GRANTS PASS—Portland Meadows is reportedly on the verge of being sold, and that development is set to have big ramifications for Grants Pass Downs.
If the Portland track were to close, commercial horse racing in Oregon would need a new home and Grants Pass Downs has positioned itself to fill the void.
Even if it's not sold, TMB Racing has acquired a commercial racing license and plans on hosting races in southern Oregon this fall.
"The bottom line is, Grants Pass has a track," TMB founder Travis Boersma said. "With Portland Meadows going away, where can you best have a meet? The best option in the state today for that commercial horse race meet to occur is Grants Pass."
Boersma is also the chief executive of Dutch Bros. Coffee, and on March 27, his group was awarded a three-year commercial racing license and simulcasting rights.
The non-commercial summer races at Grants Pass Downs will go on as they always have, but there’s now the likelihood of seven straight weeks of commercial races—the first commercial races in Grants Pass—starting in mid-September.
As part of the application for the commercial license, Boersma proposed renovations to the track that include expanded grandstands, lights for night racing, a wider racing area and a longer chute.
Rebecca Anderson, vice president of the Southern Oregon Horse Race Association, anticipates the commercial races having a ripple effect on the local economy.
"It's another reason for people to get off I-5 and to come to town and while they're here, 'Oh by the way why don't you go have dinner in one of our great restaurants?'" she said.
"It's something that's pretty nostalgic, it's something that's pretty family friendly," Boersma said. "It's part of our community, it's part of our history and it's really part of the state's. I just want to help where I can. I think we're going to have a product that's better than it's ever been in the state of Oregon."