Hope for Washington racing

Jun 4, 2002 12:38 PM

For several decades, under the guidance of the late Joe Goldstein and after him, his son-in-law Morrie Alhadeff, Longacres Racetrack flourished in Renton, Washington. But financial pressures in the 90’s forced the Alhadeff’s to sell the track for non-racing purposes.

Late in the decade, investors built and operated Emerald Downs, with much less success.

But thoroughbred racing in the State of Washington is on the cusp of a newer and, hopefully, a brighter future.

Eric Nelson, the Las Vegas real estate auctioneer who has enjoyed operating Wyoming Downs and its off-track betting operations, plans to file an application for a license to operate the snake-bitten Playfair track in Spokane. His application notes that he has a 10-year lease-to-own agreement issued by Playfair owner Jack Pring. The applications should be filed this week, Nelson said.

While this activity was going on, Andy Stronach, son of racetrack magnate Frank Stronach, principal shareholder in Magna Entertainment Inc. (MIEC) said his new company, EQTAH, will build a new track in Point Roberts, Wash, just across the Canadian border from British Columbia.

Stronach said he hopes to build three turf courses; erect tents for fans and temporary stalls for horses. The only permanent structure on the property, he said, will be a 20,000 square foot building housing a restaurant, bars, and a simulcast wagering center.

Recently, the younger Stronach gave up his executive position with Magna Entertainment to pursue other projects.