10/28/2016 12:30PM

Fewer days, fewer horses result in less business at Northlands


All-sources live handle at Northlands Park was down from last year at the 2016 meet, which concluded last Saturday.

The main reason for the decline, $18.9 million this year compared to $21.4 million in 2015, was six fewer days of racing this year.

The average over the 69 days was $274,337, off by 4 percent compared to 2015, when $286,337 was bet on a daily basis.

Another factor was the decline in average starters per race, 6.82 compared to 7.20 in 2015.

Unless a deal is reached between Northlands and Horse Racing Alberta, the governing body of horse racing in the province, this will be the last year of racing at the five-furlong track, located in Edmonton.

“We are currently in negotiations with HRA to race in 2017 and 2018,” said Scott Sinclair, general manager at Northlands. “If a deal isn’t reached by Nov. 4, though, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission will start ripping out the slots here. If that happens, it would really hurt the racing industry.”

HRA recently granted Century Casinos Inc. the right to build a one-mile track in the Edmonton area. The track, which will be located near the airport, is scheduled to be operating by late summer or fall 2018. Century also owns Century Downs Racetrack and Casino, a five-furlong track just north of Calgary. So far, only harness racing has been conducted there.

Greg Tracy was the leading trainer for the third year in a row at Northlands. He won 83 races at the meet.

Rico Walcott was the dominant jockey for the sixth straight year. He won 99 races at the meet, 40 more than runner-up Dane Nelson.