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HRA Announces 2009 Race Dates


Published: December 1, 2008 4:26 pm ET

Last Comment: January 30, 2009 10:32 pm ET | 16 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Horse Racing Alberta today announced the province's 2009 live racing schedule.

“The 2009 race schedule is structured to address the unique needs of all our breeds in challenging times,” stated Shirley McClellan, HRA chair, via release.

The rest of the HRA release appears below.

'A' Circuit (included Extended A Meet)

There will be a total of 96 thoroughbred and 96 standardbred racing days.

Northlands Park in Edmonton
• awarded a total of 96 days of thoroughbred racing starting from May 1 to October 25.
• awarded a total of 50 days of standardbred racing starting from January 2 to February 28. Then from November 18 to December 30, 2009.

Evergreen Park in Grande Prairie
• awarded a total of 46 standardbred extended 'A' meet days from June 13 to September 26.

Community Circuit

Rocky Mountain Turf Club in Lethbridge
• awarded 50 days of runners from May 3 to June 28, and September 4 to November 7.

Evergreen Park in Grande Prairie
• awarded 14 days of standardbred racing from April 4 to May 10.
• awarded 25 days of runners from July 3 to August 23.

Millarville will continue with their traditional Canada Day races on July 1.

January 30, 2009 - 10:32 pmMr Hennessy makes a major

Don McNeil (not verified) SAID...

Mr Hennessy makes a major point in saying "the only solution is to START NOW TO SEEK SOLUTIONS". The industry in Alberta has the additional short term problem (hopefully) of the availability of A tracks, but suffers the same dilema as horse racing across North America --- a general loss of support or even interest in the sport.
I believe a partial solution lies in one of the areas most complained about tonight -- that of having to race on the "B" (or lesser) quality tracks. Folks, we are forgeting the grassroots of our industry, the racing (and fun) at the country fairs , often over pretty rough and narrow small town tracks. This is the area of the sport that engaged people, introduced them to the sport and got them interested in participating. We need to take every opportunity to get ourselves out to the smaller centres and promote an interest in the sport and not simply be content to be an "also ran" at some major casino facility. Purse money is important, but the purses won't be there much longer if we don't revive interest in the sport.
I grew up in the industy in eastern Ontario in the early sixties. We raced the local tracks and if we got good enough, migrated to Toronto, Montreal or Saratoga. We had more than our share of good fortune (founded in good care and training) but we never stopped racing at the fairs and minor stakes around the area primarily because it was fun. Being able to interact with the people and have good old time competion (as well as being a good between pari-mutual race workout)made it worthwhile.
We need to get people back into the sport not to gamble or bet more, but to participate, and we the horsemen and owners are the only folks who can do this . Yes we need to invest more in PR and advertizing (used to be almost constant on the radio in Ottawa in the sixties). Yes , we need to bring on new champions and set new records. But we can't do this without new fans (not to be confused with higher handles and attendance at the "racasinos")and we the horsemen are the only ones who can bring them on board. Let' stop complaining about having to race in Grand Prairie and start trying to get some additional days in other centres where the sport will be welcomed. This is where it started and as in every other part of agriculture, if the roots are ignored, the plant will die.
As for the other issues such as fairness of racing allocations at the major track --- they are another issue and we must continue our efforts to esure our new HRA executive are accountable for their decisions

December 3, 2008 - 12:45 amFrom the one who lost 4

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

From the one who lost 4 horses Thanks Rick for your comments. I did not race up there last year so I guess things have gotten better. Thats why I asked my questions regarding the track. Thats good news. Maybe there is hope yet. One suggestion to change things up would be to have some media type races get the people of Grande Praire involved. Have some half mile dashes etc etc. Just some thoughts.

I still think that HRA needs to address the race date issue. The discrepancy is too much. With the way the dates are set I do not see how you can keep horses in top form by shutting down as much as it is indicated not too mention the shipping problems that come with it Grande Prairie is a long way from Edmonton etc. etc.

