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Fort Erie revved up for first Quarter Horse races on Saturday


October 1, 2010     E-mail this page to a friend!

A total of 54 Quarter Horses will go to post in eight races on Saturday, October 2, in the first Quarter Horse races ever to be held at Fort Erie racetrack in Fort Erie, Ontario. First post is at 1:30 for a card that includes two stakes races worth $35,000 each.

Q-Racing Ace Martha Claussen from AQHA will be on hand to promote and educate the public about American Quarter Horse racing.

Most of the entrants have made the two-hour trip down the QEW from Ajax Down in Ajax, Ontario, east of Toronto, but more familiar tracks, such as Prairie Meadows, Canterbury Park, Hoosier Park, and Hialeah, dot the Form.

Quarter Horses are on the schedule four more times before Fort Erie Racetrack closes for the winter: October 9 and 16 are exclusively for Quarter Horses, while T’breds and Quarters take to the track in true mixed-meet action on October 23 and 24.

In all, 38 races are scheduled, including eight stakes races:

• Peace Bridge Stakes, $35K, 870 yards, 3YO & up (10/3)
• Fort Erie Bank of America Supplemental Challenge Stakes, $35K, 250 yards, 3YO & up (10/3)
• Lady of the Lake Stakes, $35K, 350 yards, 3YO & up f & m (10/9)
• Fort Erie Derby, $50K, 440 yards, 3YO (10/16)
• Fort Erie Futurity, $50K, 400 yards, 2YO (10/23)
• Fort Erie Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred Challenge, $50K, 440 yards, 3YO & up (10/23)
• Fort Erie Maturity, $50K, 400 yards, 4YO & up (10/24)
• Fort Erie Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred Distance Challenge, $50K, 870 yards, 3YO & up (10/24)

The meet’s 30 non-stakes races offer a mix of maiden, allowance, speed index and claiming opportunities with an average purse of $12,300. Over 60% these races are carded at distances of 400 yards or greater, including seven 870-yard events, two of which offer a purse of $20,000.

In writing the conditions, Racing Secretary Eric Johnston was challenged with striking the correct balance of opportunities to appeal to both local horsemen and out-of-province competitors during a period of seasonal transition, while aiming to captivate an audience of racing fans at Fort Erie new to live Quarter Horse racing.

“Members of the Quarter Racing Owners of Ontario Incorporated (QROOI) were very helpful in suggesting the types of conditions that would attract local horsemen to the meet in October,” said Johnston. “We intend to attract a significant group of competitors from south of the border, and we also wanted to engage the high quality Thoroughbred horsemen who call Fort Erie home. I think we’ve come up with a condition book that offers something for everyone and purses that will make the trip worthwhile.”

“The condition book was created through consultation and a good deal of careful consideration,” said Rick Cowan, Chief Operating Officer at Fort Erie racetrack. “In the end, no amount of analysis can predict how many competitors from which regions will want to give our new venture a try. We will be looking for feedback from participants and fans so that we can tailor the meet for maximum appeal as the pilot project unfolds over the next two years.”

In addition to purses offered, horses enrolled in the Ontario Quarter Horse Racing Industry Development Program will be eligible to receive the Ontario Bred Purse Bonus, Ontario Sired Purse Bonus, Breeders Awards, Stallion Awards and Breeder/Stallion Stakes Awards where race conditions meet Program eligibility requirements.

The three-year Quarter Horse Racing Pilot Project at Fort Erie racetrack is an element of the Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium’s plan to rejuvenate live horse racing at the historic border oval. The pilot project will also serve to test the expansion of the Ontario Racing Commission’s Quarter Horse Racing Industry Development Program, which currently includes racing at the sole venue of Ajax Downs.