FARGO — The president of the board of the Fargo Horse Park officially confirmed board member Susan Bala stepped down from her post at the organization to help resolve issues that had threatened the park's July race schedule.
Jay Alsop, president of Horse Race North Dakota, the non-profit organization that runs the Fargo Horse Park live racing, said in a written statement that Bala "graciously offered to step aside at this time to allow us the time to resolve any questions with the (racing) commission and proceed with our meet as scheduled."
He said the board of Horse Race North Dakota passed a unanimous vote of support for Bala, and Alsop added the board is "confident this matter can be resolved with the commission."
Bala's presence on the horse park's board attracted the attention of the North Dakota Racing Commission when the commission met on May 31 to consider a request from the horse park that it be allowed to reduce the July race schedule from six days of racing to four.
Jack Schulz, executive director of the racing commission, told the racing commission board that Bala was not eligible to be licensed to work in the horse racing industry in North Dakota due to her past, which included a conviction in federal court on illegal gambling charges.
That federal case was ultimately overturned on appeal and Bala was released from prison, but her subsequent attempts to have a federal court issue her a certificate of innocence were rejected.
Schulz has said that the findings of an appeals court in that matter support the position that under the state's administrative rules Bala cannot be licensed by the commission.
At a May 31 meeting, the racing commission voted 3-1 to revoke the horse park's license, citing Bala's connection to the organization.
That decision was reversed by a vote of the racing commission on Thursday, June 6, which reaffirmed the horse park's license and approved a racing schedule for events that will be held on July 19, 20, 27, and 28. Schulz said after Thursday's vote that Bala's resignation from the horse park board was a factor in the racing commission latest vote.
Bala was invited to provide comments on matters relating to the racing commission's recent actions but at the time this story was published she had not done so.