This week Saskatoon’s Prairieland Park has revealed some information on its Marquis Downs site as the race track was suspended from operations. According to the park, the race track has been operating at a loss of CA$500,000 annually in the course of five years even before the beginning of the unprecedented situation in March 2020.
The suspension of the live harness track could see the end altogether of horse racing in the region since the park has no option to relocate the track. The board of directors of Prairieland Park seems to have no other choice but to close down the track as it has operated at a loss for quite some time now.
Running At Losses
With over CA$500,000 in losses every year, Prairieland Park has made the decision to pull the plug on Marquis Downs as the track continued to accumulate losses. The track is one of the 25 uses of the land listed for the property is the park can potentially use the premises for a zoo, golf course, cemetery, airport, hospital, and many other sectors.
Currently, the park has announced its plans to use the land as a home to a professional soccer team after discussions with the Canadian Premier Soccer League. However, the decision saw plenty of discontent among local fans of the sport and horsepeople who were left without occupation. Thus, jockeys and trainers were forced to look for work in the neighboring provinces.
Trainer at the race track Anita Gardipy was quick to share her thoughts on the closing down of the venue. She claimed that the whole situation surrounding the suspension is a “real gut punch” for the horsepeople. However, she later said that the decision does not surprise her as in her words the park has shown plenty of disinterest in helping out the troubled live horse racing in the province.
Previously, the president of the Manitoba Standardbred Racing Industry Inc. Trevor Williams has come up with the suggestion to continue the canceled Thoroughbred season at the venue. His proposal was to have an additional 10 days of events divided into 5 weeks’ time. This was due to the construction of the soccer stadium commencing as early as 2022.
A New Hope
However, there is still hope for live harness races in Saskatchewan as recently Moosomin First Nation announced its plan for a new race track named Moosomin Downs. The track’s site is expected to be in Corman Park, and the plans for the venue include having thoroughbred horse racing all the way to equine therapy programs.
Chief of the First Nation Brad Swiftwolfe has said a few words on the corporation’s new plans. He explained that the company has been waiting for 25 years to realize its dream of developing its Treaty Land Entitlement lands in the RM of Corman Park. Mr. Swiftwolfe explained that the project is at its initial stages and the company is looking into including more stakeholders into the plans.
Source: Macsymic, Kelly “Losses mount, so Prairieland Park to repurpose Marquis Downs site”, Renx, May 31, 2021