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FRASERVILLE, ON - AUG. 15, 2020 - Reigning harness racing champion Lovedbythemasses returned to the Grassroots Series at Kawartha Downs on Saturday, Aug. 15 and trotted right back into the Ontario Sires Stakes winner's circle. Starting from Post 3 in the fourth $23,150 Grassroots division for three-year-old trotting colts, Mike Saftic settled the fan favourite in fourth as Remember Titans took the field of nine to a :28.2 opening quarter. As Remember Titans trotted by the :57.4 half, Saftic tipped Lovedbythemasses into the outer lane and began a measured advance on the leader. At the 1:25.4 three-quarters the reigning Grassroots champion was one length behind the pacesetter, but when Saftic asked for another gear Lovedbythemasses drew away effortlessly to a 1:55.1 victory. Awesomedabra, owned and trained by Gary Lance of Port Perry, ON, closed for second and Remember Titans settled for third. "That was a tough division, they ended up going a pretty good mile, but he was good and strong, and that's what we were hoping for," said Saftic. "He got sick and he missed a couple of events, so he's just kind of getting himself back on track right now, but that was a good mile he trotted today and he trotted a good mile at Mohawk on Monday (Aug. 10). I think maybe if we get down to that 1:51, 1:52 mark we could make some money with the big boys. "I'm not 100 per cent sure, but I think he's eligible for the Goodtimes (Aug. 28), so that would probably be next on his ballot," added the Campbellville, ON resident. "So that will be a good stop and then I guess he'll play it from there." Saftic engineered the win for trainer Ed Peconi of Peterborough, Nicholas Peconi of Lakefield, ON and breeder Wade Peconi of Stanchel, PEI. The win was the Muscle Mass gelding's second of the season and his first in Ontario Sires Stakes action. The trotter finished seventh in the season opening Gold leg, on June 28 at Georgian Downs, but missed the second leg due to sickness. At two Lovedbythemasses was undefeated in five Grassroots starts, including the season ending championship. Later in the program the two-year-old trotting fillies competed in a $7,200 Prospect Series division and Doug Hie piloted Lovedbythemasses' Angus Hall half-sister Incredible Two to a 2:00.4 victory. Somewhat Sacy and Got The Touch were second and third. "He was a real pet and she's a pistol. They're night and day," said owner-breeder Wade Peconi. "But it looks like she'll be all right if the boys can get her to settle down a little bit." Drive Mario Baillargeon piloted two colts to Grassroots wins, capturing the first and last divisions with Freedom Express and Ongoing Royalty. Baillargeon and Freedom Express got away fifth from Post 7 and were soon advancing up the outer lane behind You Go. When You Go ran out of gas at the five-eighths marker, Freedom Express circled out three-wide and continued to advance on the pacesetting favourite Archies Star. Second turning for home, Freedom Express dug in down the stretch to secure a one-length victory in 1:57.1. Archies Star settled for second and Aussie Lover was third. "I didn't like the post today, but he got fast fractions and he raced real good really," said Baillargeon, who was making his first appearance in the gelding's race bike. "He hasn't got too many starts so he's just getting better, that's what I think. And a 1:57.1 mile, that's a pretty good mile over here." Baillargeon drove Freedom Express to the win for owner-trainer Charalambos Christoforou of Campbellville. It was the Wheeling N Dealin son's second Grassroots win and puts him in fifth spot in the division point standings. Five races later Baillargeon opted to send Ongoing Royalty to the front from Post 3 and the duo rang up fractions of :28.2, :58 and 1:26.2 on their way to a 1:56.2 personal best. Favourite Crossfit Mouse finished one-half length back in second and True Brew was third. "It was a good mile, a real good mile," said Acton, ON resident Baillargeon. "He's just a green horse too, he didn't race last year, and he's just that type of horse that he's just starting to get better right now. I think he'll be a real nice four-year-old too." Guelph, ON resident Ben Baillargeon trains and Andre Desrochers of St-Hughes and Sylvio Ravary of Les Cedres, QC share ownership of Ongoing Royalty. Saturday's win was the Royalty For Life son's second in Grassroots action and, along with a third-place finish, puts him in a three-way tie for second in the division standings. The other two divisions saw Field Gunner and Mikey Mass earn their first Grassroots victories, both starting from the outside Post 8. Field Gunner advanced up the outer lane for driver Scott Young and then opened up a three length margin on his peers, trotting under the wire in a 1:56.4 personal best. Pacesetter Chocolate Pie was second and Dart Guy completed the top three. "He raced very well today," said Young, who engineered the win for trainer Luc Blais and owner Determination of Montreal, QC. "The eight-hole isn't the easiest of starting points out here, so I was very happy with his performance." Mikey Mass and driver Jason Ryan were able to follow the cover of No Time To Play up the outer lane before stepping out in the stretch and sprinting home to a three-quarter length victory in 1:57.2. No Time To Play was second and favourite Ripped And Ready was third. "He's a very fast horse, he just tends to be a little bit erratic, so we've been very careful with how we drive him and everything worked out really well today," said trainer Nick Gallucci. "He seems like every time he goes to the track he quiets down a little bit, so hopefully moving forward he gets to a be a little bit more professional, but I was very happy with how he was behaving in the paddock there today and in the race Jason said he drove perfect, so very happy with him." Stouffville resident Gallucci shares ownership of the Muscle Mass gelding with Vince Gallucci of Brantford, Frank Cirillo of Kleinburg and Bruno Didiomede of Hamilton, ON. The next opportunity for the three-year-old trotting colts to pad their Grassroots point totals comes Sept. 10 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Complete results for Saturday's program are available at Kawartha Downs Results. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

