Track extension part of upgrades for raceway

Last updated on May 11, 23

Posted on May 11, 23

2 min read

Changes at Grand River Raceway, most notably the extension of its track, are expected to bring more competitive races to the Elora facility.

The goal is to provide a more exciting experience, says raceway manager Chad Rozema.

The project will see the track expanded from its current half-mile distance to 5/8 of a mile. Construction, funded by Ontario Racing, will begin in mid-August and be completed in April 2024. The raceway also plans to add new LED lighting, a new track surface and timer boxes.

“It’s a commitment from Ontario racing to show their support to our track and our product and what we do at Grand River Raceway as for the horse people, the race fans and the horse players,” Rozema said of the upgrades.

Raceway Manager Chad Rozema

“[It can] attract better horses, which in turn can create better wagering opportunities, just a more fun product to watch. Half-mile racing, it’s grassroots racing and there’s still quite a few half-mile tracks around, but a nice, bigger track with some bigger turns, I just think it makes for a more exciting and competitive product,” he said.

Rozema added that it would also create better flow and could provide the opportunity for longer-distance racing and additional horses in the races. Currently, the raceway races with eight horses; if a ninth is involved, it is a trailer. The longer track could mean nine horses to a race, with a tenth as a trailer, Rozema explained.

“It’s hopefully going to attract even more horse people to want to race at Grand River, which, in turn, you’re going to have now fuller fields – just some great racing and a great product for everybody to enjoy.”

The expansion could also provide the raceway with more race days than the 48 currently offered during the season.

“There are a lot of Ontario racetracks, we’re all part of an alliance that we work together and the horse population hasn’t been its strongest over the last few seasons. We do see it improving but that needs to continue to improve and  in order for there to be more gates available. That’s the intention, to host more gates than we currently race,” said Rozema, noting that Grand River is entering its 20th season.

This year, racing starts on June 2.

“We’ve just got a great team top to bottom that’s going to be helping us out with this, and [I’m] just looking forward to getting that first shovel in the ground in mid-August,” Rozema said of the construction added to the mix this year.

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Patrick Merlihan

Patrick Merlihan is the Digital Strategist for The Observer.

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