Update From Montreal Superior Court

Published: February 3, 2009 01:29 pm EST

The tentative bailout plan to save racetrack operator Attractions Hippiques now appears to be on shaky ground


Quebec's Liberal government and Attractions Hippiques owner Paul Massicotte -- a Liberal-appointed senator -- have taken a lot of heat over the proposed financial terms in the last 48 hours, and a Quebec TV network reported the Charest government has decided to "pull the plug" on the deal because it isn't supported by horsemen and breeders.

Massicotte himself said he fears the tide is turning. He also said "I'm not confident" referring to whether the agreement will be concluded.

In an interview outside Montreal Superior Court, where he testified today on behalf of his company's request for another 60-day extension of the creditor protection initiated last June, Massicotte said politicians are sensitive to negative perceptions from the public about a deal. "It's unpopular. It takes political courage to support it," he said.

A finance department official told the court this week the government is prepared to provide tax refunds and additional VLT revenue totalling $28 million a year for 25 years to help the company continue to provide live horseracing and $12 million a year in purses at the tracks in Trois-Rivières, Quebec City and Aylmer.

But Attractions Hippiques would have to cease any legal proceedings against the government or its corporations, and Hippodrome de Montréal would need to close.

Massicotte said he's been portrayed publicly as the personal beneficiary of the deal when in fact the company will be receiving the revenue and using it to continue operating three racetracks and sustaining the thousands of jobs in the Quebec racing industry.

(A Trot Insider exclusive by Paul Delean)



I believe the harness horsemen in Quebec at one time (many many years ago) cut a deal with the government that virtually marked the end of thoroughbred racing in the province. So we are supposed to shed a tear for them now???

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Reveillez vous avant q'attraction hippique arrive ca s'en allait en faillite puis meme si il se mette de l'argent dans les poches ca change quoi il n'y a personne qui fait de quoi pour rien

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

On ne peut assurer la survie des courses au Québec seulement avec des claimers à $4000 à Québec et Trois-rivières. Vous allez les prendre où vos chevaux pour courser sur ces petites pistes, s'il n'y a plus de courses à Montréal, et plus d'élevage? La grande majorité des chevaux coursant sur ces pistes sont des produits de l'élevage québecois, pas assez talentueux pour courser à Montréal, acheter pour $2500 ou moins, souvent payable avec les bourses.

Les propriétaires qui investissent de fortes sommes pour acheter des poulains, ne sont pas intéressés à courser sur des champs de patates et ainsi risquer des blessures graves.

Est-ce si difficile à comprendre? Veux-t-on courser pour $500 de bourse comme dans les maritimes?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Reveillez vous!! Attraction hippique nous donne rien. Vous avez la memoire pas mal courte.Avant q'attraction hippique achète les hippodrome, on avait 16,7 million en bourse et les quatres hippodrome en action, avec aucune aide du gouvernement.Lui vous offre 12 million dont 9 millions provienent du gouvernement ou il va le reste de l argent. Il ses planter avec ses ludoplex et ce n est pas a nous de payer le prix. En finissant la population qui fait marcher les paris et les alv donc les revenus sont a montreal........

Les courses ne peuvent pas vivre d'elle meme ca prend de l'argent du gouvernement les estrades sont vides les gens ne parie plus. Que les quelque gars riche qui dirige ataq ce mette ca dans la tete et on va avoir des courses eu il s'en foute il course ailleurs pareil. Oublions montreal c'est eux qui sont en train de détruire les courses

It's almost a tragedy to see what's happening right now to Quebec horsemen with this deal. As a Quebecer, I'm sad to see the lack of solidarity, and also the inability to see the writing on the walls. Some, by their responses here, think that ANY racing is a good thing, as long as there's SOME racing, right? Wrong, if you ask me. For one, the precedent set by eliminating racing in Montreal, and replacing it with a hippoclub is unthinkable. For another, what makes anybody think that AH won't decide that Trois-Rivieres isn't profitable in a few months, and shut THAT track down as well? When would the pattern start to become clear? (I also seem to recall that at a recent summit on the future of standardbred racing, there was only one racetrack operations representative that proposed the idea of simply having simulcast at their facilities,with no live racing, which caused a few raised eyebrows...and which makes the present situation seem FAR from "unavoidable")
I understand how some horsemen from QC and TR, and even Aylmer would want to see some racing in their areas, but thinking only regionally, and short-term, dooms the sport to obscurity, and further weakens the industry by sheer numbers. AH has already managed to divest itself of many of it's most knowledgable staff, the best Quebec drivers and trainers have left already...would they come back from Mohawk, if it was to race for $500 claimers? And how would even the small trainers and breeders benefit? The purses would be at record lows, barely enough to keep even a regional circuit alive, let alone a province full of horsepeople.
But the frustration and desperation is understandable. There has been no live racing for over a month, ANYWHERE in Quebec. People are scared, and why not? AH seems to be the only company on Earth that can re-write legal contracts to suit itself. So why wouldn't they beg for any scraps that AH or the gov't throw them? During the recent parliamentary proceedings into the questionable awarding of the QC hippodromes, it was revealed that the only experience that the honorable senator had with regards to racing, was that he'd gone to the Hong Kong Jockey Club meet once with a friend (who worked for Loto-Quebec), and had a good time. This is who the Quebec gov't trusts to understand the complexities and minutia of how racing works? And when the business goes belly-up less than two years later, the solution this time is to give him more money, and less responsibility? Is this supposed to be funny? Because I find it predictable and outrageous. I wish the best to the horsepeople, but I think that they were casualties of war before they even knew that there was a battle to be fought. Or to put it another way, their fates had been decided for them, a long time ago...

