The Woodlands Racetrack Hopes to Reopen in 2016

Looking to the future, the Kansas City, Kansas, track hopes to offer live racing next year.

Q-Racing Journal

The Woodlands Racetrack in Kansas City, Kansas, hopes to offer live Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred racing next year.

Five months after The Woodlands Racetrack was purchased by Wichita casino owner Phil Ruffin, plans are in the works to return live racing to the Kansas City, Kansas, track in 2016.

The Woodlands held live Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred racing from 1989-2008. A bill to allow slot machines at the track was passed by the Kansas Senate in May. Two months later, Ruffin -- who owns the Treasure Island casino and hotel in Las Vegas and two shuttered greyhound tracks in Kansas -- bought The Woodlands from previous owner Howard Grace.

According to a story in the Kansas City Star dated July 17, 2015, Senate Bill 192 would allow 2,800 slot machines, 600 more than were earmarked for the track under a law passed in ’07. The bill also would increase the facility manager’s take of revenue to 64.5 percent from 25 percent, the same amount that casinos with slot machines currently get. The state would get 22 percent and Wyandotte County, where The Woodlands is located, would receive 2 percent. Ten percent would go to horse race purses.

“I ran and won based on my support to reopen The Woodlands,” said Sen. Steve Fitzgerald (R-Leavenworth), who introduced SB 192 and was instrumental in getting it through the senate. “If I don’t bring home the pork or bacon, whatever your taste is, it’s not going to be good. In this case, it’s definitely in in the interest of the district.

“Folks actively engaged in racing today are doing to outside the state of Kansas, fostering none of the economic benefits associated with a vibrant horse racing culture,” he added. “Millions of dollars leave the state because we passed (previous) legislation that broke these businesses.”

The Kansas Quarter Horse Racing Association, led by its president, Rita Osborn, was instrumental in helping to get SB 192 passed. The KQHRA hopes that the bill will also lead to the reopening of Eureka Downs Racetrack.

“We made tremendous progress this year with the lobbying effort and help of engaged folks throughout the state making phone calls and e-mailing legislators,” Osborn said. “People tend to underestimate the power those calls can make.”

Until The Woodlands closed, the track was home to some of Quarter Horse racing’s most prominent stakes, including the Kansas and Kansas Jackpot futurities.

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