Along with the usual friendly faces of the Woodbine media staff, I was fortunate to spend time with track announcer Dan Loiselle (a total class act), Hall of Fame jockey Sandy Hawley, in addition to the trainer/jockey combination of Mark Casse and Luis Contreras.
One thing I wasn't expecting to hear was Nick Eaves' speech about the current state of racing in the province. In his speech launching the 153rd running of the Queen's Plate, Eaves, Woodbine Entertainment Group's President and CEO announced that this may be the last year for the Plate, the oldest annual sporting event in Canada.
"Earlier this year the Ontario Government made the decision to arbitrarily cancel the commercial contracts between Ontario's racetracks and the OLG. The cancellation of these contracts will devastate the province's horse racing and breeding industry which contributes $4.5 billion to the Gross Domestic Product," said Eaves. "As a result of the Government's current position, premier race events such as the Queen's Plate as well as day-to-day horse racing are in jeopardy."
Scary stuff, indeed.
Mark Tewksbury was the Honorary Draw Master, a former Olympic gold medalist for the 1992 Canadian team, winning the 100 meter backstroke in Barcelona.
I have a quick recap of the draw at the Sports, Ink blog on the TBN website which can be found here.
Here are some pictures from this morning's draw:
|The Plate Jockey's Reach for the Goods|
|WEG CEO Nick Eaves addresses the crowd|
|Olympic Champion Mark Tewksbury|
chats with Dan Loiselle
|Trainer Mark Casse selects first for|
Golden Ridge and grabs Post No. 7
|2012 HOF Inductee Roger Attfield|
selects Post No. 9 for Colleen's Sailor
|Yours truly yukking it up|
with jockey Luis Contreras
Photo Courtesy: Keith McCalmont, Woodbine Media