11/03/2003 12:00AM

Auction of Blue Ribbon averted

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Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw, Okla., was saved from the auction block on Monday when its owner, Race Horses Inc., settled a $3 million debt with the city of Sallisaw. The track was to be sold to the highest bidder at the Sallisaw courthouse on Tuesday.

The settlement, said Jim Hudgens, city manager of Sallisaw, "stops the sale. We released the deed to Race Horses Inc."

Blue Ribbon borrowed $2.4 million from Sallisaw in 1995 but had not made payments on that loan in about 2 1/2 years, according to Hudgens. Foreclosure proceedings were later taken against the small track, which has been appraised at $2.9 million.

Blue Ribbon paid the Sallisaw Municipal Authority a total of $3,008,165 on Monday, a sum that included interest and attorney fees, said Hudgens.

Blue Ribbon is in the middle of a mixed meet for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses that will continue through Nov. 23. Blue Ribbon is the oldest parimutuel facility in Oklahoma, having opened in 1984.