Les Bois opens next week with 'different attitude'

Local season kicks off Wednesday and will include 31 days, 300 races.

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.comApril 25, 2013 

  • LES BOIS PARK FAN FACTS

    • Live racing begins Wednesday, with 31 total dates on Wednesdays and Saturdays, plus Memorial Day and July 4. The season ends Aug. 10.

    • Post time is 5:30 p.m., with early 2 p.m. post time on May 4, May 18, May 27 and June 8

    • Tickets are $5 (adults) and $2 (13-17 year olds). Children under 12 are free; free admission for ladies on Wednesdays.

    • Betting on the Kentucky Derby will begin the evening of May 3. Gary Stevens, who started his career at Les Bois Park, will ride Oxbow in the May 4 Derby.

After a successful return to a full slate of horse racing last season, Les Bois Park is seeing optimism at a place that recently had a bleak future.

Les Bois, which had its first full season since 2008 last year, will have 31 live racing days this year.

"I think there's just a different attitude around here," Les Bois General Manager Duayne Diderickson said. "The horsemen like the ownership group, our employees want to make things right and things are heading in a good direction."

After two years of no live racing, Treasure Valley Racing obtained a lease through 2016 from Ada County in 2011, running an abbreviated season that year. Les Bois Park drew about 3,300 fans per race day last year, about 600 fewer than in 2011, but also had 21 more dates. The track drew nearly $2.6 million in bets last year.

There were 208 races in total in the 36 live racing dates last year, but Les Bois officials expect the total number to be near 300 in 2013.

"They had a pretty good year last year, and I think things are looking better," Ada County Commissioner Jim Tibbs said. "Once something leaves, it takes some time to get interest back … I think both sides know it isn't where they want it to be yet, but are seeing good, sustained growth, and that's what you want."

Diderickson is a new, yet veteran presence at Les Bois, where he worked in various capacities from 1975-2003. He helped bring simulcasting to the track during his first tenure, and envisions major improvements for the 2014 season to include, among other things, new stables.

In the meantime, there are those signs of immediate improvement, like expecting a larger rotation of horses, enabling full fields and nine or 10 races per day, as opposed to the average of about six in 2012.

"I've seen it when it was doing great and when it was struggling, and with the commitment I've seen from the ownership, the county and the public, the road blocks are gone - I see big things," Diderickson said.

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