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Local Reaction To Western Fair Situation

Published: January 13, 2019 12:29 pm ET

Last Comment: January 15, 2019 6:59 pm ET | 2 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

In light of Gateway Casinos’ announcement that it has leased land for development elsewhere in London, Ont., the CBC has taken a trip to The Raceway at Western Fair District to discuss the topic of gaming potentially leaving the stalwart harness facility.

The CBC article offers feedback from an array of the track’s regulars – from the track’s racing director, Greg Blanchard, to Dalton Noels, a familiar face in the pari-mutuel line, and all those in between.

"If Western Fair doesn't succeed, there will be no racing at this end of the province and it will be devastating for a lot of families," horseman Mark Horner told the CBC. He pointed out the large economic spin off that live racing creates in Ontario, and pointed to the obvious conclusion that it's in everybody's best interest for live racing to continue at the track.

"[Gateway's decision to leave] is a serious deal,” track announcer and broadcaster Shannon 'Sugar' Doyle said. “If there's no racing, that's going to maybe leave me looking for jobs outside the province, I don't want to do that. I love being part of the great team we have here."

Doyle also commented that, "To me, the two (casino gaming and live horse racing) go hand-in-hand. If there's no racing here, the casino gets a little slower, if there's no casino here, maybe the racing gets slower as well. I don't want to see that happen."

Blanchard has his eyes set on the future, something he knows will be bright for Western Fair racing if financial support is in place. "We've been waiting for some stability and we're hoping we're going to get that," Blanchard said. "If we get that stability, then we can focus on how to grow our business."

The racing director also added, "You look at the guys that supply the feed, the blacksmiths ... there's just so much spin-off and so many jobs rely on it (live racing)."

When asked for his perspective, Noels stated that he believes the marriage between gaming and racing offerings tends to be symbiotic, and that both Gateway and Western Fair will have a tough time succeeding without each other.

"Ten years down the road, where is the money going to come from?" he said, in reference to gamblers’ support of a relocated Gateway facility. "The casino won't have it because there's no good paying jobs anymore. They're gone. But if the casino doesn't support the track, we're gone."

(With files from the CBC)

January 15, 2019 - 6:59 pmNow would be the right time

Johnny Kish SAID...

Now would be the right time to move into a new state of the are facility with Gateway, and have a new 5/8ths mile track.

January 14, 2019 - 7:47 amIt is amazing that nobody has

terry gudz SAID...

It is amazing that nobody has provided concrete $$$ figures to sustain horse racing at Western Fair, with their annual statement from 2014 the only evidence of their corporate structure. I hope that the government, city and western fair does not throw the racing operations under the sulky wheels with the devastating ramifications of their loss.


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