Behind The Lens
Legislative Breakfast • Will Rogers Downs, Claremore, Oklahoma • October 16,2020 • Story by Heather Ridgway • Photos by Jana Thompson, Speedhorse
December 2, 2020 – The OQHRA joined forces with the Cherokee Nation and Will Rogers Downs to discuss key topics with Senators and Representatives from the State of Oklahoma at the Claremore, Oklahoma track on Oct. 19. During breakfast at the track, the legislators heard from Deputy Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation Bryan Warner, Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur and Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission Chair Wendy Keener.
“Oklahoma stayed true to the course. The horsemen and legislators, everybody got together and we set up COVID-19 mitigation efforts. They followed them to a tee and Remington and Will Rogers Downs never stumbled,” Warner explained.
“They stayed upright out of the gate and they finished the race, and because of that, folks all across the United States got to see that there was a possibility that they could keep going and keep running races.”
Through Sunday, Oct. 11, 158 Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa races have been run with a total handle set at $2.7 million and a daily average of $193,000.
The spring Thoroughbred meet at Will Rogers Downs saw 287 races from March to May with a total handle of $131.4 million and a record handle of $7.2 million in one day.
Legislators were given a tour of the facilities and barns giving them the opportunity to speak with individuals who are directly affected by horse racing. OQHRA led the officials around the barn of Eddie Lee “Bubba” Willis where they were able to meet the horses, grooms and trainers, who were available to answer questions regarding impact horse racing has on their livelihoods.
Deputy Chief Warner closed the gathering this way, “If anyone has been on the backside of the track, it is the most diverse group of people you will ever meet. The seeds we plant today are for our future generations… Let’s prepare our hearts to do this together.”
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