Texas tracks lose out to richer ones in other states, supporters say
Manor Downs, the oldest parimutuel horse racing track in Texas, appears to be on its last legs.
The track has not applied for any live racing dates next year and is planning to end simulcasting on July 25.
“It’s not 100 percent, but I’d say it’s 99 percent sure,” said Manor’s chief executive officer, Howard Phillips, who has informed the Texas Racing Commission of those plans.
“We’ve had world champions that have won their first championship at Manor,” said Rob Werstler, executive director of the Texas Quarter Horse Association. “As far as Manor (is concerned), not racing there is devastating to the quarter horse breeding industry.”
Manor has been battered by the stalled economy and a serious slump in the Texas horse racing industry.
“It’s off 40 percent since 2008,” Phillips said of the track’s business, adding that losses this year were close to $1 million. Manor raced a total of 14 days on weekends in March and early April, Thoroughbreds and quarter horses have raced at Manor Downs, but its heyday was years ago. Now, the larger . purses are in other states. down from 18 in recent years.
“It’s just smart business to get out of the front lines and onto the sidelines,” Phillips said in an interview Monday, adding that there may be other good uses for the property, including as a training facility or a concert venue.
Before pari-mutuel betting was legalized in Texas, Manor Downs was perhaps best known for showcasing artists such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Grateful Dead and Johnny Cash. When legislation did pass, it was the first track to hit the ground running, and it recently concluded its 21st season of live pari-mutuel racing.
Phillips pointed out that other Class 2 tracks in the state didn’t last nearly as long.
“We’ve been there the whole