Downey Asks N.B. For Patience

Published: February 1, 2015 06:50 pm EST

In a letter issued Sunday night, Horse Racing New Brunswick President Dr. Mitchell Downey is asking for the province's harness racing industry to show patience and understanding through its recent struggles.

Noting that with a new government in place there is reason for optimism, Downey asks that the racing industry not give up hope and that "the sun is just about ready to rise."

The full letter is posted in its entirety below.

Dear members,

Once again I write to you in dark times. This past season saw many excellent races and exciting times in NB. However it was also full of many challenges. HRNB budgeted on approximately $95,000 in revenues per month through our operations in order to meet our debt repayments and new expenses with racing. Despite a national trend upwards in wagering HRNB has experienced a 10 percent decline in wager most notably since August. These declines have been as much as $40,000 a month.

As such, this decline has drastically impacted our ability to stay open. When the previous Tory Government, in our opinion, broke their contract with HRNB, we subsequently lost $650,000 in revenue with which to operate. Our motivation throughout these trying times was to facilitate the defeat of Alward's PC government with the hopes of opening fresh dialogue with a receptive Liberal Government. The previous government did not value rural NB or a vibrant agriculture and racing industry. We believe the new Government of NB does.

My friends, things are in motion and once again we have a glimmer of hope. For me, that hope had all but faded until very recently. Alas, I wish I can share more, but I hope you can appreciate with these delicate matters, there needs to be confidentiality. Everyone involved appreciates the need for expedited answers and solutions!

In an effort to protect and ensure the viability of the Maritimer, the Bill Quigg and the Williamson Stakes, the unified voice of the horse people of New Brunswick, the NBSBOA in conjunction with the MPHRC will ensure all purses are paid in a timely fashion.

I know we have walked this road before. Promises were made to the industry and subsequently broken. There have been numerous times I have asked for your patience while we deal with difficult matters; I need to ask this again. Many members across the Maritimes, including myself, are owed purse money by HRNB. Members of HRNB have been working hard trying to juggle the desperate act of decreased revenue, paying key suppliers and paying out purses, some of which was set aside stakes money. I apologize for the delay, but without that delay we most likely wouldn't be here.

It may seem like it is easier to throw in the towel and call it quits. For the dedicated volunteers and all members within the industry I ask you not to give up. It is darkest just before the dawn, and I believe the sun is just about ready to rise.

Dr. Mitchell Downey
President, HRNB