Playfair Expects Ax To Fall Racing Commission Likely To Reject Request For Dates

The state horse racing commission will reject the latest and perhaps last request for 1996 racing dates at Playfair Race Course today, the Spokane member of the commission predicted Wednesday.

Jim Seabeck said he again appeared to be in the minority in another 2-1 decision to deny racing dates to the Spokane track.

One of three voting members of the commission, Seabeck said the other two voting members of the board were opposed to a winter season at the Spokane track.

Seabeck said he left Tuesday’s West Side meeting before any formal decision was reached on what to do about the winter season.

“When I left I assumed they were not going to give Playfair the dates,” Seabeck said, referring to the other voting commissioners, Barbara Shinpoch of Renton and Robert Plut of Seattle.

The lease-holder at Playfair wants to run three days a week from Nov. 22-March 23. That organization, Playfair Inc., or Old Playfair, is represented by former general manager Dan Hillyard.

Old Playfair is the only licensed operator to formally request winter dates.

The winter became available after Apple Tree Turf Associates on Oct. 18 backed out of its commitment to run at the fairgrounds in Yakima.

Traditionally, racing in Washington state is a year-round activity, with Playfair operating statewide in the fall. That timetable was interrupted this year by the June 20 opening of Emerald Downs. Playfair’s usual dates went to Emerald when the new track’s anticipated April opening was delayed.

Emerald was to run 100 days from June 20 through Nov. 4. But when Monday’s programs were poorly attended, officials at Emerald received commission approval to drop Mondays and extend their season to Nov. 17.

Should the Spokane track be formally excluded from the mix, the commission’s options would include letting the state go dark, extending the season at Emerald Downs in Auburn, waiting for another Yakima operator to go through the licensing procedure or enacting a combination of all or some of the above.

Playfair racing secretary Ted Martin said he hoped the commission hadn’t reached another anti-Playfair decision.

“If they turn us down it’s a hell of a blow,” Martin said. “But I’m still hoping for the best.”

Martin said he expects official word by fax this morning.

, DataTimes

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