Alberta Downs back on track for the season

First race of the season is set to take place this Sunday

After a year’s hiatus, Alberta Downs raceway is back up and running, with their opening day coming up this Sunday with many family-friendly activities planned.

Alberta Downs Manager of Racing Christina Sturgeon explained that the raceway was shut down last year due to the horsesbeing moved and renovations being finished.

“When Horse Racing Alberta originally came to Bob (owner Robert Allen), he wasn’t finished building the race track but the Stampede Park was closed down and the harness horses had nowhere to go. So, Bob opened his track before it was even ready and gave them a place to race. They were here for about five years but the track at Cross Irons Mills, that was always on the table and when that track was built the horses went there.”

After the horses left the track was left unused for a year, but the raceway is set to open again for the 2016 season on June 5th, with new updates to facilities as well as a new breed of horses participating.

“This year we have all thoroughbreds, so that’s very exciting. The last five years we were racing we had all harness and would have maybe one or two thoroughbreds racing throughout the summer and they were hugely popular so I’m very excited to have all thoroughbreds this time.”

Alberta Downs had 22 live thoroughbred race days scheduled, approved by Horse Racing Alberta and will run every Sunday through until Oct. 30th.

“Every Sunday, races will start at 3:15 p.m. The first week open we will have six races but that will hopefully grow to at least eight or 10 as we go through the summer, it just matters as to how many horses we end up with,” added Sturgeon.

Opening day is promised to hold everything for the whole family including the thoroughbred races, petting zoos, pony rides and face painting for the kids. She said it’s important for Alberta Downs to remain a family-friendly business.

“It’s tons of fun and the sad part is so many people have never experienced it, especially the racing and especially in Central Alberta. It’s definitely worth the day to come out, we have great food out here, lots of fun, even if you just come to watch the horses we usually try our best to cater to families, try to make it that atmosphere.”

Sturgeon said that the race track has many events planned for the summer including the Central Alberta Amateur Turf Club’s pony racing series, Family Fun Days and the Taste of Central Alberta.

Admission, parking and programs are always free.

To learn more about Alberta Downs or how to enter into the racing, please visit www.albertadowns.com

shelby.craig@lacombeexpress.com