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Wendy Reuer, Published May 06 2013

Racing Commission to discuss Fargo track funding today

FARGO – The fate of the 2013 horse racing season here will be discussed today at a North Dakota Racing Commission meeting in Bismarck.

Racing Director Winston Satran said the commission will discuss additional funding for the North Dakota Horse Park 2013 meet.

Horse Race North Dakota, the nonprofit group that operates the track, decided it would likely host a one-weekend, three-day meet in July after the Racing Commission granted the group only a fraction of the operational costs it requested.

At its Feb. 15 meeting, the racing commission granted Horse Race North Dakota $61,684 in promotional funds – the funding source of track operations. Chippewa Downs in Belcourt was awarded $142,000 for eight days of races.

Horse Race North Dakota requested 12 days of racing in 2013, $220,000 in purse money and $300,000 in promotion funds.

The commission did not hand out purse money in February, instead deferring the awards until today’s meeting.

Satran said Monday that he expects the commission to award additional money to Fargo, but declined to specify an amount.

“We will give them an update on the funds that would be available,” Satran said. “We’re going to be able to add to the financial commitment.”

Wes Heinert, vice president of Horse Race North Dakota, said a three-day meet in Fargo was the responsible decision based on the small amount of funding the commission had awarded the Fargo track in February.

The North Dakota Horse Park opened in 2005 but has yet to pay off about $2.1 million in debt, including track construction costs. Racing was canceled in 2010 and 2011, but the 2012 four-day race meet was considered a success after making a $120,000 profit.

The Racing Commission allocated $89,000 for the 2012 Fargo meet, while out-of-state betting companies donated around $75,000 for the meet.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530