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Saying goodbye to Les Bois Park

Posted at 6:41 PM, Mar 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-20 20:54:56-04

Les Bois Park has had its ups and downs over the years both on and off the track, but Sunday marks the end of horse racing in Garden City.

The park was forced to close after Idaho lawmakers eliminated instant racing machines from the state. Park managers said those terminals were the only thing that made the track profitable.

"It's kind of tearful to see this go," said Joie Schooley, a local horse trainer.

Schooley grew up at Les Bois Park. His dad helped build it decades ago.

It's always been a part of his family's heritage.

However, Schooley will now have to decide between starting a new profession or moving away from his family to continue on working with horses.

He feels as though the historical racing machines in legislative question, even though they do look like gambling terminals, do not break Idaho's gambling laws.

The machines were at some point approved by legislators, which helped park managers build up a purse that could sustain the livelihood. It was revoked most recently after a second review.

Schooley hopes the matter will come up again in the near future as, he says, other state leaders have gone through the same process and eventually compromised on machine revisions.

"Maybe when the legislative session comes up again, we can get things on the table again," he said. "It might bring hope, I mean, there's always hope."

Brenda Kiser too has fond memories associated with Les Bois Park.

"I've been in the industry my entire life," she said.

She is passionate about the sport. And, like Schooley, has hope that a compromise, of sorts, is still a possibility.

Kiser believes if they could get the initiative on a statewide ballot, it would pass and breath new life into the dying horse racing industry in Idaho. She fears the loss in horse racing-related jobs will have a far reaching effect.

"You have owners, trainers, jockeys, people that come to work from out of state for lodging was over $350,000. They spent over a million dollars in food alone," Kiser said. "It's a huge impact for the area. Our farmers are going to be devastated."

Anyone wanting to pair up with the Boise Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, to financially support taking this to a statewide vote, is welcome to contact the president by sending an e-mail to ceetheblur1989@hotmail.com.

Although the group is hoping legislators will hear them out at a new hearing in the legislative sessions to come.