The Saskatchewan horse racing industry continues to fight for getting the sport back on track for 2021 despite no commitment from Marquis Downs operator Prairieland Park and recent news that a potential investor has dropped out.

Pan Am Horse Racing, under Andrew Stronach, had proposed investment into racing in 2021 at Marquis Downs late in 2020 but last week issued a press release that it was backing out.

“After much analysis, legalities and consideration, Pan Am has concluded that due to the unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances primarily related to the pandemic, thoroughbred racing will have challenges in the upcoming 2021 season that cannot be easily overcome at this time.”

The proposal by Pan Am Horse racing last year, according to spokesperon Carol Reynolds, was to lease Marquis Downs in Saskatoon for horse racing this year. Marquis Downs lost its 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reynolds said Pan Am will “provide support through the establishment of a First Nations Equine School. The school’s aim is to revitalize Saskatchewan’s horse racing industry by providing the necessary future workforce expertise, reflecting our shared heritage and supporting Indigenous youth, culture and identity to benefit us all.”

Ed Esquirol of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association of Saskatchewan said on a recent Facebook post:

“Pan Am Horse racing have concluded negotiations with Prairieland Park who have both excluded Thoroughbred horse racing.

Pan Am failed to stand behind their stated goals as outlined to the HBPA beginning in late December 2020 / early January 2021 and Prairieland Park has not indicated they plan to have a traditional Thoroughbred horse racing meet in 2021.

Despite these recent events, the HBPA met with the provincial govt and applied for the industry’s provincial government ask on July 24, 2020.

Our plan now is to re-affirm the government ask and work with SPPC to negotiate race days for the 2021 season.
SPPC have been notified that horsemen/women stand strong and are planning to have a successful race meet in 2021.”

Marquis Downs has not applied for dates for 2021 and Prairieland Park has noted it loses money on the track each year.

Esquirol is asking the more than 500 Saskatchewan horsepeople who work with some 300 Thoroughbreds set to race to contact their MLAs. There is a website aimed at promoting the industry in the province. It is run by jockey Nikki Hein who also manages Horse Racing Saskatchewan on Facebook.

From CTV News Saskatoon.

Saskatchewan’s horse racing plight also made it to the pages of the Paulick Report in recent days.