Kawartha Downs to hold 18 race schedule this summer
The future of Kawartha Downs and harness racing in the Peterborough area has been up in the air for years.
After the cancellation of the Slots-At-Racetracks Program in 2012, the Fraserville track has been looking for ways to generate revenue with the looming loss of the casino at the site.
The track will have 18 races this season, but its future after that is anyone’s guess.
Officials with the track say the future will be clear after the June 7 provincial election.
“It is fair to say there is no future for horse racing at Kawartha Downs under a Liberal government,” said Orazio Valente, track general manager.
Kawartha Downs is one of three Ontario tracks not to sign a 19-year, $105-million funding agreement which was finalized by the province last week.
“We look at this agreement and ask, how does Kawartha Downs grow up and be a premier track? There’s no path forward,” added Valente. “We’re left to be a regional track with 18 race dates. I don’t see how that’s a viable business.”
Ontario Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne made a campaign stop in the area on Saturday night.
“They will have a season,” Wynne said. “I was laying the groundwork, when I was minister of agriculture, to make sure we had a strong horse racing industry in Ontario. So we will work with them and the other tracks.”
Peterborough-Kawartha Liberal candidate and former agriculture minister Jeff Leal told reporters the track would have another year to sign on to the agreement.
“The proof is in the pudding. Twelve of 15 tracks signed onto the framework agreement. We’re giving them until April 2019 to work with us and sign on.”
The 2018 harness racing season will begin on May 26.
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