12/08/2008 12:00AM

Deal made for consolidated Alberta season


EDMONTON, Alberta - Following prolonged negotiations, Horse Racing Alberta, Northlands Park, the Alberta Standardbred Horse Association, and the local Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association have agreed upon 2009 racing that will result in a new Thoroughbred landscape in the province.

With Stampede Park in Calgary closed and the proposed new track in Balzac delayed yet again, Northlands Park will be the only "A" track remaining and will host 96 days of Thoroughbred racing beginning May 1 and concluding Oct. 25. In 2008, Northlands held a 61-day meet from June 20 to Oct. 15.

Northlands will host Standardbred racing in January and February, and Thoroughbred training will start March 1, some six weeks later than when Stampede began the Alberta season. This past year Stampede Park hosted a 50-day spring meet that began March 21 and ran through June 15.

"We will race less days - 96 as opposed to the 111 days split between Calgary and Edmonton in 2008," said Matt Monaco, executive director of the horsemen's association. "But we have to be fiscally responsible and there will be a significant reduction in the stakes program.

"One worry is declining revenues from the southern Alberta market after the contract with the Stampede casino terminates on March 31."

The "B" circuit was awarded 76 days - 50 at Lethbridge, 25 at Grande Prairie, and the annual Canada Day card at Millarville.