Be Honest, Travis Boersma: Grants Pass Will Only Make It With Corporate Welfare

I’ll give Travis Boersma this: The coffee tycoon and new (2019) operator of Grants Pass, the only commercial racetrack left in Oregon, is, if nothing else, a great salesman. Ahead of this past Monday’s meet opening, Boersma told the Paulick Report: “We’ve got up to 1,200 fans coming and that’s a big step for us. We’re ecstatic. It means energy around the grandstand. As far as an intimate track experience goes, I don’t think anybody has something like we have.” (According to NBC Medford, Boersma’s projection missed the mark by quite a bit: only 735 “fans” showed up.)

He went on: “I’ve gone to this track at Grants Pass since I was brought into this life, and so I’ve got these memories and experiences I’ll take with me the rest of my life. To think that horse racing could go away in the state of Oregon seemed tragic to me. And I really started to look at how we could save it, that was the first step. And then the second step: could horse racing live without having to be propped up, and the short answer was yes.” Hmm. “Horse racing [can] live without having to be propped up”? C’mon, Travis, you know that’s not even close to being true. In fact, just last month The Oregonian wrote: “Boersma doesn’t expect the actual horse races to make money. But he’s got a plan to cover any losses: The main attraction at the Flying Lark will be 250 betting terminals known as ‘historic horse racing’ machines.”

Look, the short of it is this: The bulk of U.S. Racing is indeed being – or in the case of GP, will be – propped up by subsidies, corporate welfare. Take that away, take away some 70% of the nation’s tracks. So ignore Boersma’s rap and sap (“memories and experiences I’ll take with me the rest of my life”), he’s in this for the slots cash, not to prevent the “tragedy” of an Oregon sans horseracing. (For the most definitive look at racing subsidies, see Ryan Goldberg’s “Is Horse Racing Still Too Big to Fail?” .)

8 Comments

  1. Grass Pants is the other name for Grants Pass, but that isn’t important. What is important is that horse abuse NEEDS TO BE RECOGNIZED AND PUNISHED in every state that it is allowed to go unchecked in and no person should be allowed to use horses as gambling chips.

    • Kind of ironic that the only commercial track in Oregon is a 1/2 mile county owned bull ring that was almost shut down by the state in 2010 or 2011 because of all the breakdowns that were occurring weekly! HHR machines are just basically slot machines & those funds should be used to better the education & health of those people of Grants Pass. They sure could use the $ for that purpose.As far as memories of track experiences those we have are of broken down horses having to be euthanized on track or seeing bits of horses flesh on the track from the horses feet improperly shod or trimmed! Many millions of $ have been spent on this track when those $ would have been spent helping the area`s residents with health care & education.

  2. I believe horseracing will diminish drastically which it should, but not disapper. The reason is obvious. It is not being conducted in a manner which is above all safe for the horses. It has to be operated as a sport and strictly regulated by an international official. The humans involved in the production of horseracing are incompetent and ignorant. The horse handlers have to be above reproach and they’re definitely not now. You should be able to write to people in charge of horse treatment and bring lawsuits against them for not doing their jobs. Animal cruelty is what is going on now. And the costs of horseracing have to be increased and all the horses have to be insured. And if the owner and trainer’s reputations are not pristine, they would not be able to compete or even own a horse. Its too easy to “get” a horse now even if you have no idea how to take care if it and keep it healthy. But its the same way with other animals. Look at the way dogs are treated. Humans as a whole are not educated enough to care for themselves properly much less an animal. Just caring for a backyard horse is difficult and expensive. Then add training to that. This is a job for talented masters or doctors degree people not the kind of slime that trains horses now; the lowest of the low that could not get a job anywhere else. And cruel on top of that. No, horseracing can’t survive with all its current deficits.

    • Not to mention the fundamental wrong of starting horses at an age of about 18 months to train and gallop carrying one-hundred pounds and up, jockeys are in the habit of vomiting to make weight or rather to not weigh too much to ride in a race. Is it not common knowledge that eating disorders are not healthy???

    • Are you kidding? Some of the worst horse people / handlers were DVM`s Racing is strictly about the $$ to be gained in many various ways. We discovered it has very little to do with the development of a horses talents or abilities. We have seen high school drop outs that were kinder & had better common sense then the university educated horse people.

  3. I’ve been around this business in many capacities and a distinct pattern has emerged.
    Here’s how it works.
    The pro-horse racing soldiers march into a politicians office preaching the virtues of horse racing while focusing on the “jobs, jobs, jobs” mantra painting an economical utopia.
    They also sweeten the deal with “political contributions” to the respective politicians.
    No doubt it’s a quid pro quo and it borders on bribes – that’s for sure, because nobody else is in the room.
    There are no community representatives, like education, nor any neutral voices for the racehorses which is why these deals get put through and then they are announced AFTER the ink is dry.
    It happened most recently in New Jersey where the majority of residents didn’t want to bring back horse racing and most places where these deals currently exist the communities don’t want them anymore.
    The local and state coffers are cash-strapped with most of the verge of bankruptcy, yet, they are diverting millions from community needs to support a vile and corrupt business that kills racehorses.
    Just as they plow over dead racehorse bodies – they plow over our communities to get their way.
    Hardly any of the promises are fulfilled and their promises of an economical utopia never materializes.
    An economist who reviewed these deals said for every $1 that horse racing generates they take away about $10 from our communities via public subsidies in one form or another.
    Then once they grab hold of the power and control over our politicians and communities than the legal blackmail begins such as “if you take away our taxpayers/casino subsidies than people will lose jobs,” or “where are all the racehorses going to go?” They play up on the public’s concern over the racehorses stating that they will all go to slaughter if they don’t get their money.
    Well we all know where about 90% go now – the slaughterhouse so not much will change there.
    Horse racing is a cancer on our communities, it’s like one gigantic tumor that needs to be excised.

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