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Did Ontario Start A Domino Effect?


Published: April 24, 2012 1:31 pm ET

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"We did find it ironic that all these announcements came out within a few weeks of each other, so it certainly made you wonder whether there was some sort of conference or discussions going on between the provinces."

After the government in Ontario made the decision to end its partnership with horse racing as of April 2013, announcements with a similar tone followed from the governments of New Brunswick and Saskatchewan. On today's episode of Trot Radio, host Norm Borg talks to representatives from each province for a status report and a closer look at the impact of these shocking announcements.

"It really came as a big surprise to us," said Saskatchewan's Glenn LeDrew. "The funding that's in place now - that has just come to an end effective March next year - has been in place since 1978. It was a difficult announcement for us to hear especially on the heels of the new track just getting underway last year here in Regina."

West Meadows Raceway only raced four dates in 2011 but the response from the area and the province was overwhelmingly positive.

In New Brunswick, the government's announcement was more of an accelerated process and thus not quite as startling.

"Our product has been improving over the last few years, we faced a little bit of a dip in 2011 but we signed an agreement with the government in 2009 for a five-year commitment on allocating some VLTs to support the industry," noted HRNB's Jeff Malloy. "To this point in time we haven't deployed all the allocated machines but we also had an agreement with the government that for the machines we didn't have under our control we'd get a top up in funding up to $1 million. And of that million, we were receiving about $600,000.

"The agreement was set to end in March 2014 and unfortunately this government turned the dial up a little bit. In essence the plan is still in place, it just puts a lot of pressure on us to get our plans implemented this year. We went from having 24 months to get a plan in place to only 12."

Both LeDrew and Malloy indicate that there have been talks with respective government representatives since the announcements last month. LeDrew would love to see harness racing in his province getting access to the same tools that thoroughbred track Marquis Downs has received, while Malloy notes that teletheatre expansion is on the agenda. He also applauds the government in Prince Edward Island for their approach to supporting horse racing.

"We should all be envious of Prince Edward Island and the model they have there under the Atlantic Lotto. One of the good things they have going in PEI is they recognize those benefits and they've done those studies and they proven the numbers on the benefits back to their province."

Malloy stated that the horsemen and breeders took the news of Ontario's announcement with a notable amount of gravity.

"We're definitely an export market, we aren't an import market. We provide a good product, develop it here and the business model is to sell it to a bigger market like Ontario. It really shocked everyone, I think they're very hesitant and very concerned with what's going on in Ontario."

While Saskatchewan might not play the same role, LeDrew says the breeding business had grown to support a sires stakes program from something "virtually non-existent."

To hear the full interview, click the play button below.

Episode 260 – Glenn LeDrew, President, Saskatchewan Standardbred Horsemen's Association; Jeff Malloy, Executive Director, Horse Racing New Brunswick
Audio Format: MP3 audio
Host: Norm Borg

Please note that the opinions expressed in the featured interview are those of the participants and do not necessarily reflect Rideau Carleton Raceway and/or Standardbred Canada.

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