Again thanks for your comments Rick

December 2, 2008 - 5:21 pmSure I I am happy to be

Rick (not verified) SAID...

Sure I I am happy to be racing ,But this aint nowhere near 50/50 . Sure there is 96 A days apiece but howcome there is such a difference in B dates 14 days harness and 75 for tbreds.Come on Shirley you can do better than that, equal is equal.How can you not fill the gaps in with B dates at least!!! We have to keep employees and horses going all year when the tbreds are layingoff help shutting down or could at least move on for 5 months straight.So we have more costs and less options.What about purses are they now even too now that A days are even how will the tbreds feel bout that let's hope all is 50/50
.As for GP the track was great last year and is just as good as any A track in north america bar none and is the safest one in alberta. The confederation cup and jug are on half mile tracks and people come in droves to watch.Maybe we should now focus on making this work and making something of what we got put on one hell of a show and make it a product people want.We should take controll of our own product,put on a simulcast show like Northfield and make people want to watch!Up there we have more control over our own product and can try new things as long as we are simulcasting let Sugar run wild and do something new maybe it is a time for change and open minds,obviosly the old ag sociotey system does not work let's get some new ideas going for a year and be innovative. We can do this!!!!

December 2, 2008 - 2:06 pmI have lost four horses due

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

I have lost four horses due to the track at Grande Prairie and one of them was after a bunch of money was suppose to be spent in fixing the track. HRA has this been rectified????? Have they built more barns or are they still the open variety??????? What happened to the facility in Olds or Red Deer was that option examined. Olds - seems like it worked for training this fall??? I will not be sending any horses to Grand Prairie until I am sure that they can race safely over the surface. In fact I think I will examine other racing options other than Alberta and shift my moneys elsewhere where I can atleast cover the expenses.

December 2, 2008 - 8:02 amNice try HRA you thought you

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Nice try HRA you thought you the dates even whoopee. Why can't Grande Prairie go from March 1 till the end of November for the Standardbreds. Why the shut down for the months of March, May 10- June 13 and from September 26 through to November 18?????? The thorough breds have more than 96 days of racing they have 96 + 75 = 175 days while the standardbreds only have 96. This is not fair as you would like it to be. Don't try to make this out as fair because it isn't. As the one writer stated why can't Norhtlands park go for six months in the spring and summer thoroughbreds and 6 months in the winter for harness racing. As he said you will see the handle go up people will know who is racing and when?????

Still disgruntled.

December 2, 2008 - 1:24 amIs it really more important

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Is it really more important to HRA to have one breed training their stock for two months (March and April) then have the second breed actually race at an "A" facility?
I wonder if there will be any hot water in GP in April?

December 2, 2008 - 12:57 amGOOD LUCK!!Racing in GP in

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

GOOD LUCK!!Racing in GP in April BAHHH. It's still dark 20 out of 24 hours. It snows till June(no barns with walls). This why we had to get out of the business. Very sad that harness racing has come to this. The best of luck to all the horsemen that try to give it a go.

December 2, 2008 - 12:35 amOne more year for harness to

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

One more year for harness to struggle, then they will have Northlands all to themselves when the runners move to their long awaited mile track at Calgary.
Meanwhile the thoroughbred fans in Edmonton can have a nice long 96 day meet of 4,5 and 6 horse fields to bet on. In 2010 they can all come to harness races at Northlands and bet on their runners at Balzac via simulcast or just stay home and use the computer!