FRASERVILLE, JULY 20, 2019 - A collaborative effort between Per Henriksen and Richard Moreau put two-year-old trotting colt Ripped And Ready in the Ontario Sire Stakes Grassroots harness racing winner's circle at Kawartha Downs on Saturday evening. After Ripped And Ready made a break and finished eighth at the Gold Series level in the July 4 season opener, trainer Moreau enlisted the help of friend and mentor Henriksen. The men have often worked together on horses each is having trouble with, so Norwood, ON resident Henriksen was happy to turn his trotting specialist eye on Ripped And Ready and also agreed to steer the colt from Post 2 in Saturday night's fourth $23,150 Grassroots division. Ripped And Ready left the gate cleanly and proceeded to pull away from the field with every step, rolling through fractions of :28.2, :58.2 and 1:27.4 before reaching the finish 13 lengths ahead of his peers in 1:57.2, just shy of the Kawartha Downs track record. Fan favourite Gamblin Road settled for third, just ahead of French Twist. "All the power to Per," said Moreau. "It's a pleasure teaming up with him. I'm still learning every day." "All I did was - he was ready - all I did was give him a little trotting touch you know, I changed his shoes a little bit and he was a different horse," said Henriksen, who also drove two other trotters for Moreau, finishing fifth with The Reins Of Titan and sixth with Freedom Express. "I am just happy he asked me to drive them and give him feedback if there was anything I saw," said the horseman. "And they stayed trotting and everybody is happy." Moreau and owner-breeder Dr. Ruth Irving of Russell, ON will now have to decide whether Ripped And Ready, a Muscle Mass colt out of $297,969 winner Cumin First, will remain in the Grassroots or go back to the Gold Series for his third Ontario Sires Stakes start. The Grassroots colts compete at Woodbine Mohawk Park on August 6 and the Gold colts on August 8. Henriksen was not the only local reinsman to grace the Grassroots winner's circle on Saturday, Doug Hie and Doug Brown also won divisions. Fraserville resident Hie kicked off the Ontario Sires Stakes festivities in the first split with Lovedbythemasses. The pair replicated their July 13 qualifying effort over the Kawartha Downs oval, floating away from Post 5 into fifth spot by the :30 quarter, shifting into the outer lane heading for the 1:02.1 half and taking command before the 1:31.3 three-quarters. From there Hie never had to look over his shoulder as the Muscle Mass son cruised home a three length winner in 2:00.4. Remember Titans finished second and Our Van Gogh was well back in third. Peterborough resident Edward Peconi Jr. trains Lovedbythemasses for his co-owners Nicholas Peconi of Lakefield, ON and Wade Peconi of Stanchel, PEI. Saturday's outing was the gelding's first lifetime start. Bowmanville, ON resident Brown gave Chocolate Pie a textbook pocket steer in the third Grassroots division, getting away second from Post 3 and stalking Tuscan Titan through fractions of :29, :59.3 and 1:29.4 before getting a head in front at the 2:00.1 finish. "Chocolate Pie is a very nice colt. He does everything right; very smart, good gaited, going to be a very nice little guy," said Brown of the Archangel colt owned and trained by Kyle Bossence of Arthur, ON. "Kyle does well, so I expected him to be good." Like Ripped And Ready, Saturday's victory served as a bit of redemption for Chocolate Pie, who made a late break in the July 7 Grassroots season opener at Georgian Downs and finished ninth. With a runner-up finish in his June 30 debut at Georgian Downs the colt, who was a $17,000 purchase out of last fall's London Selected Yearling Sale, has now earned $13,200. The other Grassroots division went to Fit Bitt and driver Trevor Henry of Arthur, ON who took command before the half and sailed home two length winners in 2:00.3. Rubbleonthedouble finished second and fan favourite Aussie Lover was third. Henry engineered the win for trainer Bob McIntosh of Windsor, ON who shares ownership and breeding credit with C S X Stables of Liberty Center, OH. With Saturday's win and his runner-up finish in the Grassroots season opener the son of Muscle Mass and $462,826 winner Armbro Affair currently sits atop the freshman trotting colt standings with 75 points. Complete results for Saturday's program are available at OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: Ontario Racing

FRASERVILLE, JULY 18, 2019 - Kawartha Downs will roll out the red carpet for the Ontario Sires Stakes harness racing program this Saturday, July 20, welcoming four divisions of two-year-old trotting colts and geldings for the second Grassroots start of their campaign. Among the youngsters vying for a share of the $91,900 in Ontario Sires Stakes purse money is Tymal Tarot, who took a victorious test run over the Kawartha Downs oval last Saturday. The son of Kadabra and Rod Hughes were elevated to the win when Meeas Dream was placed back for causing interference, but Hughes was still pleased with his protégé’s second lifetime start. "Not the way you want to do it, but we'll take it," said the Dunsford, ON resident with a chuckle. "He's very calm, does everything you want. Really hasn't done much wrong all winter training down," added Hughes, who owns, trains and drives Tymal Tarot. "He's done nothing wrong so far, so hopefully Saturday doesn't put a blip on that." Hughes and Tymal Tarot will line up at Post 4 in the third $23,150 Grassroots division, facing off against a group of eight rivals including J Cs Royal Tease who was a 2:02.3 winner in the Grassroots season opener at Georgian Downs on July 7. Tymal Tarot made his debut at the Gold Series level at Woodbine Mohawk Park on July 4, but floundered against the province's top colts, finishing ninth. "I think, just looking back, he's probably just two or three weeks behind everyone that's stabled up near Mohawk, just lacking a little bit of experience," said Hughes. "I do still think he has more potential, but yeah, maybe jumped in a little over our head there the first time. He just got a little lost when he got gapped out in that Gold." The gelding will be looking to find his place amongst the Grassroots regulars on Saturday and gain enough points over the four remaining events to qualify for the post season. In addition to the freshman trotting colts, Kawartha Downs will also roll out the red carpet for NHL legend Darryl Sittler this Saturday. Sittler will be on hand to sign autographs and take photographs with fans and, along with the regular Saturday night prize draws, there will be a signed No. 27 Toronto Maple Leafs sweater up for grabs. Saturday's program gets under way at 7 pm and the two-year-old trotting colts and geldings will battle in Races 2, 4, 7 and 9. Complete entries for the Kawartha Downs program are available at OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit For feature stories, photographs, background information and/or contact details for local Ontario Sires Stakes participants contact Sandra Snyder at 519-572-0167 or Ontario Racing

