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Meridian Farms Responds To Alberta Crisis

Published: August 21, 2008 5:50 pm ET

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Bill Andrew of Meridian Farms has issued the following release in reaction to the state of harness racing in Alberta.

In late June, 2008 Northlands Park in Edmonton, Alberta announced their intention to conduct one breed racing in 2009. This action combined with the ongoing delay in construction of the proposed racing entertainment complex near Calgary, Alberta has created a crisis for the Standardbred breeding and racing industry in Alberta.

To date the standardbred community and our representatives with the Alberta Standardbred Horse Association have worked to resolve the current situation in order that stability and certainty can be returned to our industry.

Horse Racing Alberta was set up with a mandate to govern, direct, control, regulate, manage and promote horse racing in any or all of its forms. Clearly, to date, Horse Racing Alberta has not lived up to their mandate in resolving this crisis in order that a strong and viable Standardbred horse industry can be maintained in Alberta.

Our breeders, trainers, drivers and backstretch community have met and exceeded targets set out in Horse Racing Alberta's original five year plan, yet we find ourselves being excluded from opportunities to continue to grow our industry and provide racing fans with the highest quality, most competitive Standardbred racing in western North America.

Meridian Farms, as the largest commercial breeding farm in western Canada, has committed significant time, energy and funds to work towards achieving the goals of our industry. Last year our efforts produced the 2007 Alberta Breeder of the Year Award. Unfortunately, the lack of decisive, strong leadership by Horse Racing Alberta and the continued lack of any visionary statement by the United Horsemen of Alberta (UHA) forces us to make the following business decision regarding Meridian Farms operations.

Effective September 1, 2008 Meridian Farms (Alberta) will be significantly reducing the size of our operation in High River, Alberta in order to direct more resources to Meridian Farms (East) in Milton, Prince Edward Island. We will be complimenting our strong stallion roster in Atlantic Canada with the addition of the fast, stakes winning stallion Brandons Cowboy p,1.50.2s $517, 051.

Brandons Cowboy (The Panderosa-Angel Be Good-Abercrombie) has been a very popular stallion in Alberta in his first two years at stud and will provide Meridian Farms (East) with a rich Western Hanover line stallion to complement our roster in Atlantic Canada.

The unequal and unfair burden put on Standardbred owners and trainers over the past three years, as we watched UHA continue to fail to meet completion target dates and witnessed Horse Racing Alberta's clear bias in managing horse racing, has resulted in a marked reduction in yearling prices for standardbreds in Alberta.

From a business prospective it clearly makes sense to concentrate our efforts in Prince Edward Island where supportive government programs in the province and in prospective nearby target market areas such as Ontario, New York and Pennsylvania are providing new opportunities for the standardbred racing and breeding industry. With this in mind we will be moving the following broodmares from Alberta to Prince Edward Island this fall:

Allamerican Viking p,1.56 $92,330 in foal to Mach Three

Character Counts p,2,1.53 $140,450 in foal to Grinfromeartoear

Compatroit, the dam of The Patriot p,2,1.53.4 $623,324, in foal to Royal Mattjesty

Duplex, sister to two $500,000 winners, in foal to Grinfromeartoear

Stretchmark,p,1.51.3 $319,949 in foal to Armbro Deuce

Usually Jovial p, 1.55.3 $69,250 in foal to Armbro Deuce

While we regret this move, we cannot wait for another two or three months of inaction by Horse Racing Alberta. Our operation in High River will continue on a scaled down basis involving approximately 15 broodmares (down in size from a band of 50 mares two years ago) and the well received stallions Camystic and Ameripan Gigolo.

We will continue to work to affect the changes necessary to return our standardbred industry to the earned position of providing race fans in Alberta with variety, quality and integrity. Hopefully, the efforts of our standardbred community in Alberta and those of ASHA will achieve the result needed to allow Meridian Farms the opportunity to return to our original vision of being the premier race horse breeding operation in Western Canada and to allow our fellow breeders to continue the work of producing top quality standardbred horses.

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