How Long Can Hiawatha Survive?

Published: September 26, 2013 04:25 pm EDT

Saturday, September 28 is the final race date of the year at Sarnia’s Hiawatha Horse Park, and the track’s owner, Jim Henderson, has said that he is unsure how much longer the raceway can stay open.

In a recent CTV News report by Cristina Howorun, Henderson explains that there is enough money in the purse pool to support live racing for the next two years, but he does not know if he can afford to keep the track open.

In the report, Henderson cites the fact that he has been forced to close the track’s restaurant that once brought in more than $2-million in revenue. The Ontario Liberal Party, via the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., removed its slot machines from the Hiawatha Horse Park in 2012. Henderson has also stated that his combined monthly bill for hydro and water at the track rings in at $25,000.

“We don’t know how Hiawatha itself can survive for two years,” Henderson told Howorun.

Henderson also commented on the fine the Hiawatha Horse Park was handed by the Ontario Racing Commission for not having sufficient funds in its purse account at a specified time. He said that the issue arose due to an accounting error which has since been fixed.

To view the harness racing entries for Saturday at Hiawatha, click the following link: Saturday Entries – Hiawatha Horse Park.

First-race post time is 6:30 p.m.

(With files from CTV News)



At one time the buffet was extremely popular but I don't recall it being available for the last few years. It would have made for a much more fan friendly experience on live race nights and generated some revenue to help support the cost of hydro and water. We as horsemen need the track operators to help us put on the show as we do our best to put a competitive product on the track. While I agree we should continue to pressure for a more equitable and fair resolution to the current turmoil, failing to do our best with the challenges before us will certainly result in failure.

Since Hiawatha had slots for part of 2012, one could assume that not all of the 49 million came from Point Edward. In other words, casino revenue in Sarnia remained static. It is probable that the same scenario is playing out in Windsor and Niagara Falls, with 100 million lost to the province and hundreds of jobs trashed.