Are Locals Affected by Closure of Marquis Downs?
As the closure date of the Marquis Down racecourse nears, many local horse people remain uncertain about the future.
With the last ever season at Marquis Down in full swing, many horse owners and trainers and starting to make plans for the period following the venue’s closure. The thoroughbred horseracing oval, situated in Prairieland Park, Saskatoon, announced its decision to transform into a Canadian Premier League soccer ground earlier this year. The non-profit organisation that runs the park leases the land from the City of Saskatoon and is not affected by municipal approvals.
A Tough Pill to Swallow
Former trainer, George Gervais, shared his disgruntlement with the track’s impending closure by insisting that the track is a business that should not have been shut down. Gervais still supervises his horse with the help of his grandson, Kailum Gervais, a member of the Keeseekoose First Nation.
Kailum Gervais planned to take over the family business, although this might no longer be possible with the closure of the racing facility. For the pair to continue racing this season, they had to travel to Manitoba, which incurred additional costs and was subject to quarantine protocols. As it stands, this might be their last season participating together.
Another trainer, Jamie Hartmann, has been present at the track for the past eight seasons and grew up around the track. Her aunt, Jody Hunter, was the first woman to win a training title in Canada at the prestigious track. With its closure, Hartmann has had to relocate her horse to compete in other provinces around Canada.
Breeders Eddie Esquirol and Bev Leonard and are also upset over the closing of the oval. The pair have been training and breeding horses at Fox Tower Farms for over two decades. Esquirol started working with fillies at the age of 17 and is extremely disappointed with the decision to close the track down.
Trainer Anita Gardipy has also voiced her unhappiness with the park’s transformation into a soccer ground. real gut punch” for her, although she was not surprised by the decision, as the park management never did much for the oval and was apathetic to its situation.