12/14/2012 4:55PM

Woodbine's 2013 dates remain undecided

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Horsepeople, Woodbine staff, and all others who rely on the industry for their livelihoods will head into the off-season in limbo with no Thoroughbred dates set for next year and no date confirmed for the opening of the backstretch.

The unprecedented situation stems from the Ontario government’s decision this March to discontinue the racetrack slots program as of March 31, 2013.

A special report from a “transition panel,” which was commissioned by the province and recommended new forms of funding for the Ontario racing industry, was released in November, but no specifics have been forthcoming.

The Ontario Racing Commission announced early this month that it would begin processing dates requests for race meetings during the first quarter of 2013.

Woodbine’s Thoroughbred meeting traditionally begins in early April.

“All I can say is the industry is working with the [Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation] and the transition panel to try and come up with operating funding by April 1,” said Sue Leslie, chair of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association.