Sweetwater Downs looks to cut live horse racing

SWEETWATER, COUNTY, WYO – With the horseracing industry under the gun nationwide, and the very survival of the sport at risk due to copious fatalities, a local track in Wyoming is contemplating cutting its racing program but for different reasons.

The Sweetwater Events Complex will be reviewing its option to discontinue live horse racing in 2019. The Sweetwater Events Complex Board of Trustees will be presented with staff recommendation to discontinue live horse racing due to declining public participation and the increasing high demand from user groups wanting to rent the facility.

The sport as a whole has undergone waning interest and a spate of deaths surrounding at least one track—famed Santa Anita—where nearly two-dozen thoroughbreds have died in barely four months. Last year in the US, 493 horses died on-track or were euthanized within days of suffering a racing injury, according to a report from Time Magazine. That number doesn’t include deaths during training.

In past years, Sweetwater Downs hosted live horse racing for three weekends in August and September. However, due to the increase demand of the facility and lack of funding, the Sweetwater Events Complex Board and Staff will be reviewing options to solicit other events during this time period.

“Horse racing was utilizing much of the Events Complex property for a month. Horse racing requires the use the Indoor Arena, stalls, campground, grandstands and Small Hall with little return back to our community,” executive director Larry Lloyd explained.

Last fall, Wyoming Pari-Mutuel Commissioners approved the 2019 schedule for Sweetwater Downs in Rock Springs for racing on August 30, 31; September 1, 7, 8, 14, 15.

If the season is scrapped at Sweetwater, it would leave Gillette and Evanston as two of two of the last remaining places to see live horseracing in Wyoming.

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