There were a couple of major developments in Prince Edward Island harness racing this past week.
The most important was the announcement by HRPEI chairman Bert Honkoop of five additional race dates to the Charlottetown Driving Park Entertainment Centre's fall and winter program.
Also Honkoop, in conjunction with Peter Buchanan Pres. of the PEI Standardbred Horseowners Assoc., announced a five percent purse increase for the remainder of the racing season.
Both announcements were extraordinary and completely unexpected.
In the press release GM Jeremy Pierce indicated that the new facility “has been receptive to very large crowds” on weekend race dates, thus the decision to offer them a second night of racing.
I don’t know all the facts surrounding this, but increasing purses and adding race dates in the fall is unheard of.
The press release also quotes HRPEI Chairman Bert Honkoop as saying:
"There has been a significant growth in the number of racehorses on Prince Edward Island over the 2005 racing season, we are seeing many more horses entering for race programs than can be raced each night, and we felt it appropriate to offer additional racing opportunities."
Credit where credit is due folks, this is great news for horsemen.
However, and there is always a caveat, sources at the CDPEC continue to echo some of the concerns that have been mentioned here before.
That is the type of machines, attendance, promotional efforts etc.
We’ll query the powers-that-be this week and again seek answers for you.
Another initiative that bodes well for the future of PEI Racing is the recently announced survey regarding industry resources.
Here’s part of the survey’s mission statement:
The PEI Harness Racing Industry Association and government and industry partners, have engaged MRSB Consulting Services to prepare a Human Resource Strategy for the Prince Edward Island harness racing sector.
This strategy will support key stakeholders in Prince Edward Island in preparing for future opportunities as a result of the recent introduction of racinos on Prince Edward Island.
We would like to learn from the experience of horsemen throughout Canada and use this knowledge to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the current and future human resource needs of the sector in our province.”
To participate in the survey go here: http://www.mrsbgroup.com/harness_racing_survey.cfm.
This is exactly the type of studies & planning that the industry needs to be doing.
This past week I put a number of questions to Jeremy Pierce, GM of HRPEI.
I asked him about Summerside, the amount of money being spent, when the work will begin, staffing there and in Ch’town vis a vis the current employees long term prospects etc.
Here’s his response verbatim:
“We at HRPEI have not been part of the discussions or planning process with respect to the Summerside racino.
"Unfortunately, I do not know the amount of money being spent, nor the number of machines going into that facility when it is constructed. In regards to HRPEI overseeing the management of the Summerside racing facility, I have heard all of the same rumours as you have, but not once has our Board ever made mention of this subject.
"Pertaining to the jobs, once the 2005 race meet is over we will review the positions within HRPEI.
"Our staff here is very good, and I am very pleased with the efforts and production of all who work here.”
Pierce then went on to thank us for making the inquiry etc. So now we know what he knows. In other words, not much, but to be fair, I have to say every time I ask him a question, unlike others, Pierce always replies.
www.Horsetalk by Hal Hennessey