An incredible day for B.C. horse racing
(SURREY, B.C. - 20 December, 2004) -
Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (GCC), headquartered in
Richmond, B.C., announced today that it has entered into an
agreement to acquire all of the assets of Orangeville
Raceway Limited, operators of Fraser Downs, Sandown Park in
North Saanich, B.C. and other horse racing interests.
Orangeville has been a closely-held
private company which originated with a small standardbred
racetrack in Ontario, followed by the founding of Cloverdale
Raceway (now Fraser Downs) in 1976. The patriarch of the
company was the late Jim Keeling Sr., a member of the
Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Another of the tight
family group of departing shareholders is a harness racing
legend, Keith Waples, also a Hall of Fame inductee.
In an open letter today to staff and
friends, Chuck Keeling, general manager of Orangeville,
emphasized that it will be business as usual, eagerly
anticipating the completion of a $25 million construction
project at Fraser Downs, and the commencement of similar
redevelopment at Sandown Park. He said that the solid
management team in the standardbred sector was an important
part of their decision, and that ownership by this
aggressive visionary company can only mean bigger and better
opportunities for all, including horsemen and fans.
His letter added:
"You should also be advised of
the emotion which underscored these negotiations on our side
of the table. The Orangeville directors, from the Keeling
and Waples families, have been part of this story from Day
One 35 years ago, and they are very proud of what has been
achieved. Their courage, commitment and support during our
toughest years should never be forgotten, but their lives
and families are in Ontario. Now that they have helped put
our business back on a solid foundation, with the long
dreamed of redevelopment going forward at both Fraser and
Sandown, the time is right for them to withdraw.
The acquisition of standardbred
operations is a milestone for horse racing in British
Columbia. GCC during 2004 has consolidated ownership of
Hastings Racecourse and its related horse racing assets.
Major redevelopment, including machine gaming, is planned
for Hastings Racecourse. Tony Martin, GCC President & C.O.O.
said, "We are so pleased to have Fraser Downs and Sandown
Park join our family. The hard work and dedication shown by
their management and staff were key factors in our decision
About this united ownership, Keeling
said: "This is an incredible day for horse racing in British
Columbia. Placing both sectors under common ownership, which
was achieved by the Woodbine Entertainment Group many years
ago in Toronto, has been a vision for B.C. racing, and
everything we have ever done within the industry has
advocated solid partnerships and cooperation."
He added that any dealings he has
ever had with GCC over the years have been first class in
every sense. "It is not hard to see why GCC is one of the
most successful and progressive operators in the gaming
industry anywhere. They have always been honourable with us
and helpful as we have gone through a learning curve within
their industry," Keeling said. "And the most encouraging
thing of all is their genuine interest in horse racing."
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