Kawartha Downs is among the preferred locations in Peterborough for a wide variety of reasons. This month is special for the location, as it brings its 47th year of operation and celebrations are in order. Fraserville is about to see grand birthday party this Saturday, July 13, and everyone is invited to share the joy of the birthday party. In light of recent events, this birthday is eyed as a great milestone. Last fall was a rather tough one for Kawartha Downs, as the gaming location diversifying its operation had to experience a hiatus. Staff members relying on their paychecks were concerned about lack of wagers ahead of the winter months. This uncertainty was further fueled by the extended renovation that made it necessary in the first place. Shorelines Casino went through a complete makeover lasting nine weeks, only to relaunch operation in December. Horse Racing and Gaming Galore This Saturday is projected to bring the official celebration of the 47th birthday of Kawartha Downs and everything it represents to the community. For nearly half a century this racetrack has welcomed individuals enthusiastic about horse racing and betting on the exciting live events. Cheerful Crowd Celebrates Refreshed Shorelines Slots at Kawartha Downs The birthday is scheduled to bring a DJ heating up the area with electrifying sets. The weekend celebration is also projected to bring various games entertaining everyone on site. They would also feature various prizes, further motivating participation and attendance. Shorelines Casino at Kawartha Downs Returns to Operation after a 9-Week Hiatus Locals are already eager to see who is about to become the winner in those games and what the prizes would look like. In addition to that, there is going to be cake for everyone, because a birthday could not go without a celebratory cake. Workers Union Urges Ontario Premier to Keep Promise Regarding Kawartha Downs’ Slot Machines In order to make the experience even fuller and add some zest to it, Kawartha Downs would also feature the traditional live races that transform every Saturday of the summer season. Locals and people from neighboring communities making their way there will have the opportunity to enjoy them to the fullest. Celebrations after a Period of Uncertainty The 2019 live racing season marked a step in the right direction. At the end of 2018 it was announced that it is scheduled to feature 21 live races at the harness racetrack, marking an improvement from 18 race dates last year. Elevating this Saturday’s experience even further, players will also have the chance to give the renovated slots location a try. The renovation last fall resulted in 150 brand new slot machines installed on site. Kawartha Downs Workers Worry about Their Jobs Once Shorelines Casino Opens Better days are on the horizon, as Kawartha Downs will continue operation under new ownership. The racetrack’s owner inked a deal with Romspen Investments Corporation following years of controversy and insecurity. Over the past two years, no purchasers came forward, leading to the ultimate purchase by the mortgage lender. Shorelines Casino Peterborough Offers Hefty First Gaming Revenue Allocation All gaming enthusiasts were ensured that the slots location overseen by Great Canadian Gaming would continue operation. Expansion is also on the way. This was further solidified by the renewed three-year contracts of as many as 50 individuals unionized with the Service Employees International Union Local 2. Kawartha Downs’ success would also guarantee it the continuous support from Ontario Racing. By Daniel Thompson   Reprinted with permission of Casino Reports

AUGUST 18, 2018 - Scott Young had the keys to the Kawartha Downs winner's circle on Saturday, steering a trio of three-year-old pacing fillies to Grassroots victory. The reinsman kicked off his Grassroots hat trick in the first race with Machnhope. Starting from Post 5 Young eased Machnhope away from the starting gate and was sitting sixth when fan favourite Katniss S BG hit the quarter in :27. As Katniss S BG continued through a :56 half and 1:24.4 three-quarters, Young and Machnhope were rolling up the outside behind Lifelong Dream and made the turn for home just one and one-half lengths behind the leader. A sharp late kick powered Machnhope down the stretch to a one-half length victory in 1:54.1. Lifelong Dream finished second and Katniss S BG settled for third. "They just told me she likes to close up, so I was fortunate enough a bunch of them were leaving so I just landed away fifth and followed Scotty Coulter (with Lifelong Dream)," said Young. "Scotty took me right to the head of the lane with Dean Nixon's filly, and when I came off Scotty's back at the head of the lane she was full of pace and she kicked home good for me." Young piloted Machnhope to her second Grassroots win of the season for trainer Bill Robinson and owners CMR Farms of Hagersville, David Serwatuk of Hamilton and BC Reichheld Stables of Caledonia, Ontario. Through 12 sophomore starts the Mach Three daughter now boasts a record of three wins, one second and two thirds for earnings of $39,510. Young teamed up with trainer Mark Steacy to take the next two $18,450 divisions with Hello Love and Lady Bubbles. Starting from Post 4 with fan favourite Hello Love, the reinsman employed the same tactics that earned him the win in the first division. After sitting fifth through the opening quarter Young tipped Hello Love to the outside behind Mike Saftic and Sunday Afternoon, who reached the front before the three-quarters. With a clear path to the wire Hello Love shifted into overdrive and sailed away from her peers to a five and one-quarter length victory in 1:52.2, just one-fifth of a second shy of the Kawartha Downs track record for three-year-old pacing fillies. Sunday Afternoon finished second and Shadow World was hot on her heels in third. "Hello Love is a beautiful filly, a pleasure to drive, did everything I asked," said Young. "The trip couldn't have worked out any better with her either. I was following Mike (Saftic), and then Mike actually cleared the leader so I didn't even have to worry about moving three-wide or anything. When I kicked the plugs turning for home, I'm sure if I was to chase her she could have went a lot more." The win was the second in Grassroots action and the fifth of the season for Hello Love, who also has one second and one third through 10 starts for earnings of $50,732. The Shadow Play daughter is owned by Landmark 10 Racing Stable of Kingston, Ontario, J And T Silva Stables LLC of Long Beach, New York, Bertrand Gilhespy Stable of Edmonton, Alberta and Conrad Leber of Montreal, Quebec. Young completed the hat trick in the third division with Lady Bubbles, who took command before the half and never looked back, pacing under the wire two lengths ahead of I Shadow U. Color Envy rounded out the top three. "I was fortunate enough I won a Grassroots with her at Grand River last year as a two-year-old and that was the last time I drove Bubbles," noted the Guelph, Ontario resident. "I left out tonight and landed third and they were starting to tap the brakes pretty good going into the first turn so I, you know being favourite on the board makes life a little easier, so when I did the quarter-pole move he was looking for me. I heard the half pop up in :57 and I said, she should be tough from here, and she was very, very strong as well." Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. of Hudson, Quebec bred and owns the daughter of Sportswriter, who now has three Grassroots wins and sole ownership of top spot in the division standings with one regular season event remaining. The only blemish on the filly's Grassroots record came in the August 6 event when she was unable to complete the race due to broken equipment. In addition to his trio of Grassroots victories, Young also piloted five-year-old pacing gelding Big Sport to a win in the seventh race, giving him four wins on the night. "I've had four before and I've had one five before, but (this is) the first hat trick in a Grassroots I've ever had," said Young who had only won two Grassroots events this season prior to Saturday's hat trick. "Mark Steacy has been very, very good to me and I appreciate all the work he gives me, and his owners. They've given me opportunity and I can't thank them enough." The last Grassroots division went to fan favourite Azure Seelster, who went gate-to-wire in 1:53.1. Cardiff finished three and one-quarter lengths back in second and Catshark was two more lengths back in third. Guy Gagnon piloted the Shadow Play daughter to the win for trainer Jacques Dupont and owners Les Ecuries Dorleans Inc. of Repentigny, 2745 5815 Quebec Inc. and Sylvain Descheneaux of Sorel-Tracy and Paul Andre Lehoux of Sainte-Marie, Quebec. The three-year-old pacing fillies will make their fifth, and final, regular season start at Flamboro Downs on September 4. The top 20 point earners will advance to two $20,000 Grassroots Semi-Finals at Woodbine Mohawk Park on September 21, with the top five finishers from each Semi-Final moving on to the $50,000 Championship on September 29. From the Ontario Sire Stakes  

