Horse racing has returned to Saskatoon’s Marquis Downs over the weekend for the last time ever. Hundreds of people visited the track on the weekend to watch the last racing meet at the track and place bets on their favourite horses before it closes down. However, this will not be the end of horse racing in the region, as Moosomin First Nation works on launching a brand-new track.
Last year, horse racing fans and local horsepeople heard some unpleasant news, as Prairieland Park announced that it will not be renewing its contract with the track. After that, the park revealed its plans to bring a soccer stadium and a professional soccer team to the track’s place. This came as bitter news to many local trainers and jockeys who will now have to relocate.
One Last Time
To the relief of many professional horsepeople and fans of the sport, Moosomin First Nation gained a license to operate a track in the region. Currently, the plan is to launch a brand-new track in the northwest area of Saskatoon near SaskTel Centre. But in the meantime, Marquis Downs hosts its last set of racing, as there will be racing events every weekend of September 2022.
Chief of the First Nation, Cheryl Kahpeaysewat, said that she is quite proud of the new licenses for a horse racing track and that it will be the first of its kind in the country. She shared that the Nation’s objective is to keep live racing in the region and attract a new demographic of horse jockeys, trainers, owners, and fans.
Eddie Esquirol, Saskaskatchewan division president of the Horsemen’s benevolent and protective association, commented the possibility of having horse racing in the province once more is a tremendous set of news. He said that everyone involved in the industry is quite happy with the news and that people from the industry have constantly contacted him over the phone.
Russell Tourangeau from the Kamsack region, who has been a horse owner for over thirty years shared that it is better to have local horse racing than allocating to a track outside of Saskatchewan. He also shared his excitement with the last races at Marquis Downs and noted that it is a big help from the organization, as owners will not have to send horses to Winnipeg or Lethbridge.
Reason Behind the Closure
When Prairieland Park announced its decision to end operations at Marquis Downs, the group also revealed that the property was suffering major financial losses. The part shared that the track has been running at a loss of CA$500,000 every year since 2016. It said that the track’s financial struggle date back long before the 2020 closures which emerged from the unprecedented situation.
However, despite the clarification, some local horsepeople still shared their dissatisfaction with Prairieland Park. Horse trainer Jamie Hartmann has been at the track for the last eight seasons, and she grew up around the facility. And due to the closure of the track, Ms. Hartmann had to relocate the horses that she trains to compete in other provinces around the country.
Source: Ratzlaff, Brady “Horse racing returns to Marquis Downs for one last gallop to the finish line” GlobalNews, August 29, 2022