The Rock cancels 2010 racing


[Corrected article]Citing what it said was adverse legislation passed last year by the New Hampshire Legislature, Rockingham Park -- the site of thoroughbred and harness racing in New Hampshire for most of the past 104 years – has announced it will not host a live horse racing meeting in 2010. The Legislature passed a measure last year that eliminated funding for the New Hampshire Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission, which regulates live racing. The loss of funding, according to a press release issued by The Rock, means the commission “cannot provide regulation and oversight, and therefore cannot allow dates to be issued to Rockingham or any other track in the state.” Essentially, track officials have waited long enough for lawmakers to repair the situation this session, said Ed Callahan, president and general manager of the facility. Callahan said attempts have been made to restore the funding to the commission, but they have thus far failed. “We have waited as long as we can for the Legislature to correct this, but we cannot wait any longer,” said Callahan. “We must notify the horsemen who come from all over the country so they can make other plans. He said that the decision to eliminate funding for the racing commission was yet another nail in the coffin of live racing. “Over the past few years the state has eliminated various funds from racing and has increased fees which would cost Rockingham almost $500,000 per year in order to hold live racing,” according to Callahan. He said over 100 jobs will be lost through the elimination of live racing. The Rock’s decision comes months after The Lodge at Belmont, a former greyhound track, and Seabrook Greyhound Park decided to eliminate live racing, citing the same concerns. Like the other two tracks, The Rock will remain open, offering simulcast wagering, charitable gambling and charitable bingo. Callahan said officials will continue to work to bring live racing back, in addition to its efforts to win approval of expanded gambling in the state. The track has been at the forefront of those seeking approval for the installation of slot machines at various facilities around the state, including Rockingham Park. The last time that live racing was not conducted at Rockingham Park was 1980, after its grandstand burned to the ground in a fire that shuttered the track. The facility was rebuilt and reopened in 1984. – JEFF FEINGOLD/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW
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