Future of Alberta Racing Murky after Licenses Denied

Officials for Horse Racing Alberta decided against granting long-term racing licenses to Stampede Park or the Calgary Racing Entertainment Group (CREG), which proposed to construct an $80-million racetrack in the province.

The unexpected decision leaves Alberta with no organization licensed to conduct live racing in 2004 and beyond, the Calgary Sun reports. HRA licensing committee chairman Dr. Pat Brennan explained the decision in a release issued on Thursday.

"There was a high degree of interest for a long-term racetrack license in the Calgary market area, however, none of the applicants -- in the committee's opinion -- could meet the minimum standards established by the industry," he said.

HRA executives previously outlined in a 44-page document that they were seeking from applicants a commitment to build a one-mile Thoroughbred track and a smaller, inner harness track. Stampede Park's bid likely failed because it did not contain plans to enlarge the existing five-eights mile track. CREG, however, was expecting to receive a 10-year license Thursday.

I'm very disappointed," said Ernie Caron, president of CREG. "I'm surprised because we felt we met the [application requirements] verbatim."

Dr. David Reid, chairman of the HRA, said he hopes to contact each organization and explain the decision "as soon as possible."