On s'en va ou...depuis maintenant des mois on entend toute sorte de chose mais personne ne peux expliquer vraiment comment ça fonctionne.

Tout ce que je sais c'est que'on ne fait pas d'omelette sans casser d'oeufs...nous somme en restructuration, on mange nos bas depuis des années mais on veut continuer à faire des courses surtout à Montreal parce que ca doit être comme ça !

Y'a tu quelqu'un qui va se réveiller et gérer ça comme une buisness...c'est à dire avec des revenus on peut dépenser...faisons marcher les petites track et après on verra !

On braille qu'Attraction Hippique ne veut pas faire des courses mais lorsqu'un plan de relance avec la participation du Gouvernement est proposé nos associations s'opposent !!!

Y'é ou le problème...

Un propriétaire écoeuré de vos chicane de clans

deals seems good, take it before the gov't pulls the plug,
no doubt racing can survive without Montreal, it's the small tracks that kept it going for the last years, and it's partly because of all the Montreal bigshots that overspent in the past that we are in this situation,
sing it ASAP and lets get racing again,
at this poing in time montreal people shoud stop trying to compare to Ontario,
we are light years behind,
we just want to race,......let'g go,
lets sign seal and deliver this deal

Je crois que pour l'instant nous devrions accepter l'offre du gouvernement pour rétablir les courses au Québec. Les chevaux doivent courrir et les clients et parieurs ne doivent pas avoir la chance de se trouver un autre passe-temps. Tout le temps qui se passe sans course au Québec n'est pas à l'avantage des hommes à chevaux. Par après des solutions pour amener de nouveaux déboursés à Montrèal et peut-être un nouvel hippodrome seront alors possible.... pour l'instant pas d'action = perte d'intérêt.

It sound like a good deal. I only me will save three horses and two employees with that dea. If we don't accept this deal they will go to meat and the employee on welfare and long after that we also will have to go to welfare. Save the three small tracks for now and wait and see what will happen in a few years. Breeders sell your yearlings to people who enjoy racing on the small track, maybe with the too big trainers for the small track the little ones will be more than happy to win small track stake races.

I'm crossing my finger.

without Montreal there is no reason or way breeders can negociate contracts for great stallions, with 12 million in purses it cannot support the breeding industry therefore there will be NO quebec breds to race in 2012. this deal will oly benefit the small racer for 2 or 3 yrs and then the races will stop.

Who & what lobbyist's are working in favor of Attraction Hippiques, to try to convince everyone that harness racing will survive and succeed on 3 small bullring tracks, that handle $50-60,000. on a very good night in wagering? How can the government even consider eliminating harness racing from Montreal, when in this recession and economy it will eliminate 3-4000 jobs, put owners/breeders/trainers/grooms into bankruptcy...people who have invested money, sweat and blood into the industry over the years...sending their loved horses to meat, cause its a question of feeding themselves or the animals! Its a game of #'s...there is no population to support the venue on the the 3 out of town (Montreal) tracks.. Do I want to buy a Quebec bred and race on a 1/2 mile track? NO . How can the government support 1 man who will profit by many millions with no loss guaranteed vs. 3-4,000 trades people who will possibly loose their livelyhoods , homes, and go on Welfare?
Attraction Hippique must have strong connections, and lobyist's for the government to ever consider this & think about it twice...the Quebec horsemen should have the same in order to survive. I wish us all luck.

Je trouve que l'ATAQ travaille pour sauver Montréal seulement je crois qu'ils oublient que les 3 autres pistes sont capables de courser sans Montréal et si AH fait des profits et qu'il ajoute des bourses les gars de Montréal sont capable de venir courser à Trois Rivières ils sont venus en novembre et décembre 2008 çà fait des années que Montréal a trop des grosse bourses à comparer aux autres pour la même classe de chevaux ils en ont des meilleurs qui peuvent courser ailleurs mais sur les autres pistes on ne peut malheureusement pas compétionner avec l'Ontario réveillez-vous et sauver ce que l'on peut sauver y a pas juste les Montréalais qui achètent des poulains lorsqu'il y a des stakes sur les petites pistes on est prêt à acheter mais lorsqu'il faut toujours aller à Montréal on vous les laisse à les entendre parler pour eux autres sortir de Montréal c'est pas drôle mais nous partir de Trois Rivières et Québec c'est pas grave.

SAUVER LES PETITES PISTES et quand çà ira mieux ils en feront une nouvelle sur la couronne nord

Quebec racing can survive without Montreal,And there is a big public for the other small tracks.We need to try and keep racing alive in Quebec.There are a lot of peoples jobs and lives on the line.

When Nova Scotia lost its major track in Halifax the sport went on but has just survived.Therefore if Quebec losses Montreal they will go on but never really improve much like Nova Scotia.

Nous devons rester uni et obliger au gouvernement de garder les courses à Montreal. Il est impossible economiquement de penser de ne pas avoir de course à Montreal. Les plus gros acheteur sont à Montreal. Les éleveurs ne seront pas capable de vendre leur chevaux. Il ne faut pas plier. Montreal doit rester!

Seems it would be better to have the three tracks offering weekly racing and a stakes program than nothing at all. At least it offers an opportunity to continue to promote harness racing in Quebec - who knows what the future will hold - maybe a few years down the road the economy, government and AH will be able to support the dream of a new track in Montreal if the support is still strong.

I don't think we need Montreal. We need to have somewhere to race no matter where it is. We need to be able to have stakes for the quebec bred and a security that we are gonna race for the next 10 years.

It would take a lot of political courage to forge ahead with that deal based on past performance treatment of the horse people.