We are so happy to have the 2021 season underway! On behalf of the Horse Racing Alberta board and staff, I want to personally thank you for being a valued member of our industry. Thank you for your passion and dedication to the sport of racing.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR PERSEVERANCE
We know the past 14 months have been a challenge. The global pandemic caused unprecedented anxiety and stress and no industry has been immune to the constantly changing world. We are grateful to finally be back on track at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino, Century Mile Racetrack and Casino and Rocky Mountain Turf Club. Thank you to our backstretch employees and racetrack staff for their efforts to comply with the health and safety protocols including temperature checks, masks and social distancing. The efforts from our essential caregivers have contributed to our racing exemption so the horses can do what they have been bred to do – race!
We thank our owners, breeders, trainers, and our backstretch staff for their dedication to the horses, who are the heart of our sport. Horse racing has a notable impact on employment in Alberta, and the horses had to be cared for day in and day out, regardless of the pandemic. We know that the restrictions at the racetracks have been trying for owners and we are looking forward to safely gathering at the tracks to cheer on the horses in person!
In 2020, Horse Racing Alberta collaborated with our stakeholders to implement changes in how we do business. We improved our business model, leveraged gaps in the racing schedule and changed post times to maximize online revenue. These strategies resulted in record handles at each of our racetracks. The efforts helped eliminate HRA’s financial deficit of $2.3 million, with a surplus of over $500,000. We will continue to work together so that we can increase race days, overnight purses and Breed Improvement funding.
RULE CHANGES FOR 2021
We have taken some first steps to changing our Rules Governing Racing, including making the rule book available in an updated format on the website.
We have also implemented several Directives
to modernize our rules for the welfare and safety of all of our racing participants.
GOVERNANCE REVIEW UPDATE
As some of you may have heard, the racing industry in Alberta is undergoing a Governance Review
. Marcomm Works was engaged by the government of Alberta to direct the review project. They are combining stakeholder input, best practices from other jurisdictions and policy and regulation reviews to establish an independent Alberta horse racing industry association and appeals process.
“The purpose of this project is to guide the horse racing industry in the development of a new governance model that is independent of the Government of Alberta and to support an orderly transition to the new model. Currently, the horse racing industry is governed by Horse Racing Alberta (HRA), a corporation established under the Horse Racing Alberta Act (the “Act”). The Act also establishes an Appeals Tribunal to hear appeals of the decisions of racing officials. Under the new model, the industry will become responsible for its own governance and appeals process and its conduct and operations through the establishment of a new industry association, compliance with agreed-upon bylaws, and compliance with existing provincial legislation.”
Almost 150 Albertans took the time to respond to an online survey, and Marcomm is meeting with 75 stakeholders through focus groups and interviews. The final report will be presented to government in the fall, and we look forward to the recommendations.
We look forward to a full summer of racing, and to our special days at the racetracks. Horse Racing Alberta board members and staff are looking forward to visiting the tracks and enjoying our signature race days:
- Quarter Horse Challenge Races
- Quarter Horse Canada Cup
- Western Canada Pacing Derby
- Super Finals
- Canadian Derby
- Alberta Breeders’ Fall Classic
These special days are a chance for us to celebrate our equine athletes and showcase the talented horses we have in Alberta. They are also a time for us to celebrate you, the owners, for your resiliency over the last few years.
Thank you for investing in racehorse ownership and being an integral member of our horse racing industry. May your horses all race safe and sound and may your 2021 racing season be filled with excitement and happiness. We look forward to seeing you in the winner’s circle!
Brittany Davis, HRA Board Member
The HRA Board of Directors
The HRA Staff