Phoenix’s Turf Paradise horse track reverses course, announces plans to keep running

Sep 28, 2023, 7:49 AM | Updated: Sep 29, 2023, 1:42 pm

Turf Paradise has reached a deal to continue Off Track Betting operations and is planning a new liv...

Turf Paradise has reached a deal to continue Off Track Betting operations and is planning a new live meet, the Phoenix horse racing track announced Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2023. (Facebook Photo/Turf Paradise)

(Facebook Photo/Turf Paradise)

PHOENIX – Turf Paradise has reached a deal to continue Off Track Betting operations and is planning a new live meet, reversing shutdown plans, the 67-year-old Phoenix horse racing track announced Wednesday.

Turf Paradise’s contract to simulcast races for wagering had been set to expire at the end of September, but the Arizona Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (AZ HBPA) extended it to Nov. 12, according to a post on the track’s website.

The post said details about a new live meet to start in January were still being worked out and more information would be released at a later date.

The news comes a week after the facility said it would cease live racing and Off Track Betting (OTB) operations Oct. 1 because owner/operator Jerry Simms was retiring and the AZ HBPA contract was set to expire.

Why did Turf Paradise call off plans to close?

The reason for the about face was revealed Thursday: an ownership change. The track, which debuted in 1956, will be purchased by Richard Moore and the Turf Paradise Land Trust.

“There were a number of buyers that wanted to buy the track, perhaps at a higher price,” Simms said in an update on the track’s website. ”But I decided on this gentleman because he’s going to run racing. I wanted to keep live racing alive in Arizona.”

According to the update, Frank Nickens is the visionary behind the sale, which will save more than 5,000 jobs.

In addition to live horse racing meets, Turf Paradise maintains 37 OTB sites throughout Arizona that televise its races plus simulcasts from tracks around the country for the purpose of wagering.

According to ABC15, California-based CT Realty was under contract to purchase the race track and its 252-acre site for redevelopment earlier this year, but the deal fell through.

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Phoenix’s Turf Paradise horse track reverses course, announces plans to keep running