Lakeshore Horse Racing Group Refuses Provincial Deal

The Lakeshore Horse Racing Association that runs harness races at Leamington will not sign on a 19-year deal.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission recently negotiated a funding agreement with the Woodbine Entertainment Group.

The Lakeshore group then held an emergency meeting Sunday night to decide what action to take — they've chosen not to opt in to the deal and are calling for negotiations to reach a new deal.

Director Tom Bain says the deal presented to them did not have sustainability.

"We need to know ther's a long term future for horse racing and to hand control of horse racing over to the Woodbine Entertainment group, we're afraid it's going to mean our demise in about three years," says Bain.

He says says the deal didn't address disparity in the industry compared to GTA area tracks like Flamboro. "They're going for $6,500 a race or better and we're going for $3,000 and $4,000  a race so, we're going for roughly half. The total purse for the day for them is $65,000, for us it's $35,000.  We want to see a level playing field."

Bain points out any funding in the 19-year deal would only be worth half of what it is today by the time the deal ends.

He says they're concerned about a racing management board that includes one member to represent them, but they've never met that person.

The Lakeshore group is calling for negotiations to begin before the Ontario legislature dissolves May 7.