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Longtime harness racing official Diane Twasnick passed away this morning (September 20) at Grand River Hospital in Kitchener, ON after a brief battle with cancer. She was 59. Diane's career as a Race Secretary and Charter spanned more than three decades at Elmira Raceway, Grand River Raceway and Hanover Raceway. Diane had a deep affinity for harness racing, and its horses and people. Beyond her astute skills and knowledge, she had a glowing smile, bright personality and fabulous sense of humour. Her family will hold a private ceremony. Details of a Celebration Of Life are forthcoming. Kelly Spencer Mgr. Marketing & Communications Grand River Raceway

ELORA, ON - Grand River Raceway and its owner/operator, the Grand River Agricultural Society (GRAS), are pleased to welcome Jamie Martin as the new Director of Operations. Martin will take over leadership of the Elora, ON track from Dr. Ted Clarke who is retiring after more than 30 years in the harness racing industry. Martin will join the Grand River Raceway team in December. In April of this year, Martin announced his retirement from his current role as the Executive Vice President of Racing for Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG), where he joined as the Vice President of Standardbred Racing in 2000. "I am excited to continue my involvement in the horse racing industry," said Martin. "I look forward to working with the Board and the team at Grand River Raceway to continue to grow what is already one of the bright lights in Standardbred racing in North America." Prior to WEG, Martin was the longtime Racing & Gaming Manager at Western Fair Raceway in London, ON. With more than 27 years of leadership in the Ontario horse racing industry, Martin is renowned as a tremendous strategist and developer of outstanding racing and wagering products. In 2014, he became the first Chairman of the Board for the Standardbred Alliance, which helped to stabilize Ontario's harness racing industry. "On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Grand River Agricultural Society, we are extremely pleased that we are able to engage someone with Jamie's exceptional qualifications to lead Grand River Raceway into the future of Standardbred racing," said Paul Walker, President of the Grand River Agricultural Society. In his new role at Grand River Raceway, Martin will lead the further development of the organization's award-winning offerings as a dynamic entertainment, racing, and gaming destination. Martin will begin his new role on December 11. Kelly Spencer

ELORA - The live harness racing season is winding down at Grand River Raceway. Monday and Wednesday race nights continue until the season finale on September 27, but Fun & Frivolity Friday Nights wrap-up September 8 when the Elora, ON track is hosting its first-ever Young Guns Miniature Horse Race. The exhibition dash features seven youngsters - ages two through eight - driving miniature ponies. The contenders are all daughters and sons of drivers, trainers and caretakers within the harness racing industry. These pro adults will accompany the young racers in their double-seated carts in the very short (one-eighth mile) trot. The Young Guns Race is featured after Race 6 (approximately 8:20 p.m.). The participants and their ponies will conduct a Meet 'N Greet with fans on the tarmac after Race 3 (approximately 7:20 p.m.). Both events will be shown live on the track's Facebook page. The field for the Young Guns Miniature Horse Race: 1. POLLY POCKETS Young Gun: Ollie MacDonald (Age: 4) Accompanied by: Amy MacDonald   2. PRINCE Young Gun: Liam Davis (Age: 2) Accompanied by: Billy Davis   3. MULLINGAR Young Gun: Ava MacDonald (Age: 6) Accompanied by: Debi O'Brien Moran   4. WALLY Young Gun: Travis Moore (Age: 6) Accompanied by: A.J. Moore   5. BUDDY Driver: Hailey Hart (Age: 8) Accompanied by: Emma Christoforou   6. QUINTON Young Gun: Kylie Hart (Age: 6) Accompanied by: Scott Young   7. PING* Young Gun: Lucas House (Age: 5) Accompanied by: Lorne House   *Ping is less-miniature, more-pony and as such will start from the outside post. Post time for Race 1 of the Friday card is 6:30 p.m. Kelly Spencer

