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Horse racing over for another season at Fort Erie Race Track

Another successful year of horseracing has come to an end in Fort Erie. Fans braved the cold weather on Tuesday, October 16 to see the conclusion of the racing season at the 121-year-old border oval. 
 
The season saw an increase in wagering both on and off track, with an overall increase of six percent. On track, attendance was particularly strong this year for traditionally popular days, including Opening Day, Father’s Day and the Prince of Wales Stakes, as well as the inaugural wiener dog races, which all attracted capacity crowds. 
 
Veteran jockey Krista Carignan won four races on closing day and finished the season as leading rider with 57 wins. This summer was Carignan’s first season back to racing after taking a couple years off for a maternity break.  
 
“I didn’t expect to come back and have as much business and get as lucky as I did this season, so I am very grateful that it was such a good year,” said Carignan, who has been riding on and off since 2006. “It all came back pretty quickly, but it takes a little bit of time to get into a good rhythm. I’m excited for next season, and look forward to starting off strong at the beginning of the year.” 
 
Carignan stole the title from Kirk Johnson who has been leading rider for the last five seasons, finishing second this year with 40 wins at Fort Erie. The top five jockeys were rounded out by Helen Vanek, Pierre Mailhot, and Juan Crawford. Horse of the Year went to Gold Shark, owned by Tony Gaito and trained by John Simms. Leading trainer went to Robert Johnston, and Bruno Schickedanz took the title of leading owner. 
 
Racing on closing day featured the Tour de Fort, a two mile and seventy-yard race on the dirt, and a closing day tradition at Fort Erie. World of Prospects and Mr Harlan, both trained by Paula Loescher ran neck and neck down the final stretch, but World of Prospects and Krista Carignan won by a nose in a running time of 3:35.69. 
 
Despite having an unfortunately wet and rainy fall, on-track attendance has been consistent with levels from previous years, with a six per cent increase in food and beverage sales.
 
“We are very pleased with this year’s racing season, and are looking forward to 2019 with great anticipation,” said Tom Valiquette, chief operating and financial officer of the Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium. “There are going to be a lot of changes next season now that we are part of the Ontario Racing Alliance, which will help our horsepeople and noticeably improve our racing venue and offerings for customers.”
 
Fort Erie Race Track remains open seven days a week for simulcast wagering, and features free monthly handicapping challenges in the offseason, beginning November 24.
 
For more information about Fort Erie Race Track, visit www.forterieracing.com.

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