Last day at the races?

Last day at the races? »Play Video
KENNEWICK -- Budget problems means this weekend's horse racing event in the Tri-Cities could be the last.

Joyce Goodwin has enjoyed watching horse races for forty years. She's been going to Sun Downs since it opened in the mid-80s:

"I enjoy the betting. I like to bet. And I just like to see beautiful horses," she says.

And she's not alone. In the past three weeks, more than 10 thousand people showed up to bet on the ponies. But all those people don't necessarily mean the races will keep going.

"It just gets harder every year, you know, but the people have been really supportive," says Cliff Schellinger. He organizes the races. He says insurance costs alone might make it impossible for horse racing to continue next year.

"That's what's killing us. My insurance this year 8 thousand dollars a day just for Jockey's insurance," Cliff added.

He says in the week they have races at Sun Downs, he pays 60 thousand dollars for insurance. The only help he gets comes from a state grant worth 30 thousand dollars a year. The rest has to made up from ticket sales. It didn't help that negotiating their contract with the fairgrounds gave them a late start on promoting.

"Our handle is just a little bit down. I think part of that is that we started later and didn't get the word out quick enough," says Shorty Martin, a race secretary.

Still, race organizers are confident in their resolve to keep the races running.

"27 years and we just donate our time and try to make it keep going it's all about fun. If you don't have fun out here, it's time to go home," added Cliff.

The Tri-City Horse Racing Association does hope to have the races again next year, but it will depend on how much state grant money they can get to help cover costs.