ELORA, ON - After more than 30 years of tireless work in the Ontario harness racing industry, Dr. Ted Clarke is retiring from his post as the General Manager of Grand River Raceway in Elora, ON. Clarke will continue in his role until the end of September 2017. Recognized by his peers as an innovator in the horse racing industry and highly regarded for his thoughtful insights, Clarke's strong and steady leadership established Grand River Raceway in 2003 and its reputation as an award-winning racing and entertainment destination. He was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall Of Fame in 2014. The track is hosting a retirement party for Clarke on Sunday, September 24. All are welcome to attend. PARTY DETAILS Date: Sunday, September 24, 2017 Time: Guests are welcome to drop-in any time between 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Formal Program starts at 2:00 p.m. with a few speakers & gift presentation Place: Lighthouse Restaurant at Grand River Raceway 7445 Wellington County Rd. 21, Elora, ON N0B 1S0 Dress: Casual Gifts: Well wishes only, please. Finger foods and a cash bar will be available throughout the party. RSVP: All are welcome. To assist in our planning, an RSVP is appreciated by September 18, but is not required. To RSVP, register online or call (519) 846-5455 ext. 238 Kelly Spencer

ELORA, ON - Grand River Raceway had added Friday, September 8 to its harness racing season. The additional date will recoup some of the races lost after severe weather caused a cancellation of the last seven races on August 11. September 8 will mark the last Friday race night of the season. Harness racing continues Monday and Wednesday nights until the season finale on September 27. Post time on September 8 is 6:30 p.m. Reservations are being accepted for the Captain's Quarters Dining Room, featuring the popular $18.99 buffet. Call (519) 846-5455 ext. 247 or email bookings@grandriverraceway.com for reservations. Kelly Spencer

ELORA, ON - Grand River Raceway marked its 27th annual Industry Day Horse Racing Celebration on August 7. The harness racing event featured 11 races totaling $460,000 in purses, including the track's biggest races, the Battle Of Waterloo and Battle Of The Belles. 20th annual Battle Of Waterloo Simple Kinda Man was crowned champ of the $200,200 Battle Of Waterloo for trainer Scott McEneny and owners M & L Of Delaware LLC. The freshman Sportswriter colt was 7-1 as he left from post three and took control of the field in the early stretch to finish a length ahead of hard-closing Hudson Phil (James MacDonald). Race favourite Burning Midnight was third with Trevor Henry. This was Simple Kinda Man's sixth career start and second win. He was third in last week's elimination division, where he started from post position seven. With the lion's share of the Battle Of Waterloo purse, his career earnings now total $105,080. Simple Kinda Man 9th annual Battle Of The Belles Play The Bell granted trainer Casie Coleman and local driver Bob McClure (of Elora) their first Battle Of The Belles victories. The two-year-old Shadow Play daughter finished five lengths the best in 1:54.4 with Rendezvous Hanover (Corey Callahan) in second, paying $45.30 to place. Also-eligible Lady Bubbles drew into the race after a scratch and finished third with James MacDonald. Play The Bell's career earnings climb to $96,888 for owners West Wins Stable, Mac Nichol and Calhoun Racing Ltd. Play The Bell Ontario Sires Stakes Kazimoto kicked off Industry Day in the first of three Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots divisions. The three-year-old pacing colt scored his fourth consecutive win in 1:56 for trainer Vic Puddy with Alfie Carroll at the reins. Rebel Voyager with Sylvain Filion and The Dark Shadow (Jody Jamieson) finished a length behind in the $18,450 dash. Dream Of Luck captured the second OSS division with Doug McNair in the bike. Jeff Gillis trains and co-owns the Camluck son with Mac Nichol. Dream Of Luck led gate-to-wire to finish three lengths the best over Play For Gold (Tyler Moore) and Thrownoutofbetter (Phil Hudon) in 1:55.1 - the quickest mile of the OSS divisions. Jody Jamieson steered Southwind General to his third career win in the third division. Jack Darling owns and trains the Sportswriter gelding who clocked his mile in 1:56.4. Ugottobinittowinit was the runner-up with Bob McClure, followed by Heza Big Dealer for the show money. Battle Of Waterloo Consolation Race Phantom Seelster secured his third career win for trainer/owner Marcel Barrieau in the Battle Of Waterloo Consolation Race. Trevor Henry piloted the grey Mach Three son to a two length win over Notabadgame (Doug McNair). OHHA Best Of Show The Best Of Show competition sponsored, by the Ontario Harness Horse Association (OHHA), awarded $1,500 to the caretakers of horses racing on the Industry Day card. Fifteen prizes of $100 were presented to the top five in each of the following categories: Best Of Show Head-To-Toe; Horse & Groom; Above & Beyond (braids, sparkles, etc.). The winners were: Amy Cruise, Bailey Wright, Claude Grondin, Daryl Wayne, Alexis Hebert, Jennifer Defoy, Kayla Hendry, Lindsey Kerr, Mary Ferland, Natasha Day, Rachel Oenema, Richard Beaulieu, Shelley Henry, Tamara Vandewiel, and Tiffany Stein. Presentation of Canadian Driving Colours to James MacDonald Drivers' Edition - Bouncy Pony Stakes - Industry Day 2017 Kelly Spencer

