Apparently, the deal to sell Turf Paradise to a developer has fallen through, but owner Jerry Simms says he is done anyway. Yes, Simms, who claims he’s getting out to spend more time with his family, is shuttering Turf as of Oct 1. As a bonus, because they are legally tied to live racing, 37 Arizona OTBs will also be closing. This, folks, is as important as Golden Gate closing in neighboring California. And it could be even bigger.
Going into this year, Arizona had three tracks: Turf, Arizona Downs, and Rillito. The last is a boutique meet, running but 18 days this year. And Arizona Downs, citing financial difficulties, did not even open for business this summer. Here is how trainer Justin Evans assesses the situation (in BloodHorse): “It’s gonna cripple…the racing industry in Arizona.” One man’s crippling is another’s moral progress.
If indeed it is over at Turf, the track’s final race on its final day (May 6) couldn’t have been more fittingly named: “The Hasta La Vista Stakes.” Perfect.