Lucille Laprise said there was a buoyant atmosphere at Dresden Raceway on Monday when word came that the track had been granted an 11-race day summer meet by the Ontario Racing Commission.
"Everybody's been anxiously waiting to see what was going to happen. Now that it's official that we're getting our 11 race days, we are very enthused and we're good to go,” said Laprise, the president of the Dresden Agricultural Society that revived the track in 2014. "Dresden Raceway is back on track.”
Dresden will race predominantly on Sunday afternoons at 1 p.m. and also include special cards on Canada Day (Wed., July 1) and will close its meet on the Civic Holiday Monday in August (Aug. 3). The 11-race season is the same number of race cards the track had in 2014, though, this year, the season is starting much sooner.
"We really have to start spreading the word,” Laprise said. "May 31st is going to be here sooner than we think.”
Harness racing has been conducted in Dresden for over 140 years. The Dresden Exhibition will celebrate its 140th anniversary this summer and harness racing has been conducted there longer than that. In the late-1800s, the Dresden Driving Club organized trials of speed at the track. In the early 1900s, locals gathered in the winter to watch races over the icy Sydenham River.
This summer, Dresden Raceway will be part of a southwestern Ontario circuit of small tracks that includes Sarnia's Hiawatha Horse Park and Leamington Raceway.
Greg Blanchard will be returning as Dresden Raceway's general manager and Gary Patterson will be back calling the races.
"We've got some really good ideas,” Laprise said. "We're going to have special race days like we did last year and give-aways and fan appreciation events. We certainly want to invite the people to come back. We've got some great horses, a great track, a great grandstand and we're going to be ready for them.” (Dresden Raceway)