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Saturday, September 15, 2007

MERCURIAL DROP




(BECRUX is back but only the 3rd favourite despite winning last year's WOODBINE MILE)
Photo by Terence Dulay.















It's cold today for late September, the horses will be fresh and sharp this weekend.
On tap today - the La Prevoyante Stakes which will be run over turf that will surely have some 'give' to it. The Woodbine Mile horse have shipped in and a smart field of 14 is sent for tomorrow's race. The grass could be on the yielding side by post time.

NOTE - INTOTHEWILDERNESS is not eligible for the La Prevoyante (not Ontario-sired) and will be scratched).

In the WHEN HE DOESN'T WIN, HE WINS file, trainer Mark Casse is on an incredible roll. Firster LAMMINGS won yesterday coming from last place to win a $40K claiming event for owner/breeder Eugene Melnyk. Later, HEAVENLY EMPRESS was 2nd to well regarded firster SAFFRON ROSE from the Stronach Stables but was moved up to first for Casse et al when the latter was disqualified for taking the path away from firster FLATT OUT LUCKY.

Strong winds played havoc with horses yesterday - the pace fractions on some races were unreal - one race went in 21 2/4, 44 - but speed wasn't holding that much even though a wall of wind hit the closers into the stretch.

No Beyer Figure yet on impressive debut winner NOTGIVINMYLOVEAWAY (Not for Love) who almost set a track record in race one for 5 furlongs. The Jus Luk Stable colt is trained by Reade Baker.

From NIAGARATHIS WEEK - FORT ERIE and its FUTURE
Race to save track's next season is on Owner, town demand action from OLG
By Alison Bell
Fort Erie
Sep 14, 2007
FORT ERIE -- The race to save the town's biggest employer is coming to end, but the finish line isn't in sight.

In line with the deadline the Ontario Racing Commission has set for horse owners to file their race dates and times for next season, the town has given the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, which manages the slots at the track, a deadline of Oct. 10 to commit to investing in the track to ensure a proposed $300-million development by track owner Nordic Gaming stays on the table.

The proposal includes a 350-room, four-star hotel, entertainment complex and 2,500 condominium units, and would generate an additional 2,500 jobs.

To advance the proposal, investors require a guarantee there will still be horse racing next year, Jim Thibert, the general manager of the Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corporation, told council and about 200 onlookers at Monday night's council meeting.

The number of live racing dates at Fort Erie was reduced to 84 this year from 104 in 2006. Slot revenues are down again this year and Thibert said he isn't happy with the support, or lack thereof, from the OLG.

"If we don't have a race (schedule) coming up very shortly, we're all going to be in trouble," said Thibert.

The 110-year-old oval track is one of the province's two thoroughbred tracks. In 1999, the province came to the aid of the then-struggling industry by introducing 1,200 slot machines, which generated $40 million for the OLG last year, compared to the $4 million each that Nordic Gaming and the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association took home. The town collected 1.5 million.

The investors won't be the only stakeholders galloping towards the door if the deal falls through -- horse owners and trainers fear for their livelihood.

"After 20 years of racing in this town, I'm thinking of packing it in," Wendy Wolff, a trainer for Wolff Run Farm in Sherkston, told The Post after Monday's council meeting.

Wolff said the town's economy as a whole would suffer because track employees and horsemen wouldn't be around to spend money in local shops, eat at restaurants and better the community as a whole.

"Tim Hortons would go out of business here," she said. "We all get coffee after the races. The economic spin-off would be devastating."

Wolff said about half the horses at Fort Erie can only race on the dirt surface at the track and would have no where else to go if the track ceased operations next year.

Mayor Doug Martin said Thibert's immediate solution to see the province commit an additional $7 million out of this year's slot revenue necessary for the track's survival.

"I don't think the OLG gets the importance and the urgency that we have within the race track. It's part of the fabric of the town. We have to know now. We have to know are you going to support the track, because if not it will go away," said Martin. "If (OLG CEO) Michelle DiEmanuele is going to come down here and say again they're working very hard to have it done, that's not going to work ... it's time to make a decision. Either you're going to invest in this or you're not. And if you're not, tell us now. It's as simple as that."

On Wednesday, DiEmanuele met with Stephen Ayers of Nordic and agreed to commission a study to check the gaming company's business plan. After the meeting, Ayers told The Post there was little progress, but said any step forward is a step in the right direction.

"It's taking quite some time. I would like to see faster and better progress. The OLG can't seem to get a handle on the urgency of the horsemen's situation."

