Georgian Downs Heads for Success

Canadian horse racing track Georgian Downs battled against a number of adverse conditions in their spring racing season. As was the case with a number of other tracks in the country, Georgian Downs had to deal with low entry numbers due to ten percent fewer horses being supplied. The track still offered a wide range of classes but only the lower classes garnered a full field, resulting in a drop in average daily purses. For example, purses averaged $76,000 with 119 entries in April, with May’s purses dropping to $70,000 with 102 entries. However, track authorities took action, and working diligently with the Implementation and Monitoring Group (IM Group), Georgian Downs started to recover, and by August the worrying downward trend was successfully turned around.

By the first week of October, overnight purses had grown to an average of $83,000 with 149 entries. Spokesperson for the IM Group, Mike Wilson, noted that as a key player within the Ontario Racing Program, it was important to have Georgian Downs return to their previous levels of overnight purses between $65,000 and $85,000.

Taking advantage of the special event options and added money available to them as a participant in the Ontario Racing Program, Georgian Downs targeted specific horses to attract interest. The strategy included introducing the Summit Series - a series of new added money races – with the Ontario Graduate Series for three-year olds sired in Ontario, being launched earlier this month. More events and developments at Georgian Downs will be implemented during November and December.

With the objective of attracting horses from further away, a starter bonus program ran for the months of August and September. The success of this program in providing exciting competition for the local horse population has led to an application being made to re-implement the starter bonus program for the months of November and December. Other steps taken to boost business at Georgian Downs included higher purses if the track met the simulcast target of twelve races per card, as well as increasing the value of selected maiden and allowance classes.

The Ontario Racing Program is the culmination of twelve months' worth of consultation with the racing community – racetracks, associations and other stakeholders – to develop a program that will benefit Ontario’s horse racing industry in its entirety. Seen as a significant step for horse racing in Ontario, the Ontario Racing Program aims to stabilize the industry, while creating more opportunities for the development of the Sport of Kings in this Canadian province.

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