Horse racing coming back to Calgary with new track opening
Trainers, drivers eager to begin racing at Century Downs in mid-April
Horses and Calgary are practically synonymous. The city boasts one of the world's top show jumping facilities in Spruce Meadows and horses are ubiquitous in Cowtown come Stampede time.
So, it is surprising to learn that horse racing has not had a permanent presence in Calgary for years. However, that is about to change.
Owners and trainers of racehorses will get a home of their own when a new racetrack opens north of Calgary next month.
Century Downs racetrack is part of a casino complex opening just north of Calgary beside the CrossIron Mills mall.
Since the closure of the Stampede track in 2008, racing fans have had to travel far and wide to see the action.
Kelly Hoerdt is a trainer and driver from Beaumont, Alberta.
"We've been waiting a long time for this and we're excited that it's going to finally happen," he said.
The drivers and owners have signed a contract with Century Downs to race there for five years. Hoerdt says they have been travelling far and wide to maintain the sport while waiting for the Calgary track to open.
"We've been going year to year and just putting together enough race meets to keep us going," he said.
"We raced in Grande Prairie, Lacombe, Lethbridge, different places since Calgary closed. Every one of those was always just a temporary one-year contract just until the new racetrack opened," he said.
Century Downs will open in April with harness racing. Thoroughbred racing will begin in 2016.