The New Era of Horse Racing in Grants Pass is Beginning to Blossom
And They’re Off!
For those of us in Southern Oregon who didn’t make it to the Kentucky Derby or the Triple Crown this year, our chance to enjoy this age-old sport has arrived in our neighborhood. Racing on the Rogue horse races at the Grants Pass Downs located within the Josephine County Fairgrounds will continue through July 12.
The racing season in Grants Pass opened last Saturday with excellent attendance and even more excellent summer weather. Often looked on as a dated pastime for society ladies in large hats, horse racing can be exhilarating entertainment for even the average, post-modern layperson. For a mere $4, a spectator can experience the thundering hooves, the amazing speed and the thrill of competition between majestic animals. All while sipping a beverage of choice in a chair in the shade. It doesn’t get much more American than that.
For over 60 years, horse racing has taken place at the Grants Pass Downs. Much can change in that amount of time, and the most recent change has been a good one. In 2012, Josephine County decided to discontinue their support of horse racing at the Downs. At which time the Southern Oregon Horse Racing Association (SOHRA) stepped in to save the day. Every year since the switch has shown significant improvement. Even since last year, the “handle” (amount of money horses are racing for) has increased 21 percent, and spectator attendance has increased 14 percent. SOHRA President Rod Lowe says that their fundraiser on June 6 also upped the survival of the races, but there is still much improvement to be had and those invested in the project are all-in.
“Rebuilding doesn’t happen overnight,” he says. “Most of the members of SOHRA are owners and horse riders ourselves. If you don’t like it, you are not going to work hard on it.”
(Lowe’s Quarter Horse Frankie Valentine will take to the track this season.)
Both Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds will compete in their respective races over the nine days of competition, with horse gender, age, winning history, location of birth, and length of race also deciding race categories. Sure, you can sit there with your calculator and run the numbers all day long, or you can just pick your favorite color or horse name. Which brings us to the other fun part of horse racing—the betting. Bets can be made for as little as $1, and can range from simple “straight wagers” (betting on one horse in a single bet) to more complex “exotic wagers” (betting on more than one horse in a single bet). Check out the info box for more horse betting enlightenment.
Racing on the Rogue 2015
1 pm, first race post time. 5 pm, special post time for July 3 only.
June 27, 28. July 3, 4, 5, 11, 12.
Grants Pass Downs at Josephine County Fairgrounds, 1451 Fairgrounds Road, Grants Pass.