06/11/2009 11:00PM

Coalition to keep track open gets more time


FORT ERIE, Ontario - A coalition of organizations with an option to purchase Fort Erie Race Track and current owners Nordic Gaming have waived a June 11 deadline, allowing both parties to continue to explore ways to keep the racetrack up and running.

The Fort Erie consortium, made up of the town of Fort Erie, the Economic Development and Tourism Corp., and the Ontario Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, entered into a letter of intent with Nordic in March with a 90-day window.

"Both parties want this to be worked out as soon as possible so that a decision on the future of the track can ideally be reached before this coming September," said Jim Thibert, manager of the economic development corporation. "We are working closely and effectively with Nordic and we share the same game book.

"Cooperation is the key to getting the very best business plan we can devise, to explore all the potential for private sector partnerships and then to approach the province with a viable plan," Thibert said. "This needs to be done in a time frame fair to the horse industry. Currently we have three major groups interested, and Nordic Gaming has some interest on their own."

Sue Leslie, president of the Ontario HBPA, said she welcomes additional investors who can be partners in the effort to achieve a long-term future for Fort Erie Thoroughbred racing.

Tags and Towel lifts Burnie's spirits

Trainer Jennifer Burnie, who was involved in a life-threatening automobile accident just outside the track last year, is slowly recovering with the dedicated help of her partner, jockey Eddie Robinson.

Her comeback was further highlighted last Monday when Robinson brought Burnie's 6-year-old-mare, Tags and Towel, from well back to score at odds of 22-1.

Cent T Mint scores at 28-1

Trainer Norm Davies has had the 8-year-old Cent T Mint in his barn for every lifetime start, with the exception of five races a few years back when the Lyle Morden barn had him.

Last Tuesday, Cent T Mint won while making his first start of the year. Sitting well back, as he usually does, Cent T Mint lit the afterburners on the turn for home and proceeded to fly by them all to win, paying $58.

* Trainers Mike Newell and Daryl Ezra are tied in the trainer standings with nine wins each. Ezra, who has scored with a number of runners at long odds, is 9 for 25, a solid 36 percent win rate.