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Johnson: "Make Our Product Desirable"

Published: August 29, 2010 12:32 pm ET

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After seeing what happened to harness racing in his home province of Quebec, trainer Colin Johnson feels that the Racing Development & Sustainability Plan is imperative to ensure the future of our industry.

The Racing Development & Sustainability Plan, aimed at growing Ontario harness racing through a concerted investment in development, technology, marketing and advocacy, calls for a 5 per cent levy allocated from the Ontario purse pool.

"I was very impressed with the meeting. My biggest takeaway from the meeting is that we have to make our product desirable," stated Johnson after Flamboro's meeting. "Once that is accomplished and there is a demand we will have a much better partnership with tracks.

"Like many horsemen I am concerned with losing another 5%. Darryl Kaplan explained well that if used effectively we have the ability to stop the downward trend and create growth."

Johnson appreciated the clarity offered by Kaplan and SC's John Gallinger, who will be in the Ottawa area on Sunday, August 29 for the 'town hall meeting' at Rideau Carleton.

"As I see it there will be a separate leg of Stanadardbred Canada that will be responsible for this initiative with professional help from companies that specialize in these areas."

After what happened to the industry in Quebec - where Johnson made the majority of his starts over his career - Johnson knows first-hand how quickly what seems to be a viable industry can turn.

"I solely race in Ontario now as a result of what happened in Quebec. I have great owners who along with myself have invested a lot, I hope we can support this initiative, and then make sure it gets us results. Accountability will be critical."

The next town hall meetings are as follows:

TODAY: Sunday, August 29
Rideau Carleton Raceway – Main Racing Level
3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, August 31
Kawartha Downs – Finish Line Bar (Second Floor, Grandstand)
1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

JUST ANNOUNCED: Wednesday, September 1
Grand River Raceway - room between paddock and Lighthouse Restaurant
4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

If you are a horse owner, trainer, driver or breeder in Ontario, you are strongly encouraged to attend these meetings.

Information on additional meetings including Hiawatha Horse Park and Sudbury Downs will be released as they are confirmed.

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