04/04/2012 3:19PM

Yavapai Downs: Horse owner wins bidding for track at $3.25M


Gary Miller, an Arizona horse owner who recently stepped down as president of the Arizona Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, submitted the top bid of $3.25 million for Yavapai Downs in Prescott, Ariz., at a bankruptcy auction on Tuesday, according to a report in the Prescott Daily Courier.

The bid was well short of the $12.7 million asking price that had been established for the 125-acre property, which was built in 2011 for $22 million by the Yavapai County Fair Association. The track’s largest creditor, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is owed $14.7 million, has until Friday to determine whether to accept the bid.

Yavapai Downs filed for bankruptcy shortly after cancelling its 2011 meet just days before the meet was scheduled to start. Along with its forerunner, the half-mile bullring Prescott Downs, the track has operated for decades as a summer destination for the bottom-end horses that run at Turf Paradise in Phoenix.

Efforts to contact Miller were unsuccessful on Wednesday. Miller told the Daily Courier that if the USDA accepts the bid, he would try to apply for a racing license this year for the track, but he said it was doubtful that the process could be completed by the Memorial Day weekend, when the track typically opens.

“We’re going to do the best we can to get racing up sometime this summer,” Miller said.

According to the Daily Courier, five bidders participated in the auction. Only Miller and Texas horse owner Joe Davis submitted bids beyond $2 million. Davis bowed out at $3 million.

Since April 1, the USDA has been required to pay for upkeep on the property. If the USDA accepts the bid, Miller said he would need 21 days to conduct due diligence on the track before agreeing to the purchase.