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Jamieson Talks Ont. Racing, Politics

Published: May 22, 2014 11:16 am ET

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The Toronto Sun has published a feature story on three-time O’Brien Award winning driver Jody Jamieson. In the piece, the resident of Moffat, Ont. discusses everything from the negative effects of the cancellation of the Slots at Racetracks program to how the industry can do a better job of promoting itself.

In discussion with writer Bill Lankof, Jamieson explained just how badly the cancellation of the SARP program has hurt Ontario. “The grassroots of harness racing in Ontario has been devastated and Ontario is the backbone of harness racing,” he said.

Jamieson went on to say that “There’s a huge decline in people buying hay, calling blacksmiths in, buying harnesses ... and that’s the grassroots of standardbred racing. It’s worse than killed it. It’s devastated it. It’s swept right across (this industry). That’s what this government has done. It’s destroyed it.”

After cancelling the SARP partnership, the Ontario Government eventually turned around and announced a multi-million-dollar subsidy to the industry. Jamieson explains that even though the multi-year subsidy ended up being announced, massive damage to the racing industry and the province of Ontario was already done.

“We were a $2-to $3-billion direct and indirect economic churn in the province,” Jamieson was quoted as saying. “Now people aren’t buying feed anymore, they aren’t buying trailers, they aren’t buying hay. They’ve moved their horses — or sold, and the family has got out of the game.”

Later in the article, Jamieson moved on to the topic of the marketing of the Ontario product.

“There are companies (operating tracks) that won’t spend 10 cents on (marketing), they’ll argue with me, but I don’t see it. Woodbine is the only track that has put (standardbreds) into the mainstream and I think they can do more, too,” he said.

“Horses can’t talk, but the people behind the horses should be doing a better job of promoting this game. I probably won’t see it in my career, but I’d love to see someone market around drivers. Make them the marquee — just like hockey players are the marquee selling point for the NHL. This game hasn’t even scratched the surface for an audience.”

(With files from the Toronto Sun)

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