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T-Bred Concern Over Liberals' Decision

Published: May 3, 2012 2:55 pm ET

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One of Woodbine's top thoroughbred trainers, Mark Casse, is down in Louisville keeping a watchful eye over his Kentucky Derby charge, Prospective, as the hours tick down to Saturday's 138th running of the 'Run for the Roses.' Back at home, things could be better, to say the least, as Casse has gone on the record as saying he could see cutting 75 per cent of his employees if investors stop purchasing Ontario-breds due to reckless gaming decisions by Premier Dalton McGuinty's provincial government.

Prospective will break from Post 12 in the Derby at Churchill Downs, the most recognizable and popular horse race in North America, if not the world. Woodbine's leading rider, Luis Contreras, will be up aboard the 30-1 morning-line shot when the bell blares for the 20-horse classic.

Prospective is owned by Kentucky-based owner-breeder John Oxley, who over the years has come to purchase many lucrative Ontario-bred yearlings to compete in the province's world-renowned sires stakes program. The foreign investment into Ontario's economy has allowed Casse, widely recognized as one of North America's best conditioners of young runners, to employ 50 Ontarians and find much success on the track, which, in turn, translates to return investments in the Ontario program (not just by Oxley, but also by others looking to emulate his success).

Enter the Ontario Liberal Government, which has inexplicably cut one of its star economic horses, the mutually beneficial slots-at-racetracks program, down at the knees in favour of a new, vague, and increasingly controversial gaming 'modernization plan.' It is not just those in the harness-racing industry that are afraid of the province's future racing landscape, just ask Casse.

In an article by Rob Longley in the Toronto Sun, Casse has explained that the ripple effect from the Ontario Liberals' blindsiding gaming announcement has hit home like a calculated kidney punch.

“I’ve got these (American owners) who are investing a lot of money," Casse said from the Churchill shedrows Wednesday. "If we lose the purses, believe me, (the government) has no idea how it’s going to affect them.”

He went on to say that the McGuinty Liberals' new gaming conundrum could lead to him slashing his Woodbine-based operation by 75 per cent. “I have 50 Canadian employees that have been with me for years,” he said. “That could be down to 15."

Casse told Longley that he has been pointing his owners towards the Ontario program in the past with much success. Now, with the Ontario Liberals having essentially pulled the rug out from under themselves in terms of the province's racing industry, “The owners have discussed it with me, most definitely," he said, adding that his owners are "concerned.”

To read Longley's article in the Toronto Sun, click here.

(With files from the Toronto Sun)

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