Week 9

Day 54 Sunday, September 25

CasperCentral Wyoming Fairgrounds

We're starting out week nine from Gillette, Wyoming heading from one undocumented track to another. We start the two hour journey heading south on WY-257, which eventually takes us to I-25 and into Casper. Here we're heading for the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds, where six days of racing ended a couple of weeks ago. With the legalization of historic, or instant racing in Wyoming, places like Casper have returned to pari-mutual wagering. Again nothing fancy, another Western half mile fair track, it doesn't matter what they look like, as long as we were there. The next logical stop is Idaho Falls, Idaho, but we're to forgo that for a day, to fulfill a childhood dream to see Old Faithful, at Yellowstone National Park.

It's going to be a long trip, about six and a half hours, but that gets us there later on Sunday and the fact that it's late September, will probably help us get to see Old Faithful, blow here top before we have to leave. We plan on spending the night at the Old Faithful Inn, before getting back on track in the morning. 

Day 54 Miles Cost Lodging
Today 462 231.00 150.00
Total 15,366 8,373.00 8,115.00

Day 55 Monday, September 26

Sandy DownsSandy Downs

We leave Yellowstone heading south on US-20 for the little under three hour ride to Idaho Falls. In Idaho Falls we're heading for Sandy Downs. Racing now is only five days, but a few years back racing spanned a couple of months, with up to sixteen days of racing. Another huge difference between other tracks in the area, is that there is no fair here, just racing and the grandstand might be open air, but the racing oval is six and a half furlongs, with no long quarter horse chute. It looks like it still might exist, Ida-Bets started out here, but looks like it moved to Oregon. We missed live racing, but the track is right off the road, so we can get a good look. Next up we finally get a short drive for a change.

BlackfootEastern Idaho Fairgrounds

We head south on I-15 for about a half hour when we arrive at the Town of Blackfoot. In Blackfoot, we're looking for the Eastern Idaho State Fairgrounds, said to be the site of the first pari-mutual race in Idaho, back in 1964. The fair itself said to have begun in 1902, is your standard Northwest half mile oval, with the quarter horse chute and small open air grandstand. Racing is held in September for four days, over two weekends. A quick look here and another quick trip down I-15, to our next stop.

PocatelloPocatello Downs

Another half an hour down I-15, we come to the town of Pocatello, in Pocatello we're looking for the Bannock County Fairgrounds, home of Pocatello Downs. Over the years there have been two Pocatello Downs, after the track started pari-mutual in 1964, there was a dispute over Sunday racing and a track was hastily built outside the county that raced from 1965 to 1968. In 1969 racing returned to the Bannock County Fairgrounds, where it still ironically resides for five Sundays in May. Pocatello Downs might not be a Downs as in Churchill, but unlike it's fair counterparts boast's a one mile oval, something we haven't seen for a while. After we leave it's off to Boise for what was the last commercial track in the state.

BoiseLes Bois Park

The easy drives are over, the next leg is three and a half hours on I-84, to the State Capitol of Boise. Actually Les Boise Park is in Garden City, a suburb of Boise. Opened in 1970 as just Boise, the track was renamed Les Bois Park in 1973. The only commercial track in Idaho raced under that name until 2008, when it ceased operations. Defying the odds the three quarter mile oval mounted a comeback in 2011 and when instant racing was legalized in 2013, the future looked bright, but that changed. In 2015 the State of Idaho realized that instant racing machines, were just slot machine and deemed them illegal. Without the added revenue Les Bois Park, folded up the tent again and suspended live racing, but kept simulcasting. In another dispute, the state said live racing was necessary for simulcasting, so Les Bois, folded up that tent in May of 2016. The open air grandstand and track are still intact at the Western Idaho Fairgrounds, so we can get a good look before we call it a day.

Day 55 Miles Cost Lodging
Today 427 213.00 100.00
Total 15,793 8,586.00 8,215.00

Day 56 Tuesday, September 27

JeromeJerome County Fair

Today we backtrack on I-84 east to the town of Jerome. After the two hour ride we'll be looking for the Jerome County Fairgrounds, where racing is held for three days in June. In Jerome, we're back to the standard half mile oval, quarter horse chute and small wooden grandstand we've come to know and love for the past couple of weeks. Nothing exciting or historical here, just another check on the list, so let's take a quick look and head down the road to our next stop in Rupert.

