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9:54 PM Tue, Oct. 23rd

Yavapai Downs expected to run again in 2019; Wagering could start in July

Horse Racing

Yavapai Downs, which hasn’t seen horse racing since 2010, appears to be in position for a full season in 2019, now that the state has approved a permit for the new owners to race. (Les Stukenberg/Courier, File)

Yavapai Downs, which hasn’t seen horse racing since 2010, appears to be in position for a full season in 2019, now that the state has approved a permit for the new owners to race. (Les Stukenberg/Courier, File)

The Arizona Racing Commission unanimously approved a three-year temporary permit for the track’s new ownership group during its May 10 meeting, paving the way for horse racing in 2019.

According to a news release, plans call for live racing to begin at Yavapai Downs in 2019, running from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.

Simulcast wagering could begin as early as July 1 this year to build purses for the live season, with the first Off Track Betting facility to be at the racetrack site in Prescott Valley.

Yavapai Downs has not had horseracing activity since 2010. A previous owner, Gary Miller, assumed a $5.5 million federal loan out of bankruptcy court in 2015, but was unsuccessful in bringing horse racing back to the track. He filed for bankruptcy in 2015 and the property at the eastern edge of Prescott Valley has been vacant since that time.

The track was purchased out of federal bankruptcy court in January 2018, for $3.22 million by J&J Equine Enterprises LLC, an entity formed by brothers and Phoenix-based JACOR Partners principals Tom, Dave and Mike Auther and their partner Joe Jackson, along with longtime racing executive Corey Johnsen.

J&J Equine Enterprises was granted a temporary permit to conduct live racing for fiscal years 2019, 2020 and 2021. A permanent permit is pending the Arizona Racing Commission staff completing its due diligence.

In its meeting last Thursday, the Arizona Racing Commission also approved veteran racetrack operator Ann McGovern as the track’s general manager.