Survey asking Island horse owners how to make racing industry thrive

Horse owners coming off 'a very successful year' on the Island are being asked to share best practices in a survey put out by the P.E.I. Harness Racing Industry Association. 

P.E.I. Harness Racing Industry Association working with consultant, trainers, breeders

A horse gets some morning exercise at Red Shores in Charlottetown in November 2020. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Horse owners coming off "a very successful year" on the Island are being asked to share best practices in a survey put out by the P.E.I. Harness Racing Industry Association. 

The idea came out of a study the association did to explore ways to grow and improve the industry as the 2021 racing season gets underway. 

A consultant has done interviews with 15 leaders in the industry, involving 10 trainers and five breeders, and a survey is now available for P.E.I. horse owners to offer feedback. 

Mike O'Brien is on the steering committee, along with the president of Holland College and the dean of the Charlottetown-based Atlantic Veterinary College. A research and education partnership has been formed with those two institutions.  

O'Brien says a report will be created out of the feedback, and the association will likely share what's learned in the form of presentations, podcasts or videos.  

The survey is available at or you can pick up a copy at the race office of one of the two Red Shores racetracks in Charlottetown and Summerside. 

Purses, betting totals up

Meanwhile, Blaine McPherson, chairman of the board of the P.E.I. Harness Racing Industry Association, said 2020 turned out to be "a very successful year" after all. 

Prospects turned the corner when COVID-19 lockdowns began to ease in June, with wagering (including online betting) and purses for winning horses both showing increases. 

McPherson added that the group is looking forward to an even better year in 2021, with more funds for stake races and matinée track development.

"We have increased the purses for overnight racing by $200 per race. So that's $700 more than it was in 2018. So we're very, very, very, very happy on how the industry is progressing."

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