Fraser Downs, along with other racetracks in Canada, entered a new era of pari-mutuel wagering today (Tuesday).


For the first time in history, Canadian bettors are allowed to wager directly into the mutuel pools of American host tracks.


Starting with Balmoral Park, a Chicago-based harness track, Canadian wagers are now combined with the U.S. host track's pools giving customers in both countries the same winning payout prices.


The decision followed months of negotiations with the Canadian Pari-mutuel Agency (CPMA).


Because wagering on horse races in the U.S. is regulated at the state level, approval for common-pool wagering must be negotiated on a state-by-state basis. The next state to give approval was Ohio and the next tracks on which the common-poll was allowed this week were Northfield (Ohio), Hawthorne (Illinois) and Maywood Park (Illinois).


It is expected that the first thoroughbred track to receive approval will be Arlington Park on Wednesday, July 13.


A few other states, including New York and Delaware, are considering the issue while regulators in some key racing states like Florida, California and New Jersey have said they need a number of months to amend their local regulations before accepting Canadian dollar wagers.


Common-pool wagering is generally regarded as an advantage to bettors and a boon to the racing industry. Take-out rates (the commission retained by track operators) at some U.S. tracks are lower than those in Canada and the larger host-track mutuel pools offer greater “pool stability” (whereby large wagers are less likely to adversely affect payout prices). 


COLEMAN AT BIG M: Casie Coleman’s debut as a trainer at the Meadowlands, considered by many the mecca of harness racing, was as successful as most of her other starts in her short career as a conditioner.


American Ideal, trained by Coleman for owners Mac Nichol of Edmonton and Brittany Farms of the U.S., raced to victory last Saturday at the New Jersey oval.


American Ideal got his first taste of the Meadowlands in the $22,000 condition pace and won by 2˝ lengths in a fine time of 1:50.1. Top U.S. driver Ron Pierce handled the reins for Ideal, who went gate-to-wire for the win.


It was also the first tour of the East Rutherford oval by Coleman, a 25-year-old B.C. native, who raced at Fraser Downs. Coleman will now bid to be the first woman trainer to win the $1 million Meadowlands Pace set for July 16. 

First American Ideal will have to qualify for the Pace in the eliminations on July 9.


Coleman, who is now based in Dundas, Ont., was the leading trainer at Flamboro Downs in 2004. This year, through June 29, she had 99 wins, 65 seconds and 59 thirds from 376 starters for $794,580 for a career total of 307 wins and $2 million in earnings.


Downs’ patrons will remember Coleman and her dad Phil who campaigned Fast Lane Cruizin, tagged as the B.C. Monster Mare after a great career in B.C. 


FAMILY AFFAIR: The battling brothers-in-law – Bill Davis and Dave Hudon – started the Sandown meet in fine fashion last weekend. They each picked up four driving wins with Davis grabbing a hat-trick on Sunday.


Scott Knight had three victories and Gord Abbott two.


The honors for top trainer was shared five ways as Hudon, Davis, Knight, Chris Phillips and Wayne Isbister each had two trips to the winner’s enclosure. 


RACE BOOK OPEN: The new Fraser Downs’ Race Book (a simulcast area in the old Legends lounge) opened Monday. The state-of-the art facility includes include 300 individual betting carrels (many with individual televisions) and many large-screen TVs. There are also 40 locations in the separate smoking area.


There is full bar and food service, from a new and highly-modern kitchen, in the Race Book. 


STARRBUCK CLOSE: On June 4 Lil Dude Starrbuck won a race in the blistering time of 1:49.3 at Woodbine in Toronto.


The clocking sent B.C. racing enthusiasts to the archives to check to see if that was a record for horses with a B.C. past. Starrbuck, a four-year-old son of Threefold out of the Nihilator mare Almahurst Irish, is owned by the Lil Dude Ranch of Surrey.


Sharon and Jerry Renkers are Lil Dude Ranch and, if you remember, purchased Almahurst Irish at the B.C. yearling sale in 2000. Irish was among in-foal broodmares brought in from the east for the sale and hence Starrbuck is B.C. foaled.


Starrbuck’s bug showing wasn’t a record but it was as close as one can get. Red Star Minckler, a son of Scruffy Hanover and bred in B.C., paced the mile in 1:49.2 in 2000 as a four-year-old.


Starrbuck, driven by Luc Ouellette and trained by Kevin McMaster, started from the three hole and was third at the quarter which went in 25.4 seconds. He took the lead before the half and was never caught posting fractions of 54 and 1:22.2 and winning by half a length.


The event, for a purse of $35,000, was for non-winners of $34,000 last 6 starts or six races or $195,000 lifetime and also optional claiming $100,000.