Day At The Track

Harness racing keeps them entertained

07:15 PM 28 May 2017 NZST
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Steven Hudon
Driver Steven Hudon (6) races Short Reign to take victory in the second race as Kawartha Downs opens its harness racing season on Saturday May 27, 2017 in Fraserville, Ont. and will offer live racing every Saturday night until Sept. 30.
Clifford Skarstedt Photo

FRASERVILLE - Harness racing fans filled Kawartha Downs on Saturday night for the opening of the 2017 racing season.

“It’s a good night out, it’s cheap and we enjoy it,” said Marie Mosher of what brings her to the races.

Mosher sat at the window facing the track with her husband James and some friends Saturday night.

Marie and James started going to the races in Fraserville last year and now, they’re regulars.

They don’t bet a lot, but they do make a few small gambles.

“Be no pointing in coming otherwise,” James said.

One thing the couple can’t wrap their head around, though, is why kids are allowed in. There’s gambling and alcohol, just like at a casino, but kids aren’t allowed in there.

“I think it’s inappropriate,” said Marie.

Across the table, Bryan Jones checks out the night’s race program. He’s been watching the races since they launched locally 45 years ago.

“I love the horse racing … and it’s a cheap night out,” said Jones.

Outside, Leslyn Chamberlin is also overlooking the program.

She started going to the races last year, making it to about half a dozen overall.

Though she “bets cautiously,” Chamberlin did have a somewhat of a big in 2016 – she won $400.

“I spent it all on me, no paying bills,” said Chamberlin.

The Bowmanville resident said she was drawn to the races because she loves horse and it’s a great way to spend a Saturday night.

“It’s fun, it’s entertaining,” Chamerblin said.

Sitting on a bench not too far away, Ruth Clarke and Rick Beaver were patiently waiting for the races to start.

The couple has been going to races at Kawartha Downs for about 10 years. They used to attend the races during the week, too, when harness racing happened all year round.

In the last three years, harness racing has decreased from a few nights a week year round to seasonal racing on Saturday nights.

Harness racing was close to being cancelled all together in 2013, when the province moved to end revenue sharing by racetracks with slots gaming facilities, but a last-minute deal between Kawartha Downs and the province's transition panel saved the races.

There are 18 race nights scheduled this season, running every Saturday night until Sept. 30, except for Sept. 16 when the NASCAR Pinty's Series finale is on.

Clarke and Beaver both love to watch the horses and don’t put much stock in gambling, though they do put a few dollars down.

“I don’t bet here to get rich, that’s for sure. It’s an entertaining way to spend an evening and it’s well worth it,” said Beaver.

New this year at Kawartha Downs, is the KD Betting Lounge. It’s located on the second floor of the racing side, where the bar used to be. There, betters can put money down on races happening elsewhere, such as in Toronto or Flamboro. Off-track betting can be done through a teller or through a self-serve machine.

By Jessica Nyznik

Reprinted with permission of The Peterborough Examiner

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