WDAY: The News Leader

Published April 22, 2010, 11:31 AM

Temporary closure of Horse Track provides unexpected benefits

Every racing season, the barn at NDSU's equine center undergoes a major change. In order to house 400 head of horse in the stables, the indoor arena is moved out and temporary stables are brought in, but with no races this season, all of this will stay up.

“So we'll be able to have some continuing education classes or clinics for people to come, be it people talking about training or riding.”

Eck hopes Horse Race North Dakota can get its finances in order, and race again next summer, but she says in the means time, this extra space, while unexpected, can keep interest in horses alive.

“At least maybe not the race horse industry out here, but maybe some of the other equine activities, be it horse jumping or horse shows.”

Meanwhile, Horse Race North Dakota President Mike Cichy is brain-storming ways to keep his partnership with the Equine Center alive.

“It's not fun, to be involved in what amounts to a failure.”

He says telephone and internet betting has to be expanded. It costs 50 thousand dollars a day to operate the Horse Park, and Cichy says profit doesn't come from gate admission.

“That means you have to have a fairly substantial number of two dollar wagers.”

For now, off track betting will still be offered, meaning people can still call in bets for races all over the country.

“Getting down a debt of 150 thousand dollars, that we can handle, if there was another zero on there, I’m afraid we'd be throwing in the towel, but this, we can do.”

Cichy says ironically, with the off track betting that will still be offered, Horse Race North Dakota will make more money while it's closed, than actually being open.