And they’re off. Almost.
Les Bois Park begins its live schedule after a tumultuous spring that saw the Boise race track nearly close its doors for good. However, the slate is a full-go, and its employees are eager as ever to get it started.
“It was doubtful there for a while, so we’re all very grateful, excited for this season and hopefully we can be more attentive than ever to make it a better experience,” General Manager Duayne Didericksen said.
• As Les Bois’ signal will be simulcast to more locations across the country than ever before, an effort to begin races on time and efficiently will be a major focus this season. Don’t wait too long to place those wagers.
• New flower beds, new signage and a new paint job have spruced up the viewing area, while the track itself has also been resurfaced.
• The track has added a third night to the schedule instead of the typical two per week. Starting June 12, there will be Friday night races in addition to the usual Wednesdays and Saturdays.
• The season begins with eight races and a 2 p.m. post time Saturday, taking a break at approximately 4:15 p.m. for the Preakness Stakes, then resuming after the Triple Crown race is completed. Post times for every race night is 5:30 p.m., except for 2 p.m. starts on Saturday, June 6 (Belmont Stakes) and July 4.
• Admission is $5 for adults, with kids 17 and under free. Parking is also free. Wednesdays are again Ladies Nights, with free admission for women.
• Racing purses will be equal to last season’s, and the track is expecting full race cards throughout the season. Last season’s top jockey Nikeela Black is back, seeking another big year.
• It was a strange offseason for Les Bois, which overcame a bill in the Idaho Legislature that would have disallowed slot-like machines at the facility. Without the machines, and their revenue, Les Bois officials threatened to close down the track.
However, Gov. Butch Otter’s veto in March meant the season could move ahead as planned, though potential legal hurdles loom as the Coeur d’Alene Tribe has said it intends to pursue a lawsuit. Regardless, Les Bois intends to run a full 32-date schedule of live racing through August.
• As the track’s signal is sent to more locations nationwide (and potentially internationally), Didericksen is hoping that means larger purses, a better class of horses and jockeys, and therefore a spot as a premier track in the West.
Since Otter’s veto, the number of horses at Les Bois has doubled to about 500, with another 50-100 expected to arrive in the next week, according to track officials.