Letters from the backstretch

The following excerpts are from letters written by Standardbred breeders, owners, trainers, drivers and others, explaining how a six month season at Cloverdale's Fraser Downs Racetrack and Casino has affected them.

Local photographer Leslie McKellar captured this image of a morning training session at Fraser Downs Racetrack and Casino in Cloverdale.

Harness Racing B.C. is seeking a 10-month, twice a week racing schedule at Fraser Downs in 2012.

The following excerpts are from letters written by Standardbred breeders, owners, trainers, drivers and others, explaining how a six month season has affected them.

They’re being submitted to Great Canadian Gaming Corp., the company that owns Fraser Downs Racetrack and Casino, the B.C. Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch, and the provincial management committee on horseracing.

For related news, see story, ‘Shorter racing season has been devastating.’

This is our livelihood

I have been involved with harness racing at Fraser Downs since the early ‘80s.

For many years it was a hobby. In recent years it has become a career and main source of income.

I cannot survive with only two or three race days, six months of the year. What do I live on for the other six months a year?

Please help the harness horsemen of B.C. survive. This is our livelihood and the only way of life we know.

Don’t strangle a proud tradition.

Greg A. Smith

We all need a viable season

We need a minimum of 10 months racing per annum to maintain a viable industry and the livelihoods for all those involved with harnessracing, from horsemen, to feed companies, veterinarians, farriers, farmers, tack suppliers, drug companies, and salespersons, all their respective staff and all those who benefit from the incomes that these persons reinvest into the economy.

Michael D. Towns, DMV

Fraser Downs is doomed

The current six month season at Fraser Downs is forcing me to sell my house in Cloverdale and relocate to Ontario or the United States. I have been in the top three of the driving standings for the last seven years. I also breed one mare a year.

Without a longer racing season Fraser Downs is doomed.

Jim Marino

Financially devastated

If the six months racing schedule is adopted, I will have no other option than to not breed my mares.

I have been financially devastated this past year by the amount that yearlings have sold for. I am not in a financial position to be charitable and give my yearlings away.

I have reduced my mare inventory from five to two. I cannot even feed the foals for what they brought at the sale let alone the mares or pay the vet.

I also purchased property in the southern interior with the intent to operate a breeding facility. With no horses being bred, I am suffering on both fronts.

I will be out of the standardbred business this spring if there is no stability offered and I know a six month racing schedule will not support this industry.

Diana Ball,

Falkland, B.C.

Directly affected

I operate the backstretch kitchen. Without racing, without horsemen, I have no business – it’s that simple, as I am self employed. No EI benefits here.

Liz Davie

No handouts

We are not looking for a handout. We are asking for the opportunity to continue the only work we know.

Brian Ingram

Action needed immediately

This isn’t rocket science. Six month seasons will end racing in B.C. and I will not invest another dime here unless sincere and drastic measures from Great Canadian and the B.C. government are taken immediately to support our industry above minimal operating levels.

Lance Goshko

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