Weatherford Democrat

Business

December 4, 2009

TM is pulled up short in its race for a license



By Marsha Brown

AUSTIN — After three requests to the Texas Racing Commission, there’s good news. Trinity Meadows Raceway L.P. was finally placed in the agenda for the panel’s December meeting.

Dave Freeman, Trinity Meadows general partner had requested a spot on the Commission’s agenda since August of this year, so that the partnership could request a racing license application for the track that hasn’t seen a pari-mutuel race for more than a decade.

On Dec. 2, Trinity Meadows had its opportunity but the race for a Class II license was bumped at the starting gates.

“We got our answer,” Freeman said. “The answer was ‘no, not right now.’ They did tell us to come back later. We’re disappointed, but we’re not discouraged.”

After much debate and deliberation, members of the panel eluded to the number of inactive racing licenses it has granted in the past to investment groups that have yet to break ground on their facilities.

There are five to be exact.

The fact that Trinity Meadows is already standing and being used as a training track (Freeman brought photos) apparently did not seem to phase the commissioners.

“We’ll go back and try it again,” Freeman said.

Jim Dunnagan, another partner also holds the reins on two other tracks, Bandera Downs and G. Rollie White Downs. Loke Trinity Meadows each had license in the past and were going concerns.

The Trinity Meadows LP partnership was formed in 2008 and Freeman, who was the executive director of the Texas Racing Commission for more than seven years, became involved at that time.

Dunnagan headed up the partnership that purchased the track from bankruptcy court in 1997. He owns a 200-acre ranch about seven miles north of Weatherford, but lists an Arlington address for his primary residence, has been struggling to obtain a license for the shuttered track since he initially invested in the place.

“A very wise man once said, ‘A journey of 1000 miles starts with getting on the agenda,” Freeman said. “We’re optimistic. We really are. Are we disappointed? Sure, but we’re not giving up.”

Racing Commission Public Information Officer Jean Cooke did not return numerous calls for comment on this story.

The economic impact of Trinity Meadows to Parker County while it was running was estimated to be in excess of $70 million.

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