“Harness racing has a short window to reinvent itself and become relevant again - in a way that hasn’t been seen for many decades. The status quo will not be sufficient to capture this opportunity when racing returns,” says horse owner/game designer Ryan Clements. “I think there’s a lot we can do. There is going to be many eyes on our sport if we do come back soon. And when we do get that brief moment, with no other major sports in play, we’ll have a chance to build a new fan base and we may never get this chance again. I believe we have to make the most of it - when we do come back… We have to look professional… We have to act professional… And when we do open - we have to open big. Let’s get those HD (high-definition) racing signals out there. Show our very best product. Now is the time to be investing in our future.”
A resident of London with his business operation - The Farm Games - based in the forest city, Clements comments that he is not being biased in saying that he’d like to see London race during the summer months… “If there’s anything that can be done to see racing happen, this summer, maybe now is the best chance for a track like The Raceway… If any track is willing to make a serious run at racing, with a nice HD signal and have everything in place to put on a great show - including a top notch broadcast - then I’m all for it… For any big on-track crowds - it looks as though it may not happen this summer, in Ontario, but I’m going to be optimistic and hold out hope that spectators will be allowed back - at some point in 2020.”
Talking horses now with Clements and he is very excited about the upcoming season for his stable… “Our four horses will be stabled at Dorchester Fairgrounds,” he says. “There’s P L Nikita - a 3YO trot filly and a winner of an O.S.S. Gold last season and P L Olivia - a 2YO trot filly. Both are home-breds for Prince Lee Acres… She Started It - a 3YO trot filly and she’s been our heart-breaker. It looked like she’d win a few O.S.S. Golds last season, but she broke very late (in the mile) in both starts, but we’ve got some high hopes for her again this summer. She grew lots over the winter and has been nursed along this Spring - she is definitely O.S.S. Gold talent.” Owned by Bright Future Racing (which includes about 25 owners) - Ryan is proud to mention there’s plenty of support, for the filly, that comes by way of Strokers Billiards in London. “They’ve got a nice photo of her - hanging on their wall. Some of the staff and customers are owners, within Bright Future Racing, so it’s great to see them getting behind her like that. And finally there’s St Lads Yeah Yeah - a 2YO colt pacer we picked up on day two of the London sale - he’s the first horse that sold that day. He was small, but his mom (Sand Song) won 39 races and he’s from the first State Treasurer crop. Over the winter he grew lots and he’s going to be a great size now… He’s another one for Bright Future Racing.”
The Farm Games: “We make mobile games!”
Off And Pacing, Catch Driver and Turf Dynasty are very popular mobile games within the horse racing community. While many businesses have struggled, with the ongoing pandemic, The Farm Games has actually seen an increase, in demand, for their products. “We saw about a 30% increase in play, for April, between both new users and regular players,” says Clements. “It’s interesting, to note, that we actually saw the first increase, for Catch Driver, come from Italy and we all know that they got hit first with the virus - so we did notice a surge, there, when this pandemic began.”
Clements on his company’s games…
Off And Pacing - “There’s well-known driver Yannick Gingras and he loves it! He gets to have his own stable of champion horses… That game has gotten us to where we are now!”
Catch Driver - “There’s well-known harness racing owner Mark Weaver who gets to be a driver in championship races… It’s becoming quite popular for lots of people!”
Turf Dynasty - “It’s an evolution of Off And Pacing, but for thoroughbreds… It’s starting to gain some traction!”
Catch Driver VR Arcade - “The delivery date for this arcade unit was the end of this May. It’s more than VR (Virtual reality) - you’re physically racing… It will soon be ready to go!”
Many have seen the ‘virtual Kentucky Derby race’ that was held recently. The race consisted of past triple crown winners - with well-known horse race announcer Larry Colmuss describing the action… “It looked great,“ states Clements. “And that’s exciting for me… Virtual races, like that, are not out of reach for our company.”
Kentucky Derby 2020 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ds77Vn1dnB0
And I agree - the race did look great and it likely cost a lot of money to produce, too, but I believe it was money well spent - especially during this difficult time… I think we all knew, beforehand though, who was going to win the race - right?
From the Twitter page of Ryan Clements…
‘Things everyone can learn from horse people.’
1. Get out of bed early.
2. Work hard.
3. Enjoy an afternoon nap.
4. Make mistakes, but never give up.
5. Be real - show your emotions.
6. Be passionate - care about people and animals.
7. Enjoy good times and keep going through the bad.
Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle
The Raceway at Western Fair District