ELORA, ON - Grand River Raceway's 27th annual Industry Day Horse Racing Celebration is set for this Monday afternoon with a powerful harness racing card and fun activities for all ages. The event showcases 11 races worth $460,000 in purses, featuring Grand River Raceway's biggest dash of the season, the 20th annual Battle Of Waterloo. The $200,200 race will be contested by nine Ontario-sired two-year-old pacing colts in Race 11. Burning Midnight is the early favourite in the race. The pacer left from post seven and endured a tough, first-over trip in Monday's elimination race to finish third. He drew the rail (#1) in the rich final for driver Trevor Henry and trainer Corey Giles. Both are looking for their first-ever wins in this race. Post 1 has produced a record four Battle Of Waterloo winners. Trainer David Menary has two starters in the race. Lucky Sport (#9, with driver Jody Jamieson) and Avalon Hanover (#5, with driver Bob McClure) were both winners in their respective elimination divisions. Menary is a two-time winner of this race. Jamieson has driven three Battle Of Waterloo winners. Local driver Bob McClure (of Elora) is the current dash-winning driver in Canada, and at Grand River Raceway. He's seeking his first Battle Of Waterloo title. Stock drew the outside post (#8) in the final. Sylvain Filion drove the Dany Fontaine trainee to a new career mark of 1:54.2 in Monday's second elimination division. The clocking set a new Canadian season record for freshmen pacing colts over a half-mile track. (The time was matched by Avalon Hanover in the next division). Stock is a perfect three-for-three in his budding career. The ninth annual Battle Of The Belles will be contested for $139,250 in Race 10. The stunning black filly Azure Seelster is likely to be the bettors' top pick after an impressive 1:54.3 win in her elimination race. With Sylvain Filion in the bike, she set a new Canadian season record and was just one-fifth of a second shy of the track record for two-year-old pacing fillies. Azure Seelster is trained by Jacques Dupont and will start from the rail (#1). Sudden Passing was the runner-up to Azure Seelster. Team McNair is hoping for a reverse finish on Industry Day as they chase their fourth Battle Of Waterloo victory. Trained by Gregg McNair and driven by son Doug McNair, Sudden Passing went off-stride at the start of the race but recouped quickly. She will start from post #3 on Monday afternoon. Play The Bell won the second elimination division, granting trainer Casie Coleman a shot at her first Battle Of The Belles title. She leaves from the middle of the pack (#5) in the final, but had to rally hard from the outside (#8) in her elimination race. Bob McClure will steer the filly in pursuit of his first Battle Of The Belles win. The Industry Day undercard also includes: three divisions of three-year-old pacing colts in the Grassroots series of the Ontario Sires Stakes; a Commemorative Mile to celebrate 250 years of horse racing in Canada; a memorial race for former Grand River Raceway Simulcast Manager Yvon Giguere. As always, Industry Day offers many other delights: All-Access Kids' Pass is available onsite for $5 and includes face painting, balloon artists, bouncy castles, pony rides and a petting zoo (1:00 - 4:30). Enter to win one of 12 prizes valued at more than $3,000 including a $250 wager for the Battle Of Waterloo, designer purses and watches and a Kid Trax Dodge Viper. Enter to win a $500 credit towards the purchase of a share of a racehorse with TheStable.ca, compliments of HPIbet. Free flip-flops compliments of Ontario Racing. Pick The Winner contest for the Battle Of Waterloo, presented by Standardbred Canada. The winner receives a $50 I Love Canadian Harness Racing prize pack. Meet 'N Greet with Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society ambassador Ruff Me Up (1:00 - 3:00). Half-Time Show (after Race #5) featuring prize tosses and the 13th annual Drivers' Edition of the Bouncy Pony Stakes. Good Luck banner for guests to sign, wishing driver James MacDonald best wishes as he represents Canada in the upcoming World Driving Championship. Standardbred Canada will present MacDonald with the banner following Race #8. Best Of Show competition presented by the Ontario Harness Horse Association. Fifteen cash prizes totaling $1,500 are awarded to the caretakers of horses racing on Industry Day. Greg Blanchard from The Raceway at The Western Fair District and Mark McKelvie from the Woodbine Entertainment Group return to provide commentary for the broadcast which kicks off at 1:00 p.m. Complete event details Industry Day Race Program Live streaming video (starts at 1:00 p.m. EST on Aug. 7) The event hashtag is #industryday27 Kelly Spencer

