When it comes to horse racing within the state of Arizona, there is only one track that springs to mind and with more than 60 years of events taking place at the venue, Turf Paradise has certainly lived up to its name in the past.
With a usual race calendar being held between each November and the following May, preparations will soon be in place for another half year of top sporting action and although the excitement is brewing, there are also fears at the same time.
Fears that stem from an indifferent safety record during the last racing schedule across 2020 and 2021 and with a COVID-19 closure coming back in February of this year, that could be considered as just the tip of the iceberg.
An iceberg that once again highlights just how dangerous the sport of horse racing can be and with a number of equine fatalities unfortunately being recorded, some quarters have asked whether Turf Paradise should once again open for business.
A decision that was up in the air until just a week or so ago and although a number of leading figures have voiced their displeasure at the goings on within Arizona over the past year or so, the green flag has been given for another packed calendar of scheduled events.
However, there is something of a plot twist in all of this and it comes courtesy of the Arizona Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (AZHBPA) who have stated that they will not sign any race-meet contract until a list of track safety upgrades have been made at the track itself.
A stance which is understandable considering what has recently unfolded and although the Turf Paradise bosses are seemingly happy to make such amendments, they have their own fears that they cannot be completed before the AZHBPA’s deadline.
With the first race scheduled for November 5th, there is something of a race against time and those who make the decisions at Turf Paradise, feel that this could well be a race that they would end up losing.
Which if they were to lose, would mean an enforced hiatus may have to take place and with 25 safety issues being highlighted by the AZHBPA in July, there is certainly a considerable amount of work that needs to be done.
Work that is seemingly being demanded after no fewer than 67 Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses lost their life during 2020 and although not all of these were through racing alone, it is still a rather sobering number all the same.
A figure that certainly cannot be repeated this time around and if the 25 safety measures are not implemented in the next few months, then punters will be denied the opportunity to place a wager or two.
While for those who live in the state itself, TwinSpires is already live in Arizona and should racing eventually be given the go ahead at Turf Paradise, they will be ready to offer a considerable number of markets for the venue’s fall racing schedule.
Of course, such a possibility is still very much up in the air and with the AZHBPA refusing to budge from their safety-first stance, many are wondering whether this impasse will be broken with enough time to spare.
Of the 25 demands that are being made, the major issue that has been highlighted is that of track safety and with the number of fatalities being rather substantial in 2020, it is a demand that stands to reason.
While just because that is the most pertinent issue, does not mean the other 24 are no less important and other concerns regarding upgrades and repairs to the backstretch, grandstand, and clubhouse, have also been highlighted.
Because although the safety of horses is absolutely paramount, it should not be forgotten that paying customers need to be just as safe and if their experience is one to forget, they will not be in a rush to come back or even in a position to.
Therefore, Turf Paradise may have to consider some worthwhile investment over the next couple of months, so that racing can commence as planned. If they do not, then Arizona’s favourite racetrack may be lying dormant for quite a while.