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Northlands Park - Memories Worth Keeping
community events

Canadian Derby Sweepstake

Winner "Fancy As"Horseracing in Alberta has a history extending back to 1882, when contests were held each July on a track that has long since disappeared underneath Edmonton’s urban heartland. After 18 years of hard competition at its previous site, the track was moved to its current home, where the sport was officially introduced and sanctioned in 1907.

At the time, the region’s most magnificent equine specimens were kicking up dirt on the Exhibition Association’s existing half-mile track, with all their breeding and training bent on winning the prize. It was no surprise then that by 1909, the horses at Northlands held the western records for pacing and trotting.

Rider on horsebackSome people were not content merely to watch, however. So that viewing the races might be made more interesting, parimutuel betting, wherein the ultimate pot is split among winners based on their initial contributions, was first offered in 1913.

The Edmonton Exhibition Association (EEA) took over the management of thoroughbred racing at the tracks in 1957, when they volunteered to temporarily host the Canadian Derby. This event, which had existed since 1930, ended up a permanent fixture at the park thereafter.

Though racing was a controversial pastime, the EEA and its derby found favour with the federal government in 1960, through the official patronage of the Governor General. Accordingly, the event became known as the Governor General’s Canadian Derby.

A close horse raceBy then, the EEA had long learned to covet the excitement and profits that came of operating the tracks. Organizers used the larger part of those fantastic revenues to aid in charitable events.

Not only did the length of the racing season increase as time went on, but Northlands also saw the first of many "Million-Dollar Days" in 1975, a year after the track had been expanded and improved.

By 1978, Northlands Park was averaging over $300,000 CDN a day in wagers placed throughout the 79 race days.

Winner "A Fleets Dancer"A thrilling roller coaster of champion upsets and unlikely victories has kept the public coming back to place bets ever since. Today, spectators set their own stakes according to a variety of options, while trainers and riders compete for portions of the $150,000 Canadian Derby winners’ purse.

The Canadian Derby and other racing activities at Northlands Park are designed to do more than entertain, they also serve to provide community returns. 85 percent of every dollar wagered at the track is funneled back to the public, either through the pari-mutuel system or by donations made to charitable causes. Only a small fraction of the total is spent on administrative costs, while the rest is either paid in purse money or in taxes.

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Northlands Race Regulation Bodies

Canadian Derby Sweepstake

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