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Track overcame COVID-19 related challenges and crowd-size restrictions thanks to robust online betting and expanded national television exposure
Grants Pass, Ore. – July. 29, 2020 – Grants Pass Downs, Oregon’s premier horse racing track, concluded its second commercial meet on July 8, following a four-week run of Tuesday and Wednesday racing. The summer meet, which began June 16, carded 78 races over nine dates and handled a total of $2,235,303, nearly quadruple the total amount from last year’s non-commercial summer meet. The meet saw a dramatic jump in online and off-track betting, with nearly 94% of the meet’s handle being driven by off-site betting – representing an astounding 859% increase from last summer’s meet.
The horsemen and horsewomen received $619,511 in purse money on the season at an average of $68,835 per race day and $7,942 per race. Compared to summer 2019, average race day purses saw an increase of $38,863 – up 130%. Additionally, the track’s field size jumped to an average 7.94 horses per race over last summer’s 5.34 horses per race.
“This record-breaking meet shows that racing is alive and well in spite of COVID-19, and our success is a testament to the hard work put in by track staff, operations and facilities teams and the wonderful community of horsemen and women whose efforts made the meet possible,” said Randy Evers, President of Grants Pass Downs. “We are proud to be one of the few live sporting events on television while supporting the local Grants Pass economy.”
Once again, the meet’s leading jockey was Kassie Guglielmino with 14 wins in 58 starts. Guglielmino, who also finished the 2019 fall commercial meet as Grants Pass Downs’ top jockey, was followed by Taylor E. Smith (11 wins in 50 starts). Jorge Rosales was the meet’s leading trainer with 12 wins and ten second place finishes in 37 starts, and Marjorie Avery finished atop the owner rankings with five wins and six second place finishes in 16 starts.
The meet’s record handles were achieved despite limited crowd sizes. In response to the pandemic, Grants Pass Downs complied with the Governor’s order to limit the number of nonessential people on site at 250 on racing days during the summer meet. It also made significant operational changes to align with guidance from the CDC and Oregon public health officials to ensure the safety of staff, participating horsemen, athletes, and stakeholders. Dates for the upcoming fall race meet will be announced soon.
For questions about meet details, terms, training schedules, or fees and regulations, please visit https://gpdowns.com/.
Oregon’s premier horse racing track gears up to resume commercial racing this week
GRANTS PASS, Ore. – June 15, 2020 – Grants Pass Downs will kick off its summer racing season tomorrow, Tuesday, June 16. The 8-race opening day program will feature the Shady Cove Stakes, with a full field of 10 thoroughbreds competing for a purse of $12,000 at a distance of five furlongs. The meet will boast more than 80 races scheduled over nine dates – June 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 and July 1, 6, 7 and 8 – with $60,000 available in purses each day. Post time is set for 4:00 p.m.
Lighting was installed this spring to facilitate twilight racing, and the track was widened to support bigger fields. Thanks to a grant from the Oregon Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (OTOBA), Grants Pass Downs was also able to complete a number of other safety-focused projects including the installation of a new retaining wall, fencing, breakaway distance markers and additional sand to improve the track surface. The stall area was also expanded to accommodate up to 450 horses to meet growing demand. Those stalls are now nearly full as hundreds of horsemen and women from around Oregon and across the West have come to Grants Pass to participate in the meet.
“The uncertainty of these times hasn’t dampened any of the enthusiasm we’ve felt from our partners in the racing community since commercial racing came to Grants Pass last year,” said John Everly, racing secretary at Grants Pass Downs. “Demand remains very high, and even with the addition of more stalls in the barn area and fields expanding from eight to 10 horses with the widened track and an expanded starting gate, races should be pretty full throughout the meet.”
In accordance with current Oregon state health guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the meet will be held without fans in attendance. Racing fans unable to attend due to the current public health guidelines are encouraged to watch and wager at TVG.com and other advance-deposit wagering (ADW) websites, as well as at participating off-track betting (OTB) locations around the state. Grants Pass Downs has also expanded its wagering menu and will offer two new bets during the Summer Meet—a fifty cent Jackpot Pick Five with a $5,000 guaranteed pool and a 15% takeout rate, and a one dollar early Pick Four. For a list of participating ADW sites and OTB locations, visit https://gpdowns.com/wagering/.
“The health and safety of our athletes, staff, partners and guests is our highest priority, and we have put new protocols in place to ensure a safe, fun environment for all as we resume racing operations,” said Rod Lowe, director of racing and chief operating officer at Grants Pass Downs. “We’ll be encouraging the use of masks or face coverings by all guests. Additionally, hand sanitizer stations have been set up in high traffic areas throughout the premises, and social distancing reminders – like signage and floor markings – have been posted throughout the premises.”
Grants Pass Downs will allow a maximum of 250 nonessential people on site on racing days, including owners and their guests, sponsors and corporate partners, and members of the media.
Photo Credit: Penelope Miller
5/15/2020 | Grants Pass, Oregon
We regret that we are unable to host spectators during our summer meet but we hope you will tune in to TVG for all of the live action from the track. That being said, there’s a new schedule for Grants Pass Downs. Our nine day meet will run every Tuesday and Wednesday (and one Monday)! Post Time is 4pm. The dates are: June 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 and July 1, 6, 7, 8.
5/4/2020 | Grants Pass, Oregon
Grants Pass Downs is opening on the backside May 15th; first day of training May 18th.
We are excited to announce that we will be open on the backside starting May 15th! The first day of training is May 18th; we hope to see some familiar faces on the track. While we’re eager to open, we also want to ensure the safety of all involved, so please click here to read the in-depth protocols for backside attendees. Adherence to this protocol is mandatory.
We know you probably know what it means that the backside is open, but we just want to clarify that we are not yet open to the public. This announcement is specific to the horsemen that train at our track.
Thank you for your attention and we can’t wait to see you soon!
-The team at Grants Pass Downs
3/26/2020 | Grants Pass, Oregon
Grants Pass Downs has made the difficult decision to cancel the upcoming spring race meet, which was scheduled to begin on May 10, due to health and safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak.
As a result, the backside will not open for training in April.
Although this was a difficult decision to make, we are certain it is the right one.
Our management team saw no possible avenue to continue with our planned schedule in a way that meets aligns with our mission and meets our commitment to the health and safety of our staff, our athletes, the horsemen and women, racing fans and the community of Grants Pass.
We wish you good health and encourage you to take care of yourself, your families, friends and neighbors.
We are all in this fight together, and we will come through these difficult times stronger.
-Randy Evers, President of Grants Pass Downs
3/17/2020 | Grants Pass, Oregon
To our fans and partners in the community:
We are closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19.
We will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation as it evolves in the weeks ahead and will follow the recommendations and guidelines put forward by local, state and federal public health officials.
In the meantime,If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out directly or to email@example.com.
Wishing you all good health while we navigate this situation together.
-Randy Evers, President of Grants Pass Downs