Horse racing in N.L. facing the finish line
After 50 years, horse racing in Newfoundland and Labrador appears to be coming to an end.
Keith Gowan, president of the Newfoundland Harness Horse Owners Association, said the sport is not making enough money to keep going.
"We've gone from $100,000 every year for purse pool down to less than 15 [thousand]," said Gowan. "That's just not economically viable to even a little bit support or subsidize the animals and the owners that are here at the track."
Gowan noted that an extra provincial tax on wagering and a general lack of government support has not helped the sport.
"We are one of the only jurisdictions, if not the only jurisdiction in Canada that doesn't get any government funding," said Gowan. "We're not supported in any way, shape or form from government, any type of lottery, anything."
Not about the money
For many horse owners and racers, the sport has not been about the money.
"It's more of the love of the sport, the loyalty of the sport and the enjoyment of the horses," said horse owner Michelle Mitchum. "We've never made any money. It costs us a great deal of money to keep five horses fed."
Mitchum, who has a disabled daughter, said track workers in the Goulds built her daughter a special cart so she could race.
"We were devastated as a family," said Mitchum. "Our whole summers from March when we start training right up until November are at the track."
Gowan said this has not been the first time the races have stopped, and his association working with the provincial government to come up with a solution.
If nothing comes through, Gowan said race horses in this province will be forced into early retirement.