ELORA, ON - Mustard spread-it-on-thick for a massive crowd during his winning effort at Grand River Raceway's third annual Ren's Pets Depot Wiener Dog Races on July 7. Three elimination divisions featuring 30 wiener dogs were featured in the crowd-pleasing event. The top three finishers from each heat advanced to the final. Owned by Kristi Gardner of Kitchener, Mustard the three-year-old Dachshund was third in the second elimination division, but dominated the final field of nine. The 2016 champ, Tank, was second, followed by Tank-A-Roo-Boo. Mustard received more than $400 in prizes, including a hand-carved trophy, $100 gift card from Ren's Pets Depot, and a deluxe gift bag from OLG Slots At Grand River Raceway. The evening also offered 10 horse races and a Small Dog Costume Contest. Eight adorable pooches sported fabulous ensembles. The top three were determined by popular vote. Alley, a five-year-old Dachshund owned by Amy and Billy Davis was the victor, sporting a harness racing ensemble, complete with bridle, head number, harness, racebike and driver. Bain was the runner-up as Batman and Penny the hotdog rounded out the top three. The event is title-sponsored by Ren's Pets Depot, and is also supported by Big Country Raw, the OLG Slots at Grand River Raceway and Legendary Canine.   • Photos from the event. • Video: Ren’s Pets Depot Wiener Dog Races – Elimination Heats 1, 2, 3 and Final • Video: Small Dog Costume Contest – Won by Alley dressed as a Standardbred Racehorse • Bios and photos of the 30 race competitors are available on the Grand River Raceway website. Kelly Spencer

