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Post Time with Dan Gall

Post Time

Fraser Downs - Surrey, British Columbia

I always like to share good news stories with those who are kind enough to take the time to read this article.

One of which was my first trip to Fraser Downs a few weeks ago to meet with Harness Racing British Columbia and our Standardbred Canada members in Surrey, BC.

The trip was initiated by Marketing Manager Kathy Wade Vlaar who has been busy preparing for the World Drivers' Championship which begins its first leg in August at Century Downs in Calgary. She had asked if I could go and meet with the Fraser Downs team to promote the WDC, present Brandon Campbell with his Canadian colours, and to attend the last leg of the race season at Fraser Downs.

Standardbred Canada has not visited this racetrack in a very long time - I was reminded by a few members that it had been several years since someone from our association had been out to see them (although I do have a beautiful framed commemorative poster of the racetrack hanging in my office that I look at every day) and I felt that it would be beneficial for me to meet our members, the horse associations, and the racetrack in my inaugural year at Standardbred Canada.

Although I was only there for a very quick visit (arrived Thursday afternoon/returned early Saturday morning), it was a jam packed agenda as I met as many members as I could during the stay with lots of opportunity to talk and listen to the drivers, trainers, owners and breeders from British Columbia.

Now on with the good news;

I had the opportunity to have some face-time with the Harness Racing British Columbia executive team consisting of President Donna Scrannage, Executive Director Carla Robin, Breeds Manager Diane Pennington, as well as Rick Turner, Bill Pambrun, Rick and Jan White and Jacquie Warrington.

Our Thursday afternoon meeting turned out to be an incredible way to kick off the visit as I got to hear from some very hard working, dedicated horse people who take their sport and our horses seriously, and we talked a lot about the industry, Standardbred Canada, and more importantly about Fraser Downs and the local race scene.

Not surprisingly, I heard the good, the bad and the ugly as it pertains to the challenges of the BC horse racing industry but I left the meeting feeling very optimistic that the HRBC team has what it takes to continue to improve the product, the sport, and help move the industry forward.

We talked about Standardbred Canada's role in assisting HRBC and I was encouraged to hear they believe that we can help by way of liaising more closely with the association and related stakeholders, to highlight and bring to the forefront possible solutions to the challenges that the racetrack is facing (including a short race season which is compromising the livelihood of those working in the horse industry, ongoing promotion of the sport, and racetrack upgrades that are required to ensure a safe working and entertaining environment for our horses, people and fans).

Although HRBC were well prepared and willing to discuss with me their concerns and issues, what struck me as most impressive were the work and the goals that they have set out for themselves to move the business forward at Fraser Downs. Their knowledge, commitment and organizational skills left me with the distinct impression that they have a plan, and they aim to achieve it for their members moving forward.

Early Friday morning I was introduced to the Director of Racing for British Columbia Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch; Michael Brown and he took time to introduce me to his team, and share with me his thoughts regarding the race scene. We also spent time discussing how best to begin working on developing Canadian harness racing rules and regulations for the country.

Next on the agenda, Carla Robin took me for a tour of the paddock, stables and backstretch so that I could continue to learn about the history of Fraser Downs and talk more with SC members. Again, the horse-people are doing what they can do to keep the sport, front and centre for the community and their fans. As Carla and I toured the property, we discussed more about building relations and aligning with the various stakeholders in Surrey to demonstrate the importance of our industry to the local community and area.

Shortly afterwards, we hosted a well attended “Meet and Greet' with SC members, and over a pop and hot dog I met as many members as I could, who were kind enough to join us in the backstretch restaurant to discuss their concerns and ideas. There I met some very honest and open people (“umm… why is it you are here again?”). Members were all too happy to ask questions and share with me their experiences and stories. I had a great chat with Mr. B. Harrison who provided me with a copy of the “2008 Size and Scope of Horse Racing in BC Report” and I also received a very nice letter from the HRBC Vice President, Ross Sharp, who was not able to meet me in person, but was very eloquent in stating and sharing his primary concern, which is that Fraser Downs needs MORE (not less) race dates.

This took us to live horse racing on Friday night and what a night! I had the honour to sit at the HRBC executive table and met the Federal MP of Langley-Cloverdale John Aldag and his wife Elaine, along with the Editor of The Cloverdale Reporter, Samantha Anderson, the COO and General Manager of TBC Teletheatre BC, Bill McNeill, and Darren MacDonald, Director of Racing and the VP of Racing from Great Canadian Gaming.

All told it was a fantastic opportunity to connect with, and see first-hand, the racing operation in Surrey, British Columbia. All should be proud of what they have accomplished to date, and I know with the continued support and leadership of the Harness Racing British Columbia executive they will do all they can to continue to table not the only the problems, but the solutions to the stakeholders involved.

Standardbred Canada looks forward to continue to build on a positive and healthy relationship with Fraser Downs and our members in British Columbia, and I would like to give a shout out to Carla Robin who not only quickly and effectively put together the agenda for my stay, but spent her very valuable time with me to ensure that I met our members and local partners during the rather quick visit.

Well done HRBC and Fraser Downs!

We look forward to helping and supporting the British Columbia harness racing scene wherever and whenever we can!

Dan Gall
President & CEO, Standardbred Canada
[email protected]

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