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Martin Hoping For Summer Return

Published: May 1, 2020 10:35 am ET

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Racing isn’t the only thing that isn’t taking place at Grand River Raceway these days. The facility has also been forced to halt construction on a major renovation project at the Elora, Ontario oval due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A 17,000 square foot addition to the track’s Lighthouse Restaurant -- a project that comes with a price tag of $6 million -- was originally to be completed in June. That timetable has now been pushed back to later in the summer according to the track’s Director of Operations, Jamie Martin.

In a recent article published by the Wellington Advertiser, Martin expressed optimism that harness racing would return to Grand River Raceway this season but not before getting the green light from the government.

“We’re expecting to be open on June 3, but I think we’re probably a couple weeks away from hearing something more definitive,” said Martin. “We’re just sort of waiting to hear what we’re going to be permitted to do and not permitted to do.”

Martin also addressed some of the changes that would need to be made in order for the show to go on at the half miler.

“We know it would be without spectators so we would just be providing essential staff on site to conduct the races,” said Martin. “It could be a range from taking everybody’s temperature as they enter the restricted area [paddock]. You’ve got 80 horses in there and then people with each horse, so we’re going to have to implement some procedures.

“We may have to drag the races out so there’s more time between races, allowing the horses and caregivers time to move in and out of the paddock area while maintaining separation,” he added. “First and foremost we need to protect the safety for the people that are working in there and we will do that.”

The status of the oval’s marquee program, Industry Day, also remains in limbo. It’s unclear if the card that features the Battle of Waterloo and the Battle of the Belles will remain on schedule, if it will need to be rescheduled, or if it will simply be cancelled.

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