ELORA, ON - Thirty of the toughest wiener dogs in the province will shoot the cute-factor high through the summer sky this Friday night at Grand River Raceway. The third annual Ren's Pets Depot Wiener Dog Races at Grand River Raceway is set for Friday, July 7. The event is title-sponsored by Ren's Pets Depot, and is also supported by Legendary Canine, Big Country Raw and the OLG Slots at Grand River Raceway. Defending race champion, Tank, is reportedly bullish about his chances for a repeat win. Owned by harness racing driver James MacDonald and his wife Jenna, of Guelph, Tank was a winner by open lengths in last year's nine-dog Race Final. Jenna and her mother, Lynn MacDonell, raced the then two-year-old, 14-pound champ. The couple confirmed the feisty canine was "drunk on victory" for weeks after the race. While his formal training resumed only recently, he has spent the winter chasing 1,000 pound Standardbred racehorses in pursuit of the speed and mental stamina required to clinch back-to-back titles. Having been involved in horse racing all their lives, the MacDonalds say they've tried to temper Tank's confidence with a healthy mindset. "He's so hyped right now, I'm not sure he can even fathom defeat," said James. "Jenna and I have been trying to teach him about balancing his accomplishments with realistic expectations." Tank will face four other three-year-olds and five two-year-olds in the middle qualifying heat. In all, the 30 Dachshunds range in age from eight months to 12 years, and from seven to 24 pounds in weight. And, Tank isn't the only menacing name among the bunch: The Mighty Zeus, Froggy, Tank-A-Roo-Boo, Beans, Pedro Gonzales, Pippin, Hershey Kisses and Mustard are just a handful of the monikers that will have the humans-behind-the-wieners quaking in their boots. The evening offers spectators four dog races and 10 horse races. A costume contest for small dogs has been added to the bill. Contenders will strut the red carpet following horse race #3 (approx. 7:15 p.m.). The winner will be determined by popular vote - a combination of online voting through the track's Facebook page and an on-track ballot in the race program. The horse races begin at 6:30 p.m. The three qualifying heats of wiener dog races will be contested consecutively starting after horse race #5 (approximately 8:00 p.m.) The top three finishers from each dash will advance to the race final, after horse race #7 (approximately 8:45 p.m.) All races are 20 meters in length. Trophy presentations to the top three finishers will take place after horse race #8 (approximately 9:00 p.m.). Admission and parking are always free. Although the Captain's Quarters Dining Room is sold-out, there are two other restaurants and outdoor BBQs available. See the Grand River Raceway website for complete bios and photos of the 30 competitors. Kelly Spencer

ELORA, ON - After more than 30 years of tireless work in the Ontario harness racing industry, Dr. Ted Clarke is retiring from his post as the General Manager of Grand River Raceway in Elora, ON. Clarke will continue in his role until the end of September 2017. The Grand River Agricultural Society (owner/operator of Grand River Raceway) will hire a new Director Of Operations and the search will begin within the next month. Recognized by his peers as an innovator in the horse racing industry and highly regarded for his thoughtful insights, Clarke's strong and steady leadership established Grand River Raceway in 2003 and its reputation as an award-winning racing and entertainment destination. Before Grand River Raceway, the retired veterinarian led numerous initiatives to put the track's predecessor, Elmira Raceway, on the path to stability, including the inauguration of its Industry Day Celebration, the Battle of Waterloo (a race for Ontario-sired horses), and the establishment of the Ontario Teletheatre Network. In 2014, Clarke was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall Of Fame in the Builder's Category. "We are in a time of significant change that will demand commitment and the flexibility to develop new solutions to the challenges that come with change," Clarke explained. "I will be 70 in July and to be frank, it's time for someone more prepared to make the necessary commitment to lead the Grand River Agricultural Society and the Grand River Raceway into the future. "I have been blessed with the loyalty and support of an outstanding group of co-workers at the racetrack - some since the days of Elmira Raceway. The Board of the Grand River Agricultural Society has supported me through good times and bad, and I must say a special thanks to those present and former board members who carried the load of moving the Raceway from Elmira to Elora. "To the horsemen and horsewomen who have supported Grand River with entries, ideas, participation in our promotional events, been goodwill ambassadors, and provided much needed constructive criticism, I say a heartfelt thanks. "I must acknowledge the significant role of the regulators who supported the change to common pool wagering on simulcast signals, a teletheatre network, and mixing of live racing with a simulcast signal, all of which kept racing alive in Elmira in the 1990s. "Finally, I am most grateful for the continuing support of our customers, and for their advice," said Clarke. Under Clarke's direction, Grand River Raceway has won several awards, including last year's prestigious Business Excellence Award for Hospitality & Tourism from the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber Of Commerce. "Ted has been at the helm of the success of our operations, both past and present, for nearly three decades," said Paul Walker, President of the Grand River Agricultural Society. "Through thick and thin, he has remained committed to our organization and the Ontario horse racing industry as a whole. He's a visionary and a thoughtful advocate, and we have all benefited from his fierce loyalty," said Walker. "Ted's contributions to our business and the greater community are vast and unrivalled. The impact of his efforts will continue to shape our success far into his well-deserved retirement." Kelly Spencer

