I talked a couple of times recently with Kelly MacEachen, the young capable general manager of Truro Raceway. MacEachen, a smiling, friendly person, shared some interesting and eye-opening perspectives.
One was regarding Friday night live racing.
MacEachen pointed out that by Truro scheduling Friday night race cards, they do not have to race head-to-head with Charlottetown and Inverness tracks which is the case during many Sundays. This could mean more ship-in (horse) entries for Truro with prospects of drawing numerous more Cape Breton and out-of-province harness racing fans.
Another positive, with Friday nights being the end of the work week for many people, Truro Raceway would work to promote the idea of people from the work place wrapping up their week with a night out – enjoying fast, exciting harness racing.
MacEachen showed further enthusiasm as she shared she has observed quite a number of new faces during the first two Friday night race cards.
As MacEachen talked further about the importance of attracting more young people to harness racing, she arranged for me to talk to Daphne Cooper, Truro Raceway’s communications coordinator. Cooper, who graduated from the centre of arts and technology, Fredericton Campus with a diploma in event and promotions management, had previously worked for the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Commission.
We talked first about Truro Raceway Ltd. and a new website.
“We launched the website in March,” Cooper, 27, of Truro, said. “Should someone want to learn more about local harness racing, they can go to www.truroraceway.ca The purpose of any website is to provide accessible tools for their customers. This is absolutely true for our goals in local harness racing.”
Cooper explained the website includes such things as a photo gallery, images from past years, a calendar of live racing dates, a simulcast schedule and hours and locations of off-track betting.
“What the website is partly about is getting young people involved in harness racing,” Cooper said.
Good examples are Kyle Burton, the young track photographer who does a great job providing very good photos and this area’s Chantel Gillis, who received the outstanding groom award at this year’s O’Brien Awards in Mississauga.
“We have many exciting, young harness racing drivers at Truro Raceway and I’m happy to see several young people now involved on race days assisting their families who race horses. Every organization needs the young interest, this is what we hope to see. What I particularly like about harness racing is how involved it is with the community; there are so many networks, it really fans out, it is not a stand-alone industry.”
Cooper and I talked about some of the positive signs to date, including the first two Friday night race cards (April 27 and May 4), which attracted good crowds.
The action on the track has been fast and competitive, and yes, many new faces have been noticed trackside and in the grandstand.
Originally from Riverview, N.B., Cooper and I agreed it was nice to see New Brunswick reinsman Steve Mason back in the bike and aboard two winners during the latest race card. Injured and recuperating during much of 2017, Mason won the fourth race with K D Overdrive in 158.4 in what was perhaps the most exciting finish of the night, with Mason’s five-year-old gelding nosing out Stature Seelster and Darren Crowe at the finish line.
Mason also paraded back Jackson K Down, in the feature eighth race of the night for a purse of $1,675 – stopping the clock in a brisk 158.3 Both horses are owned by longtime horseman Stephen Downey of Quispamsis, N.B.
“When I was a high school student I never ever dreamed of working around harness racing,” Cooper told me. “I really enjoy my work, my involvement here in Truro with the sport of horse racing. It’s not just about the wagering, this is tremendously exciting; these horses actually enjoy what they do, the drivers, they enjoy what they do, it’s all undeniable.
“For me to be able to take my training in event planning and marketing and apply it to something so enjoyable and exciting here at Truro Raceway, it’s all I could ask for.”
In leaving the race grounds my thoughts were about words that can build up, positive words by good people.
Truro Raceway is on track.
Lyle Carter’s sports column appears Saturdays in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 902 673-2857.