Horse racing hopes to cash in on summer sports void
WINGHAM, ONT. -- Horse racing is back in Ontario.
“Unfortunately there won’t be any fans in the stands, but from a horseman’s point of view, we’re certainly glad to be back racing all over the province of Ontario,” says Randy Rier, a Hanover-based horse trainer.
Sports starved fans can get their fix of horse racing starting this weekend at tracks across Ontario.
There won’t be fans in the stands, but broadcasting races across the province, opens up possibilities for attention and revenue.
Steve Fitzsimmons, is the general manager of the Hanover Raceway.
“I think it’s an interesting opportunity for harness racing to showcase their product while there’s not much competition for sports properties, right now. This is a chance for us to reach out to some new potential fans,” says Fitzsimmons.
Along those lines, races have been moved to Saturday afternoon’s in Hanover, because 90 per cent of bets used to come from fans in the stands.
“We won’t be competing with some of the bigger racetracks, like Mohawk and Woodbine, who race at night, where we were competing for betting dollars against them. So we’re all by ourselves in the afternoon, now,” says Fitzsimmons.
Masks and temperature checks will be mandatory for all drivers and trainers.
It’s far from business as usual, but harness racing is pleased to be one of the only sports starting on time, this year.
“Protocols are in place. Hopefully we can do it safely and everybody can enjoy what they do, and we can bring in some money to feed the ponies,” says Rier.
Qualifying races start Saturday in Hanover. Opening day in Hanover, and at most tracks is next weekend.