News Local

Woodbine deal to be offered to Kawartha Downs racetrack

By Reg Watson, Peterborough Examiner

Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal, minister of rural affairs

Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal, minister of rural affairs


Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal says the framework of the deal agreed to by Woodbine Entertainment to keep horse racing alive at two of Ontario’s largest tracks will be presented to Kawartha Downs raceway.

Leal told The Examiner on Wednesday night that he’s hopeful the offer will be accepted and will keep horse racing going at Kawartha Downs in Fraserville.

The deal with the Woodbine thoroughbred and harness racing track in Toronto and the Mohawk harness racing track in Campbellville, between Toronto and Guelph, will run from April 3 to March 31, 2016, Leal said.

Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, QMI Agency reports.

The deal is the result of a three-member panel that included Havelock farmer and former Ontario cabinet minister Elmer Buchanan that came up with recommendations to keep horse racing alive after the McGuinty government announced in 2011 that the Slots at Racetracks program, which subsidized tracks with $345 million a year in slots revenue, would come to an end March 31.

“Now we’re following through on those recommendations,” Leal said.

Kawartha Downs has not committed to continuing horse racing beyond March 31 and has already scrapped its 2013 motor racing schedule except for a fall NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race.

Leal told The Examiner he expects to get a decision from Kawartha Downs by mid-to-late February so that a 2013 horse-racing season schedule could potentially be put in place.

The same framework for the Woodbine deal will be presented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to all other horse racing tracks in Ontario, Leal said.

Meanwhile, Leal said he also expects Kawartha Downs to sign by Jan. 31 the tentative lease deal that was reached last month between Ontario Lottery and Gaming and Kawartha Downs to keep the slots going at Kawartha Downs past March 31, at least temporarily.

The future of gambling in the area remains unclear because the province has sought one private operator to run gambling operations in a cluster including Peterborough city and county and several other locations in eastern Ontario.

The city had earlier approached the province to have a casino hosted in the city.

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