Guy Gagnon from Gatineau, Quebec, finished at the top of the driver standings to win the 2018 Eastern Ontario / Quebec Regional Driving Championship at Kawartha Downs, near Peterborough, Ontario on Saturday night (June 30) and advances to the National Driving Championship at Grand River Raceway on September 26. Gagnon, a winner of 4,979 races and over $23 million in purse money during his career, finished the competition with 49 points.  In runner up position, and also advancing is Stephane Brosseau, of L’Assomption, Quebec with 41 points. The competition came down to the last race with the six races won by six different drivers.  Gagnon and Brosseau finished 1-2 in the final RDC race and that’s where they landed on the leaderboard. Gagnon and Brosseau will join other six drivers, including Ontario finalists Trevor Henry and Louis-Philippe Roy, Western finalists Kelly Hoerdt and Jamie Gray, and Atlantic finalists Gilles Barrieau and Redmond Doucet at the 2018 National Driving Championship at Grand River Raceway on September 26. The winner of the 2018 NDC will have the opportunity to represent Canada in the World Driving Championship (WDC), and join 2017 World Driving Champion, James MacDonald, in the 2019 WDC in Sweden. Here are the final standings: Guy Gagnon - 49 Stephane Brosseau – 41 Stephane Gendron- 36 Nick Boyd - 33 Reg Gassien -32 Brett MacDonald -31 Jonathan Lachance -29 Richard Simard - 25 Race-by-race recaps of the evening’s six championship races follow. The races were carded as races 1 and 3 and five through eight. RDC Race 1: Driver Nick Boyd blew away the opening race field, winning in a wire-to-wire romp with Gramps in 1:54. Boyd sent the Jennas Beach Boy gelding to the front, putting up fractions of :27.1, :56.4 and 1:24.3 all while being chased by Brett MacDonald and Sup Hanover for second, while Jayda Nicole with Reg Gassien finished third.  “It was pretty simple,” Boyd said of the result after the race. “I had what turned out to be the best horse tonight and he got the job done.”  RDC Race 2: No Panic and Reg Gassien popped pocket on pacesetter Dads Filly (Guy Gagnon) to win in 1:56.4. Ima Holy Terror (Richard Simard)came first over at the half and led the chasing pack to take third with Rocket Gal (Brett MacDonald) rallying for fourth. RDC Race 3: Jonathan Lachance powered to the lead with Lyons William approaching the half, maintained control and kicked clear of his rivals to a 1:53.3 victory over Statement (Stephane Brosseau) and Jetset Charmer (Richard Simard). RDC Race 4: With Burlington (Guy Gagnon) commandeering the field heading to the half and setting a quick tempo on the lead, Judy The Beauty and Stephane Gendron capitalized on the swift fractions and rallied through the center of the track to win in 1:58. Majestic Maggie (Nicholas Boyd), from second over, claimed third. RDC Race 5:  Stephane Brosseau swept off cover with Every Girls Desire</a> turning for the wire and kicked clear to win in 1:##. Badstormanyport (Brett MacDonald), who set the pace, held onto second while Four For Orr (Nicholas Boyd) off a pocket trip held third. RDC Race 6: Guy Gagnon solidified his spot atop the championship standings, catapulting Ok Diablo to the front and to score in 1:56 over Big Sport (Stephane Brosseau) tracking his move in second and Amble Over Hanover (Stephane Gendron), who helped set a quick pace with Its Machademic (Brett MacDonald), holding third.   “I knew if I could get a fast half I’d be okay,” Gagnon said following the race. “Because, as a horse, he likes to finish strong.” by Kathy Wade Vlaar, for Standardbred Canada  

