This weekend marks an exciting time for Century Downs Racetrack and Casino, Southern Alberta and the horse racing industry, as Thoroughbred racing is returning to Calgary after being absent for nine years.
Previously, families would make their way to Stampede Park in the downtown Calgary core to watch Thoroughbreds and Quarter horses race down the track, with an agile jockey on top wearing luxurious, colourful silks. It was a dreadful day in horse racing on June 15, 2008 when Stampede Park closed it’s doors to Calgary racing, ending a 121 year run.
There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, and on Saturday, September 23, horses, owners, trainers, valets and jockeys will race at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino for the first time. After the nine-year hiatus, Thoroughbred will make its long awaited return in Southern Alberta and Thoroughbreds will return to the track every Saturday and Sunday until November 5 at 12:50 p.m. In addition, Century Downs Racetrack and Casino will also host races on Mondays, October 2 and October 9 at 3:10 p.m.
Century Downs Racetrack and Casino has flipped the track to create a world class racing surface for Thoroughbreds.“8,000 tonnes of a sand and mulch mixture has been laid over top of the Standardbred track,“ said Jackson Wittup, Racing Manager at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino. “We have a track consultant from California and Manitoba to help us with this transition.“
Many more changes are being completed before the Thoroughbred meet. A 12-stall Paddock has been built with trailers brought in for a Jockey’s room, experts from Kentucky are currently installing the inner rail and chute rail, and specialized staff are being hired, as many more are needed compared to a Standardbred meet.
Over 400 horses arrived at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino on Monday, September 18, and started training on the track for the first time at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 19.
“Thoroughbred racing returning to Calgary after nine years may be the single most significant event to happen in Alberta racing this year,“ said Paul Ryneveld, General Manager of Century Downs Racetrack and Casino“ Returning the live racing product to the Calgary market has revived the Standardbred industry, and should prove similar with the Thoroughbreds.“
The seven-week season will move ahead in full-force, with plenty of opportunities for fans of all caliber to enjoy the races.
September 30: Sign up for the Singles Social for premium seating for the races, delicious appetizers and good company. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.ca
October 7: Join us Pioneer Day! We’ll be working with the Alberta Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (ATOBA), Horse Racing Alberta (HRA), the Horsemens Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) and the Alberta Quarter Horse Racing Association (AQHRA) to honour the pioneers of horse racing!
October 15: Support our riders on Horses, Hats and Hope day, featuring the C Cup Classic! The seven-horse field will match Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses to raise funds for breast cancer research.
October 22: Dress “Derby Style“ for this exciting high-stakes day, featuring the Harvest Plate. Post time is 12:50 p.m.
Want to get a behind-the-scenes peek? Sign up for our barn tours, every Saturday starting from October 7 to November 4 at 10:00 a.m. Space is limited, so reserve now by emailing barntours(at)centurydowns.com
If this is your first visit, or a long-awaited return to the track, thank you for supporting horse racing in Southern Alberta.