11/14/2002 1:00AM

Panel restores Simms license


The Arizona Racing Commission voted on Wednesday to renew the racing license of Jerry Simms, owner of Turf Paradise, restoring his control over the track.

The commission, which voted 3-2 to renew the license, overturned a ruling by the Arizona Department of Racing last year that denied Simms a racing license because of his involvement in a California real estate scandal in the early 1990's.

With partners, Simms purchased Turf Paradise in May 2000, for $54 million. Shortly after that, however, gambling regulators raised questions about his past, and the Arizona Department of Racing decided to revoke his license.

Simms appealed the ruling. In the meantime, he reached an agreement to sell his share of the track to his brother, Ronald, who already had a 32 percent stake in the Phoenix track.

The Department of Racing is expected to appeal the commission's decision to restore Simms's license. The appeal would be lodged with Superior Court in Arizona.