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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Leamington Raceway hosts second race day, will allow 100 spectators this weekend

- the local organization is working to contain equine strangles -

by Sylene Argent

On Sunday, local harness horse racers gathered at the Leamington Raceway to participate in the second race date of 13 for the 2020 season.

  Last weekend’s race went well, overall, Lakeshore Mayor Tom Bain said, who also owns harness racehorses. He noted the betting was down because fans have not yet been allowed in the stands. Betting can, however, still be done online, for those of age.

  The first two race dates were fairly quiet, as fans have not yet been permitted to take to the stands to watch on. Starting this Sunday, however, 100 individuals will be permitted to come to the raceway. The stands are being prepared for the future attendees. All spectators will be required to follow social distancing guidelines and other safety protocols.

  With attendance last year edging up to 700 viewers, Bain said reservations must be made ahead of time.

  “We’ve had calls coming in already for it,” Bain said on Monday.

  Representatives of the Leamington Raceway will look into the possibility of somehow petitioning off additional sections for more spectators, since the raceway area is so huge, he said.

  “We want to first be successful in our initial Sunday or two with people,” Bain commented.

  The 13 race dates per season, Bain said, is the average races the Leamington Raceway has been granted for the past few years from the OLG.

  Last weekend did present a new challenge, as a horse on site at the local raceway was diagnosed with strangles, a contagious disease horses can contract that is characterized by the abscessation of the lymphoid tissue of the upper respiratory tract, notes.

  “I think it was well taken care of,” Bain said. “It was detected early, that one of the horses was sick. The vet was brought in and it was recognized right away. The horse has been removed from the grounds and isolated on a farm by itself.”

  The vet from the OLG quarantined each of the barns, which accounted for several scratches on the race roster for Sunday, Bain noted. This way, those horses can be tested and verified that they are negative. He suspects some of the test results, taken as a precaution, of those other horses will start to trickle in later this week.

  When the former Windsor Raceway closed, it was “certainly a crushing blow,” Bain said. Since then, there have been owners that gave up on the industry, and stables closed. There has been, however, a resurgence in the local harness horse industry, he noted. “The numbers have begun to climb. More people are getting back into the industry,” he said. The racing industry takes at least two full years to get a horse ready, when it is mature enough, to train to race from when they are born.

  “It is a lot of work. And, you have to know there is stability in the industry,” he said, adding he hopes the growth continues. “The caliber of racing has become much better over the last three of four years.”

  Post times for the Leamington Raceway begin at 1:30 on Sundays for the duration of the race dates. Races can be live streamed at    


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