ascot aug08
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008


UPDATES - 2:33 P.M.


HORSE OF THE YEAR FATAL BULLET has popped a quarter crack and will be sent from California to Ocala for some r & r, according to trainer Reade Baker.
The 3yo gelding was getting ready for the Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 26.
Baker said the gelding would start back up in the spring.

KENTUCKY BEAR, who was also training on the Santa Anita synthetic surface, has been retired and will stand in ONTARIO for 2009 at an undtermined farm.

The 3yo by Mr. Greeley - Tate, Afleet, considered by Baker to be on the best horses he has ever trained, was 3rd in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes in the spring and won $100,000 from five races.

sent by HBPA

Please find below Minister Smitherman & Minister Bryant’s address and email addresses.

We encourage you to write or email these two ministries with your personal impact statements on the closure of Fort Erie Racetrack.

Minister Michael Bryant Minister George Smitherman

Minister of Economic Development Minister of Energy and Infrastructure

Hearst Block Hearst Block

4th Floor, 900 Bay Street 4th Floors, 900 Bay Street

Toronto, Ontario M7A 2E1 Toronto , Ontario M7A 2E1

Email: Email:

The Province of Ontario has not said no yet. So, we all must continue to do all we can to SAVE FORT ERIE!


Sue Leslie

President, HBPA of Ontario


Below are some stories in the papers today about the Nordic Gaming announcement that employees at popular, old Fort Erie racetrack have been issued notices regarding layoffs.


Fort Erie Race Track likely to close
Employees told owner will try to avoid shutdown
By Robert J. Summers

The oft-rumored demise of the Fort Erie Race Track — part of the Buffalo and Southern Ontario area sports scene since 1897 — may have moved closer to reality Monday.

But there’s still a chance the thoroughbreds could enter the starting gate May 3, the scheduled opening day of the track’s 112th season.

About 190 employees who work in the horse racing department, but not the adjacent casino, were told Monday afternoon that “it appears that the . . . track will not be able to continue live racing in 2009” and that their employment would be terminated March 31, according to a news release from the track’s owner.

But the release also said owner Nordic Gaming Corp. “will pursue every effort to try and find a way to continue racing in 2009.”

Those efforts apparently will involve pressuring the Ontario provincial government to give the money-losing track — one of the Town of Fort Erie’s major employers and tourist attractions — some sort of financial concessions.

“We’re still hopeful we can come to some agreement that is mutually beneficial,” said Fort Erie Mayor Doug Martin, who is scheduled to host a news conference today in Town Hall.

“We’ve been working with the province for some time. We thought the province was ready to come to the table and provide the partnership necessary to make this work,” Martin said.

“This is a real travesty,” said Sue Leslie, president of the Ontario Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, which represents horse owners and trainers. “I’m still a little bit in shock that we’ve let it come to this.

“There have been months and months and months of meetings and negotiations . . .,” Leslie said. “The province has failed the industry and the town. . . . Maybe this will prompt the province to make a move.”

Nordic said it cannot “continue to absorb the substantial operating losses year after year” and must “begin preparing for closure.”

Company officials said they continue to work with all of the stakeholders, including the track’s unions and their members, and will comply with its obligations under their collective agreements as well as with Canada’s Employment Standards Act.

The announcement followed a two-year “Save the Track” campaign.

Leslie said the horsemen’s association contends that if racing is discontinued, the Ontario- owned slot machines must close also.

“The full intent of the slots being put on the race track property was to enhance live racing. . . . If there’s no live racing at Fort Erie, the slots shut down,” she said.

Martin said one of the problems in dealing with the provincial government is that a number of departments, known as ministries, are involved. They include the Ontario Lottery Corp. and ministries focusing on economic development and trade and foreign investment.

“There has been an election and change of minsters . . .,” the mayor said, “[and] people haven’t been brought up to speed.”

Fort Erie is the seventh oldest active track in North America, trailing only Saratoga (1864), Pimlico (1870), Greenwood (1871), Fair Grounds (1872), Churchill Downs (1875) and Hawthorne (1891).

It has long been staggering financially.





Kim Craitor, member of the legislature for Niagara Falls, said a meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday in Toronto involving senior-level track officials and representatives of Economic Development and Trade Minister Michael Bryant.

Craitor, who rearranged his schedule to attend those talks, said it's possible the meeting could resolve the situation.

"We have some things on the table," said Craitor.


Home needed for Prince of Wales Stakes

No live racing in Fort Erie next year means one of the most historic horse races in Canada will be leaving Niagara.

The Prince of Wales Stakes is one of the victims of the financial troubles besieging Fort Erie Race Track owner Nordic Gaming, which announced yesterday it will likely not be able to continue live racing in 2009.

Upon hearing the news, the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society said it would immediately take the necessary steps to find a new home for the Prince of Wales, which is the second leg in the Canadian Triple Crown of horse racing.

The society organizes both the Triple Crown for Canadian three-year-old thoroughbreds and the Triple Tiara, a three-race series for fillies foaled in Canada.

"We're very sad to hear this has been announced. We would rather not have to run the race anywhere else, because Fort Erie was perfect for that race," said CTHS general manager Julie Coulter.

"It made the Triple Crown unique. It's a sad day, but we will have to organize running it here at Woodbine."

Part of what made the Triple Crown special was the fact its three legs were raced on three different surfaces -artificial dirt at Woodbine for the Queen's Plate, natural dirt at Fort Erie for the Prince of Wales and turf at Woodbine for the Breeder's Stakes.

The first Prince of Wales race was run in 1929 at Thorncliffe Park in Toronto, but it was moved to Fort Erie and was part of the inaugural Triple Crown in 1959.

It has been held at the border oval ever since, and saw its 50th running under the Triple Crown banner in July when Harlem Rocker took the win.

It was always the flagship race on the Fort Erie calendar and drew the biggest crowd of the year -although that crowd had been dwindling.

Nordic Gaming's announcement yesterday means, barring a track-saving deal, all live racing at the track will be shelved for 2009.


  • At 11:40 AM, Anonymous geegees said…

    they should have sold fort erie to stronach when they had the chance

  • At 12:03 PM, Blogger Steve Zorn said…

    Closing Fort Erie would be a special hardship for trainers -- like Nick Gonzalez, who trains for my racing stable -- who have stalls at both Woodbine and Fort Erie, and do a lot of their two-year-old development work at Fort Erie. They'll have to find some off-track site that has a training track, which will cost them, and owners, more and will be less effective in getting horses ready for the track.

  • At 1:05 PM, Anonymous Daryl G. Ezra said…

    After all of Nordics crying, why have I not read " Fort Erie Racetrack is for SALE"??????


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