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Deal Keeps Kawartha Downs Alive

Published: March 30, 2013 12:49 pm ET

Last Comment: April 5, 2013 8:07 am ET | 22 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

A deal was reached late Friday night that will keep Kawartha Downs open for live harness racing through 2014.

A late night deal was struck Friday between Kawartha Downs and the province's transition panel to save harness racing at the Fraserville track, Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal said Saturday.

“Mr. (Skip) Ambrose will continue the operation of racing in 2013,” Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal told the Peterborough Examiner Saturday. “As we move to 2014 and beyond the Peterborough County Federation of Agriculture will be putting together a non-profit entity to continue racing at Kawartha Downs.”

According to the Examiner, the deal does not include live race dates in April but will resume in early May with a total of 20 to 25 dates.

“This is hugely significant,” said Leal. “We want to assure everyone racing will continue at Kawartha Downs.”

While it was reported yesterday that a ceremony would celebrate the 40 years of racing at the Peterborough-area oval after Race 2, instead Leal will join a group in the winner's circle including track owner Ambrose at 6:00 p.m. to officially announce the deal.

“Kawartha Downs will be receiving the transition funding and at the same time, as Premier (Kathleen) Wynne announced about a week ago, we are re-integrating horse racing as part of the overall gaming activity in the province of Ontario with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation," said Leal, noting that the Liberal government erred in separating horse racing from the provincial gaming strategy. "Then we are going to seek a dedicated revenue stream from gaming in Ontario for the future support of horse racing in the province of Ontario to keep it alive.”

April 5, 2013 - 8:07 amYou are seeing things right

You are seeing things right Peggy. As a horseowner I agree 100%. Your message needs to get to the politicians. Is KD saved? Not by a longshot. I don't know if I can afford to keep paying a trainer when we have nowhere to race.

April 3, 2013 - 4:58 pmThey want to race so let them

dave lewis SAID...

They want to race so let them race... enough said.

April 2, 2013 - 11:31 amAgree with the comments that

Agree with the comments that it is a start -- and while it may not be the perfect deal, it keeps racing alive at KD.

April 1, 2013 - 6:47 pmThis deal smells as bad as

Carolyn Rae SAID...

This deal smells as bad as some of the other "behind closed doors deals" this Liberal Gov't has made. Horsemen and women are taking it in the back again, so that the Liberals can falsely and arrogantly be perceived as "saving KD".

Hope no-one falls for this when it counts, and that we can count on the NDP and PCs to band together and bring down this Gov't. ASAP, and genuinely work together to save Horse Racing in Ontario. If what they are both saying is true, they will leave everything as is, until a sensible solution can be found.

I still cannot, under any circumstance, see the logic of ending a successful partnership which has contributed over half of the income from the OLG to the Provincial coffers, save that of CORRUPTION!

Hopefully the people of Ontario will not be fooled by empty promises from the Liberals again, just prior to what could be a historical Spring Election for this province, If we are indeed to save us all from bankruptcy, we need to hand the controls over to someone with Business sense!

April 1, 2013 - 2:55 pmI was racing at Flamboro last

Peggy Powell SAID...

I was racing at Flamboro last night and heard some disturbing details. Great Canadian Gaming as of the end of April, has fired most of it's racing staff.Not laid off but fired , some of these people have worked there for upwards of 30 years. Is there no loyalty anywhere these days. We all know that the Liberal government has no loyalty to the racing industry for helping implement Slots into Ontario, Rural and Urban. For years they encouraged all of us to Breed Ontario, Race Ontario and grow the horses racing industry to become the best in North America. No tracks were to have Slots without having live racing. We did exactly what they asked of us. We made it into the best program in the world. Now they tell us that we are too big and nonsustainable and must be chopped off at the knees because they don't need our help anymore, Paul Godfrey and his rich friends can do it all by themselves. Although, they still need our tracks, but.. they don't need our horses or any of us. In my opinion, the entire world is messed up when greed and corruption rule it. No LOYALTY, NO Empathy, NO CONSIDERATION for anyone but the Rich and FAMOUS and certainly no CONSIDERATION for hard working middle class. These are the people that make a country what it is . We will all know very soon just what our Coutry and Province is going to become and I, for one don't like what I see. They are just making deals in order to appease the public. In two years time we will see. I hope that I am wrong, but i'm not holding my breath. Good luck Kawartha ,I really hope that everything works out well for all of you.

April 1, 2013 - 1:57 pmAs usual Mr Leber has it

As usual Mr Leber has it exactly right!!

April 1, 2013 - 1:38 pmI get a mixed message here.

Georg Leber SAID...

I get a mixed message here. KD applies to have its license cancelled and it is accepted, then a new negotiation starts. That seems inconsistent that it was not about money. Looks like the Liberals had their hands forced to me.

This non-profit venture will have to lease the track from the current owner. So he makes pure profit as the land increases in value and he still gets the slots. Mr. Ambrose is a pretty sharp cookie. He gets it coming and going. Too bad none of the details are every released.

Getting the community involved is just pure gold for OLG. Let them absorb the losses and get none of the slots money. There is one born every minute.