December 1, 2008 - 11:51 pmIt would have been nice if

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

It would have been nice if some actual trainers in were consulted on what to do. The only reason thoroughbreds arent here spring training in January is because its to cold for them at Northlands.
So the standardbreds get to occupy Northlands. I hope the thoroughbreds enjoy sharing Northlands with the Jumpers in the spring. They dont like to share with the chuckwagons or quarter horses in the summer. Some how Northlands makes those things easier by changing times etc... Can you see them having to move off the grounds for just under 3 weeks so they can park trailers on the track during rodeo. At the standardbred owners expenses plus boarding in a farm. Then come back to a barn area that has been filled with livestock from everywhere. It never fails our horses end up sick, vet bills go up, horses entered goes down due to sickness. Then they wonder why we cant fill the entry box. Dont get me wrong Harness are happy they have dates in 2009. I am just tired of hearing what the poor thoroughbreds had to give up. Northlands should have thought this out a little more given the harness till mid April condensed the other breed mid April to September. Let them go 5 days a week for one month being they have the "Prime Summer Days" and another straight 10 days during Capital Ex they used to a couple of years ago.
Northlands did create another job for the person who has to refund the Northlands Filly Pace, and Western Canada Pacing Derby Nomination fees. It should take a while to track down the owners of all those horses. What about the owners & trainers that go to the US sales.
1. They look at the breeding in the catalogue.
2. They make sure they are paid up for NFP of WCPD
3. Then go see the horse.

December 1, 2008 - 11:04 pmHonestly not only do the

Paul and Tam (not verified) SAID...

Honestly not only do the thoroughbreds get the days they want, they have made NO sacrifices and have taken NO losses!! We are pushed all over Alberta and forced to pay for board, shipping, housing and to boot we have to take a month off here and a month off there! We have a smaller stable and we strive off of the cheep horses that we own. We are losing owners faster than our horses are breaking down! These dates will send the big stables to other provinces and cause the little guy to starve! Thanks.

December 1, 2008 - 10:15 pmObviously Horse Race Alberta

Mona Hill (not verified) SAID...

Obviously Horse Race Alberta was more concerned about the thoroughbreds having an A track to train on in March and April than it was for Standardbreds to have a decent track to hold Stake races on. What a mess.

December 1, 2008 - 8:36 pmI see the spin HRA tries to

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

I see the spin HRA tries to put on this shafting of the harness industry. "Look everyone, it is all equal, 96 harness A days, 96 thoroughbred A days"

Grande Prairie is not an A track, and never will be an A track, and most horsemen will not risk sending their good horses to race on that track. So we are left with 2 months in January February and 2 months in November December.

Congratulations harness industry. Thank you to all involved in getting us to where we are today.

December 1, 2008 - 4:58 pmSo the standardbreds have to

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

So the standardbreds have to share Grande Prairie with the thoroughbreds from july through august. That hardly seems fair. You would have thought if we were being shuffled off to way up there at least we would not have been squeezed in with them. Seems the thoroughbreds got the golden goose yet again. I hope it rains every day this summer in Edmonton.

December 1, 2008 - 4:49 pmThat's my name because

former horseman (not verified) SAID...

That's my name because that's what i'll be at this rate, harness takes it in the rear again and yet again!!!! Nice talk for a nice place, thanks HRA, dont stress yourselves, there is already enough stress in the harness world of alberta...

December 1, 2008 - 4:45 pmNorthlands and Horse Racing

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Northlands and Horse Racing Alberta don't get and haven't gotten it for years. From a fan and bettor's standpoint horse racing is seasonal. When Spring comes we want thoroughbreds; when fall comes we want harness.

This was the way it was for a long time for Northlands bettors and the handle reflected it. It was stab in the back when they gave Cagary the Spring Thoroughbred meet especially when Calgarians would for the most part do anything but bet on a race. The dates for 2009 are ridiculous there is no racing in March and April when a bettor is the most excited about betting. Northland's is a racing facility.

The thoroughbred horsemen can prepare at other racetracks that are operating or at private training facilities. If there aren't enough now it will afford an opportunity for entrepeneurs to build them. Northlands should have thoroughbreds for 6 months starting April 1 and the harness have 6 months therafter. Calgary and Edmonton are two large metropolises and should race independently and if Calgary doesn't get enogh fans they can stick to rodeo.

December 1, 2008 - 4:39 pmHow is this FAIR, it's

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

How is this FAIR, it's nothing but RIDICULOUS, how did "intelligent people" come up with such a great plan for standardbred! wow!!!! And the runners, still get Grande Prairie and Lethbridge???? and 96 days at an A track!
Have fun watching us die!!!!

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