05/29/2009 12:00AM

Turf races and juveniles brighten meet


FORT ERIE, Ontario - The 2009 racing season at this border oval is about to spread its wings as turf racing is now on the schedule together with the eagerly awaited addition of 2-year-olds.

Tom Gostlin, Fort Erie's racing secretary, said he will card turf races at four levels, beginning Sunday. They are maiden special weight, $7,500 claiming, $7,500 non-winners of three, and starter allowances for $5,000 or $10,000 claimers.

Gostlin noted that the course surface restricts him to one turf race per day.

There are a number of 2-year-olds among the 700 horses on the grounds here, said Gostlin, and that number is expected to increase.

U.S. dollars no longer taken

In past years American tourists have been able to wager in U.S. dollars at Fort Erie, but not this year. Track management announced at the beginning of the season that wagering will be in Canadian dollars only. An exchange window is available at the track for anyone wishing to change over their currency.

The effect of this action is still to be determined, but it has understandably bothered some of the American patrons of the Fort who over the years have preferred to wager with their own currency. U.S. bettors can, of course, be reimbursed on a return exchange back to U.S. currency.

Monday brings a change in documents required for entry back to the United States from Canda. United States residents attending Fort Erie racing must have a passport or alternate approved security documentation. The track, as well as many tourist attractions on the northern side of the border, is concerned over the effects of this new policy and will be monitoring the impact.

* Fort Erie says it will move the first race from 1:10 p.m. to 1:45 p.m., commencing sometime in June. The last couple of races on the card usually draw additional simulcast tote action in the late afternoon as other tracks end their cards.

* Rui Pimentel continues to lead the jockey standings with 17 wins entering the Sunday card, five more than apprentice Melanie Pinto. In the trainer category, John Simms and Daryl Ezra are on top, both with seven wins.