Horsemen React To Ottawa Casino

Published: June 5, 2013 10:37 am EDT

"You talk about the fights that [Mayor Jim] Watson and I had personally in the media, a number of people questioned that relationship today in speaking to the media this morning. I said it's just like a hockey game, you shake hands at the end and I'm looking forward to developing a strong relationship on behalf of the horsepeople in this region for a long, long time."

One person from Ottawa was proactive enough to take up the fight against what seemed to be a misguided and irrational decision to place a casino in the downtown of the nation's capital and actually created a social media campaign to inform the city. That man is trainer John MacMillan, who spoke to Trot Radio's Norm Borg after the Mayor changed his tune on where he would like to see gaming expansion under the OLG modernization strategy.

"Obviously this is a tremendous turn of events, and I'm not so concerned about how it happened...more about the result," said MacMillan. "How it hopefully happened is that Mayor Watson and his councillors simply were listening to the people of Ottawa. And the people of Ottawa overwhelmingly support Rideau Carleton as the preferred location for obvious reasons: 51 years as an established gaming facility, no social issues, no traffic problems in getting to the track, the parking is free and a lot of room for expansion."

MacMillan is optimistic that the Mayor's motion will go through but knows the fight is not yet over.

"Although this is great news for Rideau Carleton, and it's good news for horse people in that now we've secured a venue, the next step in the process is to secure a purse pool. And that's a major issue to horse people right now," stated the NCRHHA director. "The only thing that we know for sure is that the Premier has expressed her desire to integrate horse racing into the new modernization strategy. We can only hope that Premier Wynne, through her consultation with OHRIA and with other horse people across Ontario, will come up with a proper solution to make this financially viable because, Norm, at this point, the people who are racing for the purse money we're seeing right now are simply limping along, waiting for a proper solution."

To the area's credit, MacMillan noted that the operators of Rideau Carlteton are committed to racing - tipping his hat especially to track GM Jean Larose, and Warren Armstrong, one of the principal founders and owners of Rideau Carleton.

One area of concern MacMillan and Borg discuss is how it seems the area has a venue but still an unclear path and vision from the future provided by the province.

"I'm very concerned about that as are all the horsepeople. Because to say that we have months to wait while the OMAFRA panel does another study and performs more consultation is very unreasonable," stated MacMillan. "Horsepeople, some have already left, some are down to days, the lucky ones have weeks and maybe even months for the very fortunate ones but we need an immediate response from Wynne. Whether it's going to be through this OMAFRA panel and through OHRIA, however they plan on putting Humpty Dumpty back together, they better do it sooner than later because people are starving."

To listen to the full interview between MacMillan and Borg, click the play button below.

Trot Radio - Episode 295 - John MacMillan

Audio Format: MP3 audio

Host: Norm Borg



For those still fighting, PLEASE send this article to the Media across Ontario, and tell them so the Public will learn, the Racetracks are recieving the financial support, we have had $0 financial support given to us for 15 very long months. The Public are under the impression we are getting the money, tell them all we've gotten day by day are words, and we or our horses can't eat words. The horsemen and women need monetary support immediately.

I am sure that John had a lot to do with the mayors sudden turn about on the issue of gaming at Rideau Carleton Raceway. We needed more people like him a year ago. Let's hope that the Premier is listening and realizes that at the present, no, VIABLE solution has been reached. We need more racedays and a better purse structure, soon, if there is any hope of saving the industry. People in horse racing have always been able to do with less when it was necessary and I know that it is a shame, but, we, and our horses insist on eating and having a roof over our heads. If things don't change this will not be possible. We love our horses but we love our families more.

I agree Karen, winners don't quit but at the moment it's not a question of quitting it's a question of surviving!

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