Rumors swirl about Retama Park's future

SAN ANTONIO – The state Workforce Commission was notified last week that all the employees at Retama Park Racetrack will be permanently laid off. But no one at Retama is alarmed about it. That's because KSAT 12 was told no one will lose their jobs and they'll have a new employer soon.

A letter to the Texas Workforce Commission announcing, in light of the termination of their management contract, Retama Entertainment Group is implementing a permanent mass layoff for 296 employees.

The official word of the 296 layoffs didn't come with too many details. But those in the horse industry say for months now, there's been a lot of speculation about the future of Retama.

Now we know the letter is a formality, paving the way for Pinnacle Entertainment, a casino group that owns facilities in Louisiana, among other places. Pinnacle will be taking a majority interest in Retama.

At Bracken Feed store, which supplies the majority of feed and hay to the area, Retama customers are interested in what happens next.

"The horse world talks a lot, too (it'll get around?) yes, if that's true we'll be seeing it quickly," said Chuck Wallen, Bracken Feed store.

Those training their animals at Retama have heard the rumors too, and admit time may be running out to change the course of the track.

"If we don't get the slot machines in here, I don't think it's going to be open very long. The money is just not that good. I don't think people are going to stay around for that kind of money," said Retama Park horse trainer Fred Falldorf.

The Texas Racing Commission will consider the Pinnacle takeover next month.. After that, it'll be a matter of a few months before the entire operation will be revamped with the new company, new employers, no job loss, and hopefully a clear track ahead.

Live racing at Retama is still underway until the end of the year.

A spokesperson from Retama said after that, even though there will be a new company managing the track, no new changes to the management team. But seasonal employees will have to re-apply for their jobs as they always do.

In the meantime, in January, the Texas legislature will discuss a bill that would allow casino gambling in Texas when lawmakers start up the next legislative session.

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