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Extra Dates Denied At Kawartha

Published: October 24, 2017 9:45 pm ET

Last Comment: October 26, 2017 2:27 pm ET | 8 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

An application submitted by officials from Kawartha Downs to host 40 race dates in 2018 has been denied.

The Fraserville, Ont. oval was looking to more than double its race dates for the 2018 season after hosting an 18-day season in 2017. Ontario Racing claimed the current framework won’t make it feasible.

With the Shorelines Casino Peterborough scheduled to open in October 2018, the Shorelines Slots at Kawartha Downs will no longer exist.

Kawartha Downs officials will now look to engage various government agencies - including Ontario Lottery and Gaming - to determine if there is any funding available.

"Otherwise, we are going to have to put in place contingency plans," Orazio Valente, Kawartha Downs General Manager told the Peterborough Examiner.

"We're looking at options right now to see what we can do to keep those race tracks whole beyond 2019, 2020 and 2021,” said Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister and Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal. “The leasing dollars generated are a key part of the financial model and we need to look at options as to how we might be able to backfill that amount of money."

Leal said off-track betting is one option being discussed. He said he'd like to explore the option of Shorelines Casino keeping some slot machines at the track. Another option is for the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation to create a special category for race tracks without a casino to significantly lower their tax rates.

"The framework has to change,” Leal added. “You can't have a place that received 85 per cent of its funding from rental and take it out and hope the void is filled. That doesn't happen. What happens to the funding formula when a casino decides to relocate away from the horsetrack? That's the problem we are facing right now."

(With files from the Peterborough Examiner)

October 26, 2017 - 2:27 pmWhy Not More Dates? This is

Wayne Helmer SAID...

Why Not More Dates?

This is getting ridiculous, horse people can't get more dates at their local tracks the small guy can't afford to ship anywhere with Wynne's gas tax. The future of the small guy with a few horses will soon be totally eliminated, it's a shame because those rural roots is where it all begins. It will be a sad day for Ontario and horse racing when this happens, unless we can vote someone into power who cares about the little guy and not just in it to line their pockets with cash. The B-tracks will become extinct. Wishing we could turn back the hands of time where the slots and racing was one unit, wasn't that before the Liberals got in and waved their magic wand.

October 26, 2017 - 12:39 pmFor 5/8ths mile racing in

Tim Bates SAID...

For 5/8ths mile racing in Ontario we had Windsor, that closed down. Georgian Downs, only in the summer. Kawartha Downs, except two thirds of the year. So horses are no longer given the opportunity for the 5/8ths mile track except, in the summer, and only in small areas.

October 25, 2017 - 4:22 pmI agree with all of the

I agree with all of the comments made so far, but in particular, I think the comment by Dan Davis is right on the money. The Casino in Peterborough is a done deal, but there is no reason why some slots and off-track betting cannot continue at Kawartha Downs. I know Jeff Leal is doing everything he can to support harness racing at KD and all options of financial assistance to make that happen should be explored, including compelling Shorelines Slots to continue to provide slots at the track.
KD had a great summer of racing that was enjoyed by many racing fans and the management should be congratulated. Their efforts should be rewarded by the Ontario government and racing tribunals stepping in to assist Kawartha Downs by rewarding the track with the extra dates requested and to provide the necessary financial assistance to make that happen.

October 25, 2017 - 12:48 pmOk what i want to know is the

Ok what i want to know is the reasoning from AGCO for not granting the extra dates to Kawartha Downs? No tracks in the immediate area to compete with. AGCO answer please.

October 25, 2017 - 11:58 amThe Liberals should be open

The Liberals should be open for any way to try and put money in the coffers that is legitimate and above board. Why not start a pilot program where the horsemen receive 100 slot machines and we look after ourselves while feeding the coffers. They will not have to subsidize the purse pool at KD. We can race for an amount of money that will attract owners breeders trainers and drivers . We can put on a good race card, while filling the grand stands, filling the dining room. If you ask me and I know no one is this could be a win Wynn. It is so blatantly obvious that every casino operator is after only one thing. To get rid of the horseman. How many other tracks actually tried to get more race dates? For horseman in our area it is very hard to have to load your young horse on a trailer and then drive 2 hours or more to go school on a 1/2 mile track or a 7/8 mile track. Without a 5/8 mile track it makes it a lot more difficult to get your young horse educated to become a good race horse. Ronda Markle

October 25, 2017 - 10:32 amI am not surprised how quick

Dan Davis SAID...

I am not surprised how quick they came back with their answer. Really our only hope is what Jeff Leal is suggesting and hoping for is that they keep some slots open at Kawartha Downs. People who are not having any luck at the Casino slots in Peterborough may want to try their luck at Kawartha. Some may alternate between the two. Perhaps it could also serve as slots and an offtrack theater as it was before.
This would be a win win for everyone including Cavan Township. I really hope Jeff Leal makes it happen it is what I believe our only chance of survival.

October 25, 2017 - 12:10 amThis is a very bad precedent

This is a very bad precedent is they don't give extra days to KD then who will they give extra days too. Kawartha does a great job trying to enhance racing for the public and also what the racing industry forgets is that during the winter months there are only 3 tracks in the central part of Ontario having 2 of them half mile tracks and the other being woodbine or Mohawk is not great choices if you have a horse that isn't good enough to race at woodbine or Mohawk and cant race on a half mile track then you either have to get rid of the horse or turn the horse out for the winter which with the horse population being the way it is thanks to the government only makes it a smaller pool to find full fields. We need a 5/8 of a mile track to keep more horses racing in the winter if other tracks don't want to race or can't then you must give more days to a track that actually wants and tries to race as much as it is allowed. Stop slowing racing down please help make racing great again like it can be. With peoples help and that includes the government it can be.

October 24, 2017 - 10:03 pmThat was a quick but short-

Dave Snowden SAID...

That was a quick but short- sighted decision. WEG needs to step up and realize that if they want full fields at Mohawk they/we need B tracks for developing young stock. It is hard to teach babies how to race on 1/2 mile tracks, it is front end speed or nothing. It would not cost much for WEG to supplement B track maidens and non winners 2/3 to ensure a fresh supply of new horses for the WEG circuit. All other sports have farm teams, junior leagues, so harness racing needs it too. Kawartha staff do a great job at getting a crowd out and should be rewarded with the extra dates.

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