PRA, OJC Betting on Future of Horse Racing

The Pacific Racing Association, operators of Hastings Park Racecourse, and the Ontario Jockey Club have agreed to spend the next 120 days looking at the feasibility of involving the OJC in British Columbia's horse racing industry.

The four-month letter of agreement calls on both racing organizations to look for business models that could involve the OJC, including potential acquisitions of the PRA, and constructing a new, dual-breed facility at a high profile lower mainland location.

"There is no question our $250 million racing industry is facing some tremendous challenges and a tumultuous future if we don't make some important and creative decisions soon," said Phil Heard, general manager of Hastings Park Racecourse. "Our fans as well as the more than 7,000 people employed in Thoroughbred horse racing, want us to look at practical solutions and new ideas that will help racing to prosper and grow.

"As a result, the PRA is looking at solutions that include a possible role for the OJC, the leading horse racing industry in the country. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a better potential horse racing business partner than the Ontario Jockey Club.

"We'll be looking at a number of different options, including the possible acquisition of the PRA by the OJC. Over the next few months we're going to work closely together to talk to government as well as our stakeholders to make sure that we've looked at every possible approach and have the support of those involved."

PRA Chair Colin Gabelmann said "There's still a lot to overcome. But if they (the OJC) can come in with a good proposal and move the industry forward, we would be in support of it.

"The responsibility of the PRA is to insure that horse racing grows and prospers in B.C. and the survival of the PRA is not what we're here for."

A report is expected back in December.