Back in April, it was announced that Turf Paradise was being sold to an industrial developer. The short-term plan was to possibly keep racing going for a while, but only as a placeholder. Clearly, Turf’s days were/are numbered. Yesterday, the executive director of the AZHBPA (Arizona horsemen), Leroy Gessmann, sent the following to his members:
“After several months of speculation and rumors, I finally have some definite updates that I can report to the membership. Yesterday, President Lloyd Yother received a call from [Turf owner] Mr. Jerry Simms, telling us that his final decision was to not run a race meet in Nov and Dec. He wanted to announce this now, so Horsemen had time to find alternative plans. Mr. Simms has started laying off key employees, is issuing a national press release this week and stopped watering the turf track. So, I do not see things changing.”
Meanwhile, one of the two other state tracks, Arizona Downs, did not apply for its usual summer license because of bad finances. Although Gessmann wrote that there has been investor interest in AD (to restart racing), there is nothing concrete in the offing. In short, horseracing in Arizona hangs by a thread. As Mr. Gessmann put it, “I know Mr. Simms’s decision to close the track is very disappointing and scary news to all of us.”
One man’s disappointing is another’s gratifying. Very soon we could be adding two major tracks, Turf and Golden Gate, to this list. Anyone who continues to maintain that horseracing can’t be taken down is simply not paying attention.