Arizona Racing

Trouble In (Turf) Paradise: Sale Again Called Off, '24 Meet Still Planned

For the second time in four months, a reported sale of Turf Paradise has been called off. The track's current owner, Jerry Simms, broke the news at Friday's Arizona Racing Commission (AZRC) meeting without disclosing details or being pressed by regulators to provide any additional information. Preparations for a planned Jan. 29-May 4 race meet are still underway, though, according to testimony from track officials, commission employees, and representatives of the Arizona Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (AZHBPA). The revelation that the deal was a no-go didn't seem to come...

[ Read More ]
Turf Paradise Approved to Run '24 Meet, Pending Sign-off by HISA Authority

Turf Paradise received unanimous but conditional approval from the Arizona Racing Commission (AZRC) on Tuesday to conduct a Jan. 29-May 4 race meet. The upcoming season, however, won't be run under the auspices of the new ownership group that has been reportedly trying to buy the Phoenix track for the last two months. Instead, Turf Paradise's current owner, Jerry Simms, will still be at the helm. Simms and Arizona horsemen have had an acrimonious business relationship for the better part of two decades. But Simms vowed during the Dec. 5...

[ Read More ]
AZHBPA: 'No Earthly Idea When And If A Meet Will Be Performed At Turf Paradise'

The ownership group that wants to buy the currently closed Turf Paradise is reportedly at the escrow stage of closing on the sale, but a projected Jan. 13 opening day was met with skepticism when the prospective majority buyer was pressed to name a start date at Thursday's Arizona Racing Commission (AZRC) meeting. "At this point where we're at, and not having the complete [new ownership] application, there may be a delay from January moving forward," said Rudy Casillas, the deputy director of the AZRC's racing division, told commissioners after...

[ Read More ]
Simms Portrays Turf Paradise Sale as Lifeline, but Arizona Horsemen Grow Skeptical

A report that a purchase-and-sale agreement for the currently closed Turf Paradise is just days away from being inked was met with skepticism, frustration and even derision from horsemen at Thursday's Arizona Racing Commission meeting. Although the track's owner, Jerry Simms, framed the ongoing negotiations as a lifeline for Thoroughbred racing in a state that currently has no operational commercial track, J. Lloyd Yother, the president of the Arizona Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (AZHBPA), said that Simms's oft-stated expectations of a new owner being able to conduct a race...

[ Read More ]
New Buyer for Turf Paradise Emerges

The current Turf Paradise owner is courting a new buyer who just emerged last week as a potential savior for keeping racing alive at the state's otherwise-closing cornerstone track. On Thursday, the Arizona Racing Commission (AZRC) voted to extend Turf Paradise's simulcasting privileges through Nov. 12 while regulators commenced a due diligence vetting process that could greenlight the sale. The stated goal among stakeholders is to start a race meet in January under new ownership at the Phoenix oval. The current management announced back on Aug. 1 that the 67-year-old...

[ Read More ]
Arizona Commission Meeting: 'The Eyes Are On Us'

If there's a main takeaway from Tuesday's Arizona Racing Commission Meeting, it's an acknowledgement from officials and track management that the racing industry is monitoring Turf Paradise closely. "We've got to do a better job at coming up with answers and coming up with solutions," said commissioner Rory Goree, arguably the most outspoken member of the commission about Turf Paradise's poor equine safety record. "I'm hopeful that here, in the near future, we as a commission will be able to talk about some of the solutions and ideas and make...

[ Read More ]
Safety Featured at AZ Commission Meeting

At a special Arizona Racing Commission Meeting Wednesday, Turf Paradise's equine safety record was once again a serious bone of contention, with commissioner Rory Goree calling the track's equine fatality numbers "deplorable." In her routine track safety report, Sue Gale, the Arizona Department of Gaming's chief veterinarian, explained that 22 horses have died at Turf Paradise since the start of the meet, on Nov. 5 of last year--nine racing-related fatalities, five during training, and eight due to illness. The racing-related catastrophic injury rate works out to 2.8 fatalities per 1000...

[ Read More ]
Turf Paradise Race Dates Approved, But Doubts Remain Over Meet

In a special meeting Monday morning, the Arizona Racing Commission formally approved the proposed 2021-2022 race dates for Turf Paradise--Nov. 5 through May 7--but hard practical questions remain over what participation at that meet could look like due to an ongoing standoff between the Arizona horsemen and Turf Paradise management. As a result of welfare concerns springing from a 2020-2021 Turf Paradise race meet marred by a high number of equine fatalities, the Arizona Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (AZHBPA) have stated they will not sign any race-meet contract until...

[ Read More ]
Arizona Downs Names Weiss General Manager

Michael Weiss, a longtime racing industry professional with deep ties to Arizona horse racing, has been named the new General Manager at Arizona Downs. Weiss will lead preparations to restore the track and operate the 2021 return of live racing to the Prescott Valley facility. He most recently served as General Manager of Rillito Park Racetrack in Tucson and is well-known for pioneering the PRISE educational program for the University of Arizona's Race Track Industry Program. He is also a former student in the RTIP and currently serves as a...

[ Read More ]
Arizona Racing Legislation Introduced

Legislation has been introduced in Arizona to modernize gaming at tracks and OTBs in the Grand Canyon State. Senate Bill 1794, introduced by Sen. David Gowan, would authorize historic horse racing [HHR] and stands to generate up to $140 million in new tax revenues. The bill is set to be heard in a Senate committee on Tuesday. Since 2004, according to savearizonahorseracing.com, Arizona has seen pari-mutuel handles drop by $55 million a year and purses drop by $5 million a year as live racing attendance has dropped 45%. During the...

[ Read More ]
Braddick New Racecaller at Turf Paradise

Turf Paradise has hired veteran and international race caller Craig Braddick for the 2021 Winter meeting, starting Jan. 4, 2021, the track announced Wednesday. "It's an exciting challenge to call five days per week, but I've always enjoyed that," Braddick said. "I want to do all I can to positively promote Turf Paradise and grow a fanbase for horse racing in my adopted home state of Arizona. We have some great horsemen and I expect the racing to be extremely competitive. I also want to be able to interact with...

[ Read More ]
Arizona Dept. Gaming Launches Wellness Program

At the December Arizona Racing Commission meeting, Arizona Department of Racing steward Magdaleno Perez announced the launch of the Healthy Humans, Healthy Horses track wellness program, created to address the growing substance abuse problem at the state's racetracks by supporting racing participants who may be suffering from addiction. "I commend Magdaleno and the entire racing team in their diligent efforts to move this project forward," said ADGaming Director, Ted Vogt. "The Healthy Humans, Healthy Horses program will directly support Arizona horsemen and create a safer and healthier backside, driving us...

[ Read More ]
X

Never miss another story from the TDN

Click Here to sign up for a free subscription.