By Chris Lomon / @ChrisLomon
Photos by John Watkins
What’s the best advice for fans when it comes to the fall meet at The Raceway at Western Fair District? Pace yourself.
From straight-A’s for its new High Definition look, to a new wagering option, to major league racing events, to a 59 percent handle increase on opening night, there’s a lot going on at the London oval these days.
And all of it aims to please.
A sure bet, according to Western Fair Racing Manager Greg Gangle, is that there is something for everyone who visits the half-mile track.
For starters, a new complement to the racetrack’s wagering menu is already generating plenty of positive feedback.
Western Fair’s betting offerings will once again showcase a trio of guaranteed wagers. The Pick-3 features a $2,500 guarantee with a new $.60 cent minimum, while a pair of $5,000 guaranteed Pick-4 pools and a pair of Super Hi-5 wagers are also available - all 15 percent takeout wagers.
The Super Hi-5 races will be contested at the distance of one and one-sixteenth miles.
“One thing we’re really focused on is raising the minimums on some of the wagers,” said Gangle. “We want to strive for the best payouts for our customers, therefore we increased the Pick 3 to a $.60 cent minimum. If that is successful, then we will be looking at doing the same for the triactors. I’m a proponent of raising the minimums and this will be a nice test.”
The addition of High Definition has also garnered rave reviews.
Western Fair’s entire production has been upgraded to HD with a polished new look that’s been incorporated into the graphics package.
It’s one example of the management team’s effort to enhance the experience for customers both on and off track.
“Upgrading our signal to HD keeps us current in the marketplace,” said Gangle. “It helps keep our product at a high level and that translates into wagering and customer experience. It’s something that we are very proud to share with our customer base.
“We’ve also spent a lot of time and resources into upgrading our TV production to HD,” he continued. “We’ve seen the terrific results from other racetracks this summer and it’s certainly attributed to an increase in wagering. We will offer a brand new in-house studio along with different camera angles and graphics package. We’re certainly maximizing the opportunity to give the best production we can to our customers. All this wouldn’t be possible without the support of Ontario Racing Management and Ontario Lottery and Gaming. We can’t thank them enough.”
Special events will be a staple of the fall meet, and beyond.
The final day of racing for the season, May 29, is highlighted by one of the biggest pacing events on the Canadian Standardbred calendar.
“October is loaded with racing events,” noted Gangle. “Apart from the opening night festivities, we also have Veterans Classic night on October 18, which honours our veterans, along with the 14th Annual Harness The Hope in support of Breast Cancer, on October 25. We will also be hosting the London Selected Yearling Sale on October 19 and 20. When we close out the season in May, we will be hosting our marquee event of the year, the Camluck Classic.”
Opening night festivities included $1 programs and food specials along with prize giveaways throughout the night compliments of Ontario Racing. The ‘Wanna Drive’ team was also hand offering fans the chance to sit behind an actual racehorse in a custom-made double-seater jog cart.
There’s also food for thought, so to speak, when it comes to watching the races from Western Fair’s dining room.
Pub Nights return every Monday night at the Top Of The Fair, offering a unique pub style menu. The second Tuesday of each month is ‘Top Of The Fair Tuesday’ featuring a buffet-style dinner and gaming package for $26.99.
“We’ve undertaken two major projects this off season,” said Gangle. “We fully renovated the Top Of The Fair, which will offer a brand new dining experience along with first-class horse racing. The project took us a few months to complete and we’re excited to showcase it to our customers.”
Guests can also take advantage of the ‘Two Can Dine For $59.99’ promotion during the month of October.
“We are looking forward to another great season of racing and entertainment at The Raceway,” said new Director of Racing, Rob Lumsden. “October has become a really busy month for us and we’re pleased to offer this excellent promotion at the newly renovated Top Of The Fair. When you combine this deal with exciting live horse racing you have one of the most unique and affordable dining experiences in the city.”
The weekly Western fall schedule features racing every Monday and Tuesday at 6:15 p.m. and Friday nights at 6:55 p.m.