05/21/2009 11:00PM

Horsemen hear of new track plans

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According to Mat Monaco, manager of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association in Alberta, a meeting held Thursday evening at Northlands Park regarding the proposed one-mile track in Balzac, a suburb of Calgary, was emotional but orderly.

The reason horsemen are so emotional about the proposed track is that because of the delays in building it, there is no racing in southern Alberta this year. It's also possible there won't be a track running in the Calgary area in the near future.

The reason for the meeting was to hear how the plans for the track were progressing. Max Gibb made the presentation for the United Horsemen of Alberta, the group that is trying to build the track.

"Nothing definitive came out of the meeting," said Monaco. "To Max's credit, his group is very passionate about building the track. But they still have to raise money, and a lot of people aren't convinced they will be able to in the current economic environment."

Monaco also said that Horse Racing Alberta, which governs horse racing in the province, would review the group's financial plan and should decide whether to continue to support the project in 60 days.

Monaco said that Jim McFadyen, who is the president of the horseman's association and also chair of the licensing committee for Horse Racing Alberta, "said they are currently looking at the proposal to see if it's financially viable or not. Everyone wants it go through, but we need certainty in order to make plans for the future."

Building has begun on the proposed track, and at the meeting Gibb said that if everything fell into place they could be running by as early as 2010.