And they're, almost off. A summertime tradition starts Thursday in Tulsa as live horse-racing kicks off at Fair Meadows. The season runs through July.
News on 6 reporter Steve Berg says horse racing isn't quite what it was. Casinos have taken a piece of their action, but we still found some race fans that are chomping at the bit.
Jim Kaemmerling has been a regular at Fair Meadows for the past 7 years. He enjoys the simulcast action around the country. But he's eager to head to the track Thursday for real. "Oh yeah, I wouldn't miss it."
But Oklahoma's Horse Racing Industry has been a little dicey lately, due to the rise of casinos. Ron Shotts with Tulsaâ€™s Expo Square: â€œWeâ€™ve seen since last August anywhere from a 25 to 30 percent per month reduction in our attendance and our handling at our simulcast facility."
Jim Kaemmerling: "I don't think it has as much business out here as it used to have." During the recent Preakness race though, some online-gambling sites set records, suggesting there may be a revival in horse racing.
Wilburn Pitts: "I like the horse racing because you can do some thinking and figuring in horse racing. Casinos, you just put your money in there, especially slot machines, nothing you can do about it. You just put your money in there and pray."
Jim Kaemmerling: "Win it one! There we go." And they're eager to hear the hooves thundering for themselves.
Wilburn Pitts: "There's a lot more excitement when you're out there live." Jim Kaemmerling: "You can win some money, you can lose some money, it's gambling, but its fun. I think it's a lot of fun."
Fair Meadows does get a small cut of casino revenues to make up for their loss. On a side note, horse racing returns to Claremore in November, when the Cherokees reopen the Will Rogers track in Rogers County.