Greyhound Association raises concerns of track safety at Gulf Greyhound Park

By CHACOUR KOOP The Daily News | Posted: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 12:00 am


In the last days of dog racing in Texas, greyhound owners and kennel operators are asking the state’s racing commission to step in and maintain a higher level of safety at Gulf Greyhound Park in La Marque.

In a letter sent Friday to the racing commission, which regulates the industry, the Texas Greyhound Association raised concerns about major injuries to dogs and criticized the park for ignoring suggestions to improve the track’s surface. The association is worried Gulf is shirking responsibility for the dogs’ health during the final weeks of racing. In August, the park announced it would cease live racing at the end of this year.

“We’re afraid they’re going to get worse, and they’re already bad enough,” Texas Greyhound Association President David Peck said. “It’s the type of injury and severity we’re worried about.”

But Gulf management called parts of the letter untrue. The racing commission’s judges oversee the track during every race, and it hasn’t contacted the park with injury concerns for months, General Manager Sally Briggs said. Additionally, Gulf isn’t cutting back on the track maintenance crew even as it winds down other parts of its operation, Briggs said. The park will remain open for simulcast racing, where gamblers bet on races in other states.

“For them to now place any problems with injuries on us seems disingenuous to me,” Briggs said. “Our crew was always very, very willing to listen and learn.”

In its letter, the association contended the rate of major injuries has increased, and Gulf has been operating without a licensed track superintendent for more than a year. The racing commission didn’t dispute the major injury ratio had risen, but the increase could be skewed because fewer races have been run recently because of poor weather conditions, racing commission spokesman Robert Elrod said.

Despite the association’s calls to get help with day-to-day maintenance of the track, the racing commission won’t get involved, Elrod said.

“Our primary focus is on the safety of the greyhounds and ensuring the integrity of the racing operations at Gulf,” Elrod said. “Our safety standards have not changed.”

This isn’t the first time concerns about the track were raised. In 2014, the racing commission and a track maintenance consultant expressed frustration over the surface quality. The track was closed for a few days in August 2014 after three dogs suffered major injuries in one day.

Grey2K USA, a Massachusetts-based group aimed at ending dog racing, obtained the association’s letter and provided it to The Daily News. The group praised the greyhound association for raising the alarm about serious injuries at Gulf, but questioned why it still allowed dogs to race.


Points on Safety Story
• The injury issues we raised in our letter to the Texas Racing Commission are valid and believe they should be immediately addressed by the commission and the track.

• Our members continue to run their dogs at Gulf because we have leases that require us to do so. Also, our hands are tied because this is the only track remaining in Texas.

• It is interesting the track acknowledged they will continue simulcast racing when they end live racing on December 31.

* The law doesn’t allow them to continue simulcast bets on out of state races without running live racing.

* Gulf essentially says they could care less about Texas greyhounds or Texas jobs.

* This is about padding the pocket of its out of state owner. Gulf is showing that their intent is to end live racing and simulcast only if your intent is to end live racing why would you take care of the track properly? The more injuries gives them the excuse to get rid of racing.

• We continue our call on the Texas Racing Commission to intervene and require Gulf track to protect the welfare of our greyhounds and follow the law requiring live racing.

David R. Peck
President, Texas Greyhound Association