Page 118 - March 2020
P. 118

                 THE LIGHTER SIDE
Industry Question & Answer
by John Moorehouse
Seven years ago, Grants Pass Downs was looking to close for good. Rod Lowe stepped in and persuaded his colleagues at the Southern Oregon Horse Racing Association (SOHRA) to keep the facility open. Hindsight might be 20/20, but Lowe didn’t hesitate when asked about the impact on Oregon racing had the SOHRA not taken that step.
“Racing would be over in Oregon, for sure,” Lowe said. “It’d be done.”
Some feared that was an eventuality after Portland Meadows shut down in the spring of 2019 after 73 years. Grants Pass responded by holding its first commercial meet. The track is under new manage- ment; TMB Racing signed a 50-year lease to take control of the track last summer. Lowe serves as Racing Director and Chief Operating Officer for the track.
Grants Pass’ meet in the fall of 2019 went so well that major expansion is planned in 2020. The track will run 35 total days in 2020—matching the number typically held by Portland Meadows in its heyday—with meets taking place in the spring, summer, and fall.
Opening day will be May 20.
“It’s going to keep racing alive in Oregon because without a flagship, without a com- mercial race meet, it’s hard for fair meets to survive,” Lowe said. “It doesn’t justify a breed- ing program or people holding onto races for a two-day meet. This gives people some validity to hang onto their horses and race in this state.”
Lowe’s duties at Grants Pass are just part of his involvement in the sport. He was President of the SOHRA for 20-plus years. He’s been an AQHA Director, also serving on the AQHA’s committees for racing and Champion selection. Lowe is on the board of the Oregon Quarter Horse Association—and does it all while also running his own construction business.
For Lowe, his involvement in the world of horse racing goes back to his early 20s, when he owned a 20-acre ranch in Park City, Montana, located between two Quarter Horse ranches— one that bred working horses and one that
bred racehorses. Eventually, he bought a mare from his neighbors. She produced a foal, and he moved to Grants Pass when the horse was about six months old.
“Once the horse got old enough, I started looking for a trainer,” Lowe recalled.
That horse didn’t win a race. Lowe
tried again, and his next starter, Tornados Judgement, won eight times. Lowe was hooked after that.
Now let’s learn more about Lowe in the lat- est installment of our Lighter Side.
Q : Where were you born?
A: Billings, Montana.
Q: What are your hobbies outside of horse racing?
A: I like to hunt and fish and play golf.
Q: What is your favorite movie, and why?
A: The movie that comes to mind [is] “The Man From Snowy River.” It had some great horse riding in it. It was a Western. I loved the scenery, loved the action of the horses that were in it.
Q: Do you have a nickname and, if so, what is it and how did it come about? A: In high school, I was “Hot Rod.” I
think it was just a catchy name more than anything. I was a little heavy-footed [driver] at the time.
Q: What is the strangest personality quirk you have ever seen in a horse? A: I had a horse one time we were breaking, a yearling. Actually, the horse that won eight races for me [Tornados Judgement]. We put him out in the arena. He always wanted
to be doing something and he was always busy. So, we threw a plastic, big, round garbage can out there for him to kick around or jump over or whatever. And that horse would take that garbage can, stick his head inside it, flip it up so it was open, and he’d run around with that garbage can over his head until he hit a fence or something and it would fall off. He would nuzzle that thing around and get it stood up again and do it all over again.
  “I sold Quarter Horses that went on to be barrel racers, rope horses and cutting horses after their racing career. I like the versatility of the Quarter Horse.”
 116 SPEEDHORSE March 2020

   116   117   118   119   120