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Gagne Upset With Northlands Decision

Published: July 9, 2008 10:41 am ET

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In an open letter to Horse Racing Alberta, horseman Jean-Francois Gagne, a former ASHA Board member, has voiced his displeasure over Northlands Park's partnership with the HBPA for the next three years.

Gagne's letter appears below in its entirety.

As a standardbred owner, trainer, driver, breeder and former Board member of the Alberta Standardbred Horse Association, I would like to share some of my feelings with everyone involved.

Confronted with the confusion in the Alberta standardbred racing industry, I feel that the current uncertainty about the future of racing in Alberta is greatly heightened by the recent news release by Northlands Park regarding a partnership with the Alberta HBPA for thoroughbred racing only at Northlands Park for the next three years.

One question that prevails at the back of my mind and haunts me is "Where am I going to race my standardbreds MR NORTHLANDS?" Unfortunately and ironically, the question comes to me at a time when Tajma Hall has just become the fastest 10-year-old in history to pace a record mile of 1:50.3 over a five-eighths mile racetrack.

There are over 15 different five-eighths mile racetracks in North America. Some of them have been hosting harness racing for more than five decades. I would like to think that this record mile, somehow reflects the quality and the ability of horses that reside and compete over a quality racetrack here in Alberta.

In order to keep the 'STANDARDS' high and to keep a prominent place among the best in Canada and why not, even the North America race horse industry; it is our responsibility to assure the well being of those generations of horses and horsemen that we can still find in the province of Alberta.

Time, continuing commitment, effort and horsemanship have strongly contributed to the development of our sport, but most importantly, to the development of our breed and our success in Alberta.

Therefore, I think it is not a task, but a mission to assure the continuity of our breeding and our sport.

I strongly believe that time has come NOW, more than EVER, for OUR leaders of the racing industry as well as for our racetrack operators, to move forward and find a fair solution to quickly correct the present situation. Balance and fairness by all parties will keep 'Harness Racing Alive and Strong' within this proud and economically booming province of Alberta!!!

Jean-Francois Gagne

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