Horse Racing Returns to Fairgrounds - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Horse Racing Returns to Fairgrounds

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A week ago, the county commissioners were confident that pulling the reins on horse racing was the right thing to do.

"We firmly believe that we have a good proposal," said commissioner Karen Keith.

But the attorney for the racing organization didn't see it that way.

"You need to make sure you're not getting your pig in a poke," said Mark Ramsey.

It was a stunning moment. The commissioners essentially being held by the hand to understand just how they were getting their pigs in a poke.

"On October first you entered into an agreement with the two horsemen's organizations to conduct racing in 2013, one month later on November first, you entered into the naming rights agreement. You breached the agreement with the horsemen's organizations," said Ramsey.

Fast forward to tonight, with the commissioners scraping their decision to ax horse racing.

"A lot of these guys depend on this, this is their living." said Harold Thomas.

The audience, packed with horsemen, and in the back row, the principal chief of the Muscogee Creek nation, whose deal with the fairgrounds is entwined with this horse racing snafu.

"Our interest still is the naming rights," said Muscogee Creek nation principal chief George Tiger.

Rights to the tune of $240,000 a year, with no racing. Now that things have changed...

"We feel like that we shouldn't be penalized for something that wasn't our fault so we're using that as a negotiating point possibly at a lower rate," said Tiger.

So the naming rights are up in the air, the horses will be back on the track, and the search for how all of this happened in the first place, continues...

"There's been no transparency in this process," Ramsey.

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