Open Letter from

The following is an Open Letter from concerning Flamboro Downs’ recent announcement re: age restrictions

Many life changing decisions have been made for all of us since the end of the Slots At Racetracks Program in Ontario. Depending on your position in racing, these decisions could be seen as negative, or positive. I want to believe these were at least meant for the betterment of racing. I suppose this makes me an optimist. Or naive.

We know that in order for us to succeed together in the future, we need to attract new clients, expand our borders, and branch out to the general public in a campaign to show everyday people the unmatched affordable entertainment found within our industry.

As we increase participation in the Ontario harness racing industry, we begin to see that growth represented in our overall wagering handle. This will not happen overnight, and the stance of on this is simple: by bolstering participation through affordable ownership, we grow on-track attendance and on-track revenue.

As far as wagering is concerned, look at the money wagered on horses racing under our banner, and it isn’t hard to see that this formula is a very workable model. One fractional ownership stable alone cannot change racing, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Many of our 700 clients and the majority of those who are new to the racing industry want to experience racing in-person, on-track. They attend the track when their horse(s) race.

Many of them include their families in the racing experience and this is good for racing across the board. It fits perfectly with the engagement model of and it accomplishes what the harness racing industry purports is important for sustainability:

Industry research studies deliver the same message time and time again: early exposure to harness racing and Standardbred horse racing is critical in cultivating new generations of horse racing fans and participants.

You can only imagine my surprise when I read the press release last week about Flamboro’s new on-site “age restrictions”.

I must say, I couldn’t have been more disappointed. How are we to reach the next generations if they aren’t welcome at the racetrack? This is straight out of the ‘70s and does not meet any reasonable standards in racing in 2019.

The idea that your children are welcome on the tarmac, but not indoors is absurd. The bathroom is on the opposite side of the facility and your children must walk around the grandstand, past the smoking areas to access any restroom.

Whom in racing is watching out for our future? Our needs? Our brand? Our legacy?

We can’t possibly expect a gaming company to worry about horse racing, so who ensures they do?

I have spoken with Flamboro Downs management and I hope they reconsider their decision.

We are in business together and I hope our best interests, at some point, intertwine and we can begin to actually operate as partners rather than forced bunkmates.

Until then, we need to make our position heard clearly and ensure it is completely understood.

Horse racing needs to be enabled to attract a wide swath of mainstream society. The ability for families to come out to the track is vital moving forward.

One could see this decision by Flamboro as a simple oversight and one that could be corrected quite easily.

Or, it could be a quiet statement of defiance signaling the lack of any interest in supporting racing’s future at their facility.

Let’s hope Flamboro decides that the original statement was a bit premature and short-sighted, and they are indeed truly committed to racing.

To be abundantly clear, the decision to close the grandstand building to all children under the age of 19 runs contrary to the current and future best interests of harness racing. And it certainly does not reflect the philosophy of It undermines our efforts and the harness racing experience we provide for our clients.

We operate the fastest-growing fractional ownership stable in North America and the largest harness racing stable in Canada.

In 2020, we will have nearly 200 horses owned by more than 800 people. We cannot and will not support last week’s announcement by Flamboro Downs in what we categorize as a sharp deviation from any positive horse racing partnership.

We will not support racing in this form and NONE of our horses will race at Flamboro Downs if this decision about age restrictions at their facility is not revisited and rectified.

We welcome all horsepeople to do the same.

We cannot wait for the cavalry. If history is any indicator, they are not coming.

This is an issue that Flamboro Downs and our racing stakeholders should be able to resolve together. A day will come when we work together to provide a better experience for all our clients. I want to believe that a resolution can be found and we can continue to build a better industry for all of us.

Anthony MacDonald
President, Co-Founder