As the opening of the 2014 racing is fast approaching, we again learned that the province will be losing it's premier driver. horseman, and ambassador of racing for the season.
Like last year, perennial driving champion, O'Brien award winner Gilles Barrieau will call Prince Edward Island home this season starting in early April. Barrieau will first set-up shop at Red Shores Summerside in the ship-in stable.
With race dates reduced to approx. 23 dates, commencing tentatively on the May holiday weekend at Fredericton.
Once again the loss of Barrieau, a fan favourite and drawing card, will hurt the live racing product in New Brunswick. Some may question that statement but in my many years in racing, when Gilles is absent, there's a difference.
I would make the analogy of taking your best player in a professional league and having him move to another location. What is a good thing is that fans have the opportunity to wager on the hometown driver through simulcasting from Red Shores.
It is not known at this time if this move will be a permanent one, we certainly hope not and remain optimistic the industry will somehow find it's way back to sustainability in the province. Best of luck to Gilles, his owners, and hope that he returns to N.B after the season is over.
By Scott Waddell, for New Brunswick Horse Racing. Contact Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org