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On ‘Life Support,’ But Not Dead Yet

Published: November 30, 2015 3:19 pm ET

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Trot Insider has spoken with Northern Horsemen's Association President Bob Bodkin for an update in regard to the potential of live Standardbred racing returning to the Sudbury area.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. announced last week that it has issued Request for Proposals to three to five companies that have qualified to be the gaming provider for the northern bundle, which includes Sudbury Downs.

A report by states that the company that will ultimately be chosen as the gaming operator for the bundle will have to take over the lease at Sudbury Downs, which has not hosted live harness racing since the fall of 2013.

The article also states that the OLG will announce the service provider in early 2017.

When asked if there has been any developments in regard to live racing returning to Sudbury Downs, Bodkin told Trot Insider that he has been told by various sources that there have been efforts to get a lease and a not-for-profit entity established, but those efforts have ultimately fallen through.

“I’ve been told that we’re not dead yet, but we are on life support,” he said.

Bodkin told Trot Insider that he believes that – if given enough notice – the local racing community will be able to accrue a horse population that would be able to fill one card per week, and that could grow if the proper framework for racing is in place.

The veteran horseman stated that he has been told that some stock from both southern Ontario and from the United States would come to race in Sudbury if stall rent is low and if there is a base amount of race dates so local horsepeople would not have to ship to southern Ontario to get their horses raced.

Bodkin said that many local horsepeople have had to find employment outside of the industry in the past two years due to the extended period of limbo that the Sudbury industry has been forced to endure since the cancellation of the Slots at Racetrack program.

(With files from

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