Day At The Track

130th Anniversary of Fredericton Raceway

07:51 PM 13 Sep 2017 NZST
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Fredericton Raceway 130, Harness Racing
Race one and just the first of 4 wins for driver McGwire Sowers. Winning horse Iloveroses and owner Gary Wright
In April of 2017, a group of former Executive Directors for Fredericton harness racing, along with some local businessmen, got together and started on the road to creating the dream of hosting a "Matinee" card of racing to celebrate the 130th anniversary.
 
They then requested the assistance of the Fredericton Horseman's Association, and plans began to come together for this "Matinee" day of racing to be held on Saturday, September 9th, 2017.  This date happened to fall on the Saturday of NBEX week and would be named "Fredericton Raceway 130".  It has been a tradition over the years that there were 2 or 3 race dates scheduled during exhibition week, which usually brought in the largest crowds.  The exhibition always begins on the Labour Day weekend and our first card of the week was always the Labour Day Monday.
 
This year 2017, has been a difficult year for the horsemen and women who own, train and stable our horses in the barns located on the track backstretch area.  The racetrack grounds, along with other lands located immediately adjacent to the track, are owned and operated by the New Brunswick Provincial Exhibition (NBEX) and, up until December 31st, 2016, was leased by Horse Racing New Brunswick (HRNB), the current governing body in New Brunswick. 
 
Unfortunately, without success, NBEX and HRNB worked throughout 2016 to try and reach a fair and equitable new lease agreement for 2017. 
 
Subsequently, HRNB closed its business operations, including a lounge where VLT's, off-track betting, etc., were located.  Those operations were relocated to Exhibition Park Raceway in Saint John, New Brunswick and, since they have left Fredericton, they have basically and completely turned their back to those of use here still in Fredericton. 
 
This is the first racing season in our history that the track has been dark and no cards were scheduled.  We have supported them this entire season by sending our horses to Saint John to race, without receiving the reciprocal support of HRNB or Saint John horsemen. 
 
However, regardless of our standing with HRNB, we moved forward with plans and to go it alone with turning the dream of a celebration of this 130th anniversary, into reality. 
 
Some 27 sponsors, including major sponsors such as Meridian Farms and Home Hardware were obtained and $20,000.00 raised through the tremendous support received from these great sponsors.  
 
This dream was realized this past Saturday and was much more of a success than we could ever have imagined when we started out.  Indeed, there were times when, personally, I thought that it would come to fruition at all.  Horsemen brought their horses to race at this Matinee, from all over New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Quebec as well as from the State of Maine, the magnitude of this support was overwhelming. 
 
There were some 70 horses racing in a non-betting, 11 race card.  We also, had tremendous support from horsemen in Ontario, one of which provided us with beautiful coolers for each of the 11 races. 
 
One of the races was an open trot which hadn't been seen at Fredericton Raceway for more than 20 years. 
 
There were several memorial races including the feature race, the annual Jennie & Joe Chippin Memorial Pace. 
 
The air was electric and everything was extremely positive. The day went better than we could ever have anticipated. 
 
Despite the fact that there was no parimutuel betting, there was a tremendous crowd of fans who came to support us, and the comments from both fans and horsemen alike were nothing positive and exciting.
 
Whether a horse ended up in first or seventh place, everyone received a cheque which helped with their travel costs. I could go on and on. However, should you decide that this might be worth printing a story on your site, I would direct you to one of the Co-Chairs of this project, Mr. Brent Briggs, who can be reached through the Fredericton Raceway 130 Facebook page. You can also view additional information from the Fredericton Horsemens Association Facebook page.  
 
Mark W. Taylor
Fredericton Horseman's Association
c/o 366 Aberdeen Street, Suite 3M
Fredericton,  NB   E3B 0C9
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