01/08/2004 1:00AM

Choctaws get license, dates

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The Choctaw tribe, which in November purchased Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw, Okla., was unanimously granted a parimutuel license and race dates for 2004 at an Oklahoma Racing Commission meeting on Thursday.

The commission awarded Blue Ribbon two meets this year, for a total of 61 race dates in 2004. Both meets will be for Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds, with the first to run from Feb. 21 to May 1, and the second from Aug. 6 to Oct. 30.

The Choctaws told commissioners it is their intent to make some surface repairs and barn repairs to Blue Ribbon before the first meet opens next month. The tribe purchased the track from Race Horses Inc. for an undisclosed amount on Nov. 3, one day before the financially strapped Blue Ribbon was scheduled to be auctioned in order to clear a $3 million debt with the city of Sallisaw.

* Race Horses Inc. has paid a $15,000 fine to the state for failing to simulcast its races to other tracks in Oklahoma for a portion of its meet in 2003.