SASKATOON -- In an effort to keep the horse racing track in Saskatoon, a Saskatchewan-based jockey made a bid to a city committee to designate Marquis Downs as a heritage site.

"Horse racing is more than just entertainment,” said Nicole Hein. “It represents 150 years of hard work.”

Hein and a handful of others made a pitch to the city’s standing policy committee on planning, development and community services to look into preserving the history of Marquis Downs with a heritage designation.

Under a heritage designation, the owner would be required to maintain the property and must have civic approval to alter the heritage elements of the property according to the City of Saskatoon.

Hein said the heritage designation would help preserve Saskatchewan’s only equine racing track and keep jobs.

Councillor Darren Hill put forward a motion to the committee asking the committee to consider handing over Hein’s request for heritage designation to the Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee (MHAC) for further consideration. Hill’s motion was defeated.

While disappointed with the result Hein said the city should look at exploring the option of preserving Marquis Downs.

“In this case, the city has decided to sever a very real tie to our collective history in the face of a viable opportunity to preserve it as a living legacy to our agricultural heritage,” Hein said in an email to CTV News. “What a shame.”

In February Prairieland Park announced it was axing the 2021 racing season because of the deepening COVID-19 pandemic, the second year in a row Prairieland has cancelled the horse racing season.

A month later, Prairieland Park announced it was exploring the option of bringing a soccer team to Saskatoon with the formation of the Canadian Premier League (CPL). A partnership with Living Sky Sports and Entertainment is looking at a stadium for a Saskatoon CPL franchise that would replace Marquis Downs.

New track could spare industry

Last month Moosoomin First Nation announced its intentions to save the Saskatchewan horse racing industry with the development of a new horse-race track just northwest of Saskatoon.

According to the First Nation, Moosomin Downs would consist of 124 acres of land northwest of the city near Highway 16, in the Rural Municipality of Corman Park.

The First Nation, in partnership with Moosomin First Nation Economic Development Corporation, is now looking for partners to help fund the $40 million project. Organizers told CTV News Moosoomin Downs is expected to be completed in the fall of 2023.