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Bench Talk / Off The Wire

Picking Up The Pace


By Fred Wallace

 Hi, this is Fred Wallace with " Off the Wire. "


We're at the time of the Winter that I start to hanker for a night of harness racing.

The 2019 race season at the new-look Hanover Raceway begins on Saturday June 1st.

I love Saturday nights at Hanover Raceway- truthfully I liked it even better when it was Saturday AND Wednesday nights at the track, but those days are gone.

And trust me when I say what I'm about to discuss is not criticism of Hanover but rather an observation that's evolved over the past 16 years of being involved.

I recently saw an article examining the Ontario Harness Racing industry which lamented a lack of new fans, or younger fans.

As part of the discussion, there was a telling quote from driver Bob McClure, who grew up at Hanover Raceway and got his start there.

McClure who has gone on to become wildly successful on the biggest stages in the sport said, " I have brought many friends to the track many times. It’s the same result every time at every track. They stay 3 races, get bored and leave. They all say same thing. ' It’s too slow, too much time between races with dead air. '

First, you have to respect the viewpoint of Bob McClure, a young guy who's at every track possible in Ontario and beyond.

And second, I agree, based on my observations at Hanover Raceway.

The races start at 7:15 pm.

By Race 3, around 8 pm, the venue is as full as it's going to get.

And then, by 9:30 pm, a LOT of people have departed, calling it a night-  & there have been cases where there's still been 4 or 5 races still to run.

Yes, the demographic at Hanover Raceway is older. Certainly I've aged over 16 years.

But I believe Bob McClure is accurate in his assessment and harness racing, not just at Hanover, needs to pick up the pace on race nights.


I'm Fred Wallace

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