Grants Pass Downs kicks off today’s summer racing season with an eight-race opening day schedule featuring the Shady Cove Stakes, with a full field of 10 thoroughbreds running for a $12,000 purse five-furlong distance away.
The meeting will feature more than 80 races scheduled for nine dates – June 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 and July 1, 6 , 7 and 8 – with $60,000 in purses available per day.
In the spring, the venue was busy making upgrades with new lighting built to promote twilight racing, and the track was extended to accommodate bigger fields. Grants Pass Downs was also able to complete a variety of other safety-focused ventures, thanks to a grant from the Oregon Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (OTOBA).
Additionally, the stall area was extended to accommodate up to 450 horses to meet rising demand. Such stalls are now almost complete, as hundreds of horsemen and women from all over Oregon and around the West have come to Grants Pass to take part in the conference.
John Everly, racing secretary at Grants Pass Downs said: “The uncertainty of these times hasn’t dampened any of the enthusiasm we’ve felt from our partners in the racing community since commercial racing came to Grants Pass last year.
“Demand remains very high, and even with the addition of more stalls in the barn area and fields expanding from eight to 10 horses with the widened track and an expanded starting gate, races should be pretty full throughout the meet.”
The meeting will be held without fans attending, in compliance with existing Oregon state health recommendations in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Racing enthusiasts who are unable to participate due to existing public health requirements are encouraged to watch and wager at TVG.com and other advance deposit wagering (ADW) websites, as well as at participating off-track betting (OTB) locations throughout the state.
Grants Pass Downs has also expanded its wagering menu and will offer two new bets during the Summer Meet, a 50 cent Jackpot Pick Five with a guaranteed pool of $5,000 and a take-out rate of 15 percent, and an early Pick Four dollar.
Rod Lowe, director of racing and chief operating officer at Grants Pass Downs added: “The health and safety of our athletes, staff, partners and guests is our highest priority, and we have put new protocols in place to ensure a safe, fun environment for all as we resume racing operations.
“We’ll be encouraging the use of masks or face coverings by all guests. Additionally, hand sanitiser stations have been set up in high traffic areas throughout the premises, and social distancing reminders – like signage and floor markings – have been posted throughout the premises.”