Treasure Valley Racing

Treasure Valley Racing was the latest company to operate Les Bois Park at the Ada County Fairgrounds. Its owners — from left, Robert Rebholtz Jr., Harry Bettis, Linda Yanke, Larry Williams and John Sheldon — were behind the push to bring historical horse racing machines back to Idaho.

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BOISE — As November’s vote on historical horse racing machines neared, Treasure Valley Racing co-owner Larry Williams said the company would “walk away” from its lease for Les Bois Park if voters rejected Proposition 1.

They did, and Williams hasn’t changed his mind. Treasure Valley Racing gave notice Friday that it will not renew the lease, the Ada County Commission announced in a press release Tuesday.

The horse-racing venture has leased the county-owned 63-acre racetrack and Turf Club since 2011. The lease was not set to expire until the end of 2020. But, Treasure Valley Racing had the option to terminate the lease with 30 days’ notice.

Treasure Valley Racing’s five owners have said that Les Bois is not sustainable without historical horse racing gaming to bring in revenue. The machines allow betting on the results of old horse races, replayed on a screen.

The Idaho Legislature approved historical horse racing in 2013, but two years later repealed the law over concerns the machines resembled slot machines, the Statesman previously reported. Treasure Valley Racing first sought a legislative fix, then spent more than $4.6 million this year getting Proposition 1 on the ballot and promoting it to voters.

The measure fell four percentage points short, with just 46 percent of voters in favor.

Live racing has not actually happened at Les Bois since 2015, when the park’s historical horse racing machines were also turned off.

Plans for the racetrack and the Turf Club are not set at this time. The county commissioners will meet with the director of Expo Idaho to discuss the park’s future.

According to Tuesday’s news release, any major decisions will be passed to the new county commission, which takes office Jan. 14. Two newly elected commissioners, Diana Lachiondo and Kendra Kenyon, will join current Commissioner Rick Visser.

This article originally ran on magicvalley.com.

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