Hiawatha offering 21 Saturday harness racing dates this year

Barry Wright

Hiawatha Horse Park and Entertainment Centre will push for more live harness racing dates in future, but for now president Jim Henderson is resigned to the fact the Ontario Racing Commission has allocated 21 dates for the coming racing season.

“I would have liked to have had more,” said Henderson. “The optimum amount of dates, in my mind, would be between 30 and 35.”

On the upside, harness racing in Sarnia will be exclusively on Saturday evenings, unlike the split between Thursday and Saturday evenings last season.

“Saturday is a good night,” Henderson said.

He’s also pleased with the timing of the dates because most are when the raceway at Western Fairgrounds in London is dark.

Hiawatha’s races will run from May 9 to Sept. 26.

Meantime, Henderson said weekly simulcast racing on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from premier North American tracks continues to evolve at the Golden Mile site.

“It’s growing every week,” he said.

The location also offers F1 Karting, beach volleyball courts, baseball diamonds and a driving range when the weather breaks in the spring. It’s not uncommon for diehard golfers to be on the range by March, Henderson said.

He said he’s also considering adding soccer pitches to Hiawatha.