Hi everyone. Back in 1980, in the closing seconds of the Olympic hockey game between the United States and Russia, in which the U.S. stunned the powerful Soviet team who had won nearly every world championship and Olympic tournament since 1954, announcer Al Michaels asked, "Do you believe in miracles? YES!"...And all of us old enough to recall that moment, remember the joyous feeling.
I reference that opening because of the recent announcement that Fort Erie Race Track reached a deal with the Ontario government for transition funding to ensure another season of racing will return in 2013. Many thanks go out to the countless number of people involved in getting the deal completed days before the March 31st, 2013 deadline. The now 116-year old facility will have 50 thoroughbred race dates, with opening day set for Sunday, May 26th. The pact also ensures the Prince of Wales Stakes, will once again be held at the "Grand Old Lady." The date for the 2nd leg of the Canadian Triple Crown is still to be determined.
At the close of 2012 racing season, two words best described the future of Fort Erie racing, gloom and doom. With all but the final nail in the coffin, the situation was downright ugly. Many of my close friends and associates that practice their specialties and make their livelihoods at Fort Erie were in upheaval, facing the possibility of moving out to another venue or worse yet, finding employment in another line of work. I just couldn't imagine any single one of them that call the backstretch their home, being happy doing something other than working with the horses on a daily basis. This group of fine individuals are the best at what they do. Yes, they can showcase their talents at any racetrack, but many of them have called Fort Erie home for decades and didn't want to leave. Now, this tightly knit contingent don't have to. They can continue making an honest living inside the confides of a place that has 115 years of fine racing tradition, and whose slogan for the upcoming 2013 season is: Alive and Kicking.
So, if Al Michaels, or anyone for that matter, should come up to me and ask, "Nick, do you believe in miracles?" My answer, without conviction, will be "When it comes to live racing in 2013 (and hopefully beyond,) at my favorite place on the planet....YES."