Day At The Track

New funding may help Kawartha Downs

03:44 AM 27 Mar 2018 NZDT
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Kawartha Downs in Fraserville
The additional funds may help Kawartha Downs in Fraserville, which will lose 85 per cent of its revenue when Shorelines Casinos moves its 450 slot machines to the new casino in Peterborough.
Kawartha Downs Photo

On Friday (March 23), the Ontario government announced long-term funding of $105 million a year over 19 years to support the province’s horse racing sector.

There will also be additional supports for smaller racetracks and those experiencing financial shortfalls, such as Kawartha Downs in Fraserville in Cavan Monaghan Township.

“This new, collaborative agreement will provide owners, breeders, and racetrack operators with the support they need to ensure stability and success for the long term,” said Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

The funding, to start in April 2019, will be administered by Ontario Racing, a non-profit horse racing industry association. There are 15 racetracks in Ontario — more than any other North American jurisdiction.

In the announcement, the Ontario government also said it would continue the Enhanced Horse Improvement Program and introduce a new Racetrack Sustainability Innovation Fund, providing up to $6 million over three years, beginning this year, to help regional racetracks innovate, diversify. and expand revenue sources.

The new funding may help Kawartha Downs, whose financial viability has been in question even since the April 2016 announcement that Shorelines Casinos would be relocating its 450 slot machines from Kawartha Downs to a new casino in the south end of Peterborough. According to Kawartha Downs general manager Orazio Valente, the slots make up 85 per cent of Kawartha Downs’ revenue.

In February, Valente called a media conference for a “major announcement regarding the future of Kawartha Downs,” leading some to speculate he would be announcing the end of harness racing after the 2018 season. However, Valente cancelled the media conference at the last minute because of an unspecified “major development,” which may have been the pending announcement of provincial funding.

Reprinted with permission of

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