There was good racing and bad news out of Ontario over the weekend. We might as well address the bad news first, which concerns the dim future of Fort Erie Race Track.
The historic and beautiful oval may be nearing its end, as slots revenue to racing in the province will soon expire.
Fort Erie is slated to close for business on Dec. 31, ending 115 years of racing.
Home to the Prince of Wales Stakes, the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, Fort Erie has hosted some of the greats.
Northern Dancer was a debut winner there on Aug. 2, 1963, and another Hall of Famer, the filly La Prevoyante, captured the Colin Stakes on July 22, 1972.
When Saratoga Race Course was closed during a legislative ban on gambling in 1911-12, many of its owners raced their horses at Fort Erie.
If Fort Erie closes, some 750 jobs at the track will be lost, not to mention the economic impact on the area, pegged at more than $200 million.
Government officials in Ontario, who have like-minded counterparts New York, like to propagandize slots revenue to racing as “subsidies.”
They refuse to recognize the investment made by tracks, and the benefits that followed increased revenue to horse racing.
The short list includes investment in green space for breeding farms and a profitable sales market for horses, not to mention jobs in veterinary, equipment, and transportation.
There are those in New York who think Aqueduct should be on the chopping block as well.
It is a foolish idea, but in this anti-racing climate, everything is on the table when it comes to bashing the game.
The racing at Woodbine, as it usually is on big event days, was terrific on Sunday.
Three Grade 1 turf events, all Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” and topped by the $1.5 million Canadian International, marked a great card of racing.
Of the three winners, only Next Question, winner of the $500,000 Nearctic at 6 furlongs, is taking aim at the Breeders’ Cup.
The New York-bred 4-year-old, by Stormy Atlantic, was skillfully guided home by Ramon Dominguez, who was in his own zone at Saratoga this past summer.
Making his first start in a stakes race, Next Question emerged a Grade 1 winner who is now headed for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
Regally Ready won both events last year.
The Canadian International went to Joshua Tree, who led all the way to win the event for the second time.
He defeated one of the best fields in years, one that included five Grade 1 winners.
The International has not had an impact on the Breeders’ Cup Turf lately, but Chief Bearhart won both in 1997.
Singspiel won the International in 1996 and finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
The $1 million E.P. Taylor, for fillies and mares, was won by Siyouma.
The Taylor is always a great contest, and she was winning her second consecutive Grade 1 event.
The peaks of the rich Woodbine season are now behind us, with the Queen’s Plate, Woodbine Mile, and International event days all in the history books.
We can only hope that Fort Erie and Woodbine will stay in operation, and avoid being memories in those books.
I’ll take a look at the Task Force Report on Racehorse Health and Safety.