RupertMinidoka County Fairgrounds

After leaving Jerome, we head back to I-84 east for about forty miles till exit 211, where we exit for Rupert. In Rupert we will be heading to the Minidoka County Fairgrounds. The track here is a little different then we're use to, the oval is not a true oval, it's like looking at Mountaineer park in a mirror, no, no turf course but the far turn is tighter than the first turn and there are two chutes. Racing here runs for five days, over two weekends including the coveted Fourth of July date. Other than that same old wooden grandstand in a fairground on the outskirts of town. After this the last stop in Idaho.

OneidaOneida County Fairgrounds

On this two hour leg we're heading back to I-84 east, till we hit I-15 south, into Malad City. Malad City is the home of the Oneida County Fairgrounds where racing is conducted for four days in August. The fairgrounds is a rustic place located south of town. Here again, back to the standard half mile oval with the small wooden grandstand. Hopefully we can snap a picture or two to prove we were here and be on our way. If nothing else Malad City, is known as the gateway to Idaho, but not for us were heading in the other direction, back to Wyoming, where live racing is done for the year, but we can finally get in some simulcasting.

EvanstonWyoming Downs

We're heading down I-15 into Utah, where there is a racetrack in the Salt Lake area named Laurel Brown. This is a non betting track so I am bypassing it, but it's there if anyone's interested. Still in Utah we get back on I-84 till we hit I-80 east, the other main east, west route. We have not been on it yet, but we'll see plenty of it going forward. After about two hours we cross back into Wyoming and the Town of Evanston, home of Wyoming Downs. Officially listed as being in Evanston, Wyoming's only commercial track is about fifteen miles north of downtown. The track is a ways off the main road and has no simulcasting, access could be a problem, that's what a telephoto lens is for. The track itself is a seven and a half furlong oval, which ran eight days over four weekends, about half of what it use to run. After this we can head back to town look up the OTB and do a little wagering before calling it a day.

Day 56 Miles Cost Lodging
Today 448 224.00 100.00
Total 16,248 8,810.00 8,315.00

Day 57 Wednesday, September 28

It's about an hour and a half from Evanston to Rock Springs, where we are going to visit Sweetwater Downs. The Downs is located at the Sweetwater Events Complex, where racing is held for four days in August. With the legalization of historic, or instant racing in Wyoming, racing has been returned to fairs across Wyoming. We'll take a look around, Sweetwater looks like the typical Northwest Fair track, when were done it's back on I-80 heading for Nebraska.

MitchellScott's Bluff County Fairgrounds

We've got a long haul, about five and a half hours to our next stop in Mitchell, Nebraska. Pari-mutual racing at Mitchell took place for twenty years between 1947 and 1967. Today the Scott's Bluff County Fairgrounds where racing took place, still exists, but I don't think you will find many people who bet there almost fifty years ago. Mitchell, located in the western part of the state seemed like an odd fit for racing, a sister track Madison, which ran pretty much the same schedule, was one of it's closest neighbors, almost seven hours away. Like I said the fairgrounds are still here and there is a grandstand that looks like it could be a remnant of the the track, as for the half mile oval, there's no sign it existed. We'll stay here tonight before visiting a carbon copy of Mitchell in Colorado tomorrow.

Day 57 Miles Cost Lodging
Today 462 231.00 80.00
Total 16,703 9,041.00 8,395.00

Day 58 Thursday, September 29

BrushMemorial Park

We have a lot of ground to cover today as we visit all the Colorado tracks, if we keep up the pace we can catch live racing at Prairie Meadows this weekend, an unexpected treat. From Mitchell we're heading due south to the Town of Brush, Colorado a site with a similar fate to Mitchell. In Brush, we're looking for the Brush County Fairgrounds, where Memorial Park was located. Racing took place here for eighteen years between 1949 to 1967. Today there is still a fairgrounds, but after almost fifty years no sign that horse racing ever existed here. There is a grandstand, but who knows if it's the one from old half mile track. A side note about Brush, it was the home of Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day, he never would have ridden there, but it might have inspired him to get into the racing game? From Brush, we're going to head southwest to Colorado's only pari-mutual track.

ArapahoeArapahoe Park

From Brush we take I-76 south till we come to I-470, a toll road that has no toll booths, from there we exit to I-225 into Aurora, the home of Arapahoe Park. Built as a replacement for Centennial Race Track in 1984, it lasted one season. In 1992, Arapahoe Park was given a second chance and is still running today, without the aid of a casino. We probably have to go back to Emerald Downs for the last time we visited a mile track, with a glass enclosed grandstand. Racing ended in August, but we still can get into the track to look around and do some simulcasting. From here we'll try to find Arapahoe Park's predecessor in Littleton.

