Standardbred racing returns to Cornerstone Raceway in the city this Friday.
Shaun Morin said he expects a seven race card for the season opener after 48 horses went through qualifying paces June 1.
With 48 horses qualifying and several horses having raced more recently in Alberta or Ontario, so not needing to qualify, the horse numbers look solid for the season ahead, a season in which the Yorkton Exhibition Association is taking some added risk with the provincial government no longer supplying grant money to horse racing in the province.
As a result, purses for races are down this year at the track, with the YEA budgeting $7,500 per race day, so races will be pacing for a share of about $1,000 per race.
Morin said the YEA, and those racing in Yorkton this season are looking at the year as one which is really a bridge year, keeping the sport alive in hopes of generating something stronger for the years ahead.
"We want to get through the year and keep talking to the powers to be to make some changes, to make them see this is part of the history of the province, and it's an industry," he said, adding to get that message across "takes time," and that is what a reduced purse season in 2013 is all about, providing that time.
Morin said the Manitoba government recently decided to maintain its investment in racing, so he holds that as positive, and that things could change again in Saskatchewan.
As for upcoming races, Morin said the qualifiers were in the 2:05/2:07 ranges, which he deemed encouraging given the year.
"It's been really tough to get the horses ready this spring," he said, adding the horses stabling in Yorkton have had access to the track for weeks, but on farms a late thaw, and recent rains , have impeded training.
Races will go at 5:45 Fridays over the next three months, with the exception of a 4 p.m. card Father's Day, and a 4 p.m. card Saturday, July 6, as part of the summer fair.