Live horse racing in Fargo to return in July 2023
Fargo and Belcourt tracks considered switching dates in 2023, but the idea was nixed for now.
BISMARCK — Live horse racing will return to Fargo in July 2023 for three weekends.
The North Dakota Racing Commission on Thursday, Nov. 17, granted the request from North Dakota Horse Park in Fargo to host races over the span of four weekends beginning in July, with the intention of hosting three weekends, or six days. The extra weekend is to account for cancellations due to weather.
The Fargo horse park ran three consecutive weekend races from July 15 through July 31 in 2022.
Chippewa Downs in Belcourt was granted five weekends with the intention of running four weekends, or eight days beginning June 10.
Last summer the two tracks discussed altering the dates to allow races in Fargo to begin in June and wrap up at Chippewa Downs in July in an effort to increase attendance at both venues.
The Fargo track in the middle of July competes with many regional events all happening simultaneously like the Red River Valley Fair, Fargo's street fair and a semi-annual air show.
Chippewa Downs, on the other hand, faces a similar set of additional events affecting the track during June along with wetter weather conditions.
On Thursday, however, North Dakota Horse Park General Manager Hugh Alan Drexler said the Fargo track will not have the stabling capabilities to switch dates.
"The Horse Park was dealt a little bit of news a couple days ago that will prevent us from switching dates with Chippewa Downs," Drexler said.
While Horse Race North Dakota, the nonprofit group that operates the track, owns the smaller Don Hart barn located at the North Dakota Horse Park, it leases stables at the larger barn on the property from North Dakota State University during the race season.
Drexler said he would like to increase purses for next year. Final details on what is paid to winners and place markers of each race will be determined at the North Dakota Racing Commission's spring meeting.
Drexler, who completed his first season overseeing the track in 2022, said the season overall was a success. Attendance numbers averaged 1,500 people a day with wagers of around $50,000 per day. He said no serious injuries to horses or humans were reported during the season.