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COVID-19 affecting harness horse racing

by Sylene Argent

The local harness horse racing industry has had its challenges over the past several years, going back to 2012, when the Windsor Raceway was closed after the OLG removed its slot machines.

  The newest issue is that the COVID-19 pandemic has postponed race dates.

  Lakeshore Mayor Tom Bain is active in the harness horse industry. He said local trainers and owners would be currently racing their horses in Sarnia had the pandemic not caused shutdowns of certain services, like harness racing, to help stop the spread of the virus.

  He has concern for the full-time trainers in the area, who are losing money because their horses cannot race, but still have to pay fees associated with maintaining their horses. The loss of revenue may urge some to leave the industry. He also has concern for local boarding facilities that may notice open spaces in their stables if that were to happen.

  Some tracks across Ontario have tossed around the idea of hosting races without spectators.

  According to News Room Ontario, the Ontario Government gave the green light to several industries to start opening on May 19. This includes indoor and outdoor non-team sport competitions that can be played, while maintaining physical distancing and without spectators, such as tennis, track and field, and horse racing. This is assuming trends in key public health indicators continue to improve.

  Locally, harness racing takes place on 13 Sundays each season at the Leamington raceway.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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