Kawartha Downs will run an 18-date harness racing schedule in 2018 but beyond that there is only uncertainty. Orazio Valente, general manager of the Fraserville track, agreed to open the track after a two-hour meeting with area horse people on Saturday afternoon. The season will begin on May 26 and run for 18 consecutive Saturday nights beginning at 7 p.m. "We have decided to race for this season," said Valente at a press conference following the meeting. "I have the full commitment of the local community that we will make this year the best year ever despite all the difficulties and financial shortcomings that come with it." The track has one year left on a $1,062,000 annual agreement with the province to fund purses and operating costs. Kawartha has no agreement with the province after Shorelines Slots leaves for a new casino in Peterborough this fall. Last week, the province finalized a 19-year funding agreement with 12 of 15 Ontario tracks. KD is one of the three not to sign as Valente says it doesn't cover expenses involved in maintaining facility currently covered by its casino lease. The track, which had the second highest live handle among Ontario harness tracks, applied for 40 race dates to generate more income opportunities but was granted 18, the same as 2017. Valente says it would take an additional $1 million to $2 million to make the facility viable. He wanted guarantees from the province on how they'd make up the shortfall before the writ was dropped last week on a June 7 election. He said he got none. A second issue for KD, Valente said, is Great Canadian Gaming appears unwilling to hire KD's 150 casino employees for the new casino. "I know there are a lot of news reports saying the new casino will bring up to 150 jobs with it. The part that gets lost in the news media is that there are 150 jobs here at Kawartha that will be lost," he said. "I ask Great Canadian Gaming to reconsider." Valente said he was told the 19-year deal would only proceed if all 15 tracks agreed to it. Now it's going ahead with 12. "Kawartha Downs and all the tracks which did not sign have become non-member tracks," said Valente. "The language inserted into this agreement is such that it becomes next to impossible for non-member tracks to exist in the long term." Non-member tracks are not privy to an additional $5 million for three years to assist tracks losing their casinos, to enhance purses or fund capital projects. Non-member tracks have until April 2019 to sign on. Valente said the track's only hope is for a change in government. "There is no future for horse racing at Kawartha Downs under a Liberal government," he said. The Ontario Harness Horse Association (OHHA), which represents local horse people, also refused to sign the agreement. OHHA general manager Brian Tropea said the province relied on the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) for industry input on the agreement and didn't consult grassroots tracks. The result is a deal that doesn't work for three of Ontario's four regional tracks and their horse people. He said the province will earn more than $1 billion annually from a casino at Woodbine. He's disappointed they couldn't find an additional $1 million to assist Kawartha Downs. "We're terribly disappointed in how the Liberal government has handled this thing from start to finish," said Tropea. "I'm more disappointed in the people who purport to represent horse people that signed off on a long-term agreement that doesn't do anything for the horse people. It handcuffs the industry and restricts any opportunity for growth." Tropea said most of the tracks that signed are part of a WEG alliance. The three that did not aren't affiliated with WEG. "They're giving us enough to cover our basic costs of racing but they're not looking at all the infrastructure costs that keep this place open. Anybody who signed that deal either didn't read it or didn't understand it or didn't seek legal opinion on it." Reprinted with parmission of The Peterborough Examiner

The future of Kawartha Downs, is still undecided. The harness racing racetrack is losing its Shoreline Slots at the end of the year and 85 per cent or more of the racetrack’s revenue is going with it. The track also applied to expand its race dates to 40 from 18 last year, but the Ontario Racing Commission rejected that application. The Ontario government has committed to funding $105 million over 19 years for the horse racing industry, and as far as Kawartha Downs goes, they are still in the dark as to how much they will receive. CHEX News spoke with the general manager, Orazio Valente, who says he is optimistic for a favourable outcome. He says he is currently in the midst of it all, including a long-term funding agreement and the pieces are slowly coming together. READ MORE: Kawartha Downs still in the dark as to how much money it will get from the province “I am optimistic but realistic,” said Valente. The mayor of the township of Cavan Monaghan, Scott McFadden, says this was inevitable. “I’m hopeful that there will be harness racing obviously at Kawartha Downs and tracks across rural Ontario but it doesn’t look good. Essentially, with the core funding of us being pulled out of racetracks across Ontario moved to urban centres, this is inevitably what’s going to happen when there is no funding,” said McFadden. READ MORE: Ontario government pledges millions for horse-racing in 19-year agreement The OLG will determine how much money each track in Ontario will receive. The original open date for Kawartha Downs was set for May 26. As of right now, Valente is waiting for a decision and if he doesn’t get the answers he is looking for from the province, the racetrack may have to close. By Niki Anastasakis Reprinted with permission of Global News

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

A press conference outlining plans for the future of Kawartha Downs was cancelled at the last minute on Thursday morning. Officials with the harness racing track in Fraserville said a “major development” within the last 24 hours is unfolding but wouldn’t elaborate, only saying it would mean good news. Cavan Monaghan Township Mayor Scott McFadden also would not comment. The cancellation caught some area harness racers by surprise as they were eager to learn about the viability of the facility which opened in July 1972 along on Highway 28, about 18 kilometres south of Peterborough. Last fall, the Ontario Racing Association rejected an application for funding to double the length of the racing season at Kawartha Downs. Track officials argue they will be losing significant revenue once the Shoreline Slots relocates to the new casino in Peterborough which is expected to open later this year. They fear without additional races, the track’s future could be jeopardized.   By Greg Davis and Mark Giunta   Reprinted with permission of Global News  

