New Alberta Downs owners may venture from horse racing

The new owners of the Alberta Downs race track may not use the property for horse racing.

Kurt and Kyla Belich and Ross Morrison bought the track in Lacombe and are weighing what to do with the property.

“I can’t confirm we’ll be doing horse racing there. There’s a lot of work to be done to get us to that stage,” said Kurt Belich.

The three have discussed a few possibilities, including using the location as a horse racing track, a horse training facility and an event centre, where concerts, weddings and community events could be held.

After seeing the property was for sale, Kurt Belich, his wife, Kyla, and business partner, Morrison, jumped at the opportunity.

“I thought it would be an exciting and different adventure in life,” Kurt said.

Right now, the place is in “a little bit of a state of disrepair,” said Kurt, so there is a good amount of work to do.

“We just took over and a lot of things are up in the air, but we’re quite optimistic we’ll make something exciting happen here.”

Alberta Downs was owned by Bob Allen, who spent a decade trying to bring horse racing to Central Alberta.

After struggling to get the support of Horse Racing Alberta and difficulties meeting an agreement to pay back Lacombe County $420,000 for paving the access road leading to the track, he eventually sold the property at Hwy 2 and Hwy 12.

The Belichs and Morrison know of Allen’s struggles running the track, which featured the only one-mile dirt track and 7/8-mile turf track in Western Canada.

“I’m sorry it turned out that way for him, I really am, but we feel we can overcome those kinds of hurdles,” he said.

If they decide to use the property for horse racing again, they expect to be operational by next year.

Using it as a horse racing track has great potential because it would create a number of jobs and provide a place for local farmers to race their horses, Kurt said.

“No matter which direction we go, we think we can make this something great for Lacombe and the Central Alberta region.”

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