GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — Saddled by red ink, a half-century tradition of horse racing may come to an end in Southern Oregon's Josephine County.
The county fair board says it can't afford the losses putting on the nine-day event — about $50,000 in 2011 and $22,000 this year.
"But that doesn't mean we don't want it," said Fair Board President Terry Canavello. "Horse racing has a long tradition here. It is important to people."
Josephine County has been struggling with budget cuts because of declining federal timber subsidies.
The county commissioners have told some departments to find ways to become self-sustaining, and that's been difficult for the fairgrounds, The Grants Pass Daily Courier (http://bit.ly/YeFjP8) reported Monday. It said the horse racing has been in a financial hole for years.
The county fair board is negotiating with the Southern Oregon Horse Racing Association to take over the event, saying the association wouldn't face the same administrative overhead the county does and it could pay lower wages.
Canavello said she's enthusiastic about the talks with the association. A member of the group, Harvey Boyle is gathering estimates on liability insurance. The manager of the 2012 races, Lonnie Craig, said the insurance could cost as much as $20,000 and be a deal breaker.
Horse racing fans are planning a fundraiser next year chariot, harness and match races, as well as live music, to raise money, and the horse racing association would get a share.
Information from: Daily Courier, http://www.thedailycourier.com