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BC Racing Heading For Impass

Published: January 18, 2014 3:29 pm ET

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Jackson Wittup, executive director of Harness Racing B.C. says talks between his organization and Great Canadian Gaming, operators of Fraser Downs have hit a snag and again it’s over the issue of race dates.

The head of the horsemen’s group offers some candid assessments of the situation in an interview with Trot Radio’s Norm Borg. Wittup suggests that an outside party may be needed to come in and solve the dispute.

Citing operating losses of over two million dollars annually, GCG is insisting on a shortened harness racing season of six months at Fraser Downs, with the other six months reserved for the Thoroughbreds over at Hastings Race Course according to Wittup.

Such a shortened season was initially proposed a few years ago but was overruled by the then election-ready government of BC, which insisted on a nine-and-a-half month harness meet at Fraser.

Wittup says this time, however, the BC government is so far staying mum on its position regarding the issue, preferring to allow the stake holders -- Standardbred and Thoroughbreds reps plus GCG -- to sort it out amongst themselves.

“I can’t imagine that the three parties are going to solve this,” says Wittup. “We have a management board out here that is supposed to solve disputes but three of the negotiating parties are on the board. Only two members are not part of the negotiating parties."

As for GCG’s claims of huge operating losses, Wittup says there’s no way of verifying the claim since to this point Great Canadian won’t turn over its books. “Is two and a half million a legitimate number? We don’t know because we can’t see the books.”

Wittup concludes that, given the situation, an outside party may be needed to come in and solve the dispute. "Maybe this is going to have to go a step further and an outside party is going to have to come in and determine what is right and what isn’t and we’ll all have to live with it.”

To listen to the full interview between Borg and Wittup, click the play button below.

Trot Radio - Episode 313 - Jackson Wittup, Harness Racing B.C.
Audio Format: MP3 audio
Host: Norm Borg

The opinions expressed are those of the participants and do not necessarily represent those of Standardbred Canada.

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