Grants Pass Downs will kick off its summer racing season tomorrow, Tuesday, June 16. The 8-race opening day program will feature the Shady Cove Stakes, with a full field of 10 thoroughbreds competing for a purse of $12,000 at a distance of five furlongs. The meet will boast more than 80 races scheduled over nine dates – June 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 and July 1, 6, 7 and 8 – with $60,000 available in purses each day. Post time is set for 4:00 p.m.
Lighting was installed this spring to facilitate twilight racing, and the track was widened to support bigger fields. Thanks to a grant from the Oregon Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (OTOBA), Grants Pass Downs was also able to complete a number of other safety-focused projects including the installation of a new retaining wall, fencing, breakaway distance markers and additional sand to improve the track surface. The stall area was also expanded to accommodate up to 450 horses to meet growing demand. Those stalls are now nearly full as hundreds of horsemen and women from around Oregon and across the West have come to Grants Pass to participate in the meet.
“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,” said John Everly, racing secretary at Grants Pass Downs. “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.”
In accordance with current Oregon state health guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the meet will be held without fans in attendance. Racing fans unable to attend due to the current public health guidelines 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 around the state. Grants Pass Downs has also expanded its wagering menu and will offer two new bets during the Summer Meet—a fifty cent Jackpot Pick Five with a $5,000 guaranteed pool and a 15% takeout rate, and a one dollar early Pick Four. For a list of participating ADW sites and OTB locations, visit https://gpdowns.com/wagering/.
“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,” said Rod Lowe, director of racing and chief operating officer at Grants Pass Downs. “We’ll be encouraging the use of masks or face coverings by all guests. Additionally, hand sanitizer 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.”
Grants Pass Downs will allow a maximum of 250 nonessential people on site on racing days, including owners and their guests, sponsors and corporate partners, and members of the media.