From Aurora, it's about a half hour drive to Littleton, the former home of Centennial Race Track, starting off on I-225 to I-25 to Belleview Avenue, the street the track was off of. Built in 1950 and dubbed "The Santa Anita of the Rockies" the track shut down after thirty three years in 1983. Reminiscent of Garden State Park, there is little to indicate that the grand old track ever existed except for a back alley behind a Home Depot, named Centennial Drive. Today the site along the South Platte River is home to the Littleton Golf and Tennis Club, as well as a luxury housing complex. From one unhappy ending to another, as we head for the last stop in Colorado.

From Littleton, we head south on I-25 a little past Colorado Springs, to The Pikes Peak International Raceway, the former home of Pikes Peak Meadows. Opened in 1965 the initial version of the track lasted only four years till 1969. The one mile oval off I-25 got a second chance in 1993, but that was a disaster as the track ran only thirteen cards before shutting down again. After that it was retooled into an auto racing site, which it remains today. The race track has a grandstand, but it's not likely the original from Pikes Peak Meadows. It a long ride to our next stop in Kansas, so we're head halfway in that direction, before we call it a day.

Day 58 Miles Cost Lodging
Today 564 282.00 80.00
Total 17,267 9,323.00 8,475.00

Day 59 Friday, September 30

We're starting the day off in Kansas on I-70 about four hours from the Town of Anthony. At exit 184 we turn off on US-281 heading south, a little over a hundred miles we turn on US-160 into Anthony. North of town we will find the remnants of Anthony Downs, opened in 1904, it last raced in 2009, before being torn down. Today all that's left is a single building, which looks like where the mutual machines were, why it's still standing who knows, I don't think racing will return. There is also the outline of two ovals, the outer half mile horse track and a smaller inner oval used for dog racing. Back in the day thoroughbreds, quarter horses and dogs alternated races on the card. Not much to see, but we were here. Next stop Eureka.

EurekaEureka Downs

We leave Anthony, heading northeast on KS-2, to KS-42 into Wichita, where we pick up I-35, The Kansas Turnpike, we exit on US-54 into Eureka. On the west end of town we find the defunct Eureka Downs. Racing at Eureka is said to have been around before the nineteen hundreds. Today the modern looking grandstand built in 1988, when Eureka Downs hosted the first pari-mutual thoroughbred race in Kansas, is still intact, as well as the five eights mile racing oval. They did a lot work here for a track that only raced a few days a year, it even has a real toteboard in the infield and no rodeo ring. The last betting races were held in 2009, the track tried running without betting, but that only lasted a year or two. When were done we head for Kansas City and the Woodlands Racing Complex.

WoodlandsThe Woodlands

We leave Eureka, back on US-54 heading east till we meet up with US-75 to I-35  into Kansas City. In the western suburbs we find the only commercial race track in Kansas, The Woodlands. Opened in 1990 and idle since 2007, The Woodlands is a multi wagering campus, including both horse and dog racing tracks on the same footprint. We will probably have to worship from afar as the gates are locked down and the mile oval and grandstand front are not visible from any road. There has been some movement about re-opening the track, at least the horse racing part (dog racing is dead) in the near future, if favorable gaming legislation can be passed. Enjoy the view through the fence, we'll spend the night in KC, before heading to Iowa and a weekend of live racing.

Day 59 Miles Cost Lodging
Today 520 260.00 160.00
Total 17,787 9,583.00 8,635.00

Day 60 Saturday, October 1

AltoonaPrairie Meadows

We start off the day heading north on I-35 from Kansas City to Des Moines, Iowa where we'll take I-80 east to the suburb of Altoona, the home of Prairie Meadows. Prairie Meadows is a racetrack, casino and hotel complex, where we can just park the car and treat ourselves to a great weekend. Prairie Meadows opened up in 1989 and by 1991 was out of business. In 1993 the track tried again and once gaming was approved in 1995. it's been smooth sailing since then. Prairie Meadows is a modern glass enclosed facility with a mile racing oval. It has a thoroughbred and quarter horse season, which is currently going on. So were going to give the car a little break do some live racing, simulcasting and gambling for a couple of days.

Another tough week, a lot of driving for nineteen tracks, where most looked the same, but we did get an unexpected weekend of live racing. More encouraging news, we should cross back over the Mississippi River next week, which increases the odds of live racing.         

Day 60 Miles Cost Lodging
Today 206 203.00 150.00
Total 17,993 9,786.00 8,785.00

Tracks Visited Live
Week 9 19 1
Total 153 19

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