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Friday, December 19, 2008


'Tis the season - by Sarah K. Andrew at Rock and Racehorses (see link on my sidebar)


"Thoroughbred racing in Ontario is in peril" - Bob McCown, Fan 590

KIM CRAITOR, Niagara Falls MPP, was on the Fan 590 radio station recently on PRIME TIME SPORTS with Bob McCown and briefly discussed the plinght of Fort Erie racetrack and its folks.

Layoffs have been announced and surely, with the Christmas season coming, nothing will be determined about thetrack's fate for some time yet.

McCown wondered should taxpayer's have to deal with the crumbling of Nordic Gaming's track?

This is a good question.

A RALLY is apparently going to be held at the track at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning - Dec. 21.


SAM-SON FARMS is in action today at FAIR GROUNDS. Stakes winner FRENCH BERET, who adores the Fair Grounds turf, is in an optional claimer ($75K) and is 5 to 2 and favoured in the 1 1/16 mile race.

CATCH THE LUCK is also racing on the grass in an earlier allowance race and he is 6 to1.

Donver Stables' VICTORY ROMANCE is in the finale, an allowance race for fillies and mares. The Alberta-bred is 8 to 1 for trainer Josie Carroll.

TOMORROW - Ontario bred, stakes placed filly EDAMAME is in the Letellier Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds for Windways Farm and trainer Malcolm Pierce. She is 5 to 1.
Pierce has horses in a bunch of stakes tomorrow including THE GREAT CARUSO in the Bonapaw Stakes and SHES INDY MONEY in the Esplanade Stakes.

SMILING JORDAN, an Ontario bred 6yo by Accelerator-Live in Sin by Runaway Groom, won a starter allowance at Laurel yesterday by 7 lengths at 6 to 1. The dark bay gelding is currently owned by Joe MacKinnon. He won the 1 1/16 mile race in 1:46.59.


Who are you? I need to know more about the readers of this blog for future purposes - changes, etc.

Thank you!

LINDA SHANTZ - Dance Smartly panel part of Mural

Equine artist part of mural


By Stephanie Hounsell,
Canadian Champion Staff
Arts & Entertainment Dec 19, 2008

When Campbellville’s Linda Shantz was presented with the opportunity to participate in a large-scale project with a couple of hundred other equine artists, she jumped at the chance.

For several weeks, she worked on panel no. 207, painting a champion Milton racehorse in oils.

But the exciting part came when that 15-inch by 15-inch panel found its place among 237 other panels, each an individual portrait of a horse, many of them famous.

It was then that an overall image of a majestic palomino emerged — head held high, hoofs in motion, mane flowing — created by the shades and shapes of each smaller painting.

It’s called a mural mosaic, a concept Shantz said she found interesting from the beginning. Recently, the finished 6.9 by 5.7-metre project, entitled ‘Le Cadeau du Cheval (The Horse Gift)’ was unveiled in Calgary and is now making its way across North America at various venues.

Its next stop is Baltimore.

With 174 equine artists from around the world participating, “unity through diversity” is the motto of the mural mosaic concept.

That unity was a key factor in what made the endeavour enjoyable, Shantz said.
“Horses are our passion — to know we all share that, that’s the bottom line,” she said, explaining she “chatted” on-line regularly with fellow artists, each sharing how their paintings were coming along.

This is one of several mural mosaics that have been created.
So just how do they come together? According to the mural mosaic website, designer Lewis Lavoie creates the master image and designates a panel to each artist.
The artists are given guidelines in the way of which colours and shapes to use, and then each artist creates his or her own painting, following the contours of the master image.
There are no digital effects used to create the overall image.

The panel Shantz chose had a lot of purple in it, so she decided to paint a horse wearing the purple and gold victory blanket of the Queen’s Plate, Canada’s most prestigious horse race.

Milton’s own royally-bred filly, Dance Smartly, was an obvious choice as the subject. The horse was bred and raced by the local Sam-Son Farms and won numerous races and titles, including Canadian Horse of the Year.

Dance Smartly died in 2007.

Shantz wanted her work to not only honour the legendary horse, but also two special women from Sam-Son Farms.
Elizabeth Samuel — wife of the late Ernie Samuel, founder of Sam-Son — passed away this year, as did daughter Tammy Samuel-Balaz, president and general manager of the horse farm.

read the rest

for Christmas...


Trainer forges top US career

FORMER Wagga man Brian Lynch is home in Wagga, taking a well-earned break from his US racing empire.

Lynch is the ultimate success story, having forged a career training horses for the most successful owner and breeder in the US.

Having left Wagga to take up a bull riding career in the US as a 21-year-old, Lynch ended up switching to racehorse training, which he has done since in 1992.

Sixteen years later, Lynch is the private trainer for Adena Springs, a racing empire that has topped Darley and Godolphin as the biggest prizemoney earner in the US for the past seven years.
Back in Wagga for Christmas with his family, Lynch yesterday reflected on his amazing journey.

