Evergreen Park Racing Club 2017 is in the books . . . and the 2018 version is officially underway.
The Evergreen Park board, on Wednesday, officially approved the formation of Evergreen Park Racing Club 2018.
The decision to continue the Club was no doubt made easier by the success of the first-ever racing club in 2017.
Evergreen Park General Manager Dan Gorman made the announcement about the 2018 Club at the 2017 Club windup at Evergreen Park on Thursday night at Badger Stadium at the Park.
It was not just a great year for the Club, but for The Horses At Evergreen Park as well, said Gorman.
Gorman revealed there was a 58 per cent increase in the handle at The Horses At Evergreen Park this year over 2016 . . . and some of that can be attributed to the Evergreen Park Racing Club 2017.
Club horses raced during the July-August pari-mutuel schedule seven times and each time a Club horse was featured Club members came out in droves. Attendance, especially among the younger demographic, was up overall over the season.
Gorman also said the fact there were more and fuller races was a factor in the increased interest and handle. Evergreen Park provided free sawdust bedding for all of the 350-plus horses over the summer and, says Gorman, that encouraged more owners to bring horses to Grande Prairie for the summer.
Most weekends there were over 20 races and most of those races had six to eight horses in each of them.
Full race cards create more interest, more betting and a better handle.
It was also announced on Thursday that each 2017 Club member, a total of 106 of them, would be getting a cheque for $136.80.
Racing Club manager Norm Tremblay, who has owned horses for years, said being able to give Club members a return at the end of a racing season is somewhat unusual. Tremblay (left) is shown in the photo with the first 2018 members - Jan and Joe Gass - and Gorman on the right.
It was announced Thursday that Tremblay will be returning as manager for 2018 and the Club will also be retaining the services of renowned trainer Robertino Diodoro to help the Club “scout” for horses for 2018.
"I would like to thank and congratulate our Club members," said Tremblay. "And to thank Evergreen Park for the support.
"I also want to thank Allen Goodsell (assistant trainer to head trainer Robertino Diodoro) and his team for the horse care and training.”
Tremblay said the Club will likely purchase at least two more thoroughbreds and could upgrade somewhat this year for better quality horses.
Improving on the 2017 numbers would be impressive.
Club horses were in the money – first, second or third – over 70 per cent of the time and won 44 per cent of the time. The best numbers of any owners at Evergreen Park this past summer.
Red N Black Attack raced four times at Evergreen Park and won twice; Xtreme Spell raced twice and was first once; and the third Club horse that appeared at The Horses At Evergreen Park, Dman Doughty, was in the gates once and finished fifth. Another Club horse, Command The Land, raced twice under Club colors at Northlands Park in Edmonton and won once, but was claimed in that winning race and didn’t appear in Grande Prairie.
Tremblay said the 2018 Club horses may again train in Edmonton before venturing to Grande Prairie for the summer season.
For many of the Club members it was their first experience with the sport.
“It was so much fun following our horses and learning about racing,” said Club member Garett Dika, who had never been involved in the sport. “I didn’t get out to many races, but kept on top of it through the Evergreen Park website and the Club Facebook page. It was a lot of fun.”
Dika said he had no idea what a claiming race was until Command The Land was lost to another owner in the spring.
“It was explained to me that’s horse racing. It’s a way to keep things honest and even and I’m all for that. I found out a lot about the sport and I’m looking forward to being a member again in 2018.”
At the windup Thursday many of the 2017 Club members who were in attendance signed up to be part of the 2018 club. Jan Gass was the first returnee and her husband, Joe, the first new recruit for 2018.
Anyone wanting to join the Club can do so in several ways.
It can be done online at www.evergreenpark.ca or by picking up a registration form at the Evergreen Park administration offices in the ENTREC Centre; at the Pines Restaurant & Casino; or by contacting the Park at 780-532-3279 and having a membership for sent.
For more information on the Club contact Tremblay at 780518-7914.