Horse racing future unclear for Fort Erie

00:00:00 | 00:00:00::Projekktor V1.3.09 (Update)Tuesday marks what many believe is an end of an era in thoroughbred horse racing. The Fort Erie race track held it’s final live racing day of the season and the final race day ever. This after the horse racing transition panel said Fort Erie wasn’t sustainable. As Lauran Sabourin reports, while the government is handing out 80 million a year in subsidies to Ontario racetracks, Fort Erie’s not likely to get a penny.It looked like any other live racing day at the Fort Erie race track. There were a lot of race horses and race horse lovers. But Tuesday, there was also a dark cloud hanging in the air.Sandra Fishman works at the track:   “I work here. My husband’s been on the gate for 27 years. We’re really worried about what our future holds.”At this point it doesn’t look like Fort Erie has any future at all. Allan Woodcock wonders what he’s going to do next: “Because I’m not a young man anymore. So it’s going to be difficult for me to find employment elsewhere.”“I’ve been coming here since I was seven years old. I’m 68 years old. You’ve gotta keep the track open. The government can’t put people out of work.”And then there are the race horse fans:   “It’s kind of heartbreaking because the nearest thoroughbred tracks to me are 90 miles to Woodbine and 90 miles to Erie.”Carol and Lee Refermat have been coming from Buffalo for forty years. They pack a lunch, have their usual table and make a day of it: “It’s a part of our routine. We’re retired. It’s a place to come.”Fort Erie is the oldest thorough track in North America. But Tuesday will probably be the last live racing day in its 117 year history.New Democrat party leader Andrea Horwath watched the final races. She blames the Liberal government for Fort Erie’s demise: “New Democrats would never have deep-sixed the slots at racetracks the way the Liberals did. They took an industry and tore the heart out of it without batting an eye.”The race track transition report suggested Fort Erie host festival races. But no one here knows what that means.Fort Erie Mayor Doug Martin: “It basically means that unless there’s a change of heart from the government. This is the end of Fort Erie. Plain and simple.”If there’s no change, the Fort Erie Race Track will close for good. Two hundred track employees and hundreds of horsemen will lose their jobs. It’s a very dark day for the city of Fort Erie. read more