Greyhound racing

The National Greyhound Association located west of Abilene on Old Highway 40 is the official registry of racing greyhound in North America and will be impacted by the vote in Florida to end racing by 2020.

Final decision on the upcoming greyhound spring meet will be made by the National Greyhound Board of Directors on Tuesday.

“It’s not looking real positive at this time to be able to have the meet as scheduled,” said Julie Ward, president of the NGA. “But again, having said that, as quickly as things are changing for us today, they could quickly revert in a different direction as quickly. It’s a day-by-day change. Sometimes hour-by-hour.”

Twice a year in the spring and fall, the NGA holds races for upcoming racing greyhounds at the NGA track west of Abilene on Old Highway 40. The gatherings consist of committee and business meetings, an auction, and an induction ceremony at the Greyhound Hall of Fame.

Jim Gartland, executive director of the NGA, said final decision will be made on Tuesday.

The spring meet is scheduled to start on Monday, April 13, and conclude on Friday, April 17, with the racing stock auction. Historically over $1 million is spent at the auction with greyhound owners in Dickinson County as well as across the country relying on that income.

Schooling is scheduled to start on April 5.

“We got notice that Southland, Wheeling, Tri-State and Jacksonville (racetracks) are no longer racing. They closed due to the virus,” Ward said. “There is no live racing at the tracks at this time as well as the casinos are closed.”

The NGA is contacting potential buyers for input.

“Alternatives would be to postpone, cancel, or go forward with the meet,” Ward said.

The board of directors have been meeting by conference call and one is scheduled for Tuesday. 

At the spring and fall meets the replays of the races are shown online and bidding on the auction is also available online. However, NGA will not have use of Steel Hall where the auctions are traditionally held.

“There are some challenges with that. The social distancing restriction is going to cause us a little bit of a challenge because of the staff that it takes to run it. Even at a bare minimum, we’re above that number (10) even doing it online because of the number of people it takes to operate that event,” Ward said. 

Plus the buyers might not be interested in buying if the tracks are closed, she said. 

“I got notice just this morning that Jacksonville is planning a 30-day shutdown with official schooling beginning again in two weeks. Southland is doing unofficial schooling only.

“We are in uncharted territory trying to figure this out,” she said. “It’s very challenging.”

 Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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