Grants Pass Downs announced April 12 that it will not conduct its 2022 race meet as planned. The race meet was originally announced in February.
“As a result of the Oregon Racing Commission’s vote to deny an operating license to The Flying Lark, Grants Pass Downs has lost its economic engine,” said Travis Boersma, owner of Grants Pass Downs, said in a release. “While we remained hopeful we would be able to host a viable race meet, the uncertainty here and across the industry has resulted in a drastic reduction of racehorses at Grants Pass Downs. At this point, it’s clear running the meet isn’t feasible.”
Grants Pass Downs became privately funded by Boersma beginning in 2019. The track, meet, and purses were intended to be funded by profits from The Flying Lark entertainment venue, where the track sought to operate historical horse racing gaming.
Despite outlining its disagreement with the motion, the Oregon Racing Commission denied a license for The Flying Lark at the urging of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Oregon’s attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, under the opinion that HHR gaming would constitute a casino.
“This is the result of the state and its leadership’s lack of understanding of, and appreciation for, the equine industry and the needs of rural Oregon. I believe this is just the beginning of a ripple effect that will be felt in communities throughout the state due to the actions of leadership,” Boersma said.