Quarter Horse Group Wants Racing Days

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A newly-formed organization for state licensed owners and trainers of Oklahoma-raised racing quarter horses plans to ask the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission to allot "a fair percentage" of racing days at any future track site for quarter horses, it was reported Monday.

The idea is to "protect the quarter horse industry in the state," said Galen Ellsworth, one of the founders of the organization. It is called Oklahoma Owners & Trainers Association Inc.

The first in a series of 20 regional meetings for owners and trainers licensed by the racing commission throughout the state will begin this weekend, Ellsworth said.

Some 8,000 letters have been sent to owners, trainers and other individuals who are licensed by the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission to race horses of any breed in the state, he said.

The founders of the group are hoping that a policy can be drafted within the next few weeks to be submitted to the racing commission at its Oct. 17 meeting.

Ellsworth and his wife, who live in Newalla, raise quarter horses which they have raced in five states, including Oklahoma.

He and other licensed owners are basically concerned, he said, that when future tracks are licensed in the state, thoroughbred racing will greatly overshadow quarterhorse racing unless the racing commission sets guidelines for track applications about the number racing days for different breeds.

"We are not against anything the commission has proposed," said Ellsworth. "Instead, we are for some things which have not been addressed, mainly the fact that the horse business is the third largest in the state.

"There are some 8,000 licensed owners of (racing) quarter horses in Oklahoma, and many of them are mom-and-pop operations."

A formal license application has not yet been received by the racing commission from either the backers of Remington Park, proposed for the area near the Oklahoma City Zoo, or the backers of Heartland Race Course, a track proposed for the area near the Will Rogers Airport.

However, Ellsworth said he was concerned the thoroughbred racing days might outnumber the quarter horse days considerably in either case.

Oklahoma Racing Associates, which consists of Edward J. DeBartolo, Sr., Edward J. DeBartolo, Jr. and Marie Denise DeBartolo York, has tentatively proposed 200 thoroughbred racing days and 40 quarter horse racing days for Remington Park.

The number of quarter horse days tentatively scheduled for Heartland was unavailable Monday. However, Ellsworth said he believed the backers of that track, Bob Moore, Melvin Hatley and Phil Patterson, are planning only thoroughbred days for their track.

"I want to emphasize that we are not anti-thoroughbred racing," Ellsworth said. "In fact, racing for all breeds needs a boost in Oklahoma.

"What we are concerned about is thoroughbreds being brought in from out of state for the majority of the races while the quarterhorses bred right here in the state won't get to run."

Although a good deal of criticism has been directed at the racing commission for its recent decision that it will license only one major pari-mutuel track for the state for the time being, Ellsworth said his organization is not concerned with that issue. …