Chuck Keeling, vice-president of racing operations for Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (GCGC) and Jim Vinnell, president of the B.C. Standardbred Association, confirmed March 6 in a joint announcement a four-year agreement that will result in 107 racing days at Fraser Downs Racetrack & Casino on a September through June schedule.
In racing terms, it was perhaps fitting that negotiations “came down to the wire” after year-long discussions between the two parties concerned about the growth of the Standardbred industry in British Columbia.
“Longevity was the main concern of our horsemen,” Vinnell said. “This agreement stabilizes things in the sense an owner now knows when he buys a horse to race at Fraser Downs there’s a four-year plan in place to cover his investment. I can tell you, there is plenty of excitement among our people in the backstretch.”
Keeling said, “We’re very pleased that both parties were able to find common ground through compromise to make this deal happen. It provides the horsemen with the support they were looking for and will create exciting new promotional opportunities for open stakes racing at Fraser Downs, which is something we have not had before.”
David Aldred, executive director of the B.C. Standardbred Association and B.C. Standardbred Breeders Society, added, “For the first time a major commitment has been made towards the scheduling of open stakes at Fraser Downs.
“Our aim is to develop some signature stakes for the local season with a view to have a major stakes program in British Columbia during the 2010 Olympics’ year.
“We’ve now given the horsemen the platform that’s been needed. With an extension of the live racing season, this agreement gives us all a sense of certainty.”