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Published August 18 2012

Forum editorial: Good signs for Fargo horse park

The North Dakota Horse Park is not out of the financial woods, but the short racing season this summer is a good sign that the situation can get better.

The park put on two weekends of racing at the north Fargo track in July. Attendance topped 7,000. Horse owners liked what they saw and returned to the park (closed for a couple of seasons) in strong numbers. By all accounts, both weekends were very successful.

The park’s financial troubles have not gone away. But to the credit of the park’s managers, the North Dakota Racing Commission and out-of-state wagering companies, enough money was available for the abbreviated 2012 season. The potential of the Fargo facility was once again demonstrated, and there is some renewed hope the track can work its way to a sounder financial footing. If that happens, summer horse racing might become a routine attraction of the Fargo summer scene.

The attendance factor in July is important. First, the track had been inactive for two summers. It would have been no surprise if the public had written off horse racing. But just the opposite was demonstrated last month. Good crowds turned out.

Second, fans of horse racing came out in the hottest, most humid weather of the summer. With the mercury flirting with triple-digit afternoon highs, it was feared attendance would be low. It was higher than expected, proving again that horse racing at the beautiful park has a dedicated fan base.

It’s never been easy for the Horse Park to negotiate both the politics and financial pitfalls of horse racing in North Dakota. It seems, however, that most of the pettiness and jealousies that emerged when the Fargo park was proposed and built have dissipated. The July success confirms there is room for horse racing at Fargo and at least one other location in the state.

Backers of the Horse Park and lovers of horse racing can count the two-weekend season in Fargo as a great start to restoring the sport to Fargo’s summer calendar. That’s good news for horse people and for the city.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.