CER suspends Ag Park Simulcast

September 11, 2018

Bettors and horse racing fans were greeted by a notice posted on the door at Agricultural Park last Thursday that the simulcast operation had been temporarily suspended by the Columbus Racing and Exposition board.

Until further notice, no wagers will be taken on the multitude of tracks the park displays on its dozens of televisions. Normally, bets are accepted starting at 11 a.m. Thursday and running through 11 p.m. Sunday from such locations as Tampa Bay and Gulfstream Park in Florida, Aqueduct in New York and Santa Anita in California.

Columbus Exposition and Racing Inc. is a five-member nonprofit group that formed in 2013 after the Platte County Agricultural Society ended its involvement with live horse racing due in part to the financial struggles Columbus racing was suffering at the time.

Ag Park General Manager Brian Palmer reported to The Columbus Telegram in 2013 the ag society lost $97,772 during 23 days of live racing in 2012. In July, CER member Dan Clarey told the Telegram he didn’t have the exact number but guessed the wagering amounts dropped slightly in 2017 from 2016.

In 2016, Ag Park racing took in $4 million in bets, live racing and simulcast, compared to $4.3 for 2015. After the CER assumed operations, it was able to produce a profit of just over $10,000 for the ag society in its first year.

CER receives all profits from simulcast racing due to a state law prohibiting the involvement of the ag society.

Palmer was reached on Monday afternoon for details of the suspension but declined to comment and directed all inquires to the CER.

The CER responded via email with the following statement:

“CER has suspended it’s simulcast operation and is evaluating the future of horse racing in Columbus. We are currently in negotiations with various parties and hope to make a decision regarding racing in the near future. We would like nothing more than to continue the rich 80+ year tradition of racing in Columbus and are working as hard as possible to make this happen.”

This story is developing.