Rozema’s Roundup – September
Written by Chad Rozema, Grand River Raceway Raceway Manager
The curtain came down on the 2023 racing season at Grand River on Wednesday, September 27th when Clever Character and Travis Henry romped in the final dash over the half-mile oval.
Wagering continued to show gains in September, where the total handle on the 11 race cards reached $3,027,592, an increase of 63% compared to September 2022 which hosted 10 race nights. The total handle for the 47 card meet was $13,883,449, a 29% increase compared to 2022. It also established an all-time wagering record in the 20-year history at GRR, surpassing the old mark of $12,960,412 set in 2006 over 61 race days. The promising growth is great news as the product has become more popular ahead of the unveiling of a brand new five-eighths configuration in 2024.
Driver and trainer titles weren’t decided until the final card of racing. Colin Kelly added 9 wins in September to secure his third top dash driver trophy. His 42 wins were three better than Travis Henry and Jay Harris. Colin also won top honours in 2018 and 2021. Conditioner Brett Lester captured his very first trainers title, posting 6 wins in September, giving him 18 victories for the meet. The former student of perennial top trainer Richard Moreau held off Lori Lepage who had a great year with 16 wins and defending top trainer Jodie Cullen who sent out 15 winners.
Construction of the new five-eighths racetrack continued at a feverish pace with most of the ground for the new oval cleared out. With racing now complete, things will ramp up in the coming days as the existing track will start being removed as well as the lights. All signs still point to construction being complete by the end of April 2024, giving us time to set things up for the start of the new season in early June.
I would like to congratulate everyone on a very successful season in 2023 and thank all the great staff, trainers, drivers, owners, grooms, fans, and horseplayers for helping us make this the best year ever at Grand River Raceway. We are building something special here and I look forward to welcoming everyone back in 2024. Cheers to a safe and healthy off-season!
Photo by: Tiffany Chantel Photography