There’s worry horse racing at the Leamington Raceway may on track to shutter in the years to come after organizers were presented with an uncertain long-term funding agreement.

The proposed deal from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation guarantees Leamington’s track up to $35,000 for each of the 13 race dates, and only for the next three years, according to Tom Bain, member of the Lakeshore Horse Racing Association.

Proposed agreement to cover 19 years

His problem is the new agreement would cover the next 19 years, with some uncertainty after the first three years.

“That amount is not going to work for 19 years, ([it] might be alright for the next two or three,” said Bain.

Tom Bain is a member of the Lakeshore Horse Racing Association, and also the Warden of Essex County. (Joana Draghici/CBC)

In addition to what he calls an unsustainable offer, Bain said control of the horse racing operation is in the hands of a private entity called the Woodbine Entertainment Group.

“They have a board of directors and we don’t even have representation on that board,” said Bain.

“It’ll probably spell the end of the line for us,” he said.

We haven’t really been involved in any negotiations, it’s been dictated to us.– Tom Bain, member of the Lakeshore Horse Racing Association.

The deadline to sign the agreement is Monday, but Bain said “we aren’t going to do that” because he wants further negotiations.

“We haven’t really been involved in any negotiations, it’s been dictated to us,” said Bain.

Hundreds of jobs at stake

This season’s races will start the first Sunday in August and run 13 weeks.

Bain said the demise of the horse racing industry would affect about 2,000 people both directly and indirectly. They include the horsemen, blacksmiths, groomers, veterinarians and the farmers who producer the horse’s feed.


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