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Ontario Horse Racing: Fort Erie season off to a great start

Horse Racing Fort Erie Race TrackFort Erie Race Track is starting to see year-to-year growth and  . . . just one month into its 2015 season, the 118-year-old race track is seeing yet another spike in attendance and business. Rick Cowan, chief operating officer of the Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium, said the total handle per race has increased by 20% over 2014 figures, which themselves were up by 2% over 2013. 

He said in addition of more on and off-track betting at the site, food and beverage, as well as program sales, are up 12% over 2014, which were up 5% from 2013. 

“I think it’s the overall impact of our marketing efforts during the last four to five years,” said Cowan. 

“People are visiting the track, the tiki bar, our Twilight Tuesdays and concerts. They realize there’s a lot to do and it’s free parking and free admission.” 

He said because fans don’t pay to attend the track, it’s difficult to say how many more people have visited the track this season.

“It’s certainly up at minimum of what our food and beverage, and program sales would indicate.” 

This year, the track offers 40-days of racing, which began June 2. There are two race days a week — Sundays and Tuesdays — until Oct. 20. 

“We have enough horses … for two days a week,” said Cowan. 

The farmers market, tiki bar and concerts take place on race days, but Cowan said the facility is still a popular spot on days when there are no races at the track. 

He said people stop in to place off-track bets for races at thoroughbred and Standardbred tracks across North America from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. 

Track officials are also preparing for the 80th running of the Prince of Wales Stakes, scheduled for July 28.

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