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Eye On Boise

Idaho jockey Gary Stevens: ‘I do not want Les Bois Park to stand vacant’

Idaho jockey Gary Stevens testifies Monday to the Senate State Affairs Committee (Betsy Russell)
Idaho jockey Gary Stevens testifies Monday to the Senate State Affairs Committee (Betsy Russell)

Idaho jockey Gary Stevens told the House State Affairs Committee this morning, “You see a man who was inspire and shaped by my community.” To applause, he said, “I do not want Les Bois Park to stand vacant.”

“Small, medium, large tracks across the country have struggled to survive,” Steven said. “Historical horse racing was invented as a new way to provide pari-mutuel betting to patrons using new technology on previously run horse races.” He said Arkansas and Kentucky maintain “it has saved their live racing industry.”

“This is my job, it’s been my job for over 30 years,” Steven said. “I rode at Burley, I rode at these tracks, that’s what gave me my start that boosted me to Longacres Race Track in Seattle… and on to Santa Anita, Hollywood Park and tracks across the nation and throughout the world. There will not be another Gary Stevens come out of Idaho without the opportunity given to Les Bois Park in these historical racing machines, I guarantee that to you today.” He said, “After only six months of operation at Les Bois Park we’re beginning to see how it is providing economic relief. … Historical horse racing will save live racing and the industry in Idaho.”

Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, told Stevens, “I’ve rooted for you in many races, you’re an amazing athlete and an amazing jockey and we’re honored to have you here this morning. What do you think the difference is today in the horse racing world … that now needs this type of financial support through these gaming machines which are quite controversial? What’s changed, do you think?”

Stevens said, “Purse money had not changed here in Idaho since I was a kid in 1979. … It didn’t keep up with the economy, as it must.” Bigger purses, he said, “draw the better horses, the better jockeys. … People want to bet the best races that there are.” He said, “I see if this bill passed, the doors closing and no live racing this summer. …padlocks on the race track.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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