ELORA, ON - Back by popular demand, one of the biggest events of the live harness racing season at Grand River Raceway features four-legged warriors of a markedly different kind. The third annual Ren's Pets Depot Wiener Dog Races at Grand River Raceway is set for Friday, July 7. Dachshund registration opened June 7, and is limited to 30 spots at $50 per dog. Based on past years' reception, officials expect the spots to fill-up within a few days. A Wiener Costume Contest has been added to the bill, affording participation for 30 Dachshunds with less athleticism and more theatrical flair than their racy counterparts. The Wiener Costume Contest is limited to 30 spots at $50 per dog. The top three finishers will be determined by popular vote, via ballot in the race program and online poll. While parking and admission is free for the general public - with several food and beverage options onsite - Grand River Raceway has introduced an exclusive VIP Wiener Wrangler Experience for discerning wiener dog enthusiasts. Only two teams of four are available for the VIP Wiener Wrangler Experience. For $100/person, Wiener Wranglers have exclusive on-track access to watch and participate in the Wiener Dog Races. Wiener Wranglers are responsible for encouraging and catching stray wieners. They also receive a Wiener Wrangler t-shirt and VIP window seating and buffet dinner in the (sold-out) Captain's Quarters Dining Room. VIP Wiener Wranglers are recognized with a horse race named in their honour and recognition on the TV broadcast. The event is supported by title sponsor Ren's Pets Depot, the OLG Slots at Grand River Raceway and Legendary Canine. In all, the evening offers spectators four dog races, a Wiener Costume Contest and 10 horse races. The horse races begin at 6:30 p.m. on July 7. The Wiener Costume Contest will be showcased after horse race #3 (7:15 p.m.). The three qualifying heats of wiener dog races will be contested consecutively starting at 8:00 p.m. The top three finishers from each dash will advance to the race final at 8:45 p.m. All races are 20 meters in length. All participating dogs will receive a swag bag compliments of the event sponsors. All winners of the qualifying race heats receive a small gift. The runner-up and third-place finisher in the costume contest and race final receive a $50 gift. The champion of the costume contest and race final wins a trophy and more than $300 in prizes. All dogs will be profiled in the evening's race program and on the TV broadcast. See the Grand River Raceway website for complete event details, rules and online dog registration. Kelly Spencer

ELORA, ON - Grand River Raceway and the Board of Directors of the Grand River Agricultural Society (GRAS) have released details and applications for the bursary / scholarship program for local students pursuing agriculture-related studies. College and university credited programs are eligible for up to a twenty-five hundred ($2,500) dollar award. The program is designed to provide financial assistance for students residing in Wellington and Perth Counties, and the Region of Waterloo, who are entering, or currently enrolled in, college or university agriculture-related programs. Since its inception in 2006, the GRAS program has awarded $105,500 to 74 students. • The Application Form (PDF) is available at http://grandriverraceway.com/grasprograms/ All applications must be received no later than July 15, 2017. Successful applicants will be determined by August 15, 2017. Recipients will be recognized during a special ceremony at Grand River Raceway on a race night in September. Please contact Dr. Ted Clarke at (519) 846-5455 ext. 399 Kelly Spencer

ELORA, ON - Grand River Raceway hosted its eighth annual Local Biz Night on June 5. The popular harness racing event saw more than 60 people from 16 local businesses matched with a horse in race seven. Motion Electrical Contracting Ltd. was paired with the eventual winner Arrived Late. The Fergus, ON company received a trophy to display in their workplace, plus and a staff party for 20 at Grand River Raceway. Bob McClure piloted the post time favourite to a one-and-a-half length victory in 1:57.1. It was the pacer's 17th career win and fifth this year. Craig Gilmour trains Arrived Late for owners Brett Wright of Hamilton and Connor Wright of Dundas. Local Biz Night is a joint-effort between the raceway, the OLG Slots at Grand River Raceway and the Centre Wellington Chamber Of Commerce. Click here for photos from the event. Racing continues at Grand River Raceway on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights at 6:30 p.m. Kelly Spencer

