07/16/2010 12:00AM

Manor Downs set to close up shop


Manor Downs, a small track near Austin, Texas, that conducts a spring meet for Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds, will close down operations on July 25, said Howard Phillips, the track's chief executive officer. Manor, which is now open for simulcast wagering, has been racing since October 1990.

"We are definitely planning to close, and nothing would change that unless something new comes from horsemen," Phillips said Friday.

Phillips said that although there have been some horsemen who have inquired about conducting a meet at Manor, the track does not intend to seek dates for 2011.

"We've been in the front lines for 21 years, and I think were ready to go to the sidelines for a little while," he said.

The Texas horse industry, said Phillips, "has been slowly sucked away by the neighboring states with slot machines - that was always happening on a steady decline - and then we sort of had a waterfall event with the economy turning down in 2009 and 2010.

"It was too much. We'd been funding the shortages in cash flow all along - my partner and I, and I'm a minority owner - but then all of the sudden with this decline in 2009 and 2010, those numbers got huge."

Phillips estimated Manor had a negative cash flow of $700,000 to $800,000 in 2009.

Manor does not export its signal, but its races were an anticipated first look at some of the more promising 2-year-old Quarter Horses. This year the meet ran from March 6 through April 18.

"It has a nice following, has a nice attendance, has a decent little live handle," Phillips said Manor. "It's a great meet, a lot of energy. It's what we're all here for."

Phillips said Manor had also been the site of four Grateful Dead concerts through the years, as well as the second Farm Aid concert.