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Update From B.C. Racing Task Force

Published: April 7, 2020 9:01 pm ET

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The Emergency Task Force for BC Horse Racing had its first conference call meeting on Tuesday (April 7).

The following report was prepared by Brian Butters, Interim Chair of the BC Horse Racing Industry Management Committee.


The Emergency Task Force for BC Horse Racing was informed today by Great Canadian Gaming Corp. (Track Operator) that it will re-open Hastings Racecourse on May 1 for stabling.

The Track Operator will be working on protocols regarding physical distancing and safeguarding the health of all racetrack personnel in advance of May 1. Details of training/exercise protocols will be finalized in conjunction with the thoroughbred horsemen’s associations.

It was also noted that Standardbred horses are being permitted to return to be stabled at Fraser Downs @ Elements, with light exercise only allowed.

The Track Operator stated its position that it is not willing at this point to conduct live racing at either Hastings or Fraser Downs unless spectators can be present, should health authorities permit such gatherings to occur at some point in the future. Racing would need to have spectators present in order for the Track Operator’s business model to be potentially sustainable.

Representatives of both breed sectors expressed their appreciation to the Track Operator for its flexibility in allowing an easing of earlier restrictions that led to the almost total removal of horses from the Hastings backstretch and a significant reduction in the number of horses stabled at Fraser Downs. The intention is for representatives of both breeds to continue to work with the Track Operator in order to resolve concerns and have the industry be as ready as it can be for a potential resumption of the racing seasons.

 
Breed sector representatives indicated their breed associations are working to increase awareness of federal and provincial emergency aid programs for people throughout the industry. This includes backstretch workers who can apply for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program, as well as owners, trainers and other employers who may be eligible for wage subsidy programs put in place as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The associations are gathering information about these benefit programs, posting it on their websites and working one-on-one with individuals to ensure benefits can flow to those who need them.


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