GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Sept. 19, 2019 – Grants Pass Downs kicks off its first ever commercial race meet this Sunday, Sept. 22. The eight-race opening day program will feature the TMB Inaugural, with a full field of 8 thoroughbreds competing for a purse of $11,650 at a distance of five and one-half furlongs. Races will be held every Sunday and Monday through Nov. 4, with 14 race days scheduled in total for the meet and all post times at 1 p.m. Admission is $4, and parking is free.
Following the announced closure of Portland Meadows in Portland, Oregon, earlier this year, Grants Pass-based TMB Racing applied for the license to host and operate live commercial racing with simulcasting rights. The application was approved by the Oregon Racing Commission in March, and the company signed a 50-year lease agreement with Josephine County in August for use of Grants Pass Downs, formally marking an epicenter shift for horse racing in Oregon.
Significant upgrades to the track and facility have now been completed at Grants Pass Downs in advance of the meet, including:
- The installation of a new state-of-the-art safety rail to ensure the welfare of riders and horses and raise the standard of the meet.
- An upgraded track to improve conditions for racing, with an additional 800 tons of sand laid last week in anticipation of wet fall weather.
- The addition of a new digital scoreboard to enhance the experience for spectators.
- The installation of lighting that will eventually support evening racing.
“Demand has been high from the moment we announced our intentions to hold a commercial meet in Grants Pass, and stables filled up by early September,” said Rod Lowe, director of racing at Grants Pass Downs, who will oversee operations of the meet. “Trainers have been running workouts for more than three weeks now, and the feedback on the track so far has been phenomenal. There’s a lot of excitement for opening week from the horsemen, and we’re anticipating great enthusiasm from fans.”
Lowe has assembled a team of racing industry veterans with deep Oregon roots including racing secretary John Everly, track superintendent Steve Wood, and director of communications and marketing Tag Wotherspoon. Legendary track announcer Michael Wrona has also signed on to call all 14 race dates of the inaugural meet. The Oregon Racing Commission will oversee the meet, with Trident providing networking services, United Tote running betting operations and Roberts Communications handling satellite feeds.
“The loss of Portland Meadows threatened to create a huge gap for commercial racing between Seattle and the Bay Area. We’ve invested a lot of time, energy and resources into delivering a commercial racing atmosphere for this meet and beyond – and ensuring a long and prosperous future for racing in Grants Pass and Oregon at large,” added Lowe.
“I grew up here in Grants Pass and have been going to the races since I was a kid, so it truly is an honor to have the opportunity to grow the sport in Josephine County and help establish Grants Pass as a racing destination on the West Coast,” said Travis Boersma, president of TMB Racing, Grants Pass Downs’ parent organization. “Beyond supporting the county through our lease and bringing racing fans into our community, this enterprise will also help agricultural business, Oregon breeding programs, and Grants Pass community groups like 4-H, the FFA and local high school equestrian teams, all of which will be supported with the funding model we’re creating.”
Grants Pass Downs’ fall race meet will be provided to eight off track betting locations in Oregon. Roberts Communications will send the live race signal to those OTBs, several advance-deposit wagering (ADW) companies and tracks worldwide. The full list of OTBs in Oregon can be found here: https://gphorseracing.com/wagering/.
For questions about terms, training schedules, or fees and regulations, please visit https://gpdowns.com/.
ABOUT GRANTS PASS DOWNS
Located at the Josephine County Fairgrounds, Grants Pass Downs has hosted live pari-mutuel horse racing since 1968 and is now home to the largest race meet in the state of Oregon. Grants Pass Downs is the only venue approved by the Oregon Racing Commission to host live commercial horse races in the state. The track’s first commercial race meet will be held Sept. 22 through Nov. 4, 2019.
Tom Franklin is a senior contributor at US Racing.