Southern Ontario is the place to race for top Quarter Horses July 2nd through July 5th. The province’s two Quarter Horse racing venues, Ajax Downs and Fort Erie Race Track are preparing to host the continent’s leading runners over an extended holiday weekend as they vie for AQHA championship points and lucrative purses.

Located right across the border from Buffalo, New York, the historic Fort Erie Race Track will host 18 Quarter Horse races, including six stakes, July 2nd, 3rd and 4th,  in conjunction with the town of Fort Erie’s famous Friendship Festival. The newly renovated Ajax Downs, located just east of Toronto (a three-hour highway trip east of Fort Erie) will offer 21 races during two full cards of Quarter Horse racing on July 3rd and July 5th. With valuable racing opportunities at both tracks during a holiday weekend for Canadians and Americans, visiting fans and horsemen should find the trip to Ontario both exciting and worthwhile.

Fort Erie’s July Friendship Festival of Racing will offer over $430,000 in Quarter Horse purses. The highlight of the meet is the G3 Bank of America Fort Erie Championship Challenge worth $100,000-added and valuable points towards the Challenge Championship Finals. The Championship Challenge stake, a 440-yard race for three-year-olds and up is scheduled for Monday July 4th.

Five more Quarter Horse stakes will be offered during the Fort Erie Friendship Festival of Racing. Saturday, July 2nd, will feature the $35,000-added Peace Bridge Stakes at 870 yards for three-year-olds and up, as well as the $40,000-added Merial Fort Erie Distaff Challenge, a 400-yard race for three-year-old and up fillies and mares, open to AQHA Bank of America Challenge nominated horses. On Sunday, July 3rd, two $35,000 added stakes will pit the Quarter Horses against the Thoroughbreds, sprinting short and long in the Fort Erie Battle of the Breeds stakes at 440 yards and 870 yards for three-year-olds and up. Monday, July 4th will host the $50,000-added Can-Am Nations’ Cup stake for three-year-olds and up at 300 yards in addition to the $100,000-added G3 Bank of America Championship Challenge.

Fort Erie will offer 12 non-stakes races during the July weekend that include a mix of maiden, claiming and allowance opportunities with an average purse of $11,300. While seven of the races are 350-yard events, three races are scheduled at 400 yards, one at 440-yards, and there is also a 110-yard event for three-year-olds and up worth $20,000.

Top racing Quarter Horses will reconvene at Fort Erie in October for a six-day season finale of racing on the 8th, 11th, 15th, 16th, 22nd and 24th. Celebrating its 115th year, Fort Erie’s Thoroughbred meet offers live racing on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays through October.

Boasting a new surface, grandstand and beautifully renovated facilities inside and out, Ajax Downs began its richest season to date on May 15, offering live Quarter Horse racing on Sundays and Tuesdays through to September. During two full days of racing on Sunday, July 3rd and Tuesday, July 5th Ajax Downs will offer a total of $339,000 in Quarter Horse purses.

On July 3rd, six open races, including maiden, claiming and allowance opportunities will be offered, all at either 300 or 330-yards, with an average purse of just over $16,000. Three races restricted to Ontario Breds are also scheduled, including a $26,000 allowance at 300 yards.

On July 5th, 10 open races will be offered, including a $26,000 allowance for three-year-olds and up at 330 yards, an $18,000 allowance for four-year-olds and up at 330 yards and a $17,000 allowance for three-year-olds at 300 yards. Two races restricted to Ontario Breds will round out a 12-race card with an average purse of $15,700. 
From graded stakes contenders to maiden two-year-olds, Quarter Horse competitors of various calibres and levels of experience will find racing opportunities with healthy purses in Ontario during the first week of July. The proximity of the two venues will allow those wishing to participate at both Fort Erie and Ajax Downs to take full advantage of a lucrative schedule designed to appeal to local and visiting horsemen alike.

For more information about the 2011 Fort Erie Quarter Horse meet, contact: Rick Cowan, Chief Operating Officer, FELRC, at: [email protected] or Eric Johnston, Racing Secretary, at: [email protected]

For more information about the 2011 Ajax Downs Quarter Horse meet contact: Nick Coukos, Vice President Corporate Affairs, at: [email protected] or Allen Hadley, Race Secretary, at: [email protected]

For more information about the Ontario Quarter Horse Racing Industry Development Program, contact the Ontario Racing Commission at: [email protected]