 and 18, which dates fall during the Montana Fair at MetraPark, and August 25 and 26 and September 2, 3, 8, 9, 15, and 16.

The Western Montana Fair in Missoula has once again opted to host an MBNA Supplemental Challenge race through AQHA. AQHA contributes matching funds towards the purse for Supplemental races at tracks where MBNA Challenge races are not run. Yellowstone Downs in Billings has also applied for Supplemental race funds.

Toni Hinton, race manager for Missoula, was able to procure a $10,000 grant for promotion and marketing of live racing at the Western Montana Fair through the AQHA. Hinton recently attended the AQHA Racing Conference in Grand Prairie, Texas, where her PowerPoint presentation earned her the winning grant among B tracks in the country.

Websites for horse racing across the state are as follows. For all sites except Yellowstone Downs, follow the links for horse racing to find race information:
www.buckinghorsesale.com; www.westernmontanafair.com; www.yellowstonedowns.com; and www.montanastatefair.com.