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Wendy Reuer, Published May 07 2013

Fargo horse track gets more money for 2013 season

BISMARCK – The state racing commission granted the North Dakota Horse Park in Fargo more money for a 2013 horse racing season than it promised in February.

Racing Director Winston Satran said Tuesday that the commission granted the Fargo track $80,000 in promotional funds that can be used for track operations and $88,500 in purse money.

At the commission’s Feb. 15 meeting, the Fargo track was awarded $61,684, about a third of what the track requested for 2013. Shortly after, Horse Race North Dakota, which operates the Fargo track, said it would host a three-day, one-weekend meet in July.

Horse Race North Dakota officials had hoped to expand racing dates in 2013 after a successful 2012 four-day meet. There was no racing in 2010 and 2011. The track faces about $2.1 million in debt that includes construction costs.

Satran said the state commission granted the Horse Park only $18,000 in 2012, while out-of-state wagering companies donated an estimated $75,000.

North Dakota Horse Park Manager Chris McConnell said Tuesday that the track may still be short money to run two weekends, but donations and sponsorships could make up the shortfall.

“We want to run two weekends, but not at a loss,” McConnell said.

McConnell said horsemen groups have advocated for a two-weekend meet.

“They made a very good case, but it boiled down to money at that point,” McConnell said.

Racing will be held at Chippewa Downs in Belcourt on eight days: June 15, 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30 and July 6 and 7.

In other business Tuesday, the racing commission agreed to offer a Florida man the job of racing director. Satran announced earlier this year he would retire.

The board approved hiring Gunner LaCour, an attorney in Miami Beach, Fla. LaCour grew up on a thoroughbred farm in Lexington, Ky., and is familiar with the horse racing industry, Satran said.

“This is the first opportunity he has had to get back into horse racing in an administrative position,” Satran said. “He seemed to have the right combination of racing background and legal skills.”

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