Peterborough County council will review a request to lobby the province for more harness racing dates for Kawartha Downs in Fraserville, Ont. Cavan Monaghan Township Mayor Scott McFadden is asking for support to make harness racing in his municipality viable. Recently, the Ontario Racing Association denied Kawartha Downs’ request to hold 40 races next season instead of 18. The facility will be losing its slot machines when the new Shorelines Casino opens in Peterborough late next year. Kawartha Downs wanted extra horse race dates to make up for the projected 85 per cent drop in revenue. “With 85 per cent of their revenues currently coming through the slots for the Kawartha downs facility, leaving them at 18 race dates is essentially going to cause great hardship when it comes to ensuring long-term sustainability of harness racing at Kawartha Downs,” said McFadden. County council will consider McFadden’s request to write to the ORA and Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal to reconsider the decision. County Warden Joe Taylor said the issue will be further discussed at the Dec. 6 meeting. Council is also getting ready for budget deliberations and on Wednesday heard from several organizations seeking support including Fairhaven Longterm Care Centre in Peterborough which is seeking an additional $25,000, even though measures were taken this year to save tens of thousands of dollars. The County and City of Peterborough provide funding for the facility. “The ministry has very bluntly said they do not fund inflation. Period,” said Fairhaven’s executive director Lionel Towns. “We’ve combined two senior management positions; we deleted a senior management position. We’ve decreased consultants to next to nil.” Another plea to open the purse strings came from the Peterborough Family Health Team. It has acquired six new physicians and needs almost $15,000 more for its recruitment budget. “Unlike specialists who may work in a hospital environment and are paid a salary, our physicians are not paid a salary,” said executive director Lori Richey. And public works says it needs close to $825,000 more to keep up its 2018 infrastructure program fixing roads and bridges. By Greg Davis Reprinted with permission of Global News

FRASERVILLE - Tuesday will go down as a "sad day" for harness racing and Kawartha Downs after officials learned an application to double the length of its season next year to offset an 85 per cent loss of revenue from the moving Shoreline Slots was denied, general manager Orazio Valente said. The Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) informed him late Tuesday afternoon that funding for the requested increase to 40 horse racing dates in 52 weeks, up from 18 cards in 2017, is not available within the current framework. That framework is the underlying issue, Valente said. It never contemplated the situation Kawartha Downs is now in - a position other Ontario racetracks that have slots will soon be in as well. "The framework has to change ... you can't have a place that received 85 per cent of its funding from rental ... and take it out and hope the void is filled. That doesn't happen," he said. "What happens to the funding formula when a casino decides to relocate away from the horsetrack? That's the problem we are facing right now." The 2018 season will be crucial for Kawartha Downs since the Shorelines Slots at Kawartha Downs are expected to close around October 2018 once the Shorelines Casino Peterborough opens at The Parkway and Crawford Drive. The disappointment of Tuesday's news is shared equally by fans, trainers and about 150 staff who work at the facility - many of them have been employed there since it opened in 1972. "You can appreciate that there has been a lot of uncertainty for our employees that is shared by everyone," said Valente, who pointed out how employees remained professional and optimistic while waiting to learn the decision. The application was about viability, he said, adding that a successful application "would have been a start," but others "stars would have to align" as well. The provincial government has said it supports horse racing and now it is time for officials to "show their true intentions," Valente said. As for the next step, he said Kawartha Downs officials will try to engage various government agencies - including Ontario Lottery and Gaming, which decides race purses - to determine if there is "will ... and ability" to come up with funding. "Otherwise, we are going to have to put in place contingency plans," said Valente, who took over as general manager earlier this year when the Fraserville track went into receivership. Late last month, Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister and Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal said four other Ontario tracks face the same dilemma and that he was seeking a solution. "We're looking at options right now to see what we can do to keep those race tracks whole beyond 2019, 2020 and 2021," he told The Examiner. "The leasing dollars generated are a key part of the financial model and we need to look at options as to how we might be able to backfill that amount of money." Leal said off-track betting is one option being discussed. He said he'd like to explore the option of Shorelines Casino keeping some slot machines at the track. Another option is for the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation to create a special category for race tracks without a casino to significantly lower their tax rates. A 40-date season would have meant races every Saturday night from March to December, up from the May to September season of the past few years but less than the twice-weekly year-round season the track had when it received a cut of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming revenues from the Slots at Kawartha Downs before the provincial government eliminated the revenue sharing deal in 2013. -- with files from Mike Davies, Examiner Sports Director By Jason Bain, The Peterborough Examiner Reprinted with permission of The Peterborough Examiner

