Fort Erie Living Racing Consortium has been quite active during the lockdown restrictions in the Niagara region. The corporation has taken the opportunity to make some improvements on the track’s premises as there is plenty of time during the off-season. Enhancements have been made to the track’s turf by improving drainage and sprinkler systems.
Due to the difficult and always-changing conditions surrounding the unprecedented situation, the last thoroughbred race at the track was back in the fall of last year. And now the track is making preparation for a potential reopening and return of the live harness season. Safety measures for visitors are also installed provided that do return.
The improvements of the drainage and sprinkler systems will provide better racing conditions for all participants by allowing them better control of the turf. Additionally, there have been improvements to the backstretch, where eavestroughs have been fitted on the barns and more fill in the stalls. Horses are on course to arrive next week, and in the meantime, trainers are preparing their stalls.
The track also informed of its application to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario in order to add two more racing dates to its live harness calendar. The requested dates are October 25 and October 26, and if the commission approves the appeal there will be 42 races instead of the initial 40. The track’s application is supported by Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, Ontario Racing, Ontario Racing Management, and several other organizations.
Last year races at the horse racing venue had no spectators. But when fans eventually return, they will be able to enjoy the renovated Prince of Wales dining room. Additionally, the clubhouse roof has also been replaced and a new paddock fencing has also been installed. Plexiglass barriers and hand-sanitizing stations have also been added in order to comply with the health and safety rules.
However, the absence of a live audience has not hurt the track’s season last year, and in fact, the season has enjoyed a 40% rise in per-race betting. More than CA$$2,093,000 has been placed as bets on an eight-race card on opening day on June 2, 2020. The year has been prolific for the track as a total of CA$40.2 million has been wagered in 39 racing days.
Fort Erie race track has recorded a rather successful period of time for the last few years. For the 2019 Live harness season, the horse racing venue has reported an improvement in revenue in comparison to previous years. Place wagers on the track’s races have reached the amount of CA$29,970,000 for the 2019 season, showing the growing interest in the sport among the local Ontario residents.
The horse racing establishment has also taken part in a special rescue operation, when in 2019 after the six-year-old Mr. Changue has fallen into a sinkhole. This has happened due to the accumulation of water erosion has formed a hole underground and the pressure applied led to the unfortunate event. However, with the help of the Fort Erie fighters the horse was quickly taken out of the whole without suffering any injuries.
Source: Franke, Bernd “Thoroughbred track spent off-season making improvements “, Niagara Falls Review, March 29, 2021