North Dakota Horse Park prepares for 20th year of horse racing in … – Grand Forks Herald

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FARGO — At 5 p.m. Friday, July 14, the gates will pop, the bell will ring and the first live horse race of 2023 at the North Dakota Horse Park will kick off the 20th year of races at the track.
After two decades of operation, there are still many in the Fargo-Moorhead area who aren’t aware of the Fargo track, which will host three weekends of racing in July.
When general manager Hugh Alan Drexler arrived in North Dakota last year, he was often met with the question, “There’s horse racing in Fargo?”
Even people who know about the track have misconceptions of what the horse park offers, Drexler said. Some believe it’s nothing more than a betting opportunity.
As Drexler works to grow the racing season and popularity of the track, he points to the economic benefits to the Fargo-Moorhead area as a positive side effect.
“Horse racing has a lot more of an economic impact than people give it credit for,” Drexler said.
This year, he hopes to attract about 200 horses to the grounds, including horses bred and trained in North Dakota and across the region.
The track will employ about 100 people over the season. The influx of trainers, owners, grooms and other horsemen — not to mention racing enthusiasts — over the course of three weeks means an influx of visitors to the area’s hotels, restaurants and shopping.
Drexler said he hopes to make the North Dakota Horse Park a destination venue for the metro area. He emphasized that horse racing is not just fun for the adults who can gamble.
This year, he hopes to attract newcomers as well as thousands of returning fans with upgraded facilities he has cleaned up over the past year and plenty to do and see between races.
Race attendees can get up close and personal with the racehorses and pony horses near the paddock, cool off with fresh lemonade and stop by food trucks that will gather at the park during the races, he said.
“The horse park isn’t just a business, it’s a tourist destination,” Drexler said.
Races will be held Friday, July 14, beginning at 5 p.m. On Saturday, July 15; Saturday, July 22; Sunday, July 23; Saturday, July 29; and Sunday, July 30, the post time will be 1 p.m.
Each day of racing is expected to have at least eight races. While gates open at 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, visitors are welcome to come anytime throughout the day.
Races for both thoroughbreds and American quarter horses will be held each day. Thoroughbreds are known as distance runners, with races sometimes a mile or longer. Quarter horses are sprinters, running about 350 to 400 yards in less than 21 seconds.
After being selected in a nationwide search for a new general manager for the North Dakota Horse Park in late 2021, Drexler’s first season in Fargo was in 2022. He came to Fargo from Ohio with a full resume of various positions at large tracks in major metropolitan areas and hopes of growing the horse racing industry in North Dakota.
As he continues to work on that goal, the F-M area and North Dakota have grown on him, as well.
“It is a big city but yet you still get to have that small-town vibe,” he said. “The people here are extremely friendly, and there is just this general sense of community that runs deep. It’s great.”

Along with eight races per day, each day of racing will include special events:


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