The controversy over Churchill Downs' spending on upgrades to the New Orleans Fair Grounds is also the topic of this week's Commentary by Eyewitness News Political Analyst and Gambit columnist Clancy DuBos.

Clancy DuBos / Eyewitness News Political Analyst &Gambit Columnist

NEW ORLEANS -- They call thoroughbred racing the sport of kings. But anybody who went to the Fair Grounds this past racing season would be hard pressed to call it that.

Smaller purses, less competitive fields, broken video screens, flagging customer service and a turf course that drained like an obstacle course were common complaints from railbirds as well as respected trainers.

Everyone blamed Fair Grounds owner Churchill Downs. There's no denying that the nation's third-oldest thoroughbred track has suffered from corporate neglect.

So much so, that the Louisiana Racing Commission threatened Churchill's license and state lawmakers weighed in. State Rep. Pat Connick, R-Marrero, filed a bill to force Churchill to put some of its millions in profits back into the track. That bill was about to pass when Churchill came to the table.

Under a deal brokered by New Orleans state Sen. Ed Murray, D-New Orleans, and state Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, Churchill will put more than $1 million into improvements. Let's hope that kind of investment continues.

Churchill is doing the right thing, but it shouldn't take legislative pressure to make it so.


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