09/27/2007 11:00PM

Slot money under discussion

EmailFORT ERIE, Ontario - A town hall meeting earlier this month to discuss the future of the Fort Erie racetrack has been followed up with discussions involving all concerned parties.

A recent meeting was attended by Ontario Lottery Commission representative Michelle DiEmanuele, track owner Nordic Gaming, and city officials, including Fort Erie Mayor Doug Martin. All of the participants indicated that the meeting went well, but there is still no commitment to grant the track an increase in slot revenue.

Projected revenue under the current agreement is insufficient to maintain the 2007 Fort Erie meet of 84 days. The track is seeking an increase that would ensure a 100-day race meet with a viable purse structure for the 110-year-old track.

The Ontario Racing Commission, recognizing the problems facing the border oval, has given the track additional time to request dates for the 2008 season.

Another factor that may further delay any final decision is the pending Oct. 10 provincial election. Many government officials who will need to participate in the resolution of this situation are currently under the pressure of an election schedule.

Morrow gets first win

In each of the last three weekends at the Fort, an apprentice rider has won their first career race. The latest is Richard Morrow.

In the two previous weeks, Melanie Pinto and Melanie Giddings had their first trips to the winner's circle.

Morrow won his first race here last Sunday in the second race with a stretch rally on 10-1 shot My Pal Holly, who is trained by Gord Cowie. The margin was a neck.

"I finally did it," Morrow said. "I wasn't sure, though, as he went to sleep on the turn and then he picked it up in the stretch and went on with it. It felt great."

Morrow, 28, is a native of Welland, Ontario, a stone's throw from the Fort.

Morrow got the riding bug and works on a regular basis for Woodbine-based trainer John MacKenzie. He also gallops for Paul Attard at the Toronto oval.

Following his win, Morrow appeared to dodge a hosing down as he weaved his way back toward the jockeys' room. But, it was all a set up, as two full pails of water and their handlers were in hiding by the paddock. Just as he relaxed following his dodging trip from the winner's circle, they hit him full on, completing his winning day in style.