FRASERVILLE - Kawartha Downs has become one of Ontario's more successful harness racing tracks the past three years but a dark cloud looms on the horizon. Orazio Valente, who took over as general manager earlier this year when the Fraserville track was placed into receivership, said attendance and wagering are among the best in the province. They've averaged more than 1,000 spectators over the 17 race nights this season entering Saturday's final card. That's more than the province's largest tracks at Woodbine and Mohawk average on a regular night; excluding special events. The KD handle is averaging in the neighborhood of $40,000, which Valente says is exceeded by only Woodbine and Mohawk. Yet, when Great Canadian Gaming closes the Shorelines Slots at Kawartha Downs in October 2018 to enter its new Shorelines Casino Peterborough facility at The Parkway and Crawford Drive, Valente says the track will lose the rent paid by the casino which is 85 per cent of Kawartha's revenue. He said six per cent comes from Ontario Lottery and Gaming funding for purses and some operating expenses and the remaining nine per cent from wagering and food and beverage sales. "Under the current financial arrangement with the OLG and the government I can tell you, quite honestly, it will be fiscally impossible to provide horse racing at Kawartha Downs beyond the 2018 season. If all else stays the same. That's just an economic reality," Valente said. A lot of discussion is going on with all the stakeholders to find a remedy, he said. "Everyone is aware of the dire situation," he said. Valente said the government originally tied casinos to race tracks to get a footing in the province. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement as the casinos helped fund the tracks. But he says the government gave casino operators permission to move away from the tracks with no contingency plan for those tracks. It's a shame, Valente said, because a lot of work has gone into the track to improve the facility and fans have flocked in numbers not seen in many years. "By all accounts we've had a good season," Valente said. "Kawartha Downs has the highest attendance of any Ontario race track on a normal race night. Kawartha Downs is only second to the WEG (Woodbine Entertainment Group), which is Woodbine and Mohawk, for on-track handle. We do have something special going on at Kawartha Downs." The Downs has applied for 40 race dates in 2018 in an attempt to generate more revenue, Valente said. Races would run from March to December. A shortage of horses, he said, prevents them from running more than one card per week. Jeff Leal, Peterborough MPP and Ontario's agriculture, food and rural affairs minister, said four other Ontario tracks face the same dilemma. He said he's engaged in finding a solution. "We're looking at options right now to see what we can do to keep those race tracks whole beyond 2019, 2020 and 2021," said Leal. "The leasing dollars generated are a key part of the financial model and we need to look at options as to how we might be able to backfill that amount of money." Leal said off-track betting is one option being discussed. He said he'd like to explore the option of Shorelines Casino keeping some slot machines at the track. Another option is for the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation to create a special category for race tracks without a casino to significantly lower their tax rates. "I'm fully engaged in this because I have a great commitment to horse racing in the province of Ontario and the impact it has on rural communities," Leal said. He said he knows this is a pressing issue with the new casino in Peterborough opening next fall. "I'm very cognizant of the calendar," Leal said. First start for Lima Oh So Sweet Lima Oh So Sweet, a new member of the Murray Brethour stable, will make her first lifetime start at Kawartha Downs Saturday night, the final race card of the track's 2017 season. A three-year-old daughter of Credit Winner, Lima Oh So Sweet is owned by Mark Harder, a leading New Jersey based trainer for many years along with Rick Phillips of New York. Harder had trained the filly in the US until earlier this month when she was shipped to Murray to race in Ontario. Many race fans will remember Lima Oh So Sweet’s dam, the Angus Hall mare Oh Sweet Baby who was a force to be reckoned with during her two- and three-year-old seasons in the Ontario Sires Stakes program as well as on the Grand Circuit. The winner of the OSS Super Final at the conclusion of her two-year-old season, Oh Sweet Baby was trained by Ben Baillargeon and driven by his brother Mario. Lima Oh So Sweet is the first foal from Oh Sweet Baby who retired with earnings of more than $660,000. Rick Webb has been tapped to drive the sophomore in the second race where she’ll leave from post five. The card features the annual Shorelines Drivers’ Championship starring Kawartha’s top nine drivers from the 2017 season in races three through seven. Draws and giveaways will be conducted throughout the evening as the track celebrates another successful season of racing. Post time is 7 p.m By Mike Davies, Peterborough Examiner Reprinted with permission of The Peterborough Examiner

FRASERVILLE - Kawartha Downs will host its only Racing Under Saddle race this year on Saturday night when Kamikaze Lindy attempts to record his third consecutive harness racing victory. What makes this attempt unique is the fact he has scored his most recent wins in a different fashion. The first, at Mohawk on Sept. 4, was in the traditional style of harness racing with a driver and sulky behind him. The second occurred two weeks ago at Hiawartha Horse Park when he won the RUS race there while being ridden. The five-year-old trotter will attempt his second straight RUS win in Saturday's third race at Kawartha where he'll square off against four other rivals including stablemate Lets Leavem. Both horses are trained by Shane Arsenault who also owns Kamikaze Lindy who will be ridden by Heather Reese. Lets Leavem will be ridden by his owner Sarah Town. The five RUS riders, Sarah, Heather, Marielle Enberg, Maggie Jones and Natalie Elliott will be available to meet and greet with fans in the grandstand following race five. This is the second last race card at Kawartha Downs for 2017. Post time is 7 p.m. KAWARTHA DOWNS GRADED ENTRIES Saturday, Sept. 23 post time 7 p.m. FIRST - PACE, $4,500 (DD, EX, TR) 1. Supersport (N Boyd) 6. Nothing But Bad (J Gillespie) 5. Master Negotiator (R Gassien) 4. Tugs Escape (B Macdonald) 3. Mini Putt (M Wade) 7. Thatsjusthowiroll (D Gassien) 9. Scintillator (S Johnson) 2. Magnify Bliss (J Woodward) 8. Inkerman Rocket (A Kerwood) SECOND - PACE, $5,000 (EX, TR) 6. Four For Orr (R Gassien) 4. Lo Lo Lo Logan (R Webb) 1. St Lads Captain (D Gassien) 8. Iamsam Samiam (J Thomson) 3. Joys Blazingsevens (N Boyd) 7. Imtoobadtobecute (M Wade) 5. Santanna Tony (J Woodward) 9. Pop N Liam (J Turcotte) 2. Rocket Gal (A Kerwood) ae. Diamonds Dance (N Boyd) THIRD - TROT, $4,500 (EX, TR) 1. Lets Leavem (S Town) 2. Kamikaze Lindy (H Reese) 5. Majestic Mystic (N Elliott) 4. Pukka (M Jones) 3. Precious Phoebe (T Enberg) FOURTH - PACE, $4,500 (EX, TR) 6. Liplock (N Boyd) 4. Cold Creek Lacey (J Gillespie) 2. Jo Big (K Benn) 1. True Companion (B Macdonald) 7. Emily Beach (R Doyle) 9. Dolly Dali (J Woodward) 3. Tea Bag (S Gassien) 5. Show Some Machsie (R Gassien) 8. Britches Say What (J Thomson) FIFTH - TROT, $4,100 (EX, TR) 2. Ill Stay Here (B Macdonald) 6. Warken On Air (R Webb) 9. Illusionsndreams (R Gassien) 4. L H Sonofthetimes (J Thomson) 1. Legionsofangels (N Boyd) 5. Quiet Moment (D Graham) 7. Autodynamic (W Hie) 3. Howmac Gypsy (J Woodward) 8. Peeling Out (R Doyle) SIXTH - PACE, $4,000 (EX, TR) 2. Bittersweet Dreams (B Macdonald) 3. Sophie Blu (R Webb) 6. D G Nickabocker (A Kerwood) 4. Rockin Sockem (D Gassien) 9. Hiclass Hanover (R Doyle) 7. Art Of The Deal (J Gillespie) 1. Hazuseenmybucket (N Boyd) 8. Lilys Penelope (J Turcotte) 5. Ima Holy Terror (J Thomson) SEVENTH - PACE, $4,400 (EX, TR) 2. Uf Bettors Hanover (B Macdonald) 3. Kiss Me Or Not (N Boyd) 1. Oakrock Eldorado (R Gassien) 4. Hey Grin (A Kerwood) 5. May To For (R Webb) 6. Harttattack (D Gassien) 7. Galagher Seelster (J Thomson) 8. Dana Salaam (B Collins) 9. Duneside Sport (G Ketros) EIGHTH - PACE, $4,800 (EX, TR) 2. Lock N Reload (R Webb) 3. Emma Ivy (B Macdonald) 5. Jetset Charmer (S Johnson) 9. Real Wicked (R Doyle) 7. Regally Magnified (J Turcotte) 4. Windsun Falls (J Gillespie) 1. Wildcat Jet (J Thomson) 6. Windsong Leopold (N Boyd) 8. Let There Be Rock (A Kerwood) ae. Bet Till Dawn (R Gassien) NINTH - PACE, $4,000 (EX, LD, TR) 7. Big Moment (R Doyle) 6. Putnams New Year (B Macdonald) 1. Who Dey (N Boyd) 8. A Boy Named Suuzz (W Hie) 2. Thundering Bay (D Clancy) 5. Better Art (J Gillespie) 3. Casimir Oppee (R Webb) 4. Stir And Serve (G Ketros) TENTH - TROT, $5,000 (EX, SF, TR) 5. Millers Song (N Boyd) 4. Shestherealthing (R Webb) 1. Rare Ruby (M Harvey) 3. Anutherdynamic (K Jones) 6. Zebs Abbey (J Gillespie) 2. Peace Keeper (P Henriksen) 7. Muscle Museum (B Macdonald) 9. Magic Moss (R Gassien) 8. Muscle Lane (W Hie) Reprinted with permission of The Peterborough Examiner

