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Yorkton, West Meadows Race Date News

Published: January 29, 2013 2:57 pm ET

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Saskatchewan harness tracks have received some good news from the Saskatchewan Liquor & Gaming Authority and they are now half way to finalizing race dates for 2013.

Both the Yorkton track and West Meadows Raceway in Regina have received licenses to operate 10 days of live harness racing in 2013.

"This is great news for our industry," said Saskatchewan Standardbred Horsemen's Association President Glenn Le Drew. "Both tracks have dedicated tremendous effort to promote harness racing and now they've been recognized for those efforts with live race date licenses issued by SLGA for 2013. We're hoping our government also supports the industry by issuing Home Market Area (HMA) licenses for both tracks so that harness racing continues to have a great future here."

It didn't look good back in March of 2012 when the government announced funding was cancelled for all of horse racing after the 2012 season. Both Saskatchewan harness tracks are interested in the long term future of harness racing and applied for 10 race days and an HMA for 2013 so they can have a similar funding model in place to that of Marquis Downs (Saskatoon / thoroughbred) which, up until March 31 of 2013, currently holds the HMA for the entire province. The live race date licenses won't mean anything to any track if not accompanied by Home Market Area license since tracks require their designated areas or inter-provincial territories to generate funding now that government funding is cancelled.

Home Market Areas were designed by the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency so that racetracks can generate other off-track betting revenue (through teletheatre and telephone account betting) in their own respective areas to fund their live racing program.

"This model has proven successful in most racing jurisdictions in Canada. It has worked well in Saskatchewan before and will be successful here going forward," said Le Drew.

In the past, when Queensbury Downs existed in Regina, the HMAs were divided at Davidson by mutual agreement from all stakeholders. Revenues generated north of Davidson went to the thoroughbred program in Saskatoon and revenues south went to the standardbred program in Regina.

"The same areas would work just as well today with the area south of Davidson split between Yorkton and Regina," said Le Drew. "Yes, the government has pulled the funding, but they can make the industry 100 per cent self-sustaining by providing each track with the HMA license so that all racetracks can benefit from a level playing field and generate funding to support their live racing programs. It's just the right thing to do."

The Home Market Areas for the three applying tracks are still under review and SLGA is anticipating a decision on this issue by the end of March.

(SSHA)


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