ELORA, ON - Grand River Raceway kicked off its 2017 harness racing season on June 2 with a splash of glitz and glamour. The track played host to harness racing's second-ever Drag (Queen) Race to celebrate tri-Pride Weekend in Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge. (The first race was staged at Grand River Raceway in 2011.) Pro drivers Scott Young, Bob McClure, Travis Henry and Alfie Carroll shared double-seated jog carts with past winners of the Miss Tri-Pride Pageant: Nadia Diamond, Victoria Parks, Jasmine Flowers and Avan Hart. Avan Hart and Alfie Carroll were the winning pair of the half-mile dash aboard 8-year-old trotter Callie Magoo, owned and trained by John Braid. Grand River Raceway extends its sincere appreciation to the tri-Pride organizing committee, the Drag Race drivers, horse owners Jackie Panko, John Braid and Rebecca Titus, the OLG Slots at Grand River Raceway, Hands On Horses Program, post parade leader Debi O'Brien Moran and all supporting businesses who donated items to the Penny Auction. The event raised $750 for tri-Pride. Harness racing continues Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights at 6:35 p.m. at Grand River Raceway. Kelly Spencer

ELORA, ON - Grand River Raceway hosted its ninth annual harness racing backstretch Open House on May 28. Attendance topped last year's record. More than 500 people of all ages came for a rare glimpse of horse racing behind-the-scenes. A full tour of the Open House stations included: a tour of the judges' stand and announcer's booth; a tour of the paddock, testing areas, starting car and track maintenance vehicles; a blacksmith station which included free horseshoes for kids compliments of System Fencing, Stalls & Equipment; a booth hosted by the Canadian Horse Racing Hall Of Fame; kids' crafts and facepainting, and local reinsman Bob McClure hosted a station explaining the role of a racehorse driver. The most popular activity of the day was the unique opportunity to drive a racehorse with the Hands On Horses Program and the Ontario Harness Horse Association. Grand River Raceway extends its gratitude to the following horsepeople and other volunteers who graciously committed their time and horses to help with this event: the Hands On Horses Program (Stacey Reinsma and Brian Tropea of the Ontario Harness Horse Association), Tanya Martin, AJ Moore, Linda Rainey, Bob McClure, Emilia Hautakorpia, Ben Hollingsworth, Jackie Panko, Keith Klages, Stacey Currie, Lynn Gibbings, Esa Myllymaki, Paula McGuire, John Braid, Chris Polifroni, Jane Belore, Debi O’Brien Moran, Kyle Bossence, and George Ketros. • Photos from the event. Grand River Raceway’s 2017 live racing season kicks off on June 2 at 6:30. Kelly Spencer

ELORA, ON - The Grand River Agricultural Society (GRAS) presented the first of three donation commitments to Groves Memorial Community Hospital Foundation. The GRAS is the owner/operator of Grand River Raceway, where the cheque presentation was made on May 16. The organization has committed a total of $250,000 to be paid over three years. The funds will benefit the new hospital which will replace the existing Groves Memorial Community Hospital in Fergus. The new facility is expected to open in 2019. It will be located in Aboyne (between Elora and Fergus). "We are very thankful for the Grand River Agricultural Society's support of this critical initiative," said Lori Arsenault, Executive Director of Groves Memorial Community Hospital Foundation. The GRAS donation will be used to fund the New Groves Hospital Healing Gardens. The GRAS donation brings the fundraising total to $14.4 million, which represents 72 percent of the Foundation's commitment to the Ministry of Health to raise $20 million. "Every day, people at Groves Memorial Community Hospital make a difference. They are part of pivotal moments in the life of each family - all of our families - and they happen at Groves every day," Arsenault explained. "Groves is a unique hospital because of the values it embraces. Our personalized patient care is one to which larger hospitals can only aspire." The GRAS is a not-for-profit corporation, incorporated under the Agricultural and Horticultural Societies Act of Ontario and governed by a volunteer board of directors reporting to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). The GRAS mandate is to encourage awareness of agriculture and to promote improvements in the quality of life of persons living in an agricultural community. Kelly Spencer

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