Georg Leber-ICR Racing

April 1, 2013 - 12:41 pmWell I was there for the big

Well I was there for the big new plan announcement on Saturday night.The biggest crowd I have seen there.So many wanted to be there for the last time.
Just a couple of observations on the new plan,how will the local horsemen compete against the trainers and drivers from out of town who will still swoop in and take the money home.The person that writes the conditions should put in that at LEAST HALF of the ownership should be within 50 miles of the track.
People can't keep a horse in the stall and race every 3/4 weeks and pay the bills.One fan I was talking too says the people want to see local JOE'S horse race not an AMERICAN owned one.As the money got larger the smaller the crowds got because they didn't associate with the horses from afar.
The economy is also too blame for the low bet,people don't have the money in their pockets to bet like years past.
Seniors who do come will not drive at night,so have the races Saturday afternoon.
JUST MY OPINION

March 31, 2013 - 9:32 amExtortion is a crime, take

Norm Walker SAID...

Extortion is a crime, take away everything then offer back a bare bones deal and proport it as salvation when it is truly at best only survival under Liberal terms until they get the larger gaming zones into full operation and then push back with "see I told you so, horse racing never should have grown to the levels of 2011" Wake up people reduction leads to elimination and then the Bingo halls and Foriegn owned casinos will be the only game in town.
Yes take the bone the Liberal gov't has thrown Kawartha but push for an election and push to get racing restored back to 2011 levels and a strong industry not a beaten broken down dog looking for table scraps.

March 30, 2013 - 5:12 pmCongrats you have made a lot

randy fife SAID...

Congrats you have made a lot of people happy thank you skip and the rest who made this huge decision to keep horse racing alive

March 30, 2013 - 4:50 pmAnd this is good news? I

And this is good news?

I wouldn't be blaming Skip here as it appears they wanted him to run it as a non profit business! Would you run a non profit business?

Simply stated they first tell you that you will be racing for less money. Secondly you are told that you will be racing for leas than half the number of races.

Equating this to a working man, first he is told his hourly wage will be cut substancely. After not knowing for months if he has a job or not a government official rides in and says great news, you are now going to be allowed to work 18 hours a week. How can you make a living.

Seems to me they are slowly asphyxiating horse racing at Kawartha.

Graham McMillen

March 30, 2013 - 4:31 pmSo Dr Leal after one year of

So Dr Leal after one year of chemotherapy you and your colleages think the patient might not of had cancer but you are celebrating that you may not of killed the patient. I have a great idea for a dedicated revenue source of revenue How about putting slot machines in racetracks and giving the horse industry a share in exchange for providing the building and customer base and I don't know what the share should be but maybe start at 10 percent and then adjust up or down based on how it works. If you agree with this concept we will give the Liberal government credit for coming up with the idea because I heard it has worked in jurisdictions where concepts similar to this have been tried. Good luck and if you are looking for a catchy acronym why not call it SARP.

March 30, 2013 - 4:02 pmGreat news for local

Brett Riley SAID...

Great news for local horseman,I agree keeps us in the picture until a better solution comes, lets build on this.

March 30, 2013 - 3:29 pmCould this deal be the same

Could this deal be the same as Flambro & Georgian . Flambro is racing all of April and then there not racing till NOVEMBER . NOW GEORGIAN there racing June & July like some ofthe other tracks . They are only racing two days a week but only OSS PURSES . This is a complete JOKE. How do you feel ABOUT Snoblen and the LIBERALS THAT SAVED US . This is what happens when we are not ONE group.

March 30, 2013 - 2:43 pmI almost get excited when I

Dave Nicol SAID...

I almost get excited when I hear some positive news, however it is difficult to take it too seriously. The decimation of our breeding industry is a case in point. They have literally gone from WORLD CLASS to a non-entity, which doesn't bode well for the industry going forward. Things will have to do a 180 turnabout before I truly get excited for my extended family! I'm probably not alone.

March 30, 2013 - 2:43 pmGreat news BUT why did it

Dave Snowden SAID...

Great news BUT why did it take so long and what about the dozens of horses that have been sold the last 3 weeks for 30 cents on the dollar.

March 30, 2013 - 2:43 pm"According to the Examiner,

"According to the Examiner, the deal does not include live race dates in April but will resume in early May with a total of 20 to 25 dates."

Are the 20-25 race dates for the rest of the year? If so, that means 1 day a week for 5 or 6 months. Will they write 20 races a day to increase the handle and also enable horsemen to get raced each week? What about the purse structure, where is that announcement? Why no racing in April? They could get dates ASAP from the ORC.

Good news they will remain open and get new ownership after this year that is non profit. Bad news is so many unanswered questions. Usually in any business when a deal is struck everything is finalized before the announcement comes out.

March 30, 2013 - 1:58 pmGreat news

jim morgan SAID...

Great news

March 30, 2013 - 1:18 pmGood News for area

Rick Fife SAID...

Good News for area horsepeople.....I guess Liberals just found out how hard it is to deal with Skippy.

March 30, 2013 - 1:15 pmCongrats, small progress, but

Tim Bates SAID...

Congrats, small progress, but better than none.

March 30, 2013 - 1:09 pmIt's been a long year and

david gibson SAID...

It's been a long year and this agreement will keep us in the game until a real solution can be found. It's a band-aid but its a start!

March 30, 2013 - 1:04 pmThis is encouraging, I'm

This is encouraging, I'm starting to like what I hear. Now just reign in OLG, and perhaps things could go in the right direction for Ontarians. Lets include OPG and the teachers in this too. She just might be all right. Bruce T. Winning


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