There will not be any live horse racing in Billings for the second consecutive summer.
Faced with the prospect of limited funding from the Montana Board of Horse Racing again this year, the Yellowstone Horse Racing Alliance of Billings has decided not to run its eight-day meet at MetraPark's Yellowstone Downs in late August and early September, according to Tom Tucker, executive secretary of the MBHR.
A conference call was held by the MBHR on Saturday to finalize race dates for the 2013 season. Miles City will run May 12, 18 and 19, while Great Falls will return after a two-year absence and race four days on July 20, 26, 27 and 28.
Miles City's races are held in conjunction with the annual Bucking Horse Sale. Great Falls will race during the State Fair.
The Yellowstone Horse Racing Alliance had applied for eight days over four weekends for the 2013 season, but decided to turn all of its days back to the MBHR, Tucker said.
"They were hoping for more funding from the Board of Horse Racing," Tucker said in a news release. "The Billings organization felt that if they reduced the number of days they offered in August and September, they would experience a hard time getting horses to come to the shortened race meet, along with a decline in revenues from turf tables, box seats, sponsorships, advertising and much more.
"Eight days seemed to be the magic number for Billings."
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Missoula (three days) and Kalispell (five days) also turned back their race dates, Tucker said.
Missoula was looking to run during the Western Montana Fair, but there was a scheduling conflict with other events. Kalispell felt it needed more time to organize funding and work with the county for the use of its race track.
MBHR chairman Dale Mahlum of Missoula expressed his appreciation to all the tracks that applied for race days.
“This is the first step in bringing the industry back," Mahlum said in the news release. "We were hoping for 15-plus days of racing, but we have seven. That is more than double last year and we are on budget. We need to continue to improve our sources of revenue and raise our financial support for the tracks."
Miles City ran three days over two weekends last year without any financial support from the MBHR. It was the only live racing in the state in 2012.