PEIHRIA Unveils Initiatives For 2024 Racing Season

Harness Racing at Charlottetown Driving Park
Published: April 18, 2024 11:45 am EDT

The Prince Edward Island Harness Racing Industry Association (PEIHRIA) announced several enhanced initiatives for 2024 and record results from the 2023 racing season to the large crowd at its recent annual meeting.

Chair Blaine MacPherson recapped the 2023 racing season on the Island, which included a record overall wager, enhanced overnight purses, a record gross in the Atlantic Classic Yearling Sale, increased breeder support programs, an overall increase in the breeding sector, and continued membership growth, particularly among youth. The audience also heard from the remaining directors from the PEIHRIA board on the initiatives that were undertaken by their organizations in 2023.

Minister of Finance Hon. Jill Burridge spoke on behalf of the provincial government and reiterated the government’s support for the harness racing industry and its importance to the agricultural and tourism sectors on Prince Edward Island. MacPherson extended a thank you to Premier Dennis King and his government for their continued support of harness racing, and extended his organization's co-operation in continuing to build a strong industry on the Island.

David MacKenzie, General Manager of Red Shores, and Lee Drake, Manager of Racing and Broadcast, detailed the activities planned for both Island racetracks for the 2024 racing season. A continued focus on guest experience and improved wagering options were keys to a record year for the organization in 2023, which had an 18 per cent increase in pari-mutuel wager. The focus for 2024 unveiled by the organization are several new initiatives that will position Red Shores firmly as Atlantic Canada’s entertainment destination. Among these new initiatives will be the launch of the new O’Briens Social Bar and Kitchen; a new feature race event in honour of Wilbur and Pauline MacDonald, sponsored by the family; special promotions counting down to the 65th running of the Gold Cup and Saucer sponsored by Atlantic Lottery and the 55th edition of the Governors Plate, sponsored by Summerside Chrysler Dodge; and a commitment of $600,000 to the purse pool for 2024.

The Chair closed out the meeting with a series of enhanced initiatives for the 2024 racing season:

  • An increased allotment to the overnight purse pool.
  • The return of the Atlantic Invitational Series with an increased purse structure for the Richard Campbell Memorial and the Cecil Ladner Memorial, as well as an enhanced purse for the Premier’s Cup final.
  • A revamped Graduate Series for Maritime foaled/sired four, five and six years olds in a Gold and Grassroots format.
  • An increase to base purses of the Joe O’Brien Memorial Stakes, the Lady Slipper Series, the P.E.I. Colt Stakes, and the Home Hardware Maritime Breeders Stakes.
  • The return of the trot development series, which includes the Island Ocean Trot, the PEIHRIA Grassroot Trot and the Allstar Cresting Trot.
  • Continuation of the Matinee Racetrack Development Program.
  • Focus on young driver development with the return of the Gamester – Pinkney Memorial Series.
  • Enhanced breed development programs with increases to Island breeder's reward programs and the continuation of the Breed Development Fund.
  • A spring and fall series to support lower non-winner level horses.

Full details on the evening’s announcements can be found at


Have something to say about this? Log in or create an account to post a comment.