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Ontario Horse Racing: Fort Erie Breaking Records

Jockeys, trainers and staff at the Fort Erie Race Track have a lot to smile about with a record-breaking season.The racetrack has broken the $1 million wager barrier six times in one season, with the latest $1-million day this week.  
“Traditionally, the race day after Labour Day is our worst possible day because it’s when kids are going back to school, it’s after a holiday and people are busy getting back to the grind,” Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium chief executive officer Jim Thibert.
 
“But on this race day after the holiday, we just kept watching the returns and we managed to have a $1 million day for the sixth time.”
 
The record-breaking season is an indication that horse racing is alive and well in Fort Erie, according to Thibert.
 
“We’re all excited about our performance. We have people coming from all over Niagara and fans are coming back from Buffalo and Erie County. We want our fans to know we appreciate them and we’re glad to see them at the track.”
 
In the racetrack’s 118-year history, Thibert doesn’t believe the Fort Erie Race Track has ever had more than one $1-million day in a single season.
 
“It usually happens during the Prince of Wales Stakes. We’ve never done two days like this. We’ve come close, though,” Thibert explained. “We definitely didn’t see this one coming.”
 
Thibert said on-track betting was slightly down when compared to the same time last year, but remote betting has increased from last year.
 
The record-breaking season is due to a number of reasons that include more exposure for the racetrack and the increasing American dollar.
 
“Exposure is a big thing. Sometimes we’re on simulcast at Woodbine. Some of our races are featured on (the TVG Network) so people see a portion of the races on television,” Thibert said.
 
Last year, the rain affected attendance on 12 race days at the racetrack. For whatever reason, Thibert said racing fans don’t seem to be staying away this year when the weather is not always the most favourable.
 
“Last year, a lot of people stayed home when it rained. This year, they seemed to have ignored the weather. We saw people coming to the track after a morning rain shower,” Thibert said. “The weather didn’t seem to bother them at all.
 
Thibert attributes the strong attendance to staff at the racetrack who have worked tirelessly to promote a variety of special events in addition to the races held at the track. These events include concerts and the farmers market that is held on Sundays.
 
“It takes a tremendous amount of work to do all of this. Everyone on the management team has three jobs,” Thibert said.
 
Racing continues at the racetrack on Sundays and Tuesdays until Oct. 20. The track’s post time of 4:15 p.m. on Tuesdays has changed to 1:50 p.m. For more information and a full schedule of races visit www.forterieracing.com.
 
(Source: Fort Erie Times)

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