Unsure Future For Harness Racing In Rural Manitoba

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The future of harness racing in rural Manitoba remains undecided for 2013.

The Red River Exhibition wants to take over Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg and standardbred racing is part of what they want to offer at the downs. Red River Exhibition General Manager Garth Rogerson says lots has to happen before they take control of the downs. He wants stakeholders to have their say on the future of harness racing in our province.

"That's the tough one, I don't know the funding situation going forward for the rural harness racing circuit but rumors are it doesn't sound very good. But I think that is some benefit to operations at Assiniboia Downs to see at least that some of those tracks survive to allow those horses to stay fit and conditioned and ready to go when we bring it onto the big track. I support to ensuring that some of those rural tracks stay open and operational."

Rogerson doesn't know what tracks should stay open.

"I think that's going to be a decision of the industry. I think it is important we get together as a group. The fellows are putting together an open meeting, I think in St. Claude, an I am going to come out and hold an open discussion, lay the cards out and see what works best to see the industry survive."

Many communities have held harness races for many years. Rogerson was asked if a communities proximity to Winnipeg would have an impact on whether or not they get to hold races.

"I don't think so, it comes down to the guys trucking the horses and all the owners live across rural Manitoba. I'm going to leave that up to the fellows that know. We have a real good group around the table representing the standardbred industry and they'll be the ones to make those kinds of determinations."

Rogerson is excited about racing opportunities and would like to see harness racing grow in Manitoba.

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