FORT ERIE, July 31st…After a successful five years with the Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium, Rick Cowan has made the difficult decision to step down from his position of Chief Operating Officer.

Cowan, came aboard in the summer of 2010, just three weeks prior to the Prince of Wales Stakes to take charge of the new management team and the day to day operations of the historic track. Under his leadership the racetrack made a number of positive changes of which Rick was the driving force, including Twilight racing, the Tiki Bar construction and numerous special events such as Legends Day and Circle the Course. It was Rick’s innovative decision to move the Prince of Wales Stakes from the tradition Sunday afternoon to the popular Tuesday twilight program which has resulted in record wagering.

“It almost seems like yesterday when I first talked to Rick about becoming Chief Operating Officer at the Fort Erie Race Track” said Jim Thibert, CEO of the FELRC.” Our Board of Directors was delighted that a person with the strength of character, experience in the industry and the wealth of knowledge in the horse industry would consider working at Fort Erie Race Track. It has been a very stressful and difficult time for horseracing over the past few years in Ontario”, continued Thibert, “and those attributes contributed monumentally to our planning and delivery of strategies to keep Fort Erie Alive and Kicking.”

“Rick’s approach is all teamwork and everybody is part of that Team. For that”, said Thibert, “the Fort Erie Race Track and Thoroughbred racing in Ontario is in a much better place and from a horseperson’s perspective, from a fan’s perspective and from a community development perspective, we all owe a great big thank you to Rick.”

“Although Rick will be stepping away from his senior management role the Board has offered and Rick has accepted that he will continue to be actively involved in operations at Fort Erie acting as a consultant for racing operations.”

Tom Valiquette, the Chief Financial Officer will become the Chief Operating Officer. “Tom was in fact, the first Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium hire,” said Thibert. “He has worked closely with Rick over these past five years, oversaw the transition from Nordic Gaming Corp and the three of us mounted the arguments and strategies to ensure funding to maintain the Fort Erie Race Track. The Board of Directors dealt with these two critical positions at our recent meeting in July and have full confidence in this and other succession planning directions”.

“We wish Rick and his wife Gail and Golden Retriever Skyy, all the best; we will see them back here in a bit less time-consuming role and please join with me and the Board of the FELRC in welcoming Tom Valiquette as our new Chief Operating Officer.