Moosomin First Nation will bring back horse-racing to Saskatoon this weekend, likely the last season at Marquis Downs.

In March 2021, the former owners of Marquis Downs announced their plan to no longer operate the track.

Shortly after that announcement, Moosomin First Nation announced their plans to build a new track outside of the city to be run by Moosomin Downs and Entertainment on reserve land.

In July, Moosomin Downs got approval from the government to run a season of races at Marquis Downs while the new location is built. The racing will start this Saturday August 27 and run through September 25.

Robert Woods, CEO of Moosomin First Nation’s economic development arm, says he is feeling a lot of emotions on the eve of the first Moosomin Downs race day pointing to anxiety along with a mixed sense of relief and excitement.

“There’s been a lot that has been going on over the past two years since we started on this journey and to see it come together now and the support we have received I think it is just a really good time,” he told MBC News.

This is also the first time a First Nation will host thoroughbred horse-racing in the country.

Woods pointed to Indigenous entrepreneurship in several other areas as a foundation that helped them get to this spot and says Moosomin Downs now has an opportunity to be a major player in the horse-racing industry.

“We want to move forward and step to the forefront as industry leaders, not only in the city and province, but we see ourselves as major players across North America,” he said.

While Woods wouldn’t say when the new track outside the city will be complete he says announcements will be coming in the future.

However, Woods did say they wanted to use the Marquis Downs facility for this year to ensure there is not another missed year of horse-racing.

Something that hasn’t happened in Saskatoon since before the Covid-19 pandemic.

(PHOTO: Concept art of the planned Moosomin Downs facility north west of Saskatoon. Photo by Moosomin First Nation.)