The current situation in Ontario regarding live horse racing remains unfortunate for the province’s horsepeople as many major events have been rescheduled for a later date. That is why the New Jersey racetrack Meadowlands will be hosting additional events in order to keep Ontario’s 3-year-old pacers and their trainers at the track.
Ontario’s live harness industry has been severely hit by the unprecedented situation as the province is currently in lockdown after the local government’s latest stay-at-home-order. As a result to that Woodbine Entertainment announced last week that the highly-anticipated North America Cup will be rescheduled for the fall, which is the first major event for the year for 3-year-old pacers.
In order to keep the pacers at the track, the Meadowlands has cooperated with the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey and it will add open races for 3-year-old pacing colts and fillies. The races are expected to be each Saturday in June with a preference for Meadowlands Pace, Mistletoe Shalee, North America Cup, and Fan Hanover participants.
President and CEO of Meadowlands Jeff Gural came up with a public statement regarding the current Ontario horse situation. Mr. Gural said that it is without a doubt that Ontario horse owners and trainers have been affected by the suspension of races. He explained that with the rescheduling of the North America Cup and several other events 3-year-old paces have to be in shape for the track’s marquee stakes.
But the racetrack and the association will be helping out not only the 3-year-old pacers. Trainer Nancy Takter has contacted the track about her returning 4-year-old mares JK First Lady and Peaky Sneaky, which were on course to compete in the Roses Are Red event at Woodbine Mohawk Park but it was also postponed.
The track has added new events to its schedule in late May and the start of June for pacing mares, while competition dates should be revealed soon for older pacing and trotting horses and geldings. Then, on June 11, and June 25, there will be open races for 3-year-old trotting colts and fillies. All of the races will be have a preference for horses paid into the track’s stakes.
Trainer Ron Burke has also expressed his gratitude towards the track and the New Jersey association. Mr. Burke stated that if it was not for the track horses would have had a six-week break, and now they will stay in shape. In his words, this is going to make a big difference for the season, and it is a massive help for everybody involved.
The live harness scene in Ontario is rather discouraging as many highly expected events were rescheduled for the fall. However, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel, since the previously suspended from operations Woodbine Mohawk Park was allowed to restart training exercises on May 6. The current lockdown order is on course to be lifted on May 20, but it remains to be seen whether races will return soon.
Due to the lockdown restrictions and the numerous recently canceled events, Ontario Racing has decided to compensate the involved horsepeople. The organization has announced that every horse that should have raced at the beginning of April in the following tracks: Woodbine Mohawk Park, Western Fair, and Rideau Carleton is eligible for a single compensation payment of CA$300.
Source: Debbie Little, “Meadowlands comes to the rescue”, Harness Racing Update, May 6, 2021