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Dr. Reid Comments On Meeting, Industry

Published: July 10, 2008 11:31 am ET

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This afternoon, Trot Insider spoke with Horse Racing Alberta chairman and chief executive officer Dr. David Reid regarding the industry stakeholder meeting which took place yesterday.

Northlands Park recently announced that it has an agreement with the HBPA to develop a full-fledged thoroughbred meet beginning in the spring of 2009. The decision therefore leaves the province's standardbred horsemen without an 'A-circuit' venue to race at for 2009.

"Yesterday's meeting gave me an opportunity to get all of the province's horse racing stakeholders together and have them lay their cards on the table," Dr. Reid told Trot Insider. "I think all of the individuals in attendance yesterday now have a clear view of the landscape of the Alberta industry, which is needed in order to move forward towards the goal of prosperity."

Dr. Reid did briefly comment on Northlands' decision to, for the time being, focus its business on thoroughbred racing in favour of standardbreds. He also fully acknowledged that unfortunately at this time standardbred horsemen are sitting in an unenviable position.

"I think what Northlands has tried to do is to strictly make a cold business decision. Northlands has settled on what it believes is the strongest breed operating during the best time of year."

Dr. Reid stressed to Trot Insider that Northlands and the HBPA are still in negotiations and no official agreement is in place.

Addressing the speculation that work on the delayed Balzac racetrack has ceased for the time being, Dr. Reid took the opportunity to set the record straight.

"People that say these things either don't have the data to be making those statements or don't understand the procedures surrounding construction. Barns in Balzac are still being worked on -- four are up, a fifth has been started and the footings are down for a sixth barn," said Dr. Reid, who added that the rough grade for water, sewage and electricity in the barns has already been laid.

"It is still a long time until 2009 and all of the organizations involved have a lot of work to do. More information will be available in 60 days and there will be another industry stakeholder meeting when that information is available."

Dr. Reid told Trot Insider that with the current state of the Alberta standardbred industry it is easy to point fingers, but he particularly stated that United Horsemen of Alberta has been stellar.

"UHA has a license to race in 2009," said Dr. Reid. "With that license it has the obligation to run racing or be part of the solution. UHA has taken this very seriously -- more than anyone. With the recent position taken by Northlands Park, the UHA has stepped up even more aggressively than before -- they have been unbelievable.

"HRA knows that both breeds need to race on top-rate tracks during an optimal time of year for a minimum of 100 days. In terms of the standardbred product, we need to have a strong 'B-circuit' schedule and 'A-circuit' schedule for this industry to thrive."

Dr. Reid told Trot Insider that, although it is undeniably a tough situation at the present time, in order to move forward "elements of trust and patience" must be adhered to, and that the Alberta industry is building a future.

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