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Fight For HMA Continues

Published: May 10, 2013 1:36 pm ET

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Concerned Davidson standardbred trainer Gary Schmiedge recently presented Arm River-Watrous MLA Greg Brkich’s constituency office with a petition signed by local residents requesting the Saskatchewan government reinstate two Home Market Areas in the province, according to a Davidson Leader article.

West Meadows Raceway's application for Home Market Area status was denied by the Saskatchewan Liquor & Gaming Authority (SLGA) earlier this year. The Regina track applied for HMA to help support live racing by gaining a share of revenue from teletheatres and telephone account betting in the region after the Saskatchewan government cancelled its grant for horse racing.

“The veterinarians, we’ve been in touch with them and some of them are pretty concerned because they lose a lot of business if the horses leave,” Schmiedge was quoted as saying in a Davidson Leader article. “The gas [stations] lose money because it takes a lot of money to go to Yorkton [Cornerstone Raceway] or Regina. Restaurants, it’s a big spin-off for them. Some people come in and stay in Regina overnight, so there are motels.

“There is just no end of people that it involves [including] a lot of students in the summer months or after school. They go to these tracks and they get jobs grooming and cleaning barns. It gives them some employment. There is no end to what it affects.”

"We really feel that the industry can be self-sustaining and all we are asking for is a Home Market Area and for the government to put the licencing back to the way it was so both industries have an opportunity to grow," said Saskatchewan Standardbred Horseman's Association (SSHA) president Glenn Le Drew. "They'll [Prairieland Park] still have an opportunity to grow and prosper, but if the area is shared it means everything to the harness racing industry. Without it, it is going to kill off the harness racing industry."

Thoroughbred racetrack Marquis Downs/Prairieland Park gained HMA for the entire province in 2002 when Queensbury Downs exited the market. According to the article, Minister Donna Harpauer says the market is not big enough to split again. She also noted that the thoroughbred racing industry is based in the province while most of the standardbred horses come from Manitoba.

"The big province for standardbred horses is Manitoba and many of the standardbred horses are brought in from Manitoba to race the race and then they go home," she said. "This keeps the money in the province."

Shaun Morin, general manager of the Yorkton Exhibition Association, agrees that having two HMAs in Saskatchewan is not sustainable. According to the article, YEA has entered into an "agreement in principle" with Prairieland Park to host the 12 day meet this summer and is not working with the SSHA regarding their requests for HMA.

"We feel we're better off to try and work with Marquis Downs who have the staff and experience and teletheatres in place and then expand on that to open more theatres in Yorkton and then work on a profit share arrangement with them," said Morin. "That is the way we feel is the best way for everybody to survive."

(With files from the Davidson Leader)

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