Wait For Dates Frustrating

BlackburnNews.com file photo of the Leamington Fairgrounds race track.

While the Lakeshore Horse Racing Association continues to wait for confirmation on race dates at the horse track in Leamington, some in the industry are getting frustrated with the delay.

General Manager of the Ontario Harness Horse Association Brian Tropea believes the lease agreement is holding up talks with the Ontario Racing Commission. Until the racing association can confirm race dates and funding from the provincial government, it can’t sign a lease at the track. Tropea says it will continue to be a problem unless the provincial government implements longer term agreements.

Tropea also says the annual agreements and the delays reaching them are hurting breeders. “Prior to the end of the Slots at Racetracks program, there was about 100 days of racing and $6.5-million of purse money,” he says. “If we do have racing at Leamington, it’s going to be in the ten to 15 days and $35,000 in purses. It’s gone from a viable business to more of a hobby now.”

Once the racing association confirms race dates, Tropea fears organizing the races will be a challenge. “The Dresden racing just got their deal signed. They’ve actually missed four or five days that they anticipated,” says Tropea. “So there’s going to be a bit of an overlap on race dates, and it’s going to be difficult to schedule.”

On Monday, the Dresden Agricultural Society found it had the approval for 11 race dates. Near Sarnia, 21 race dates have approval at the Hiawatha Horse Park.