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Hippodrome 3R Removing Passing Lane

Published: April 19, 2018 11:09 am ET

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The Quebec Jockey Club has announced that Hippodrome 3R will be removing its passing lane for the track’s 2018 season of live racing, which is scheduled to get underway on Sunday April 29.

Hippodrome 3R’s meet had initially been scheduled to get underway earlier, but uncooperative winter weather had forced track officials to delay the season’s opening card. For more on the delay, click here.

Hippodrome 3R’s decision to remove the passing lane comes on the heels of Yonkers Raceway’s decision to remove its passing lane. For more on the Yonkers decisions, click here, here and here.

“We starting looking at the wagering on Yonkers around the end of January after they did away with their passing lane,” explained Hippodrome 3R General Manager Murielle Thomassin, “and we continued to look at their increasing numbers in February.

“Sometimes there is no need to re-invent the wheel,” said Thomassin. “Of course, Yonkers [instituted] other changes that contributed to the rise in wagers, but this change was a no-brainer, we need to at least try it and see if our clients like it. The entire dynamic of the races will have to change. The strategies the driver’s use will have to be much different and thought of. No more waiting in the hole until the passing lane to come out and steal the win.”

Hippodrome 3R’s passing lane was first installed in the late 1980s. Track superintendent Sylvain Blais and his team have already begun working on restoring the old homestretch.

“We were able to locate the old lane in the stretch,” said Thomassin said, “and it is still in the ground from 18 years ago. We just need better weather and soft grounds to complete the change.

“We had more snow Wednesday, but it melted and now it’s raining. Our fingers are crossed that Mother Nature cooperates this week, and it looks like it will, with warming temperatures and some sunshine to dry up the mess we have so we can do more work on the track.”

According to Thomassin, horsepeople have reacted positively after hearing about the removal of the passing lane.

“They understand that we are trying to better the sport and race quality,” explained Thomassin. “That additional purse money coming from the increase in wagering will mean purse increases in the future for them.”

Additionally, there will be new post times at Hippodrome 3R this season. Sunday afternoon programs will begin at 12:50 p.m. and the Tuesday evening cards will now kick off at 6:30 p.m.

(With files from the Quebec Jockey Club)

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