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Leal, McCagherty On Kawartha's Future

Published: May 30, 2016 1:59 pm ET

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Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Jeff Leal and Trevor McCagherty, the spokesman for Kawartha Downs owner Harvey ‘Skip’ Ambrose have commented on the future of the Fraserville, Ont. track.

The Great Canadian Gaming Corporation’s plans for a Peterborough casino are in full swing, and thus the future of Kawartha Downs is up in the air. Given that, both Leal and McCagherty have said that their parties still have enthusiasm for the future of the facility. Leal has said that, “We're looking at ways to chart a new course.”

Kawartha kicked off its 2016 meet this past weekend – and the card was memorable for one particular racing fan.

“Skip's goal from the outset has been to race as long as we can,” McCagherty has been quoted as saying. “There is no reason as long as we continue to enjoy the support of the public, the horsemen and, particularly, the Ontario government, horse racing can't continue at Kawartha Downs.”

Leal was cited by the Peterborough Examiner as saying that every effort will be made to keep Kawartha Downs open, regardless of the incoming GCGC casino in the area. “I'll be working with all the parties involved because horse racing is very important to me,” he said.

“We don't have a plan B at this particular time,” McCagherty said. “I wouldn't mislead you into thinking we haven't contemplated what other opportunities would exist there, but they really haven't been explored, yet. Right now we have a good tenant (OLG slots). We have good crowds and we have good racing. We're going to carry on with it as long as we can. Once we get a more clear definition of where we're going we'll make decisions based on where events take us.

“We know horse racing is an industry that's in transition and we know the government is assisting in that transition. We know the horsemen are still willing to race and we know people by the thousands are willing to show up.”

(With files from the Peterborough Examiner)

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