05/20/2009 11:00PM

Simo bill passed just in time

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The horse racing industry in Colorado received a boost during the state's legislative session, and it comes just as Arapahoe Park, the lone horse track in Colorado, opens its 36-date mixed meet on Saturday. Simulcast operations at Arapahoe are expected to be able to be increased as a result of a bill that passed both the senate and house this session and is now awaiting the signature of Gov. Bill Ritter.

"We do believe he's going to sign it, and he actually wants to come out to the track in person to do that," said Shannon Rushton, executive director of the Colorado Horse Racing Association.

Rushton is hopeful the signing will take place over the three-day opening weekend, which extends to Memorial Day Monday. When signed, the bill will enable Arapahoe Park to simulcast greyhound races to its patrons, even though there is no live greyhound racing in the state this year. A portion of that simulcast revenue would then be set aside for purses. The same bill would also allow Arapahoe, with commission approval, to increase the number of days a year it can import horse and dog simulcasts from the current maximum of 250 to 360.

"It's not going to be the savior of racing in Colorado, but it sure takes us off life support for a little while," said Rushton.

Bills that would have allowed account wagering or electronic gaming did not pass this session in Colorado.

Arapahoe will offer racing for Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses and Arabians during its meet, which runs through Aug. 9. The stakes action starts on Sunday, with the $20,000 Inaugural for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds.