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Allen In Negotiations For Balzac

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Published: February 8, 2012 8:55 pm ET

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Trot Insider touched base with Alberta Downs Owner Robert Allen earlier this week in order to get an idea of what the 2012 season of harness racing will look like in Lacombe. What Trot Insider learned was that Allen is also stepping up in an attempt to solidify the province's racing future.

In addition to commenting on the 2012 Alberta Downs meet, Allen told Trot Insider that he is in negotiations to make the stalled Balzac raceway project become a firm reality.

News regarding the Balzac raceway project has been sparse, at best, since the spring of last year. Norm Borg of Trot Radio spoke with Darcy Marler last May when the United Horsemen of Alberta president stated, "I would say by mid-June we'll either be full speed ahead or we'll be D.O.A." in regard to the proposed track, which is to be relocated right beside the Iron Mills Mall.

"I'm negotiating on the track in Calgary (Balzac)," Allen told Trot Insider, "and if I'm successful I feel that it would save horse racing in Alberta and help everybody --- breeders, owners, everybody. I know that track alone will save the industry."

Allen also said that, "…if we are successful, we will have racing (at Balzac) in 2013."

Although dates have yet to be made official by Horse Racing Alberta, Alberta Downs is expecting to host a 60-day live meet this year. Live harness racing in Lacombe is expected to get underway May 5 and run through until October 8. "I was cut back by 19 dates this year," Allen said.

"The track is doing really well. We were breaking all types of records last year. The racing has been really good since the track issue was solved. Every horse, I think, broke its own lifetime record. The issue is that I don't have slot machines and there really isn't any money to survive with the track."

Allen also told Trot Insider that he has stopped building at Alberta Downs.

"The grandstand is built, and we have a snack bar, a bar and a heated area upstairs. When everything was supposed to be finished, the grandstand at the front was supposed to be all glassed in with tiered seating, and I didn't finish that. It's more or less table seating out front. It's (the table seating is) underneath the grandstand, so it's covered, but it's not feasible to close it in right now."

Allen said that everything is okay in terms of the Lacombe track, but it is just that everything is a constant struggle without money.

"I can see that this track is a beautiful track, and it's going to be a good track, but there is no future without money."

In regard to when Alberta Downs will start getting ready for its May opener, Allen said, "Once racing is finished in Edmonton (Northlands Park), the horsemen are going to come down here and start training about a month and a half before the meet kicks off."

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