Thanks to a lack of government support, harness racing in Newfoundland has come to an end. While St. Johns Entertainment Centre will remain open, harness racing is on hiatus for the foreseeable future due to the lack of government support. With the lack of government assistance, purses were expected to total $15,000 for all of 2013; clearly a level which makes no sense. For while the people of Newfoundland were never in racing for the money, there comes a point where you can't bleed to death either.
While the track will remain open for training, most horses will make an attempt to move to the mainland which with Ontario's problems, doesn't seem to be a good bet either. In the meanwhile, I have a feeling we haven't seen the last of racing in Newfoundland; let's just call it a vacation.
So it is thirty three days until April 1, the first day of the post SAR program in Ontario and if you are Canadian do you know where you will be racing this year? If you don't race on WEG's circuit, you are basically left in the dark. You think you may be racing, but there is nothing in writing, or verbal for that matter. How do you plan the balance of your season when you don't know if your local track will be operating and as bad as that is, you have no idea what your alternate options are nor your options for your horses.
Maybe the big Canadian stables are okay, they will be hurting but they know they still have a livelihood, a place to race. But the smaller stables, the ones that can't get into WEG's circuit, or only at the bottom of the barrel occasionally, they are totally in the dark. Will they have a chance to race at their local track, ship south of the border and hope they can compete, or do they send their charges to the abottoir (the lucky ones get euthanized)? For the provincial government to put people in this position, is an act of malfeasance. The blood of these horses will be on the provincial government. However, the blame goes beyond the Liberal party; the NDP and PC share in the blame for they had the opportunity to bring this government down and slow the disengagement of slots from the racetracks at least until a well thought out plan was developed instead of flying from the seats of their pants.
As for the OLG's plans? They are being somewhat frustrated as many communities they are approaching are saying 'Thanks, but no thanks'. Government is supposed to support the people; it doesn't seem to be the case here.
Meanwhile, home in Indiana, Governor Pence doesn't want to shave the racing subsidy the industry gets from slots; he wants to eliminate it, a la Ontario style. What pet project does Governor Pence want to use the diverted money for? Medicaid. The racing industry is raising the same arguments the horsemen have been raising in Ontario. Personally, I tend to doubt that the subsidy will be completely eliminated, but don't be surprised if some type of cut is coming, for making sure the working poor get medical care trumps the entertainment business which horse racing is.
Why does Keenland want to buy Thunder Ridge Raceway and move it 100 miles away and race quarter horses? The Paulick Report discusses it.