GARDEN CITY -- It was the perfect combination for a successful day of horse racing at Les Bois Park, Saturday. The Kentucky Derby, Cinco de Mayo and the nice weather all helped bring in betters.
Close to 8,000 people flocked to Garden City to bet on the ponies and local businesses are hoping those numbers stay high.
“Well, we had to extend our hours,” said Cindy Prado, whose family owns El Gallo Giro in Garden City.
The Mexican restaurant is just one place working to accommodate the boost in seasonal business due to the horse races.
"Because the horse races get over at 9 p.m. and people come on over and have a late dinner and (we) stay open until 10 p.m.” said Prado.
Prado noticed Saturday that visitors were coming across the street to her family’s restaurant from the track.
“They have their books and things that say Les Bois Park,” she said.
The staff at Les Bois Park prepared for months for this potential spike in business. The facility was renovated and expanded with a new bar at the end of the grandstands, along with new bathrooms.
Ron Andreoli with Les Bois Park said last year they opened their doors on July 2 with 15 live race days. This year, they will hold 36 live races. The additional races could have more money flowing into the Treasure Valley.
This year, there are 880 horses competing throughout the summer season. Last year, there was about half that because the late start forced horsemen and women to go other places.
“We won some money yesterday so we thought we would come back and try our hand again,” said Ginger Clement from Hailey, Idaho.
Clement traveled to Boise for the weekend to stay with friends and bet on the horses.
“I think probably there are people here from all over,” she said. “I think it's great for the local economy. I think that people really love it.”
In addition to the live races Wednesdays and Saturdays, Les Bois Park also offers simulcast betting Wednesday through Sundays. For an out-of-town visitor like Clement, it could be another chance to win.
Andreoli said horsemen and women are coming from all around the Northwest, and even California, to compete at Les Bois Park. They are staying in local hotels, fueling up at local gas stations and eating at local restaurants, which helps the local economy.
“We want to be able to have more business," said Prado. "So any type of thing that happens in Garden City is going to help us."
Visitors bet over $96,000 Saturday and over $88,000 Wednesday, which is more than opening day last year.