Horses, jockeys and followers have been welcomed again to the observe on Monday as Dresden Raceway kicked off its 2022 racing season.
Seven races have been held on Monday, and whereas some races have been held in-person in 2021, this 12 months mark’s the raceway’s first full season because the begin of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am excited for the primary full season coming again,” mentioned Darrin Canniff, mayor of Chatham-Kent, who took in Monday’s races. “It is an incredible facility right here.”
“It is a custom right here,” he mentioned. “I wish to proceed this custom right here in Dresden.”
Julien Robinson, who grew up in Dresden, has been coming to the races for many years.
“It is simply been one thing that is at all times been a part of summer time recollections as a baby rising up right here in Dresden,” he mentioned. “It definitely has modified over time.”
Robinson mentioned the 2021 season was powerful because of the lack of racing.
However, he mentioned, Monday was the “similar feeling” as earlier years.
“You come again to the observe these first opening days, and you continue to get that Dresden Raceway odor,” mentioned Robinson. “All of it comes again to you.”
The observe is a “good thing” for the group, he mentioned.
“It is one thing you are able to do with your loved ones,” he mentioned. “You do not received to come back spend some huge cash, it is only a nice environment.”
Observe announcer Gary Patterson mentioned horse racing has an extended historical past in Dresden.
“We have been racing right here reside at this location because the ’60s, however we have been racing in Dresden for nicely over 100 years,” he mentioned. “Opening day at Dresden Raceway is at all times an enormous factor.”
Patterson mentioned followers weren’t allowed to look at the races at Dresden for many of the 2021 season because of the pandemic, though some have been permitted for the ultimate few races.
However there are some challenges going through Ontario’s horse racing trade, Patterson mentioned, with a scarcity of horses within the province.
“The scarcity of horses has been again since about 2012,” he mentioned, including it was attributable to the provincial cancellation of a deliberate slot machine revenue-sharing program.
“Lots of people received out of the enterprise,” Patterson mentioned.
The horse scarcity, coupled with the variety of different races taking place Monday, affected opening day at Dresden forcing a discount within the variety of races that came about to seven.
“As we speak, we’d usually have 80 to 90 horses within the field,” he mentioned. “We had 45 horses within the field.”
He mentioned in 2011, there have been 11,000 race horses in Ontario. As we speak, there are about 4,000.
This season will embody 11 days of racing at Dresden, with occasions operating by way of to August, Patterson mentioned.