Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 45 > Page 90 - The Rankin Family and Harness Racing

Page 90 - The Rankin Family and Harness Racing

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1987/6/1 (370 reads)

Rick here for 400, and I raced him up there for 1400, So you took an awful jump in purses--doubled, tripled in some cases. And still you didn't need to triple your investment. The same horses you had here would do up there. You'd be foolish to stay here and go in debt, when all you had to do was travel 250 miles and make money. So it turned out really good for me there. Until they closed the track, Sobeys bought the property and they closed the racetrack down. We were scheduled to race Saturday night, and Friday they said, "No, we're not racing tomorrow." They didn't tell us why. They said it was due to liability in? surance- -patrons at the track slipping and falling. But that was just kind of a cover- up. The real reason was they had sold the track, or were trying to sell it. Then all of a sudden the news came out: the track was for sale. And then: sold! We were given a week to vacate the premises. So I moved back this way. (You were saying to me you thought they could have still raced the season there.) The track is still--other than those few loads of fill that are dumped on the track--the barns are still the:'e, the grandstand is still there. It's'just va? cant. There's no apartment buildings where the racetrack was, or no Sobeys store built where the racetrack was. The race? track is still there, with no horses and no people; some fill dumped on the track. (Was Sackville Downs an important track?) Oh yeah, by far, the heart of racing in the Maritimes. It kind of rules out racing horses in the Maritimes for a living. It's just so hard to make ends meet. The price of feed and the price of equipment, and help and gas and whatever. You just can't do it, and race for 2 or 3 hundred dollars, (And what's wrong here in Sydney?) Well, the calibre of horses is down and the at? tendance is down. But per capita, I don't think it's really all that bad. For Sydney to be betting 30,000, with 30,000 people-- they're doing all right, if Halifax is bet? ting 100,000, with 200,000 people there. So really, Sydney isn't doing that terri? bly bad. There's just no people and no mon? ey around to make it that much bigger. I'm afraid it always will be that way, unless the steel plant got a big boom, or the heavy water plant. Factories or whatever. The people just didn't have the money. And that's really, I think, what's wrong with Sydney. Those racetracks in Toronto will bet a mil? lion dollars a night. But look at the peo? ple they have to draw from: the city of Toronto. (And what are the horsemen run? ning for then? 10%?) Yeah. So they're go? ing for 100,000 a night. (Did you ever have a desire to do anything unrelated to horses with your life, a ca? reer, anything?) Not really. No, I guess I never did. I thought of other things as a sideline--like being in Cape Breton, and hard times--like I got a license to drive a school bus. (Cut a little pulp?) Exactly! Yeah, that's right! I've been very lucky, each time I fell. I guess I'm young, eh, to be honest. You can bounce and roll and tumble a lot easier when you're 25 than when you're 45. Probab? ly the accident had been as bad as any, but you're just young and your reflexes are quicker and you can take the roll. I remember, I just had started driving-- there were 6 of us went down one night; right at the half, A couple of fellows had broken their arms and a horse broke his leg--but I was lucky, I didn't get a scratch. I've been very fortunate that way--I never broke an arm or a leg or any? thing. Although Sunday it was very close. The horse that I was driving fell down, and the next one coming stepped on me. And kicked me in the head a couple of times, Which was lucky the helmet didn't fly off when I fell. My horse fell, and I went o- ver my horse into the path of the one com? ing behind, I was, like, 2 on the outside, and fell. So he threw me in towards the rail, and the one coming behind couldn't loS Ae coopetMoi& f' Insurance Services I '' For All Your Personal Coverage, Call: SYDNEY 539-6315 (toll free) NORTH SYDNEY 794-4788 GLACE BAY 849-4547 MABOU 945-2514 NEW WATERFORD 862-3350 LOUISDALE 345-2199 PORT HAWKESBURY 625-0640 CHETICAMP 224-3204 A COMPREHENSIVE FARM PACKAGE IS AVAILABLE (90) HARNESS RACING IS ACTION AND THE ACTION IS AT Tartan Downs Raceway Ample Parking Fully Licensed Tack Room featuring Excellent Meals Beverage Room Canteen Facilities SUMMER RACING Monday & Thursday Post Time: 7:30 P.M. Prince St., Sydney, N. S, ATLANTIC SIRE STAKES (June 11, July 9, Aug. 27, Sep. 24) J. A. FERGUSON MEMORIAL INVITATIONAL (June 25) PEPSI-COLA INVITATIONAL (July 16) ACTION WEEK '87 (Aug. 1, 3, 4, 6, 8) Action Week Pace - Aug, Reservations 564-8465 Year-Round Hamess Racing in tlie Heart of Sydney
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