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Alberta-BC Circuit Scrapped, Gemmill Speaks

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Published: August 20, 2010 10:38 am ET

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"I'm just an old cog in a big wheel, this isn't going to affect me one way or the other but I'm not thinking of me. There's a lot of guys here in their 40's and families growing up in their 20's that are becoming young drivers and trainers. What the hell's going to become of them?"

As part of the ongoing coverage on the future of harness racing in British Columbia today's episode of Trot Radio features Ray Gemmill, who in 1974 helped revive the racing industry with Jim Keeling Sr. Today, Gemmill isn't as optimistic.

Gemmill met with Great Canadian Gaming's Chuck Keeling on Wednesday, and when Gemmill was asked what Keeling could say about the short-term future of racing, Gemmill replied, "to tell you the truth, he really couldn't tell me."

One thing that Gemmill did confirm that the 2010 racing season would start on October 1, 2010 but nothing has been finalized for 2011.

Episode 144 – Horseman Ray Gemmill
Audio Format: MP3 audio
Host: Norm Borg

According to a report, a letter of reassurance was sent yesterday by the BC Government stating, among other things, that the talked-about idea of Alberta/BC standardbred racing circuit has been scrapped.

An article by The Vancouver Sun states that the schedule for Fraser Downs' upcoming meet has also been slightly modified, and that talks focused on the 2011 racing season at the Surrey raceway will begin immediately.

In regard to the dropping of the Alberta/BC circuit idea, the article quoted BC Horse Racing Industry Management Committee Chair Derek Sturko as saying, "There is no sense going where people don't want to go."

The article also quotes Great Canadian Gaming Corp. Vice President Howard Blank as saying that there is nothing currently in the works which would see thoroughbred and standardbred racing combined at one of GCGC's two BC tracks (Fraser Downs and Hastings Park). "There is nothing in the works to merge the two tracks," he said.

Blank was also quoted as saying, "It's not a matter of big business cutting racing because if that was the case, we would have stopped racing years ago. It has not been a viable product for us, but we are committed to horse racing."

The article explains that Sturko expects that an announcement on the 2011 season at Fraser Downs will be made before the end of September.

(With files from The Vancouver Sun)

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