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The horses at the Fort Erie Race Track will run again this season, at least.

The Ontario government announced it will provide transitional funding that will allow the venue to operate a 2013 season, which begins in May, said Fort Erie Mayor Douglas Martin.

Provincial officials reached a deal with Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium, which has been running the track for two years, Martin said.

The exact amount of funding, specifics of the agreement and other details will be provided during an 11 a.m. news conference today at the race track, Martin added.

In April 2012, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. shut down the slot machines at the 116-year-old race track complex. That eliminated revenue used to support racing, Martin explained.

The transitional funding will provide time for the race track and Fort Erie to come up with “a way to make horse racing sustainable year after year,” Martin said.

The track was set to close at the end of 2012 until it was decided to use payments from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. to keep the track operating through the end of this month. In addition, continuing efforts were being made to sustain the track beyond that, according to James Thibert, chief executive officer of the Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium.

Without slot machines, the future of racing at the picturesque oval was uncertain after the season ended in October. Still, the raceway applied to the Ontario Racing Commission for 2013 racing season dates.

The track employs about 40 people on site, but the horses were removed and the track’s backstretch was closed.



email: dswilliams@buffnews.com