What’s it like owning a racehorse?
The Fraser Downs Horse Racing Club is a new venture launching at Elements Casino during the 2016-2017 season, where fans can harness their horse passion by owning a share of a horse.
A membership of $250 a year will offer all the fun and perks of owning a race horse – without all the costs.
Carla Robin, executive director of Harness Racing B.C., is still hammering out all of the details, but says the news is already making waves.
The club was advertised in a racing booklet a few weekends ago. “Friday night I got my first phone call for it, right away,” she said. “We’ve got people wanting to join already.”
Elements Casino is owned by Great Canadian Gaming, which also operates Hastings Racecourse, where the Hastings Racing Club trotted out last summer.
“[Patrons] buy a membership in the club, and the entity owns the horse races for the club,” she explained. “It’s apparently worked really well in all the jurisdictions it’s been done.”
The idea originated back east with Standardbreds, and it’s catching on quickly at racetracks across the continent. Century Downs was the latest racetrack to launch a club last month, says Robin.
Members will have to qualify for a Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch Racing Card, enabling them to get an owner card, which allows entry to the backstretch.
Once they join, members will be able to come see their horse in the barn, hang out during race nights, and, of course will get to pose in the winners’ circle if their horse wins.
“We’ll be making all sorts of arrangements for them to come and see the horse. It’s hands-on involvement,” she said. “They can hang around out here.”
The barns and the backstretch are a lively place to be during races, when people are talking, laughing and screaming when the horses come into the homestretch, she says. “It’s a lot of excitement.”
Club members will also receive racing updates on social media about their horse during races.
Unlike their thoroughbred cousins, Standardbreds are relaxed around people.
“They’re very affectionate,” Robin said. “They’re not high-strung. They are people horses. They love black licorice,” she laughs.
The 2016-2017 is the 40th anniversary of harness racing at the Cloverdale Raceway, founded in 1977.
“It is the sport of the people. Anybody can get involved in harness racing and get involved with a Standardbred horse.”
Robin says the club is hoping to have two race horses by August. Qualifying races get underway in later that month, in preparation for the return of live racing this fall.
Contact HRBC for more details at www.harnessracingbc.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 604-574-5558 ext. 3.