Fraserville, ON --- On an emotional evening at Kawartha Downs, Nick Boyd’s mood following the sixth race was ecstatic as he recorded a milestone in his harness racing driving career, win number 100. “To most it’s a very insignificant feat, but for a kid who grew up in a family with just a hobby racing stable, it’s a nice milestone to reach,” said Nick after he guided Kiss Me Or Not to the victory in the sixth race on Saturday night's (Sept. 9) card. Nick also made sure to thank Gord Brown, the leading driver at Kawartha for many years who is now retired and the track’s race analyst. “Gord gave me my first drive in a qualifier here back when he and (wife) Joy had a small stable,” remembered Nick who is always a great ambassador for racing at KD, giving the fans an opportunity to connect with his winning horses every time he returns to the winner’s circle following a victory. For the past few weeks he’s been wearing a Go Pro on his chest to show fans how racing looks from his perspective. Saturday night’s card was Kawartha Downs’ annual Memorial program and all nine of the races honored someone who made an impact at KD before their passing. Celebrated were Roger Hie, Tom Millson, Charles Ibey, Ivan Johnson, Brenna Leigh Seeley, Ruby Brown, Nellie and Leona Wright, Wayne Dowson and Doreen and Eric Brock. The Honorable Jeff Leal, the Minister of Agriculture and Dan Gall, President and CEO of Standardbred Canada, were both in attendance where on track both Reg Gassien and Rick Webb enjoyed driving triples. Next week is dark at Kawartha Downs on Saturday, but racing returns for the final two cards of the 2017 season on Sept. 23, featuring Racing Under Saddle, and Sept. 30 with our Shorelines Drivers’ Championship and Appreciation Night. Kawartha Downs 

Fraserville, ON --- For any horse person, winning the signature race at your home track is pretty special. For Russell Bax, winning the Goodtimes Invitational at Kawartha Downs carries even more weight as the race’s namesake was a trotter campaigned to a harness racing Hall of Fame career by his brother John Bax. Russell’s entrant in Saturday night’s $10,000 contest, Ramas Last Son, also happens to be the defending champion having won the Goodtimes last year. “It's always nice to have a title to defend,” said Russell with a chuckle. “It’s the Goodtimes. When you have an opportunity to race in an event that's related to your family and at my home track, I make an effort to support it. If I have a horse good enough, I will make sure I enter. It was nice to win a race named after a horse that meant so much to my brother John. Our family has been around Kawartha for a long time, and regardless of how we finish this year, it’s always nice to have everyone home for the event.” A 6-year-old gelding by Majestic Son, Ramas Last Son has drawn post four in the Goodtimes which is carded as race eight on the Kawartha Downs’ program with Rick Webb tapped to drive. “Rammer has a loyal following at Kawartha. I purchased him privately from Ed Peconi when he took time off from training to have shoulder surgery. Ed made him a nice horse and I have been fortunate to keep him going. When I have an opportunity to bring him back here, I try to take advantage of it,” noted Bax whose trip to Kawartha is far closer than Mohawk where the horse has been racing. Russell and John aren’t the only Bax brothers involved in racing and Russell is quick to give brother Carl a nod when speaking about Ramas Last Son. “Rammer has been very good to me, but a lot of the credit to goes to my brother Carl who looks after the blacksmithing. Carl rarely misses watching a race and quickly spots any corrections that need to be made. He’s the brains and I’m the grunt,” Bax praised. The Goodtimes anchors Kawartha Downs’ Titans of Trotting evening which celebrates the careers of three extremely talented trotters who started their careers at Kawartha Downs and ended them with induction into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame - Goodtimes, San Pail and Billyjojimbob. The connections of all three horses will be on hand prior to the start of the races to sign free posters for fans. The track will also host races for San Pail and Billyjojimbob as well as the OLG’s Thrill of Winning Race. Post time is 7 p.m. Kawartha Downs   

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