On Tuesday, April 20, a group of volunteers met in Fredericton, New Brunswick for a strategic meeting in an effort to bring live harness racing back to Fredericton Raceway.
Although organizers conceded that live pari-mutuel racing will not take place at the track in 2017, the possibility of having live harness racing featured during the 2017 New Brunswick Provincial Exhibition was discussed, as was the further goal of having live pari-mutuel harness racing make its return to Fredericton Raceway in 2018.
As an article by The Daily Gleaner explains, the meeting was called by a committee consisting of former Fredericton Raceway general managers Brent Briggs and Brian Embleton, former raceway announcer Chris Connor, and local businessman Gary Dunphy. Roughly 40 members of the local harness racing industry attended the meeting, and many left the gathering feeling optimistic about what was discussed.
One of the horsepeople that attended was New Brunswick Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association President Charlie Miles, who explained that he went into the meeting “pessimistic,” but came out of it “slightly optimistic."
It is hoped that up to four fair races featuring Standardbreds can take place during the day in question, which has not been determined. The exhibition is scheduled to run from Monday, September 4 to Sunday, September 10.
New Brunswick Provincial Exhibition Executive Director Mike Vokey also attended the meeting. He stated that the exhibition has formally asked the City of Fredericton for a letter of endorsement so the exhibition can make the next step in trying to secure a permanent liquor licence for the location that was previously run as ‘Winner's Lounge’ by Horse Racing New Brunswick. The permanent licence was transferred to HRNB’s new location on Hanwell Road when the group vacated the premises this past winter.
According to the article, Vokey and Briggs stated that revenue ultimately generated from the liquor licence, and potentially video lottery terminals at that premises, would provide a revenue stream for live harness racing at Fredericton Raceway in 2018.
Vokey also presented another option for the funding of live racing at Fredericton, stating that renting out the newly-licensed location of the former Winner’s Lounge could be an option. “The board of directors will make the decision when all the options are in front of it," he said.
(With files from The Daily Gleaner)