(File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / cafaphotos)

Leamington Raceway hopes the province isn’t horsing around with promised funding

Local horse people are trying to determine if any provincial money for horse racing will come to Leamington Raceway.

On Thursday, the province announced $10 million per year to support programs for breeders and horse people through the Horse Improvement Program (HIP).

Tom Bain, an executive member of the Lakeshore Horse Racing Association, told BlackburnNews.com there’s a meeting on Friday to try and sort out what, if any, funding is coming to help local horse racing. Bain said he thinks more than half of that money is earmarked for larger racetracks and thoroughbred racing.

The province said the new investment will help the province’s horse racing industry create and protect good jobs. Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli said the funding will support breeding and industry development for Ontario-bred horses and will be administered by Ontario Racing, replacing the Enhanced Horse Improvement Program previously administered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

“Our horse racing sector plays a vital role in our rural communities and is an important part of Ontario’s heritage,” said Fedeli. “This investment will help support Ontario’s breeders and horse people, and ensure the province’s horse racing community is open for business and can create and protect jobs.”

Slot machine agreements have also been reached that include operational funding for eligible racetracks to support the horse racing industry and rural communities. Racetracks will also get operational funding from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) and purse support of up to $105 million per year for up to 19 years.

“Our government is committed to providing stable long-term support to help the horse racing industry build a more sustainable future for the rural businesses, jobs and communities that depend on it,” added Fideli. “This is a vital part of Ontario’s heritage and our government is proud to stand behind our rural communities that rely on this industry.”

Ontario is home to 15 racetracks. That’s more than any other North American jurisdiction.