FARGO — The North Dakota Racing Commission held a meeting Thursday afternoon, June 6, and approved a July horse racing schedule for the North Dakota Horse Park in Fargo, reviving the horse park's license after revoking it last week.
The reason for Thursday's reversal was the apparent resignation of Susan Bala from positions she held with the horse park, according to Jack Schulz, executive director of the racing commission.
In a 3-1 vote on May 31, the racing commission revoked the license of the horse park after Schulz advised the board that Bala was not eligible to be licensed to work in the horse racing industry in North Dakota. The meeting had been scheduled for the racing commission to review an application from the horse park to reduce its racing season from six days to four.
Bala's resignation apparently came sometime between May 31 and Thursday afternoon, when the commission took a unanimous vote to approve a revised application from the horse park for a change in its racing season that now will take place on four days — July 19, 20, 27 and 28.
The schedule is a change from the horse park's original race schedule for 2019, which included two additional days.
Prior to the racing commission vote on May 31 revoking the horse park's license, Schulz outlined for the board a history of court proceedings involving Bala, who was owner of a company called Racing Services Inc. which filed for bankruptcy in 2004, shortly after the company came under scrutiny by federal authorities.
A criminal case was eventually brought in federal court, and Bala was ultimately sentenced to prison on illegal gambling charges. However, she was released early after her convictions were overturned on appeal.
In a statement Schulz read to the racing commission on May 31, he outlined state administrative rules barring certain individuals from being licensed to work in the racing industry.
He said the rules applied to Bala for a number of reasons, including federal court records that relate to Bala's unsuccessful attempts to have the court issue a certificate of innocence following the dismissal of her criminal case in federal court.
Schulz said an appeals court decision upholding the rejection of Bala's bid for a certificate of innocence included findings that stated RSI and Bala "are not truly innocent" of state law violations and that RSI and Bala collected and distributed $99 million of parimutuel account wagers "without paying one penny" to charities, the racing commission or the state treasurer "as North Dakota gambling laws require."
Messages left with Bala and the North Dakota Horse Park, whose board held a special meeting by phone Wednesday evening, were not returned Thursday afternoon.