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Blue Ribbon Downs To Open Jan. 24, Thanks to Rent, Law

Jerry Shottenkirk Published: January 17, 1997

BIOG: NAME: UPD: 19970117 -TEXT-

Thanks to bankruptcy laws and horsemen willing to pay $2 per day for stall rent, Blue Ribbon Downs will open its race meet Jan. 24.

At Thursday's monthly meeting, the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission couldn't take action against the Sallisaw track, which was forced into involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week by creditor Mark Barnes.

Barnes, who won a $600,000 suit against the track for injuries suffered in a 1984 accident, filed the action against the track. It keeps Blue Ribbon Downs operational and prevents the commission from taking away race dates or making any changes in the track's conditional license.

Blue Ribbon Downs, which owed the commission $257,000 for 1996 racing officials' and equine drug testing fees, made good on only $38,000 by 5 p.m. Wednesday. The track and the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association - the track horsemen's representative - came up with a plan that could help the track take care of its debts to the commission.

A track is required to post a $200,000 bond with the commission. On Thursday, the commission rejected a motion that would have allowed it to make a claim against the current bond. A new bond is due March 1.

"We didn't consent nor agree to the bankruptcy; we wanted to work out an agreement and a method to pay our debts," Blue Ribbon Downs attorney Jim Jones said. "We're hoping to get our race days, and now we can stay in business with the help of horsemen."

Blue Ribbon horsemen agreed to pay $2 per day stall rent until the track's debts are paid, and $1 per day thereafter.

"There's not a horsemen who wants to pay, but given the alternative," they are willing to go along with the plan, said Debbie Schauf, Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association executive director. "We're truly committed to keeping Blue Ribbon open."

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