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