Stakeholders of Les Bois Park met this afternoon to celebrate the launch of the racetrack's first full season in four years. At a podium next to the dirt track, General Manager Kerry Lawson, horse owners and other officials addressed the crowd while jockeys worked their horses on the stretch behind them.
"We have about 600 [horses] here right now," said Les Bois' Tim Thibert. "We have another 200 coming. Our capacity is just over 800. They're coming from Seattle, Potland, [Ore.], Montana, Nebraska. We had over 1,400 applicants."
The stables at the back of the facility were abuzz with preparation for the season, which begins with a Wednesday, May 2 evening race. Thibert said the racetrack on those mid-week nights becomes a social setting for a younger demographic.
Harry Bettis, from Midvale, owns seven horses stabled at Les Bois. He said that while he's not sure which steed will participate on May 2, one of them will be out there. Another owner's horse, Rousing Sermon, will participate in this year's Kentucky Derby.
"There's a lot of work that goes on to make this happen," said Bettis. "Riding the horses was considered the 'play.' I think I was 20 years old before I knew you could shoe a horse after supper on a Sunday," said Bettis.
"Ours is a thoroughbred," said owner Larry Williams. "We've been around horses our whole lives. When I was a kid, it was 'milk the cows and feed the chickens.'"
The two mentioned that there wasn't much to see at Les Bois in the past few years—the racetrack has been empty. Now the stables are filling up again. Boise Weekly caught up with Lawson for this week's Citizen.