If you’re reading this and you live near Washington state, I have good news…and bad news.
First, yes, there will be horse racing at Sun Downs this spring season.
The state’s horse racing commission awarded the Kennewick track its usual 10 days of racing — Saturdays and Sundays, April 3 through May 2.
So that’s good news for horse racing fans.
Cliff Schellinger of the Tri-City Horse Racing Association always said there would be a meet this year and he was right. “I was going to do it somehow even if I had to fund it myself,” Schellinger said.
He’s not nearly as enthusiastic about the following years.
“There are two things as to why I think that,” Schellinger said of his pessimism. “I think the county doesn’t want us out there, and the fair doesn’t either. And I think the (state) racing commission is running low on money.”
Understand, the state commission helps fund the smaller, or Class C tracks — such as Sun Downs, Dayton, Waitsburg and Walla Walla.
Follow the money, folks. The state commission gets a lot of its money from Emerald Downs in Auburn, and that track’s revenues were down 12 percent last year.
“(The state commission) made a lot of cuts to keep us going,” he said.
In short, there’s a lot less revenue coming in now.
Because of that (and training facilities require money as well) a number of trainers — including Bill Hoburg and Malon Cowgill — moved their base of operations out of the Tri-Cities.
Despite all of this, fans should expect the same high-quality meet.
Racing secretary Shorty Martin’s job will be getting enough horses to fill the race cards up.
“We’ve got the same amount of advertising as we’ve had in the past,” said Schellinger, in a press conference.
“We’ve taken on three Challenge races, in which horses from Texas, Oklahoma and Idaho are coming up. We’ve got the Pot O’ Gold trials the first weekend.”
Good luck. I’d hate to see the end of racing at this fine site.
If you’ve never been there, please check it out.