Turf Paradise (Arizona Racing?) Going, Going…

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.

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  1. With Mike Repole saying that he is going to quit racing horses if things don’t change, basically meaning that if he can’t be allowed to play by his own rules and have the racing Commissioners answer to him, not he and Todd Pletcher answering to the racing Commissioners and the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit, the enforcement arm of HISA, in other words if Repole & Pletcher can’t be freely allowed to force a young, underdeveloped horse (many of them) to run to the point of lameness and then dope him or her to the max and continue to run a lame horse anyway, and people who are okay with this egregious cruelty (and want more people in racing just like Repole) as if they know so much more about horses than anyone else could ever know and if anyone steps in to slow down their run-away train of racehorse abuse and say that nobody else knows anything about horses to the point that they/we can’t even spell “horse” then it is high time that the die-hard horse-killers in Arizona be shut down for a lack of “fans” supporting these so-called horsemen abusing and killing their own horses that they claim to know so much about.

  2. In my wagering days, both Santa Anita and the now defunct Hollywood Park used to offer simulcast racing on Turf Paradise, but this was something many full-time horseplayers [like myself, at the time] did not take advantage of, simply because the racing was of such a very poor quality. Cheap claimers, daily entries that looked [and probably were] infirm and unsound on race day, bad recent form, which, all in all, made for bad bets – rendering one’s handicapping prowess virtually useless.

    Let it be said that I shed no tears whatsoever for the closing of Turf Paradise, which was no ‘paradise’ for horseplayers. Only much later have I found out that Turf ‘Paradise’ might as well be called ‘Turf Nightmare’ for the many animals that perished there because of the poor quality of racing, and as a direct result, the poor or, more likely, the non-existent quality of the ‘care’ these horses received during their time at this race track.

    Goodbye, Turf Paradise. I say, good riddance to bad rubbish!

    • Joe – You are correct about the level of care many of these horses receive. From their earliest years on, they’re fed poor rations. Many are taken way from their dams too early. When I rescued my 2 year old from the track, a vet brought this fact to my attention. I asked over and over again why my horse looked under nourished. My vet had nothing good to say about the care horses receive at the track. It’s a crime of neglect that the youngest aren’t given a chance to succeed in a system that’s rigged before they even have a chance. This is a form of willful abuse. Such a profound tragedy.

  3. Brace yourselves, friends, for yet another asinine attack from some of the more desperate cretins in horse racing. They’re about to blame US (yes, all of us anti-racing advocates) for the slaughterfest that’s about to take place if Turf Pairo’Deaths closes for good. Really. Like it’s OUR fault these loving connections will have no choice but to (continue to) send their equine victims across the Mexican border for their, um, “second career.”
    You’d think the fine folks at HISA would at least try to save a handful of Arizona horses, wouldn’t you? Well, you’d be wrong, since they do NOTHING for Thoroughbreds after they’re removed from their “Integrity & Safety” platform. Not even publicly identify them as removed, so far as I can tell.
    So, yeah, it’s our fault most of these horses will soon be getting butchered:(

    • A certain person was complaining in a racing industry publication that The Stronach Group and Churchill Downs Inc. want to end horseracing. I thought that was very interesting that he’s blaming the power brokers of the racing industry itself for wanting to go out of the business of exploiting horses for racing and wagering, which of course affects the breeding side of horseracing.
      I didn’t read the whole article, but it appeared that he was not aware that the “game” cannot sustain itself without huge government subsidies and government-directed benefits including tax write-offs and tax exemptions to horseracing regardless of who owns the properties and manages the day to day operations of the racetracks and the Pari-mutuel gambling businesses.
      This deplorable industry has drained society enough. The relentless cruelty to the horses is totally unacceptable.

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