Efforts mounting to save Ontario slots

Trainer Henry Cecil poses for a photograph of Frankel earlier this summer. The horse blew away the...

Trainer Henry Cecil poses for a photograph of Frankel earlier this summer. The horse blew away the field by a seven-length score at the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes at York, England, on Wednesday. (Reuters)

RICHARD MAUNTAH, QMI AGency

, Last Updated: 11:34 PM ET

TORONTO - Ontario’s horsemen are starting to gain ground in the race to save Ontario’s Slots at Racetracks program.

A recent Abacus Data poll indicated that people are not only aware of the importance of the sport to the economic well being of the province but don’t buy the rhetoric from the Liberal government that the successful program was somehow a ‘subsidy’.

On top of that, the recent release of a provincial study that grossly underestimated the potential job loss as a result of the end of the program has drawn outrage from MPP’s on both sides of the legislature floor. Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal has submitted a proposal to an OMAFRA panel reviewing the racing industry’s transition from the slots program. And Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod will be calling on the Auditor General to get involved and has invited folks to Queen’s Park on Aug. 30 when she takes that initiative.

And then there are those two by-elections in Kitchener-Waterloo and Vaughan on Sept. 6 where the folks there can offer their opinion on the province’s decision to end the successful program (not to mention the other issues identified by the Sun’s Queen’s Park bureau earlier in the week).

SIMPLY THE BEST

There is very little more Frankel can do to not only prove he is the world’s best horse currently but one of the best ever. He toyed with a field that included Breeders’ Cup Turf winner St. Nicholas Abbey in his seven-length score in the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes at York, England, on Wednesday. It was so dominant that two-furlongs out, jockey Tom Queally still had a hold on him as he was cruising to the lead two furlongs out while the remainder of the field was already being hard-ridden.

The win, his first at a distance over a mile, has got his connections considering a run in the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe on Oct. 7, a mile-and-a-half race.

LEGEND DIES

Yankee Paco, who in 2000 became the first Canadian-sired horse to win the Hambletonian, was euthanized Tuesday at the age of 15.

“It’s just a sad day,” driver Trevor Ritchie, who shared that triumph said. “Whenever you have a horse that goes behind the gate and gives you 100 per cent every time the way he did, it is a sad day when you have to see them go.”

HANSEN, BODEMEISTER out

The top early-season three-year-olds continue to fall by the wayside. In Hansen’s case it was a partial tear of the tendon in his left foreleg. In Bodemeister’s case it was an injury to his left shoulder that has the Kentucky Derby and Preakness runner up being sent to the breeding shed.

IN TOWN

Mohawk has a great Saturday card featuring an Ontario Sires Stakes gold event to kick the card off, three eliminations for the $1-million Metro Pace, two eliminations for the Shes A Great Lady, and a single elimination for Canadian Pacing Derby. All three finals will take place Sept. 1. Woodbine’s turf is in full use this weekend as 12 fillies and mares will tackle Saturday’s Ontario Colleen Stakes at a mile Saturday and the Grade 2 Play The King Stakes, usually a local prep for the Woodbine Mile, takes place on Sunday with 11 horses entered.

OUT OF TOWN

A field of 11 has been entered in the $1-million Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Jim Dandy Stakes winner Alpha is the 5-2 morning-line choice. Also on the card is the Grade 1 Test Stakes for three-year-old fillies, the Grade 1 King’s Bishop at seven furlongs, and the Grade 2 Balliston Spa on the turf. The $200,000 Canadian Derby goes off at Northlands Park in Edmonton.

A strong field of 10 will go in Sunday’s Pacific Classic at Del Mar including Game On Dude, who was installed as the 5-2 favourite out of post nine, and 2009 and 2010 Classic winner Richard’s Kid. Two other Grade 2 stakes are featured on the card. Saratoga features the $600,000 Personal Ensign on Sunday.

Also on Sunday, the Frank Ryan Memorial goes off at Rideau Carleton Raceway and Jody Jamieson tries to defend his title in the Drivers Championship at Vernon Downs.

 


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