The southern province of Binh Phuoc plans to build the country’s only horse race track, more than three years after Ho Chi Minh City’s Phu Tho Horse Racecourse was closed to make way for an athletic complex.
The course is part of a US$100 million Binh Phuoc Recreation Complex Project planned on 100 hectares (247 acres) in the province -- which sits 104 kilometers (65 miles) to the northeast of Ho Chi Minh City.
“The investor is conducting procedures with relevant central agencies before the license is officially issued,” said Vu Thanh Nam, director of the province's Planning and Investment Department.
The project is slated to be built in Chon Thanh District astride National Highway 13 and will include a race track, villas, shopping malls, healthcare centers and venues for other sports.
“The project will create a new development focus for the province. Binh Phuoc will create the most favorable conditions possible for the investor,” he said.
During a recent meeting with the provincial administration, Michael Efron, director of the Binh Phuoc Entertainment Company, said they were facilitating investment procedures and would bring in race horses from Australia.
The new track will replace the Phu Tho Horse Racecourse in Ho Chi Minh City as the country's only equestrian track.
Phu Tho closed in 2011, after the municipal sports department refused to renew its contract with the operating firm, the Thien Ma Company.
The agency said it wanted to build a sports center to train a new crop of professional athletes.
Many of the jockeys sold their horses to butchers, following the track's abrupt closure.
Phu Tho opened in 1932 as the country's first and only horse racetrack. After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, it fell under the management of the HCMC authorities.
The track opened and closed repeatedly for the next three decades and rarely held races.
In 2002, the Thien Ma Company signed a seven-year contract to hold races at the complex and business finally resumed in 2004 with races held every weekend.