Alberta Downs is set to open up the doors on its 2012 live harness racing season this weekend. Located about one hour south of Edmonton, in Lacombe, the Bob Allen-owned track features Canada's only one mile harness track, with a seven-eighths mile turf track on the inside for Thoroughbreds.
The newest addition to management at Alberta Downs, Live Racing Manager Christina Ming, says excitement is building and horse people are ready to get back to racing in Alberta.
"We're going to feature an 'Open House' this Friday evening," she says. "We'll card some amateur events, both harness and Thoroughbred, plus we'll have our double-seated jog cart on hand for race fans to enjoy a ride. There'll be food and refreshments served and we may even throw in a few miniature pony races as well. It should be lots of fun."
Ming, who's been involved with harness racing for 20 years, mentions that Alberta Downs did, in fact, see an increase in on-track attendance throughout 2011. She'd like to add to those numbers by attracting the younger crowd as well.
"We have to change the way we look at promoting racing and who we're promoting it to," she explains. "We'd love to see more of the '20 to 35' age group at the track these days and I believe educating that 'younger' customer - whether it's how to place a bet; how to read a program; basically anything at all to have them feel more comfortable in being at the track - is key.
"There's a real opportunity here," she continued. "Bob (Allen) has given horse people this wonderful venue to use. The community support has been tremendous. I expect we'll see great things happen here again in 2012."
Now in its fourth year, of operation, Alberta Downs will play host to a 60-day meet with the first programmed card beginning this Saturday at 1:45 pm.
A note to horsemen that the draws for both Saturday and Sunday will take place on Wednesday, April 11th. To enter contact Sugar Doyle from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., at Northlands, by calling 780-471-7275. No entries will be accepted without a negative coggins test.