The business owners funding the effort to bring historical horse racing machines back to Idaho announced Thursday that they have created a charitable foundation, intended to benefit rural communities with the profits that horse racing produces.
Robert Rebholtz Jr. is one of the five co-owners of Treasure Valley Racing, the business that operates Les Bois Park. At a press conference, he said 100 percent of the business’s net profits will go toward the charity, called Treasure Valley Racing Foundation for Rural Idaho.
“Every dime of net income — the money that comes in, minus salaries, race purses, annual track operations and maintenance expenses — will be solely given to charities. No ifs, ands, or buts,” he said.
The horse racing park isn’t currently open, and hasn’t been since 2015. It closed after the Legislature banned the gambling machines, which replay old horse races but were accused of being too similar to illegal slot machines.
Treasure Valley Racing has said Les Bois is not sustainable without historical horse racing. The co-owners separately told the Statesman their company is done if voters reject Proposition 1. While Rebholtz didn’t address the question Thursday, Save Idaho Horse Racing spokesman Todd Dvorak issued the following statement after the conference:
“We expect the voters of Idaho will pass Proposition 1. If that doesn’t happen, then the owners of Treasure Valley Racing will have to revisit how the foundation will achieve its goals without the revenue generated by live racing returning to Les Bois Park. The owners are providing $100,000 to begin achieving its goals and mission and efforts are already underway to raise additional resources.”
Rebholtz and other speakers at the press conference did not take questions.
He said the foundation’s funds would go toward scholarships and financial assistance for Idaho college students, with a preference for those studying agriculture, animal science or equine studies. They would also benefit 4H, FFA, and similar economic or education programs in rural areas; nonprofits that focus on rural Idahoans’ education, health care and “conservation of rural traditions”; and to rural families who need “special assistance,” particularly related to agriculture- or equine-related injuries.
Rebholtz and his business partners will seed the foundation with a $100,000 donation. He said some of the initial funds are pledged toward rehabilitation efforts for Nikeela Black, an Idaho jockey who was recently injured in a horse-racing accident.
Rebholtz tied the foundation’s success to Proposition 1, and said its existence shows the ballot initiative is not just about him and his partners seeking more money.
“For each of us, restoring live horse racing in our state has always been about strengthening Idaho’s rural communities and horse racing family livelihoods,” Rebholtz said.