08/30/2017 4:17PM

Three tracks in Texas to cease live racing

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The management of Gillespie County Fair and the greyhound tracks Gulf Coast Racing and Gulf Greyhound Park have informed the Texas Racing Commission of their intent to cease live racing and simulcasting operations on Thursday. In a letter to the agency, an attorney representing the tracks said they won't pay license fees for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts Sept. 1.

“The management of each track acknowledges that such will result in a lack of authorization to continue operations and, therefore, all operations requiring a racing commission license at each referenced facility will cease at or before the close of business on Aug. 31, 2017,” attorney William Moltz wrote in a letter dated Aug. 25.

The commission requires licensing for live racing and simulcasting. There is not a current live meet at any of the three tracks. The same letter informed the commission that the inactive tracks of Laredo Downs and Valle de los Tesoros would not be paying license fees for fiscal year 2018.

The commission is facing a budget shortfall for fiscal year 2017, with enough funding to operate through the end of September, according to agency spokesman person Robert Elrod. The agency also is looking at a shortfall for 2018 after Saddle Brook Park, Laredo Race Park and Longhorn Downs decided not to renew their licenses. None of the tracks was operational, but they paid fees to maintain their licenses in an annual sum that totaled $690,000. 

The commission staff has been working on proposals to make up for the deficit. The commission will discuss the topic at a meeting Sept. 20 in Austin, Texas.

Gillespie County Fair in Fredericksburg, Texas, conducts a mixed meet for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses. The track lost its final day of live racing Sunday due to inclement weather. Gulf Coast Racing is located in Corpus Christi and Gulf Greyhound is in La Marque, near Galveston.

The Class 1 horse tracks in Texas are all operational: Lone Star Park near Dallas, Retama Park near San Antonio and Sam Houston in Houston. Retama opens a Thoroughbred meet Friday and Lone Star begins its Quarter Horse season Sept. 15. Both meets end Nov. 11.