Fraser Downs 17755 - 60th Avenue, Surrey, B.C. V3S 1V3 Canada 

A New Era Dawns

Proud, Grateful 
& Determined
by Chuck Keeling

An Industry,
Not Just a Sport

Careers, Training
& Opportunities

An 8-Year Odyssey

Apologies for 

Our Goals

Sandown Park

Rainbow Downs

Around the Province

Proud, Grateful and Determined

Chuck Keelingby Chuck Keeling
General Manager, Fraser Downs & Sandown Park

Visitors to Fraser Downs lately will have noticed that most of the lower level of the grandstand complex has been sealed off. The first phase of a $25 million construction program is underway, a plan to open an interim facility with 200 slot machines by April of this year.

The complete new Fraser Downs Entertainment Centre will open for business April 1, 2005. Not only will everything we have now be renovated and modernized, much will be completely new, including a gaming floor with up to 400 slot machines.

Artist impression of the new Fraser Downs Entertainment Centre

When Surrey City Council gave final approval of our plan following a December 16 public hearing, it was a milepost in a marathon that began for me as a 1995 research project. That year, we became convinced that without the ability to compete in the modern gaming business, the horse racing industry would slowly wither toward insignificance.

As I listened to more than 70 speakers at the public hearing, the vast majority of whom were in favour of our proposal, I reflected back over the many years of the campaign and the tremendous number of people who helped. It is indescribable how proud I am of our staff and the horse racing community, all of whom have had to make sacrifices over the years to help us survive impossible business conditions.

And how thankful I am to so many. The Cloverdale District and Surrey Chambers of Commerce, the Cloverdale Rodeo and Exhibition Association, the Cloverdale Business Improvement Association and dozens of neighbours went out of their way to pledge support.

More than one member of Surrey council remarked that the public support was “overwhelming” and “unprecedented.” Some councillors have been consistently supportive for years and our industry will be forever grateful, but so many people have helped in different ways, I will refrain here from naming names. And, as much as I wish the process could have moved faster, we were impressed by the dedication and diligence shown by both elected representatives and officials at Surrey City Hall. They left nothing to chance and even the critics, through their thoughtful questions and objections, helped make our proposal better.

From 1996 onwards, every time the slot machine issue was debated, in any venue, we have consistently argued that our principal motive was defensive, not a quest for undeserved profit. Lotteries and gaming competition were killing us, both on the home front and beyond our borders. Slot machines at racetracks elsewhere in Canada greatly inflated purses, causing us an out-migration of both horses and horse people. 
I pledged repeatedly that, should we be given an opportunity to participate, our principal thrust would be to reinvest in not just the horse racing industry, but also all of the people within it and the communities we serve.

Yet every time I made these statements, I sensed scepticism within my audience. Nobody actually winked, but I could feel the wry smiles and questions. We make no apologies for an ambition to improve compensation for everybody in horse racing, including the shareholders of our company. We have all suffered together.

But now we are determined to prove the sincerity of everything we said along the way. We will make the provincial government, Surrey City Council and everyone who believed in us, forever proud of their role in this story.

Building fan appreciation
If renewed financial health and fair play for horse racing within the gaming environment fails to make the on-track racing sport more interesting and exciting, then our victory will be a shallow one indeed.

The ultimate measurements of success will be larger crowds, a more youthful fan demographic, new and enthusiastic owners of horses, better racing, more media attention and a higher pari-mutuel handle for live racing. The entertainment value of what we do must be squarely addressed by every participant, and particularly the creation of events that will test our owners, trainers, drivers, breeders and horses against superior talent from other jurisdictions.

Slot machines will win for us an opportunity to arrest our sport’s decline, attract many new people and substantially improve purses. All of us who love horse racing - operators, staff, fans and horse people - should be judged in the future by what we are now able to achieve.

That’s what this publication is all about: a VISION for an industry. Let’s pursue this dream together. Read these pages and see a potential far bigger than most race fans may have imagined.

Arial View of Fraser Downs 2005
Artist impression of Fraser Downs in April 2005

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Fraser Downs 17755 - 60th Avenue, Surrey, B.C. V3S 1V3 Canada 
Tel. 604.576.9141 * Fax 604.576.9821 

This publication is a copyright of Orangeville Raceway Ltd., presented for the information and enjoyment of staff, horse people, suppliers, fans and friends. Articles may be reproduced or quoted without permission, but please credit Fraser Downs.