Longtime Abilene residents may have noticed fewer and fewer trucks with dog beds on the back during the spring and fall National Greyhound Association meetings.
The number of greyhounds entered in those meets has dropped substantially and the NGA has adjusted its schedule appropriately, said Jim Gartland, executive director of the NGA.
“We’re just tailoring to the state of the industry as it has become. It has gotten smaller, so we need to get smaller,” Gartland said.
The new Fall Meet schedule has all round-one races on Monday with all the finals on Thursday.
The NGA pup auction moved to Friday starting at 3 p.m. at Sterl Hall.
“We’ve gone from having over 1,000 greyhounds at the meet, to 800, to 500. We are down to 300 now,” he said. “We just adjusted the schedule to fit the size of the experience now.”
For several years, first round races were held on Monday and Tuesday. Finals were held on Thursday and Friday. The auction started Friday night and finished up on Saturday.
Greyhound owners from across the United States converge in Abilene to race their greyhound pups twice a year. Pre-stake schooling was held this week with about 320 pups schooling the first two days.
Final stake deadline is noon today.
The greyhound breeding industry downsized considerably after Florida voters approved an amendment to the constitution to end pari-mutuel wagering. Before the vote, of the 17 greyhound racetracks in the United States, 11 were in Florida.
In 1993 the NGA individually registered 39,139 racing greyhounds. In 2018 the North American registry had 6,867 greyhounds.
Five racetracks now remain racing in Florida. Racing will end at those tracks in Florida on Dec. 31, 2020.
Racetracks are still running races in Arkansas, West Virginia, Alabama, Iowa and Texas.
Kansas still allows for pari-mutuel wagering on greyhounds and horses, although no wagering racetracks are open with The Woodlands in Kansas City and Wichita Greyhound Park closing in 2009.
“There currently could be racing in Kansas,” Gartland said. “It’s just that the parameters of which it can be run are not beneficial to the industry.”
Each year legislation is proposed to change the formula of the profits to give the track operators a better share.
A meeting was held in Sedgwick County recently where the county commission reviewed having a county-wide vote to allow for slot machines at Wichita Greyhound Park which could lead to that facility reopening. Under Kansas statute, individual county voters must first approve the addition of slot machines at pari-mutuel facilities. No action was taken.
Gartland said track owner Phil Ruffin plans to lobby for legislation again in the upcoming Legislative session.
“I think there is still some interest,” he said.
As part of the Fall Meet activities, Ken and Janet Allen, former Abilene residents, will be inducted into the Greyhound Hall of Fame starting at 6 p.m. Thursday night.
Greyhound Lonesome Cry, owned by Charter Kennel, will also be inducted Thursday.
Contact Tim Horan at email@example.com.