Excerpted with permission, from Field of Dreams (by Jessica Patterson) in the September/October issue of Western Horse Review. Find the full feature in the issue now on newsstands, and find out what really happened to the Balzac race track and what the future my entail for it.
Balzac. In Canada’s horse racing world, the name conjures up not the quaint little village on the edge of metropolis Calgary, but rather, images of the track that never happened – despite dedicated efforts by players in the industry and a great deal of money. The grandiose plan encountered court-ordered creditor protection, death, the financial crisis, recession and water woes. The Balzac track was intended to breathe new life into an ailing Alberta horse racing industry. Now six barns sit empty and what was meant to be a world-class racing complex is a fallow field.
The Balzac racetrack was the brainchild and dream of the late Calgarian Dwight McLellan, a former businessman and real estate developer. McLellan’s first passion was real estate, but horses came a close second, says Mat Monaco, executive director of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) of Alberta.