Q2 Rewind: Horse racing at MetraPark in Billings
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Q2 Rewind: Horse racing at MetraPark in Billings

August 22, 2019

Montana Fair 2018 of course in full-swing down a metro park jam-packed as always with things to do but you know one longtime staple at the fair remains silent on the track and throughout the fairgrounds horse racing carries a storied history here in Billings so in this week’s q2 rewind we’re off to the races with sports director Scott Breen that’s track announcer Bernie la Stig who kept horse racing fans on the edge of their seats here’s a look at it back in the early eighties handles were high turnout terrific and the number of race dates booming at 35 a year locally the sport was in its heyday this was often the scene behind the track when thoroughbred racing was king but there was a group that also wanted to bring in harness racing thoroughbreds are hot-blooded and did not love racing in cold weather harness racing was more suitable to us in the north and would allow more dates Bob Glasgow was exhibition manager at the fairgrounds and really pushed for it two years ago in Calgary they had 17 straight racing days in a row with harness racing where the temperature was at least 20 below zero but the thoroughbred Association didn’t want any part of it and County Commissioners didn’t support it early on because they didn’t feel there was enough revenue to make matters worse when the grounds were too sloppy and shut down for even a day horse owners in the track claim to lose estimated $20,000.00 reporting to Glasgow not good footing at all and the last thing we want is to have a jockey or a horse hurting in 1983 with crowd still bustling trifecta wagering was introduced to Billings after test drives in Great Falls in Helena you picked the exact order finish for the first three horses across the line on a last race odds of doing that in an eight horse race were 335 to one we’re betting about 18,000 a day right now on the trifecta and if there was only one winner we could possibly pay 15,000 to that one winner but horse racing always seemed to be an on-again off-again love affair it would stall for a while in Billings then bounce back all the way from the late 80s to the early 2000 it became more expensive to run Metropark started demanding more money simulcasting was put on hold and there were even investigations to weather montana races were fixed nothing was found I think that we want to increase integrity and the public opinion of horse racing will let them understand the true nature of the beast gray States then steadily declined from 35 to 30 to 24 and eventually single digits Yellowstone exhibition applied for more dates in the Racing Commission denied those dates because they felt that it would hurt the smaller tracks and the other fairs that are trying to run in other parts of the state in Billings they eliminated some staff positions and formed a few different horse racing boards trying to keep the sport above ground Tom Tucker was manager of n IMS racing set in the early 90s the sport produced about four million dollars a year lines were drawn in the county started losing patience in a position of losing money that the Board of County Commissioners has to write and in my opinion the obligation to cease and desist horse racing now the horse racing Alliance in Metro Park continued to battle and grew further apart until a few years ago this board entirely dissolved here in Billings it’s a shame the only sites that offer live horse racing at least this summer mile city and Great Falls with a combined nine dates

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