CENTRE WELLINGTON – Horse racing will resume at the Grand River Raceway but spectators will be watching online from home.
Races will begin June 5.
Jamie Martin, director of operations at the Elora track, said the racing community is pleased to be able to get back to the track despite some unique circumstances.
“It will be a lot different because we won’t have spectators here,” Martin said. “There will be a lot more procedures in place in the paddock area, it will be limited to essential staff and individuals just with the horses.”
Martin said the important thing is getting the horse racing economy going with prize money. Even without in-person betting, he said he doesn’t foresee changes in prize money over the summer because most betting takes place off-site.
“We can still economically make sense of it because there’s quite a bit of wagering activity that happens online,” Martin said. “Betting helps fund the purses but there’s also government support programs that fund purses as well.”
Martin explained that there is precedence as an industry for spectator-free horse racing. For about a week in March, Woodbine Mohawk Park in Campbellville held races without anybody in the stands.
“We kind of know what we need to do and the horsemen know what they need to do and how to keep safe,” Martin said.
Martin said he wishes he could say when spectators can come but doesn’t have the answer. Even the horse owners have to watch online at this point.
“We’re grateful for this opportunity to at least start on the basis to get racing again on a behind closed doors basis,” Martin said. “This is a good first step and if we can do this properly and i know we can, hopefully down the road later this summer we’ll be able to have some spectators.”All of the races scheduled for the up and coming season will be broadcast live and can be found on the Grand River Raceway website, Facebook, and YouTube channel. The organization has invested in additional equipment so viewers can watch in both standard and high-definition.