Saint John man hopes to boost horse racing in N.B. with new podcast

As of the end of 2022, Horse Racing New Brunswick's lease in Saint John expired and wasn't being renewed by the Exhibition Association.  (CBC - image credit)
As of the end of 2022, Horse Racing New Brunswick's lease in Saint John expired and wasn't being renewed by the Exhibition Association. (CBC - image credit)

Scott Waddell of Saint John has seen first-hand the decline in harness racing in New Brunswick over the past 40 years.

Waddell, part of the harness racing community, wants people to know what's happening. He has decided to start a Maritime horse racing podcast called Harness the Talk.

"It's in dire straits right now … here in New Brunswick, with an uncertain future," said Waddell.

Horse Racing New Brunswick's lease in Saint John expired at the end of the 2022 season and wasn't renewed by the Exhibition Association.

Submitted by Scott Waddell
Submitted by Scott Waddell

Waddell's first job was working at the Saint John track selling tickets.

From there, he worked different jobs over the years, like announcing the races, doing an internet show on race days, and working as the director for publicity and promotions.

So, he decided to "keep the sport alive" with discussions about harness racing in the Maritimes and other features.

Guy Barbara, the president of Horse Racing New Brunswick, said he's happy to hear about Waddell's podcast.

Barbara became president three months ago. He said he noticed the organization hasn't put much emphasis on its image in the past.

He said the association stands for more than racing.

"We have many sides," he said, saying those include breeding and equine therapy.

"We're into many things that nobody knows about. And so I'm happy that Scott is going to start the ball rolling with some information about that."

Barbara said he's known Waddell for four or five years. He said Waddell is very knowledgeable about horse racing.

Possible guest appearances

Waddell said he would potentially like to have Barbara on the podcast. Barbara said he would likely be open to something like that.

But Waddell also said he wants the podcast to be independent of the horse racing organization.

"I want it to be totally unbiased," he said. "If there's something that, for example, that I don't agree with that Horse Racing New Brunswick are doing then … I want … to give my opinion and have others share their opinions as well."

Created by Kaitlyn Wesley
Created by Kaitlyn Wesley

Waddell said a podcast also opens up an opportunity to get younger people more involved and interested in the sport.

In the last few years, Waddell said he thinks the spectators for the races have included a number of younger people with many coming back week after week. He said at the final race in Saint John, he saw a lot of young people attend a race for the first time.

"I think the sport was just kind of growing back, so to speak," he said. "And I think … it could have kept that same upward trend if we were able to continue here in Saint John."

Although the lease in Saint John ended, Barbara said the association does have a lease with Woodstock. The plan is to hold races there this summer, with the possibility of racing in other areas.

He said the first episode is set to come out in mid-January. He said the first couple of episodes will be about the uncertain future of racing in the province.