09/27/2002 12:00AM

Magna fails in Remington bid


DALLAS - The future of Remington Park in Oklahoma City was uncertain Thursday after the Oklahoma Racing Commission decided to deny the track's request to drop Quarter Horse racing next year and shorten its Thoroughbred meet.

Before the commission hearing on Thursday, an official from Magna Entertainment, which owns Remington, told commissioners that adopting the original calendar could force the track to close. Last month, track officials said the projected loss on the Quarter Horse meet is $2 million.

"We're disappointed with the commission decision," said Dale Day, spokesman for Remington. "Discussions are under way between Magna Entertainment and Remington Park as to what the future of Remington Park holds."

Remington, citing losses of $4.7 million last year, amended its original dates request for a 34-day Quarter Horse season and a 95-day Thoroughbred meet for next year, and last month received preliminary commission approval to eliminate Quarter Horse racing and reduced the Thoroughbred meet to 65 days in 2003.

But after an outcry from the Quarter Horse community, the commission amended that action and in a 6-1 vote made a preliminary decision to hold Remington to its original request for a March 22-June 7 meet for Quarter Horses and an Aug. 9-Dec. 20 meet for Thoroughbreds.

The dates will come up for final approval at the commission's next meeting, scheduled for Oct. 17.

The Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association has led the fight against Remington's plan to drop Quarter Horse racing and asked that the commission subpoena detailed financial records from the track to confirm losses at the meet. Those records were submitted Tuesday but did not seem to affect the vote.

"The commissioners made no statements to the effect that the figures were not legitimate," said Gordon Hare, executive director of the commission.

It was more the pleas from horsemen and legislators that made an impact. They pointed out that if Remington did not run Quarter Horses, the effect would cripple the the horse industry, the state's third-largest industry. According to the state association, as many as half of the 57,600 jobs the industry provides statewide could be lost if there were no Quarter Horse meet at Remington, which has run one every year since 1989.

Magna purchased Remington in 1999. The track's daily handle on its Quarter Horse races has slipped over the past two years, from $312,787 last year to $270,973 this year. The track is in the midst of a Thoroughbred meet that runs to Dec. 21.