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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Time to Change Focus in Ontario

Any realistic chance of stopping the end of the Ontario Lottery's Slots at Tracks program has come to an end as the NDP has indicated it would support the Liberal party's budget, thus not forcing new elections.  As for what happens to racing, there is some talk of 'transitional aid' for racing, but what it will be is unknown.  However, being it is to be a one time expenditure, I don't think it will allow for an orderly transition from slot revenue for purses to handle based solely on wagering.  As much as racing doesn't like what is happening, it is time to end the fight to maintain the Slots at Tracks program and work with the politicians to develop as robust a transitional program as possible.

Contrary to what some people have said, this won't be the end of racing in Ontario.  For sure, the gravy train is going to come to an end but even the Liberals anticipate five to six racetracks surviving in the province.  It is possible some tracks will maintain operation of the slots and even expanded gambling, but even then, the splits mandated under the current program may change or not even be mandated.  Fortunately, some tracks operate as non-profit agricultural societies, so for them it would seem any distribution would be fair.

For American interests, the question needs to be asked does the argument being made in Ontario and elsewhere in Canada gain any traction in the United States.  You have states looking for revenue and there is nothing to say a governor in a state makes the same argument that is being made in Ontario or Saskatchewan.  Racetracks need to get to their state's governors and legislators to argue their case and educate the legislators before the axe is threatening to swing.

HANA Harness' The Pen vs. The Chip Handicapping Challenge - The Road to the Breeders Crown kicks off this Saturday night at Yonkers Raceway.  By Saturday morning, the handicappers' selections should be posted on the contest site.  One nice element of the competition is the handicappers are playing for standardbred horse rescues as there is a $2,100 grand prize and some individual tracks will be making donations to rescues as part of the contest.  Another thing nice about this contest is with the hope of attracting novice or gamblers who typically don't follow harness racing, occasionally the handicappers will dispense some insights on handicapping.

News from Australia indicates two-time Australian harness horse of the year (three-time aged pacer of the year) Village Kid, has passed away at the age of 31.  At the time of his retirement, he was the highest earning pacing gelding to have retired.

Here is a video of Village Kid winning the 1987 Miracle Mile:

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