Leamington Raceway having a banner season
A lot of people have attended Leamington Raceway since the season began in early August.
“It’s been a great year here. Probably our best year ever in recent times,“said Tom Bain, executive member of the Lakeshore Horse Racing Association.
He says through 10 race dates the track has hit the $40,000 mark in betting eight times, “The prior year we only had three in total so being over 40 with a majority of our dates has just been tremendous.”
The trend is not unique to the Leamington area.
Driver Samara Johnson of Peterborough says the track in her area is seeing an influx of fans as well.
“A big draw because we started putting things into promoting the events and everything and drawing people's attention to what we do.”
Windsor Tecumseh MPP Percy Hatfield feels the building success, “drives home the point that we should never have lost Windsor Raceway.”
Hatfield is hopeful the region will have a new track sometime in the future closer to Windsor so Michiganders can have easier access to Canadian horse racing.
“I haven't given up hope. It's a dream. I think the Leamington Raceway people still support that idea. It's their idea and I hope they bring it to fruition.”
Leamington Raceway reopened in 2013 and battled with the province for four race dates. They’ve been stuck at 13 for a few years and officials have asked the province for more dates.
Brian Tropea, general manager of the Ontario Harness Horse Association, was in Leamington Sunday and says the sport is a hobby with only 13 dates a year.
“The people in this area that have supported horse racing, particularly the people that are invested in horse racing, deserve to have a look at it and bring something in where there's closer to year-round racing so that they can provide for their families and feed their animals.”
Tropea believes if there's a political appetite, horse racing could return on a bigger scale, but the facility would have to offer more than just horse racing.
“If somebody thinks outside the box and comes up with a business plan for a multi-use facility I think it makes perfect sense.”