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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Working to Strengthen Racing!

By Gary Miller, President, Arizona Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (AHBPA)

(Sent out by the Arizona HBPA on May 26, 2011) – Fear, concern, anger and grief are flowing through horsemen and the racing community in Arizona today. Understandably, we have all been rocked to our core with the announcement that Yavapai Downs was not going to run its meet this year. However, finger pointing and fixing blame will never resolve the problem nor strengthen racing’s future in Yavapai County. Immediately, what we need to focus on is providing assistance and help for horsemen at Yavapai Downs that find themselves harmed and with nowhere to go.

The Arizona HBPA is working within our organization and with others to provide help to those abandoned by the decision to not run at Yavapai Downs in 2011. We are a community, and we will demonstrate our commitment to the horsemen and racing community. As the Department of Racing Commission Chairwomen, Erin Owens, stated yesterday, “We are survivors.” We have not given up, and we will pursue every avenue available to strengthen racing at Yavapai Downs and throughout the State of Arizona.

I remain committed to racing at Yavapai Downs and will work with the parties in authority to review and research the track’s needs and to recruit solutions that assure such a devastating announcement does not occur again. Our challenges are great but not without resolve, and we will pursue those resolutions.

Which leads me to my next point - the Arizona HBPA has been and will continue to work to advance legislative policy solutions which will help horsemen, protect jobs, and enhance economic development surround racing and its agricultural components by ending a monopoly and allowing commercial racetracks in Arizona to provide slot machines and gaming to its customers.

We are working with Arizona’s leaders and elected officials to advance a legislative solution that will allow Yavapai Downs to offer its customers slot machines and gaming. For nearly 100 years, anyone of legal age could play the game of chance by betting on a horse. Now after those 100 years, why shouldn’t these customers be able to slip a quarter into a slot machine? The jobs and economic activity lost by the cancelling of the meet at Yavapai Downs would return. The only other question is: will the Yavapai County community help us?

While today we are sad – tomorrow we will begin working to strengthen our future.

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