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Ontario Harness Ready And Waiting

Published: April 23, 2020 2:42 pm ET

Last Comment: April 23, 2020 6:23 pm ET | 2 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

The Ontario Standardbred industry is looking to hit the ground running when the provincial government ultimately gives the green light to resume live racing.

Tracks, owners, horsepeople – everyone – is looking forward to getting back to doing what they love most. The eagerness and anxiety for Standardbreds to put their noses on the starting gate is palpable, even though participants acknowledge and respect the fact that current social distancing protocols must supersede everything.

Sportsnet, one of Canada’s two major sports networks, has published an article on how the Ontario horse racing industry is primed to get out of the starting gate first once the word ‘go’ is finally given.

“We have a big advantage in the sports and entertainment properties because we do not need spectators,” said Woodbine Entertainment CEO Jim Lawson, who has been communicating with the industry throughout this unforeseen shutdown. “Since we’re largely driven by our simulcast and our broadcasting features, we have those opportunities available to us, we can operate our sport.”

In the article, Ontario Racing Chair John Hayes pointed out that not one individual in the province’s horse racing industry has tested positive for the coronavirus. He also stated that, if all continues to go well, he is hopeful that racing in Ontario could possibly resume in June.

LandMark Racing Stables Owner/Operator Howard Pearce, for one, has said that the province’s Standardbreds will be ready.

“None of the trainers stopped, they’re training their horses every day,” Pearce was quoted as saying. “If they announced harness racing was starting next week, these horses are ready. That’s a big difference from any of the other sports.”

O’Brien Award winning horseman Mark Steacy has echoed Lawson’s earlier sentiments. The respected trainer stated that racing was being conducted without fans just before the plug was pulled, and it went off rather well.

“We’d already been racing without spectators and it was going over fairly [well]. It was the only gambling in town, so the bet was really good, too, and it was working quite well,” said Steacy, who went on to state, “We (racing) can go on without a public. We’re not like hockey or baseball, we don’t need people in the stands.”

To read the Sportsnet article in its entirety, click here.

(With files from Sportsnet)

April 23, 2020 - 6:23 pmWhat a load of... Yes

john dossey SAID...

What a load of...

Yes racing can be held without fans, look at Tampa Bay downs getting $6 million handles on a daily basis. But without fans where r your next bettors coming from?

April 23, 2020 - 4:34 pmGosh I HOPE for a little

Dave Aziz SAID...

Gosh I HOPE for a little sooner than JUNE!
Does anyone not think that all entries will need a qualifier line?
Bettors will need a current line since it will be seven weeks?

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