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World Trotting Conference: “Investing In Our Future”

The first full day of the 25th annual World Trotting Conference took place on Tuesday, August 15 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Opening remarks from Michael MacKinnon, managing director of Red Shores Racetrack and Casino, PEI, set the tone.

“You will soon discover that harness racing is part of the fabric and culture of Prince Edward Island,” he told international delegates and observers. “Red Shores is honoured to be hosting the final leg of the World Driving Championship, along with our partners, the Province of Prince Edward Island and the PEI Harness Racing Industry Association.”

MacKinnon said Atlantic Lottery’s investment in racing at Red Shores “came out of tragic circumstance” when the historic racetrack at Charlottetown, dating back to 1888, suffered hurricane damage in 2003. It reopened as a modern racino facility in 2005, thanks to $20-million in support from the regional gaming operator.

Standardbred Canada president and CEO Dan Gall thanked Geoff Want and Andrew Kelly of Harness Racing Australia for their work in making the 2015 WTC “a dynamic conference”, setting the bar high for 2017 host Canada.

The theme of the current conference is “Investing in Our Future.” Gall said that because of an aging customer base, increased competition for the attention of younger audiences, and the long-lasting impact of losing Ontario’s Slots at Racetracks Program, it is imperative for the industry to focus on international collaborations that foster growth.

“I don’t believe that as an industry or a sport that there is anything more important as we move forward right now than investing in our future through technology, health and welfare, breeding, business development, marketing, and racing and wagering,” said Gall.

Meetings of International Trotting Association representatives addressed each of these subjects independently on Tuesday at the Delta Prince Edward. Delegates and guests later visited the University of Prince Edward Island, home to the Atlantic Veterinary College, for a guided tour.

On Wednesday, the WTC symposium opens at the Delta PEI. Members of the public who have purchased passes will attend sessions on wagering innovation, racehorse health and identification, medication rules, fractional ownership, working with government, and creative marketing. The symposium program continues on Thursday.

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