Friday, July 13th, will be a lucky day for those in the Arizona’s Prescott Valley region wanting a new place to bet on horse racing as well as another entertainment venue.
The new Arizona Downs is bringing back wagering on racetracks across the country to the site of the old Yavapai Downs on July 13. Arizona Downs’ simulcast room is being constructed on the first floor of the grandstand, part of more than $2 million in renovations planned. The facility will be open seven days a week beginning at 9 a.m. MST. Admission and parking are free.
“The local region is booming, and we will be an entertainment option for horseplayers and sports fans,” said Arizona Downs general manager Ann McGovern. “Our customers can watch horse racing, professional and college sports and enjoy food and beverages. With more than 40 televisions, Arizona Downs will have something for everyone. And by opening in mid-July, we start accruing money toward horsemen’s purses, which will really be a boost in 11 months when live racing returns here after a decade’s absence.”
Yavapai Downs last ran in 2010. The facility was bought out of bankruptcy court in January by J&J Equine Enterprises LLC, an entity formed by brothers and Phoenix-based JACOR Partners principals Tom, Dave and Mike Auther and their partner Joe Jackson, along with longtime racing executive Corey Johnsen. Live thoroughbred and quarter-horse racing in the summer will return to Arizona in 2019, with Arizona Downs running Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
The new owners chose to change the track’s name from Yavapai Downs to Arizona Downs to reflect the restoration of a year-round circuit to the state, as well as its importance to all facets of Arizona’s racehorse industries.
The opening comes right before the start of two of the nation’s most popular tracks for handicappers, with Southern California’s Del Mar opening July 18 and Saratoga in upstate New York commencing July 20, as well as prominent summer signals such as Kentucky’s Ellis Park, Arlington Park in suburban Chicago, Florida’s Gulfstream Park, Monmouth Park in New Jersey and Minnesota’s Canterbury Park, where a number of Arizona trainers have spent summers since Yavapai Downs closed. Los Alamitos’ quarter-horse racing also will be a featured signal.
Arizona Downs’ launch of its onsite off-track betting facility is the first step toward creating an in-state network of simulcasting outlets affiliated with the track in order to further strengthen purses paid out to racehorse owners.
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