Alberta Horse Racing Celebrates Upswing

By Ben Hamill - November 18 2020
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Alberta Horse Racing Celebrates Upswing

Horse racing in Alberta has witnessed record figures in terms of revenue generated by Thoroughbred live racing events over recent weeks – with Edmonton’s Century Mile Racetrack and Casino alone reporting spend totalling a staggering average of CA$800,000 per day. This despite the dire situation that has prevailed for the bigger part of the year – and certainly continues to wreak havoc across many Canadian and global sectors of business.

The figures reported by Century Mile Racetrack are regarded very welcome news indeed. Since the track saw its official opening during spring 2019, it could arguably not have chosen a more inopportune time to enter the local horse racing scene. With its inaugural racing season resulting in everything but a successful dash from the gates, the situation turned even more somber when early this year, venues all over the country were declared temporarily shuttered for months on end.

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Canadian Derby A Super Success

Even so, June 21 saw the race track open its doors to spectators in anticipation of a fantastic total of 40 days of riveting live Thoroughbred racing. And what with the track being the only mile-long Thoroughbred racetrack located to the west of Woodbine, it soon emerged a popular stop for Albertans looking to get their share of local Thoroughbred live racing action.

A recent highlight event and massive upwards driver of revenue turned out to be none other than the Canadian Derby – with Canadians from all over Alberta having made their way to the side of the mile-and-a-quarter race run dirt. Competed on September 27, 2020, this year’s Canadian Derby victory honours went to the Shelley Brown’s Rod Cone-trained Real Grace. The Canadian Derby this year celebrated its 91st edition and is considered the biggest racing event of the year in Western Canada.

Better Days Are Coming

Notably relieved about the recent improvement in terms of revenue take is Kent Verlik, Chief Executive Officer for Horse Racing Alberta. Commenting on the recent surge, Verlik expressed his relief at a situation gone from uncertain and even desperate only a few months ago, to a total outperforming above and beyond all expectations.

The initial plan was for Century Mile Racetrack to this year host a total of 227 race days. However, given that the track was eventually made to forfeit the months of March, April, May, and most of June, this number necessarily had to be cut down to 140.

The November 15 return of harness racing will hopefully have ushered in a hiatus-free season spanning across the next couple of months and well into February.

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