Ayers said OLG executives will take a trip to the track within the next week to meet with stakeholders and view the facility.

Teresa Roncon, a spokesperson for the OLG, said the study that would "fairly and transparently evaluate the business potential of the new development model," but couldn't confirm a timeline or the possible cost of the study.

"It's our hope is that our partners will work with us in finding best path forward for Fort Erie," she said.

9 Comments:

  • At 7:37 AM, Blogger John (AKA Not Too Swift) said…

    I always enjoy the Woodbine Mile, I look forward to it every year. Too bad P-Val isn't riding Becrux, I think he made the difference last year.

     
  • At 11:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The proposed new Fort Erie gaming development wants to build a 350 room hotel and 2500 condo units. And Nordic Gaming, owners of the track and the town of Fort Erie itself, both are trying to "blackmail" the OLG into investing in this scheme.

    With the existing competition in Niagara Falls and a new casino developing in Buffalo, the Fort Erie proposal is doomed from the start. The 350 room hotel will be lucky to average 10 occupants a night and the condo's will sell even less. If the OLG provides the requested funding, I have two observations: 1)after the initial funds are provided, the developers will be "short" again and again, and more OLG funding will be requested. 2)if the OLG decision is to fund, then it will be the biggest debacle west of "Mirabel".

    OLG, you are custodian of the taxpayers money. Act prudently, and demand performance bonds and guarantees from Nordic before you "DONATE" taxpayers money.

     
  • At 6:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    where is P Val now a dayz????

     
  • At 7:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The La Prevoyante Stakes:
    I bet on Siwa and my only regret is that La Prevoyante did not have the style of ownership as Siwa has. None of the super egos.

    I was at Woodbine when she debuted and also the following Spring when the late Andy Smithers said that she looked 'a bag of bones'. Just raced out of her skull. I still find this episode disturbing.

    Alex Sidor

     
  • At 7:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The La Prevoyante Stakes:
    I bet on Siwa and my only regret is that La Prevoyante did not have the style of ownership as Siwa has. None of the super egos.

    I was at Woodbine when she debuted and also the following Spring when the late Andy Smithers said that she looked 'a bag of bones'. Just raced out of her skull. I still find this episode disturbing.

    Alex Sidor

     
  • At 11:05 PM, Anonymous Once-a-Wando-Stalker said…

    Outstanding seminar with Mr. Bailey this morning! When an event like this runs past the schedule by half an hour and noone gets restless, infact, noone even notices...now, that's a good seminar!

     
  • At 10:11 AM, Anonymous Cangamble said…

    Why does a company that is going to invest $300 million need a 3 million dollar handout for two years. I can see a lone but not a handout.
    Something is fishy. I think they are just trying to help their bottom line so that they can sell the place for an inflated price and I doubt they have any intention to put another dime they don't have to, into the joint.
    I say smoke Nordic out and try to force them to sell it at a reasonable price.
    On the other hand, I can see a good case by Fort Erie to get another 4-5million a year from OLG to be placed into the purse accounts. This will help the Fort Erie economy, and will save many jobs.
    The OLG set up these racinos to help the industry. But lets examine this for a second, when Joe Shmoe loses 200 in slots, the horsemen get 20 bucks, when Joe loses 200 at the track, the horsemen get around 100. Lots of marginal horse players switched over to slots and they are losing their money on the slots over the ponies now. And many people just have to gamble.
    An exception can be made for Fort Erie over say Windsor because Windsor horsemen have a choice all over Ontario...Fort Erie horsemen have a choice to move to the states or collect welfare. Plus Fort Erie is the only dirt track in Ontario, and many of the horses here don't do well on Poly.

     
  • At 2:35 PM, Blogger the_drake said…

    Nordic is the biggest problem with Fort Erie, and it would be a shame if it were to close because the OJC was irresponsible in who they sold the track to. The OLG has to decide, give the Fort a couple more million and still get their huge rake or give it all up and throw 2,500 people out on the street.

     
  • At 7:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Photos from Belmont Park on Saturday:

    Gazelle(G1) and Noble Damsel(G3):
    http://www.horse-races.net/library/gaz07-results.htm

    Slide show of the Gazelle and Noble Damsel:
    http://horseracing.about.com/od/latestnews/ss/aa091507b.htm

    Matron(G2) and Futurity(G2) for the juveniles:
    http://www.horse-races.net/library/matfut07-results.htm

    Slide show of the Futurity and Matron:
    http://horseracing.about.com/od/latestnews/ss/aa091507a.htm

     

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