Harness racing kicks off new season to fans’ delight

Raissa Tetanish
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BIBLE HILL – It’s long been a tradition for some, and yesterday’s start to the harness racing season was no different.

More than 60 horses took to the Truro Raceway on Sunday for the opening day of the raceway’s 140th season. The future of the sport in Bible Hill was in doubt last year, however the interim general manager of the grounds is optimistic for a successful season. 

Close to 200 people hit the grounds at the Truro Raceway for the first card of the 140th season of harness racing.

“I’ve been crazy enough to come here for the past 47 years, so that’s why I’m here,” said Guy Densmore, a resident from East Noel who was sitting with some familiar faces. “The only thing is that there should be racing three nights a week like before.”

Densmore had a seat close to the finish line to keep an eye on things, with his program not far from his reach.

Sitting with him was Truro Heights’ Fred Sullivan, who said he doesn’t miss too many races at the facility.

“I’m glad to see it open again, I really am,” said Sullivan. “It’s something to do on Sunday afternoons. We all know some of the (horse) owners, and it’s all in the families.”

With the sun shining bright but the wind keeping things brisk, many spectators took to the side of the track just as each dash was set to begin. As soon as it was over, they’d step back inside.

Raymond Tynes, the interim general manager of the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition, was excited to see such a turnout for opening day.

“I’m just amazed,” he said while looking around. “Especially with it being Easter Sunday, we knew we would get the regulars. To all the naysayers out there, I think we’ve proved them wrong.”

The last live race at the track was five days before Christmas, following a brief period last summer when the facility’s future was in doubt. Management announced it was shutting the facility down due to financial difficulties. Things were initially resolved on a temporary basis, however in January, Keith Colwell, the province’s agriculture minister, stripped the 12-person exhibition board of its powers and ordered a forensic audit on the financial operations of the facility. He has since appointed to members to an interim panel – former exhibition commission chairman Bruce Kennedy and former vice-chairman Cameron MacEachen. A third member is expected to be appointed later this week.

“Under Minister Keith Colwell and his team, they have made my job easy,” said Tynes. “But without the fans, we don’t have a thing. We wouldn’t be here and I expect things to improve each week.”

Tynes said the racetrack’s “magic number” is eight dashes, however with 63 horses entered into Sunday’s event, spectators were able to see nine.

“I think it will just get better and better, especially when horses in Cape Breton start training, I think we’ll see them coming down to race here as well,” he said.

While looking around, Sullivan was pleased with the turnout, however most were familiar faces.

“It’s the same old faces here,” he said. “There aren’t too many new faces, and no young people. I don’t know how they could attract new faces and younger ones.”

 

rtetanish@trurodaily.com

Twitter: @TDNRaissa

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