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The Raceway Is Revving Up

Published: September 15, 2016 9:56 pm ET

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Live harness racing is set to return next month at The Raceway at Western Fair District and it is going to be a busy October at the London oval.

The opening night of live racing is Friday, October 7, which coincides with the second annual Oktoberfest celebration at the Western Fair District. The wiener dogs will be back that night competing in the second annual Dachshund Dash. In addition, The Raceway will offer ‘roll back’ prices on programs and food specials along with Scratch N Win program prizes and the Oktoberfest Pace.

On Friday, October 14, The Raceway will play host to the 2016 National Driving Championship (NDC), which is being held for the first time at London’s half-mile oval.

Eight of the top drivers from across Canada have qualified to compete in the championship, which will determine Canada’s representative to the World Driving Championship (WDC) also being held in Canada next Spring. This year’s field boasts more than 16,000 wins and combined earnings of well over $100 million.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s horse racing division will be sponsoring the program on Friday, October 21, the same weekend as the annual Forest City Yearling Sale, which takes place that Sunday, October 23. As part of the live race program that night, the second annual Forest City Preview will be contested for three-year-old trotters and pacers who raced in the OSS Grassroots Series but did not qualify for the Grassroots Finals.

The Racing Under Saddle (RUS) series will conclude its 2016 season with their finale as part of that night’s program. This will mark the culmination of the organization’s third season since having pari-mutuel wagering sanctioned in 2014.

The busy month of October will wrap up on Friday, October 28 with the 11th Annual Harness The Hope Night. The event has grown in stature each year with the facility decked out in pink and a number of promotions offered, all in support of the Breast Cancer Society of Canada.

“We have something happening each weekend in October and it’s a great way to kick off the meet,” said Racing Manager Greg Blanchard. “We know horse people are anxious to get going and so are we.

“Horseplayers will have the same wagering menu as last season. It has been working well and the feedback has been positive. In particular, the ‘Guaranteed Pool’ Pick-4s and Super Hi-5 wagers, with their 15 percent takeout rate, have been quite popular here.”

Customers will also notice some significant changes to the facility when they return this season.

The front section of the facility, closest to the racetrack, was removed in the off season and construction crews are now working on the cosmetic portion of the project. The construction work will continue into the live racing season and, while certain sections of the seating area will be closed to the public during this time, there will be no disruption to live racing.

Work has also begun on a renovation of the judge’s stand, which will be completed prior to the start of racing.

“It’s been a busy off season and a time of continued change,” explained Blanchard. “The Western Fair Association remains committed to the racing side of the business and its vision of The Raceway as an industry leader and continues to make investments in the facility.

“There will be some minor inconvenience initially for horse people and customers but we believe it will be worth it in the long run. We have a loyal base of customers and horse people and wish to thank them for their continued patience and support as we make these enhancements.”

The Raceway will start the season on a three-day-a-week schedule through December 31. Racing will be offered each Monday and Tuesday at 6:15 p.m. and Fridays at 7:05 p.m. The dining room is open each Monday night for Pub Night and every Friday for the fabulous buffet. To book your table at the Top of the Fair Restaurant, call (519)-438-7203 (ext. 252) or email [email protected].

(The Raceway)

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