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Published July 24 2013

Forum editorial: ND horse park has a good run

The results of a very short race meet at the North Dakota Horse Park are as encouraging as they could possibly be. Last weekend’s three days of racing set attendance and betting records. The numbers indicate a reservoir of pent-up demand for the sport – demand that the Fargo horse park can accommodate if all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place.

The park has been through a rough patch the past couple of years. The return of racing this summer, even for only three days, confirmed the stance of track operator Horse Race North Dakota that horse racing in the Red River Valley is popular and can be financially successful. Attendance and waging numbers for the three days at Fargo exceeded totals at similar tracks in the region.

Moreover, “similar” doesn’t do the Fargo track justice. The operators have developed a venue that not only is first class for horse owners and jockeys, but also for families. It likely is one of the most family-friendly facilities of its kind in the region. Featuring concessions, a shaded grandstand and paddocks where kids can get close to the horses, the park is far more than a horse racing track.

That being said, the track itself has won high praise from horse owners and jockeys. Additionally, a partnership with North Dakota State University has opened a portion of the Equine Center for horsemen to house their horses during the meet. The center is a state-of-the-art horse facility.

It wasn’t easy to pull off last weekend’s abbreviated racing season. One weekend is not enough for all horsemen to make the trip to Fargo, although many did. As the park operator said, a three-week meet would be ideal for next year. And why not?

The local park demonstrated to the North Dakota Horse Racing Commission and others in the horse racing community that Fargo has a viable, top-notch facility. Even with the difficulties of putting on a three-day meet, the park proved its attractiveness. Fans, families and horsemen flocked to the north Fargo track. The commission, track operators and others involved in horse racing should do what needs to be done to ensure a longer season next year.

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