The return of harness racing to Fraser Downs has been delayed.
Originally set to begin Sept. 17, Harness Racing B.C. has now pushed their start date back to Sept. 30.
“We were waiting on some funding, but the slots didn’t open,” said Randy Rutledge, president of Harness Racing B.C. “We ended up having to move our first race back to Sept. 30.”
Rutledge said harness racing will run until December, at which time they’ll reassess the situation in relation to COVID-19 and in relation to the status of Elements Casino.
“If the slots open, then we’ll be in a better position,” he said. “We get a percentage of our money from that and with (the casino) being closed, it’s really impacted our income.”
He said he’s spoken with Great Canadian Gaming and they’ve told him the casino may open in November, but that a decision on whether or not to open will remain day to day.
“Everyone is ready to race,” added Rutledge. “The Breeders’ Stakes are going to go in as scheduled. It’s an elimination that will start Oct. 14, run two weeks, and the final will be in November.”
Rutledge said because revenues are down, the purse for the Breeders’ Stakes will drop from $100,000 to $75,000 this year.
Rutledge noted there won’t be any fans allowed to watch the races in person, but the races will be live-streamed via hpibet.com.
“You’ll be able to watch all the races there and also place a bet, if you’d like.”