“We really can’t have fans in the stands; we can’t get the jockeys from the Caribbean, and we aren’t currently set up to be able to go just simulcast.” – Kristy Rempel, Prairieland Park, from The Star Phoenix

A news release issued by Prairieland Park on Feb. 25 confirmed fears of Saskatchewan horsepeople that the 2021 Marquis Downs racing season has been cancelled. The track, which celebrated its 50th racing season in 2019, employs about 100 people and the horse racing industry employs many hundreds which have raced at the Saskatoon track.

Saskatchewan racing had 170 races in 2019 and overall purses of $560,287 over 24 racing dates. These numbers are the lowest in the province’s last 20 years. The province’s foal crop has dropped from 70 in 2000 to 23 in 2019.

From Prairieland Park:

“After much consideration and discussion, Prairieland Park regretfully announces the cancellation of the 2021 Thoroughbred racing season at Marquis Downs in Saskatoon.

This is the second year in a row that Prairieland has had to make this difficult decision. Given the ongoing restrictions surrounding Covid-19, including logistical issues related to the ability to get jockeys into Canada given travel restrictions, quarantine requirements, visa approvals, and extremely limited airline scheduling to the Caribbean, meant that Prairieland could not commit to a race meet this year.

Seventy-six percent of our professional jockeys come from the Caribbean.

Like many other businesses, Prairieland Park has seen a 90 percent reduction in its overall operations. Net profit declined by 82 percent in 2020 and projected losses from this year will exceed $2,000,000. Prairieland’s revenue is derived from trade shows, banquets, agricultural exhibitions, and the Exhibition itself. All of these business units have been unable to open due to Covid-19 and the effect of that has been a significant reduction in revenues.

To help maintain its strong balance sheet Prairieland Park has been forced to make many difficult decisions over the last year. The primary commitment is opening operations when safe to do so.

As other public health restrictions are more clearly known, Prairieland will make further announcements, including the status of the Saskatoon EX.”

Read more here.