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Wednesday, May 22
Spokane's Playfair Race Course for sale



SPOKANE, Wash. -- A Las Vegas real-estate broker is buying the Playfair Race Course here for an undisclosed amount, the track's current owner says.

Jack Pring, whose Appleway Leasing Corp. has owned the century-old track since 1981, announced Tuesday that he has sold it to Nevada real-estate broker Eric Nelson.

Nelson will sign a 10-year lease with an option to buy. Nelson, whose gaming and racing properties include Wyoming Downs race track, said he hopes to complete the sale in three years.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Nelson said Playfair's corporate name will be Cleopatra Horse Racing and Casino Inc. He and one of his companies, Phoenix Leisure Corp., share ownership of four Cleopatra card rooms in Washington state, two of them in Kennewick.

Nelson said he has withdrawn from the daily management of his primary gaming companies to focus on Playfair.

"There's a lot of history here, and I'd like to restore it,'' he said. "I appreciate the Pring family giving me a shot at it. It's kind of an antique. I'd like to make it shine like one.''

Nelson has prepared a license application for the Washington Horse Racing Commission, but said a racing season this year is unlikely.

"I'm pleased to hear about it,'' said the commission chairman, Bellevue attorney Patrick LePley, of the pending sale. "There is no one in the industry I know of who is not in favor of having a track in Eastern Washington.''

LePley indicated that Nelson's track ownership in Wyoming and his Washington gaming license will facilitate the application process.

Pring bought Playfair for more than $4 million in 1981 and operated it himself from 1981-89 before turning its operation over to several racing associations.

The course in east Spokane closed in July 2001. Its license was revoked by the racing commission when the group that ran Playfair was unable to raise operating revenue.

Financial problems also caused the track to shut down in 1996, 1998 and 1999.

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