Fort Erie, Province Have Lease Agreement

What it means for a live Thoroughbred meet at the Canadian track remains to be seen.

It appears Fort Erie Race Track has been given a reprieve and could offer live racing this year.

The Ontario government said March 26 it has reached "tentative transition funding agreements" with Fort Erie and two harness tracks, Flamboro Downs and Georgian Downs. The lease arrangements replace the slots-at-racetracks program, which the government said will end March 31.

Fort Erie was expected to close given the end of the program, under which the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. paid the racing industry 20% of revenue–10% for the tracks and 10% for purses–from slots. Financial details of the lease agreements under which tracks would continue to have slots haven't been released.

Fort Erie officials said they would have a press conference March 27 to discuss the latest developments, according to published reports.

"Ontario's horse racing and breeding industries are an important part of a healthy economy in Ontario," Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said in a release. "We will continue to work in consultation with the industry partners for the long-term good of the industry and the province."

Woodbine Entertainment Group already had signed lease deals for Woodbine and Mohawk Raceway.