New Deal For Local Horse Racing

Harness horse racing in Windsor-Essex is secured through the 2020 season thanks to a new two-year contract extension.

Tom Bain with the Lakeshore Horse Raceway Association (LHRA) says pen was put to paper on the new deal on Friday. (March 24)

The contract extends the current two-year deal the group has with Ontario Racing — formerly known as the Ontario Racing Association — which secures 13 race dates a season and provides $455,000 a year to fund race purses.

Bain says the OR is looking at a long-term plan for horse racing in the province and hopes to bring in a 17-year contract to govern the industry.

He sees the next four years as a test case for the region's appetite for horse racing and may dictate what the OR gives LHRA under the long-term plan.

"I think that's going to be extremely important for not only the Leamington track, but for the three area tracks (Leamington, Dresden and Sarnia)," says Bain. "The OR is going to be looking at us and the government is going to be looking at us — where are they going to be putting their funding for their future in harness races."

Bain says the contract extension will give those involved in horse racing a bit more security.

"Many of the stables, if they're not certain that there's going to be racing, they just get rid of their horses. We faced that crisis a few years ago when Windsor first closed," says Bain. "The number of stables in the area dropped to less than half."

Races this year begin on August 6 and run for the next 12 Sundays.