Sponsored by Oregon Business

Looking for a pony payday

| Print |  Email
Archives - November 2008
Saturday, November 01, 2008


PORTLAND It’s two minutes before post time for the first horse race of the season at Portland Meadows and the odds to win seem more favorable than betting on Wall Street.

Moments later the starting gate bell rings and the horses are off. It’s dreary outside on this early October day and rain has turned the track into a muddy slop. The horses stream past an odds scoreboard that resembles a stock exchange ticker.

The business of horse racing isn’t just rough in a bad economy; the Meadows, Oregon’s only racetrack, has to compete against the state lottery and Indian casinos for gambling dollars. On the opening day of the 2008-2009 season, while 401(k) plans were losing value and the unemployment rate was rising, racing managers were keeping their expectations modest.

“We just wanted the day to go off without a hitch,” says William Alempijevic, the track’s GM. Admission is free so the track gauges turnout by beer sales, the number of cars in the parking lot and how many racing programs are sold.

More important is the size of the day’s handle, industry jargon for how much money is wagered. On this day, the handle is just over $150,000, a 5% increase from last year’s opening day. But the kicker is that most of that amount is from out-of-state satellite wagering facilities, not from gamblers at the track. At-track betting was down 12% from last year, while out-of-state betting increased 18%.

Bets from outside of Oregon are precisely what Alempijevic hopes will keep the track in business, because horses run live there on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in the winter when other tracks around the country traditionally are closed.

So far it’s worked since the new schedule was adopted three years ago. But the overall horse-racing industry is down about 5% this year, a dip Alempijevic blames partly on the economic crisis.

Betting on horses, like betting on stocks, can be a costly game. But in down times one looks for any sign of hope. In the fourth race a young Oregon-bred named Mystacallie, declared by the announcer as the “people’s horse,” won.

Just then, the rain let up a bit.


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



More Articles

OEN takes Portlandia route in new video

The Latest
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 3.27.58 PMBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Several Portland entrepreneurs make appearance in patently silly "The Dream of the Startup is Alive in Oregon" promo.


Photo Log: Inside Portland Razor Co.

The Latest
Wednesday, October 14, 2015

2-sheets-IMG 4897


The death and life of American cities

Linda Baker
Monday, November 02, 2015
housingoldpdx thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The hollowing out of the American city is now a bona fide cultural meme.  Newspapers, magazines and digital media sites are publishing story after story about the morphing of urban grit and diversity into bastions of wealth and commodity culture.


Photos: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon awards dinner

The Latest
Thursday, October 01, 2015
100best202thumbPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Images from the big 2015 celebration of worker-friendly organizations that make a difference.


Video: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon 2015

The Latest
Monday, October 05, 2015
100-best-NP-logo-2015-video-thumbVIDEO BY JESSE LARSON

Profiling some of the organizations featured in the 2015 list.


100 Best Nonprofits announced

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

1015-nonprofits01Oregon Business magazine has named the seventh annual 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon. The rankings were revealed Wednesday night during an awards dinner at the Sentinel Hotel in Portland.


Downtime with Barry Cain

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Live, work, play with the president of Gramor Development.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02