Turf Paradise Announces Closure Of Live Racing, Simulcasting Oct. 1; Sale Of Track Has Fallen Through - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Turf Paradise Announces Closure Of Live Racing, Simulcasting Oct. 1; Sale Of Track Has Fallen Through

Turf Paradise in Phoenix, Ariz.

Turf Paradise announced on Sept. 18 that live racing and simulcasting at the Phoenix racetrack will cease on Oct. 1, 2023. The closure will also impact Turf's 37 off-track betting locations, which can only operate when there is a contract with the horsemen's group for live racing.

According to its press release, the track's contract with the Arizona Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association ends Sept. 30.

In a memo to employees, track management had indicated the planned sale to James Watson's CT Realty in partnership with Revolutionary Racing had fallen apart. In his comments at an August meeting of the Arizona Racing Commission, Turf Paradise owner Jerry Simms had indicated that Watson had a Sept. 15 deadline to secure financial approvals and had the option to back out up until that deadline. In August, Simms had said it was 50/50 on whether the deal would go forward.

Larry Lucas of Revolutionary Racing, a partner in the proposed purchase, said he was grateful for the Arizona legislature's willingness to help support racing at Turf Paradise but frustrated by Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs' lack of interest in keeping the thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact the industry has in the state.

Lucas had sought legislation to approve Historical Horse Racing machines, similar to what helped Revolutionary Racing reopen Colonial Downs in Virginia and has had a significant impact on the growth of Kentucky racing in recent years.

According to the memo, there are other candidates interested in purchasing the property and the unnamed potential buyers could be interested in continuing live racing at the property. Vince Francia, general manager of Turf Paradise, could not provide insight on timelines for deals with other purchasers and could only say that discussions continue between Simms and potential buyers.

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Turf Paradise had been scheduled to open its 2023-24 season in November.

At the August racing commission meeting, officials with Arizona Downs indicated they were in discussions with the Arizona HBPA to shift dates from Turf to Arizona Downs. Arizona Downs did not apply for 2023 racing dates by the deadline this year, and rumors had indicated it was also under contract to sell. The track was previously the subject of criticism from the commission over its bleak finances, and that will likely come into play if the track wants to run run some of Turf Paradise's dates.

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