05/11/2012 2:56PM

Ajax Downs starting Quarter Horse meet


Ajax Downs, the Quarter Horse racetrack located some 35 miles east of Woodbine, will begin its 40-day meeting on Tuesday.

Formally known as Picov Downs, Ajax Downs began its current incarnation in 2009 and has boomed because of the presence of some 800 ontrack slot machines.

The future of that operation now is in jeopardy as the slots at Ajax, along with those at other Ontario racetracks under revenue-sharing agreements with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, are slated to be phased out by March 31, 2013.

The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association continues to work with the governing Liberal provincial government on a “transitional funding” plan that would help the racetracks cope with the loss of slots revenue.

In the meantime, Ajax Downs will a host a 40-day meeting of Sunday and Tuesday racing, with the first Tuesday card set for May 22 and the closing-day Sunday program for Sept. 25.

First post will be 12:55 p.m.

Ajax exports its card to more than 350 outlets on Tuesdays only and is open for simulcast wagering from noon to midnight every day.

A notable addition to the Ajax Downs team is Brian Jabelmann, hired this January as maintenance manager with his primary duties including the racetrack surface.

Jabelmann has served in similar capacities at Woodbine, Fort Erie, Fair Grounds, and Louisiana Downs.

The Ontario Quarter Horse Racing Industry Development program again will be sponsoring four “handicapping brunches” at Ajax Downs, with the 90-minute sessions beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays June 5, July 17, and Aug. 21, and Tuesday, Sept. 6.

The Quarter Horse program also will sponsor racehorse on-site ownership seminars on Sundays, June 19, and Sept. 19 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.