Horse Racing Makes Huge Comeback in Great Falls - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Horse Racing Makes Huge Comeback in Great Falls

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Sparky Kottke is the President of the Great Falls Turf Club.  In regards to the turnout at horse racing this, Kottke says, "we were surprised. We expected maybe 750-1,000 people that first day".  As it turns out, the Great Falls Turf Club vastly underestimated the attraction of horse racing.  Kottke says "our attendance on Saturday was a little over 2,100 and the handle was over $78,000.  Sunday our attendance was a little over 1,600 and the handle bet that day was a little over $63,000".

Cascade County Commissioners, who entered into an agreement with the Great Falls Turf Club to revive horse racing in Great Falls, were blown away by the response.  Commissioner Bill Salina says, "when we got to Saturday and saw that the stands are brimming, you got a certain feeling of success".

Such a large turnout has many area hotels booked solid.  The Turf Club wasn't quite prepared.  Kottke says, "on Saturday we were short a couple tellers that didn't show up, so people had to wait in line. We weren't quite prepared for the rush at the ticket both to get in".  However, all the kinks were out by Sunday.

An even bigger weekend of horse racing next week is expected with the Montana State Fair in full swing.  Kottke explains that general admission to the horse racing is included with your admission ticket to the fair.   However, reserved seating comes at an extra cost, but all proceeds stay right here.  Kottke says, "the goal was always to make money, but the thing that we're getting at is the money that we make and earn through this will stay right here in the community and go back into purses and go back into possible improvements on the ExpoPark".

Commissioner Salina says they are going to evaluate horse racing in two ways:financially and entertainment value.  Until the last two days of racing are completed next weekend and all the money is tallied with all the expenses, it's hard to say financially where Great Falls horse racing lies.  Either way, horse racing fans say it's one great time!

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