Moosomin First Nation bringing horse racing back to Marquis Downs one last time

·2 min read
A stock photo shows a jockey on a racehorse. Moosomin First Nation is temporarily bringing back horse racing to Marquis Downs in Saskatoon later this summer. (Olga_i/Shutterstock - image credit)
A stock photo shows a jockey on a racehorse. Moosomin First Nation is temporarily bringing back horse racing to Marquis Downs in Saskatoon later this summer. (Olga_i/Shutterstock - image credit)

A First Nation northwest of Saskatoon has received the green light to bring horse racing back to the city's Marquis Downs track one last time.

The Moosomin Downs & Entertainment Limited Partnership has just received a thoroughbred racetrack operator licence from the provincial government, a news release said this week.

That means the company, formed by the economic development arm of the Moosomin First Nation and Ontario-based Pan Am Horse Racing Corporation, will host 10 days of horse racing starting Aug. 27 and running through September.

The event will likely be the last horse racing held at the Marquis Downs racetrack.

In March 2021, the track's owner, Prairieland Park, announced it would no longer be operating Marquis Downs — the province's only race track — leaving many in the horse-racing community in limbo.

Prairieland Park later announced a plan to build a professional soccer stadium on the site.

The decision had an impact on many people, says the chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, which represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan.

"When it was announced that horse racing would be coming to an end at Marquis Downs last year, so many people were affected, from those who are drawn to the horse spirit to the families who continued generations of tradition and horse expertise," Chief Bobby Cameron said in a news release.

"Moosomin seized the opportunity that many said would not happen."

The horse-racing events will finish on the weekend of Sept. 25, with the elite Indian relay championships — an event that features teams of riders taking laps around a track and switching horses after every lap — and the FSIN chief's mile race.

Moosomin First Nation said the events are a precursor for its main goal, which is opening up its own track in the rural municipality of Corman Park, just outside Saskatoon.

While a date has not been set for completion, the First Nation, which is about 150 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon, hopes to break ground on the new facility sometime this year.

Prairieland Park said it was pleased the track would be used for races once again.

"While we are not getting back into the horse racing business, we are excited to see someone else is," said Prairieland CEO Mark Regier.

"This is a perfect partnership. The Moosomin Downs people have the funding and capacity to run races, and we have the track this season."

Regier said that Prairieland is still working toward building the soccer stadium, with construction expected to begin this fall. The corporation is planning to start a capital campaign this fall to pay for the facility.

Prairieland said it was willing to donate items like a starting gate and the specialized dirt used to build the track to the Moosomin Downs project.

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