Our Mission: Lakeshore Horse Racing Association’s mission is to inspire and promote positive change and growth to the harness horse industry in Ontario.
The Non Profit Model: Lakeshore Horse Racing Association is incorporated as a not-for-profit organization with a board of directors, and holds a annual meeting each year.
The non profit model has proven around the world to have the highest standards of quality racing, care for horses, safety, and enjoyable consumer experience.
Lakeshore Horse Racing Association will always have a family friendly community focus with high quality service.
About: Leamington Raceway is a 1/2 mile harness racing track located on the beautiful Leamington Fairgrounds. Join us every Sunday from August to October for Live Harness Racing and entertainment for the whole family! Post time for all race dates is 1:30 p.m. Always free parking and free admission.
A Hollywood script writer could not have written a happier ending to the Lakeshore Horse Racing Associations story than the true life events from September 22, to October 13th, 2013.
The little organization called Lakeshore Horse Racing Association, sprouted in early 2012 when the Slots-at-racetracks agreement between the Ontario government and racetracks came to an end.
A couple of fellows from Windsor got talking one night and decided, “you know, I think horse people should put on racing here in Southwestern Ontario.” These two guys recruited: an accountant, a lawyer, a politician, and a sturdy group of about twenty horsemen and women who melded into a team of race track operator what-to be’s.
They met faithfully every Thursday evening, to plan how they would present racing to the public.
They met with politicians, the Ontario Racing Commission, and The Horse Racing Transition Panel. They presented their plan to all the local municipalities.
One by one they got the support of the Leamington City Council, The County of Essex, The Municipality of Lakeshore, The Windsor City Council and the Ontario Harness Horse Association.
The media started following the little group that said, “I think I can.”
As the summer of 2013 drew to an end and still the little group had not received permission to race, their dream of hosting races at Leamington Raceway was slipping away.
They approached the Horse Racing Transition Panel one last time in August 2013 pleading their case. The Lakeshore group suggested that there was going to be a three week window of opportunity after Dresden Raceway closed and before Western Fair District opened where horses in Southwestern Ontario needed a venue at which to race. The horse racing transition panel was persuaded to let the little track host four races for the Sundays between September 22nd to October 13th 2013.
When the final approval was received the group had eleven days to put on the show.
The army of volunteers went to work. Within six days they had sold all of the 40 race sponsorships at $200.00 per race. (That was all the races for all four days of racing). The local community gave the group so much support through advertising that the race program ballooned to 32 pages.
The Racing Under Saddle girls volunteered to showcase their new sport. Singers came forward to sing O’Canada at the beginning of each race day. The OHHA “So You Think You Can Drive” team, let people experience driving a standardbred horse. The trick riders in “Off Kilter Equine Entertainers” signed up to preform between races. The Lonewolf Acres petting zoo brought a menagerie of animals so children had a chance to ride the ponies and feed the animals. Sunshine the Clown was at the track each Sunday painting children’s faces. Grand River Raceway lent the group their bouncy ponies for opening festivities. Hanover Raceway lent the group their mascot “Black Beauty’. The parade marshals engaged the audience by letting folks reach over the fence to pat their mounts. Some of the best drivers and trainers in the sport came out to sign autographs and meet their fans. A special horse was brought to the track each race day for a meet and greet.
A local TV shop donated a 50” screen TV so people could watch football between races and for one lucky patron to take home on the final day of racing. Thirteen children’s Thanksgivings were made that much better by the thirteen bicycles they took home from the races. All of them donated by: businesses, unions, and individuals in the community.
Even the weatherman co-operated fully, by sending four lovely, unseasonably warm, Sunday afternoons for the races. It was uncanny how the last race was run on two of the Sundays and then the skies opened up and it started to rain.
The entire grandstand full of people were asked to join the horsemen and women from the backstretch in the winners circle after race number one on the final Sunday. You have never seen so many people in the winners circle at one time. After that the patrons lined up after each race to go out and pose for their pictures. It was a real “Ah ha” moment when there was no such thing as, them and us, fans and horse people, it was we.
We can work together to make horse racing a reality in Southwestern Ontario. We are a community of people who “think we can”.
No, we, “Know we can” bring horse racing back to Southwestern Ontario!