A number of Ontario’s prominent harness racing industry participants have answered the call to action for increased awareness by penning letters to Premier Doug Ford and other political leaders in order to place racing in the same professional athletic status as the National Hockey League.
In an interview with Trot Insider late last week, Woodbine Entertainment CEO Jim Lawson suggested that horse racing should be considered a high-performance athletic activity — in the same light as professional hockey — while the province remains in lockdown, and be permitted to participate under strict guidelines and protocols. He also suggested that participants in the racing industry contact their elected officials to stress the importance of racing to the province’s economy.
Since then, a number of participants have published letters sent to MPs and MPPs to raise racing’s profile.
“As an individual who relies on racing at The Raceway at Western Fair District and Hanover Raceway to earn a living, I am asking for your consideration and consultation with local and Provincial Health/Government Officials to explore the return of racing,” stated Hanover Raceway’s Tony Elliott. “We are committed to continued health and safety of all participants and the well-being of overall public health.” To read Elliott’s letter, click here.
“Our athletes are a huge part of not only agriculture in rural Ontario, but also a professional sport,” wrote Central Ontario Standardbred Association director Mark Horner. “We have grave concerns that the extension of the segregated lockdown will buckle our industry. We stand with our industry leaders at Ontario Racing, Woodbine Entertainment and COSA in their push for a quick return to racing.” To read Horner’s letter, click here
“We are very pleased that the decision has been made to allow NHL hockey players to begin their season this week — travelling in a large group from city to city to play a contact, non physically distanced sport,” said National Capital Region Harness Horse Association director John MacMillan. “This should certainly pave the way for horse racing where our protocols have produced flawless results. In the actual race there is no contact and physical distancing of sort is a rule of our game.” To read MacMillan’s letter, click here.