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Horse Racing: For Wyoming Downs, a new post time approaches
Horse racing » Utah trainers herald reopening of track.

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Moosman is a believer.

"I’ve told people I think this is the biggest thing that’s happened here since I’ve been in the business," he said. "This is going to save horse racing in Utah."

At a glance

Wyoming Downs timeline

May 1985 » Richard Sims and his partners open a racetrack with a 5,000-seat grandstand about 10 miles north of Evanston, Wyo.

February 1989 » Heartland Federal Savings of Oklahoma begins foreclosure proceedings

April 1989 » Sold to Joe Joyce, a well-known and respected horse racing executive in New York and Chicago

September 1998 » Joyce retires and sells the racetrack to Las Vegas-based businessman Eric Nelson

September 2006 » Sold by Nelson to Wyoming Entertainment LLC and its chief operating officer, Eric Spector

July 2009 » Closed by Spector after a greatly reduced eight-day meet

December 2011 » Purchased at public auction by Nelson, the previous owner, for $450,000

February 2013 » Nelson announces plans to resume live racing after Wyoming Legislature passes historic racing bill

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The impact of the historic racing legislation on Utah racing already is showing, according to Moosman.

"For our breeding business — as far as the number of mares we’re breeding this year — this is as good as we’ve ever had," Moosman said.

Plans also are under way for a new Wyoming Downs-based futurity. Organizers including Moosman and Eugene Joyce believe it could be worth $200,000 by 2015.

Joyce operates a live meet at Sweetwater Downs in Rock Springs as well as six off-track betting sites throughout Wyoming.

"It’s pure excitement for us right now," Nelson said. "There’s no question the extra gaming available can make this a profitable endeavor and, of course, that’s been the challenge. There just hasn’t been enough revenue. But the longevity of the racetrack seems pretty secure at this time."

Of course, plenty of work remains before the track is ready for racing.

That’s where Paul Nelson enters the picture.

He is a general contractor who lives in Utah County. He also is Eric Nelson’s brother.

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Paul Nelson is in charge of restoring the physical plant at Wyoming Downs, which has been left to the animals and the elements for nearly four years.

"There’s a little bit of work to do," he said. "But we’re excited. ... It’s a great facility and great asset."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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