Troubled track gets loan from town council

01:45 PM 07 Nov 2013 NZDT
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Turo Raceway, harness racing
Turo Raceway

Harness racing will continue at the Truro Raceway until Dec. 6.

And the track is slated to reopen in April 2014.

Truro town council, at its most recent meeting, approved a $24,000 loan to the troubled raceway’s operator, the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Commission.

A request from the commission for a similar amount of bridge financing has also been sent to Colchester County council.

“The money will get us to the end of this year’s racing season,” John Douglas, commission chairman, said Wednesday.

The commission owes $1.1 million to various lenders.

Douglas said the commission is in talks with the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board, which holds $400,000 of the commission’s debt, and horse racing tracks in the United States, which it owes about $211,000 in simulcast royalties.

According to an August auditor’s report by Grant Thorton, some of those tracks threatened to shut off the commission’s access to the simulcast betting service, which is one of its best revenue generators.

“We’re working with them,” said Douglas of discussions with the other race tracks.

“We’re going to keep current with the money owed them every month and then work on what is owed from the past.”

In July, the exhibition’s board of directors announced, on one week’s notice, that it was closing the track, one of just three still operating in Nova Scotia. At the time, it gave owners a month to find new homes for the 200 horses stabled on site.

A frantic effort to get the commission and raceway back on its feet followed.

Douglas said on Wednesday that that effort is bearing fruit, with operating costs being trimmed to the point that the track is now breaking even.

“But breaking even isn’t enough,” he said. “We need to raise capital to do work on a number of our buildings.”

Douglas expected a new business plan, aimed at setting the track on a more secure path, to be unveiled at the commission’s Wednesday night meeting.

Attempts to reach the Truro and Colchester County mayors for comment were unsuccessful.

by Aaron Beswick for the Herald News

(reprinted with permission by www.thechronicleherald.ca)

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