Harness racing set to 'wither up and die' in N.B.

Horse Racing New Brunswick says it can't find enough horses to participate in races and that caused the recent cancellation of the last harness race of the year.

Lack of government support, P.E.I. racinos pulling participants away, says industry head

Horse Racing New Brunswick says it can't find enough horses to participate in races and that caused the recent cancellation of the last harness race of the year.              

The David Alward government is not supportive of racinos, unlike neighbouring provinces, said Mitchell Downey, president of Horse Racing New Brunswick and chair of Standardbred Canada.

"My contacts in Nova Scotia feel very strongly that the new Liberal government there has a good understanding of the industry and they feel they can probably work something out with them in terms of a partnership to move the industry forward in Nova Scotia," said Downey, who is also a veterinarian for large animals.

"So we're going to be left behind and what's going to happen is that all of the exporting of our product, be it drivers, trainers, grooms, horses, is just going to wither up and die."

Owners of New Brunswick racehorses are choosing to compete in P.E.I. where successful racinos are becoming more popular, said Downey.

"Many of our participants have either left our region permanently or have left to compete there for the summer with their stake horses. So those are horses that are raised all across the Maritimes in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, and those horses are going to compete for race money in P.E.I."

Video lottery terminals and slot machines are available at both the Summerside and Charlottetown racetracks.              

New Brunswick doesn't have any racinos.

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