HARLINGEN — They’re about to let the dogs out.
Greyhound racing dates at Valley Race Park have been released and the excitement will return for 36 days from Friday Nov. 25 through Feb. 4.
The race meet, called a “Greyhound Racing Festival,” will consist of 10 races per day for a total of 360 dog races.
“Our view as an organization, our philosophy, is that more isn’t always better,” Andrea Young, president of Valley Race Park Inc., said yesterday. “Texas greyhound racing, being held primarily at Gulf Greyhound Park, has been a year-round affair which really takes away urgency for folks to get out to the track since the season is always there.
“We feel like a more boutique, shorter meet model where it’s a limited window of time and there’s more money available in prize money for owners and trainers, is going to provide more excitement, better quality and just an overall better product,” Young added.
Young said the track on Ed Carey Drive already is being prepped for the resumption of full greyhound racing, which hasn’t been seen there since 2013.
“We’ll be making hundreds of thousands of dollars of capital investment in the facility,” Young said. “A lot of it is stuff folks might not see, like air-conditioning and getting the kennels where the dogs are housed ready.”
She did say new track lights are going up “even as we speak,” and they’ll be employed during night racing.
Total purses to be distributed to the dog owners and handlers will be in excess of $2.2 million, the Texas Greyhound Association estimates.
Since racing was suspended, the park has survived on live simulcasts of dog and horse racing, pay-per-view sports and as a venue for special events such as weddings and banquets.
Young said the park will continue to be available for banquet rentals, and suggested those events might be paired with the actual dog racing.
“We plan to have Wednesday matinees with free admission during the day, so you can come out and have lunch and enjoy the races,” she said. “Fridays and Saturdays, we’ll probably be running at night, but we haven’t made a decision on that.”
Young said additional hiring has already commenced in anticipation of the upcoming meet, and that more staff will be added as the meet nears.
The new dog racing meet at Valley Race Park was the result of a deal cut by greyhound track owners and the Texas Racing Commission.
The plan submitted to the commission was on behalf of Young, Sally Briggs of Gulf Greyhound Park in La Marque, Gulf Coast Racing in Corpus Christi and David Peck, president of the Texas Greyhound Association.
The key to the new deal is rotating two- to three-month race meets each year between the three dog tracks with Valley Race Park going first.
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