“It’s been a good ride,” Lynch said. “I grew up in Wagga around the track and me and my brother always had a passion for racehorses.

Read the rest of the story


  • At 11:37 AM, Blogger sarah said…

    I think Ontario desperately needs a second TB track other than Woodbine, and in that regard, all that can possibly be done to save the Fort should be done. If the Fort closes, it will impact everyone, from trainers to jockeys and Ontario breeders. Not to mention that Fort Erie should by all rights be a heritage site.

    That said, a tax payer "bail out" isn't going to solve Fort Erie's problems. Like the current auto bail out (which is just a bandaid solution IMO), if people aren't buying cars, no amount of tax payer money is really go to save the industry, unless the industry itself makes significant changes in the way it does business. So in that regard, if customers aren't coming to Fort Erie, no amount of tax money can truly help the track, other than maybe prevent it from closing for another season or two. Instead, Fort Erie must look at other ways to promote the sport of racing, generate revenue, and get people coming back out to the races and the slots. Otherwise, the track is doomed, in a region and economy that are already on the decline.

  • At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Steve said…

    Fort Erie is a beautiful track. It has the look of old, and the allure of tranquility. If it were to stay as is then too many things would have to change. Sadly, it is a business and not a stairway to the past. I don't have the know-how or the brainpower to offer any suggestions to keep it open. I would suggest that if it were to survive then profit has to be the goal. What would it take to be profitable? Any ideas?

  • At 2:39 PM, Blogger Linda Shantz said…

    Thanks so much for posting the article on the Mural Mosaic, Jen! It's a really cool project - I hope it makes it to our neck of the woods before too long.

  • At 7:40 PM, Anonymous bernard said…

    With regard to the possible closure of the Fort Erie track, it would appear that many race fans have the belief that tracks that cannot sustain a profit should not exist. The truth is that there is not a track in Canada that can make a profit on its own, Woodbine included. Therefore racing on its own, based on the profit factor, would no long exist anywhere in Ontario if the in-house casinos were closed.

    Prior to the introduction of slots at Woodbine, the thoroughbred racing scene was going the wrong way fast. It desperately needed monetary assistance. Thankfully the government of the day recognized the plight of Woodbine and of many other tracks. Thus the casino/track partnership was created. It has worked especially well at Woodbine where a complete revamping occured and purses increased dramatically. The Woodbine casino was the savior for Woodbine horsemen.

    The present Woodbine operation cannot be reasonably considered in the same light as the one in Fort Erie. It is equivalent to assessing and grading the attire of the prince and the pauper.

    On the one hand, the big city track has a massive population to draw from and the in-house casino is always busy, day and night. The lucrative casino profit provides a sizeable sum that goes to the track operation and to the purse structure. It is gratefully accepted by the track and horsemen. Without the casino the throughbred racing program at Woodbine would be a shell of what now exists. In fact, without the casino, it might not even exist. Just check back to the mid nineties to confirm what was happening to racing in Toronto. The Woodine plea for assistance from the government was loud and clear in those dark days.

    On the other hand, Fort Erie does not have the luxury of a a non-competitive casino environment, nor do they have anywhere near the population that surrounds Woodbine. Rather, Niagara Falls, Canada/USA combined, has three Las Vegas type casinos with poker, slots, roulette, craps and blackjack, all within a 20 minute drive of the Fort. Imagine, if you will, there being three such casinos between the Toronto city center and the Woodbine track and then imagine what would happen to the profits of the track's casino slots and to the Woobine purse structure. The downturn in revenue would be incalculable.

    The above scenario gives you a much better picture of what Fort Erie has had to deal with in recent years. In addition to the nearby casinos, Fort Erie has slot competition from Buffalo Raceway and the track's situation must be reassessed in the light of the increased casino competition, the change in border security since 9/11 and until recently the drop in the U.S. dollar.

    The percentage that Woodbine racing receives from their casino is massive in comparison to the piddling amount provided by the Fort Erie casino and thus the understandable difference in purses and race days. But that should not mean that the prince should live and the pauper should die.

    If a realistic racing program needs to be sustained by casino profits, both at Woodbine and other tracks, then the only difference is the need for a revenue scale that relates to the situation facing each track. It is not rocket science.

    The beautiful 111-year-old border oval should not be left to wither and die based on the fallacious argument of casino revenue. Blaming the current owner is not the answer either as it is estimated that he has sustained substantial losses in the millions of dollars over recent years.

    The bottom line is that many jobs will be lost, trainers, jockeys, farriers, tellers, farmers and the thoroughbred racing industry as a whole will suffer. Those losses will be further enhanced by the spin-off factor. The town of Fort Erie will be devastated.

    The provincial government needs to actively review and assess all avenues including the revenue scales and then act to support the horse racing industry and the Fort Erie track. There is still time to act.

    Bernard Williams


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