Claremore horse racing track to end simulcasting

Tuesday, November 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CLAREMORE, Okla. (AP) _ Will Rogers Downs will stop simulcasting horse racing for at least two months because the track is losing money, officials said.

The racetrack's last simulcast was for the Breeder's Cup on Oct. 27. Will Rogers Downs officials don't know if the track will reopen its doors for simulcasting next year.

Track officials blame state policy for its problems.

``The costs are high, and it's hard to keep that big facility open,'' owner Gary Adams said Monday. ``We're just looking at our options.''

Adams paid $1 million to renovate the track's simulcasting facility when he bought the park several years ago. But he said it was losing about $40,000 to $50,000 a month.

About 10 employees will lose their jobs while the facility is shut down for the next two months.

Will Rogers Downs has struggled since it opened in 1987. The original owners declared bankruptcy in 1991 and the track went unused for seven years.

Will Rogers Downs currently has just 12 live racing days a year.

Adams and track general manager Mark Enterline both contend that state rule limiting tracks to expanding only within a 30-mile radius has hurt Will Rogers Downs.

Under the rule, one track cannot extend its influence into another track's radius. Will Rogers Downs is within 30 miles of Fair Meadows in Tulsa.

``Competition is a good thing, but it's not good when one track is restricted from developing its market,'' Enterline said. ``When your hands are tied behind your back, you can't do anything.''

Fair Meadows director Ron Shotts said he was not surprised by Will Rogers Downs' financial problems.

``I don't know how they survived this long,'' he said. ``When you look at the numbers, it never made economic sense to open that facility.''

He said Will Rogers Downs could not fill all of its 12 annual live-racing dates in April.

He also defended his track's right to not allow competitors to operate off-track wagering within Fair Meadow's protected radius.

``I don't know how it'd be good business sense to let somebody come into our market and take business from our facility,'' he said.

Will Rogers Downs will now host other attractions, including bull riding competitions, dog shows and a national motorcycle competition.

The track also will begin a joint operating agreement with Remington Park in Oklahoma City next year.