‘Battle of the Breeds’ coming to Ajax Downs as thoroughbreds meet quarter horses at 870 yards

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Published September 21, 2023 at 12:41 pm

Quarter horse Fast Flung Floyd wins a 440-yard 'Battle of the Breeds' race at Fort Erie in 2011. Photo courtesy of Michael Burns

The thoroughbreds are coming to Ajax Downs to take on the resident quarter horses after the track received approval from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to host ‘Battle of the Breeds’ racing.

Details on the races are still up in the air at this time as organizers are in the process of reaching out to thoroughbred owners to see who would be game for the challenge, said Ajax Downs General Manager of Racing Operations Emilio Trotta.

“We have to see who is interested first,” he said. Whether we get five entrants or more we don’t know yet. But we’re making some phone calls.”

Racing writer and analyst Jennifer Morrison, who broke the news of the Battle of the Breeds, called it “exciting news” for the Ajax track.

The races are pencilled in for October 4 and October 18 – should the interest be there – and will be run as ‘hook’ races (around one bend) over 870 yards.

“The longer the distance the more it favours the thoroughbreds,” Trotta noted. “The 870 distance is in the middle.”

The distance will still likely slightly favour the thoroughbreds, with 660 yards being the perfect sweet spot for the more muscular quarter-horses. The configuration of the Ajax Downs track won’t allow for that distance, however.

“The 870 should be a good race,” Trotta said.

The mixed breed race was tried in 2011 over two different distances at Fort Erie (with quarter-horses coming out on top) and Trotta said he is talking to horse owners and trainers at the Niagara facility to gauge interest.

The Ajax Downs racing season ends October 25.

For more information on racing a thoroughbred at Ajax Downs contact info@ ajaxdowns.com..

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