by Jim Grawe
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
5:37 PM CDT, May 10, 2012
Abilene Greyhound Park is where dogs go to become champions.
"Once you get in the dog business it just stays in your blood, and you want to keep doing it," dog owner Julia Ward says.
This practice track is just down the road from the National Greyhound Association Headquarters which attracts people and their dogs from around the world.
"The meets here in Abilene are great because we get all these people coming to town," executive director Gary Guccione says. "The greyhound breeders get to show their puppies and showcase them and see how well they perform."
Abilene is ground zero for greyhound racing. But the business has seen better days. Kansas' three dog tracks have shut down in recent years. The demise of greyhound racing has coincided with the rise of casino gambling. Those in the racing business says this nationwide trend has seen the number of dog owners in the Association drop from 7,100 to 1,250.
Breeder and trainer Tacy Wildey says the Kansas tracks would reopen and thrive if they were allowed to have slot machines. She's also been lobbying lawmakers to reduce the state's share of race proceeds to make it more in line with what casinos pay.
"We obviously hope that would bring racing back to Wichita Greyhound Park and make it even more fun to be in Kansas," Wildey says.
Wildey adds that tracks in other states help keep greyhounds a multi-million dollar industry for Abilene. But with the closest place to race now in Iowa some fear this business that has played a big role in Abilene's economy could be on its last leg without more support from the state.
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