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Glenn Pursley, Published July 18 2012

North Dakota Horse Park officials excited about future

FARGO – If last weekend was any indication of the future of horse racing in Fargo, Mike Weiss isn’t betting against the North Dakota Horse Park.

“I’m really excited about this week,” said Weiss, manager of the Horse Park located in north Fargo. “Last weekend was a lot of work and getting prepared, and it was so satisfying and gratifying to see the crowd just keep coming and coming and seeing how much fun everyone was having.”

The Horse Park was closed in April of 2010 after falling nearly $150,000 in debt. Last weekend’s event marked its first races since 2009.

Jad Breiner has been the general manger of the Horse Park since it opened back in 2005. He was blown away by the 5,200 fans attending the Horse Park last Saturday and Sunday.

“Really, it was better than expected,” Breiner said. “It was a really good crowd. A lot of people came out to see us up and running again. It’s nice to have everyone come out and show their support.”

The two-day debut drew crowds of nearly 3,000 fans last Saturday and 2,200 last Sunday.

Last Saturday, the Horse Park ran eight races and brought in $42,000 from betting. With nine races on Sunday, the Horse Park raked in $47,500 – the largest handle ever at the Horse Park.

With one successful weekend of races under his belt, Weiss said he can feel the excitement growing in the community.

“As I spent more days here in Fargo, everywhere I walk into people are talking about the races, I’ve heard it,” Weiss said.

With the last races of the season being held this Saturday and Sunday, it seems horse racing may have just galloped through, but the success of this meet plays a vital role in the Horse Park’s future.

“I really hope that we have another successful weekend and great crowds, but what I’m looking forward to is the future,” Weiss said. “I’m hopeful that next year it’s a longer period and that we can bring it back on a regular basis. You are bringing people into town and also supporting local farmers, feed stores and veterinarians … it trickles down into the community”

The influx of races would not only benefit the community but also pave the way to a level horse racing in North Dakota.

“As this starts to grow and you have more racing dates our park can go to different extremes like the importing and exporting of races,” Weiss said.

The importing of races would allow patrons attending an event in Fargo to not only place bets on local races, but bet on races at participating tracks around the country.

On the other hand, exporting races would put Fargo on the map and bring in money from patrons betting from outside of North Dakota.

Being able to import and export races would build the prize pools and strengthen the payouts and in turn draw larger betting crowds.

“Everyone was so pleased with this weekend,” Weiss said. “I don’t know how to explain it. The first weekend went awesome and I just want to see the same this weekend. And I think it will.”