Rillito racing season ends as president praises stability - Tucson News Now

Rillito racing season ends as president praises stability

Source: KOLD Source: KOLD
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The final day of the horse-racing season at Rillito Racetrack is set for Sunday, and it's the season that almost never was.

"It's been a great season," said Jaye Wells, the President of Rillito Racetrack.

Early this year, Wells never thought it would happen. We've been following the latest developments on Tucson News Now, ever since the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in January 2017 to extend the lease through 2021. 

It was the same board of supervisors that, in 2006, voted to tear down the storied grandstand and move horse racing to the Pima County Fairgrounds. In its place, the county was planning to build an 18-field, multi-million dollar soccer complex to hold national and regional tournaments. Those plans changed when the money never materialized, due to the recession.

Now, having that stability, Wells said it gives them a leg up.

"Every year we would close down and had to put it away as if we might never open again. Just the onus of that, and the fact we never got the approval to go forward until less than a month before the opening of racing day. This year, we can start planning, do our marketing, and have the confidence that we will be back in 2018."

Since the Rillito racing season started in mid-February, Wells said $1.4 million was wagered on live Rillito racing, both at the track and at different parlors around the world. He called that amount "high for a smaller track" like his.

Wells said they're already looking forward to next season, which will start in January.

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