05/23/2012 11:49AM

Marquis Downs: Government cutback would be a serious blow


There’s a cloud hanging over Saskatchewan racing as the 2012 Thoroughbred meet opens at Marquis Downs on Friday.

The provincial government has proposed the removal of a 10 percent pari-mutuel tax rebate, which has been used for purses and would cost the Thoroughbred and Standardbred coffers some $600,000.

But both Mark Regier, chief executive officer of Marquis Downs operator Prairieland Park, and Rick Fior, manager of racing for the Saskatoon oval, believe that the situation will be readdressed by the government and the storm will be weathered.

“We’re confident that there will be racing here in 2013,” said Fior.

And it’s definitely going to be business as usual when Marquis Downs opens on Friday with a total of 68 horses entered in the eight races, with seven set for four furlongs and the other for six furlongs.

Total purses for the 30-card meeting will be $990,000.

Fior said that there will be approximately 300 horses on the grounds by opening day, with that number expected to peak at 425 to 450 by mid-summer.

Keishan Balgobin and Keno Chandler will join the local riding colony this year. Balgobin and Chandler are both from Trinidad and bring the number of jockeys from that country to eight.

Five of the track’s riders are from Jamaica with Sheldon Chickeness the lone Canadian in the room.

Racing will be conducted on Friday and Saturday evenings, with the exception of Aug. 10 and Aug. 11, and the meet will conclude on Sept. 8. First post is 7:05 p.m. Central Standard.

Marquis Downs does not export its signal but a live on-line video feed is available at the tracks website and wagering will be available through Woodbine’s HorsePlayer Interactive.