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Ontario Racing Newsletter - August 2, 2017

Connecting Horse Racing with Government
Ontario Racing Leadership Update
Ontario Racing Delivers $2.5 Million in Purse Money to Standardbred Racing
Prizes Available for Survey Participants
AGCO Removes Requirement for Head Numbers
New Woodbine Stall Policy

MPP Racetrack Visits

Connecting the horse racing industry with our government partners is a key objective of Ontario Racing. This summer we have hosted several visits by elected Members of Provincial Parliament to local tracks to learn more about the importance of racing to the Ontario economy, and personally meet horse owners, trainers, drivers, jockeys and racetrack staff.

Clockwise from top-left: Bob Bailey MPP (Sarnia-Lambton) at Hiawatha Horse ParkMonte McNaughton MPP (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex) at Dresden Raceway; Michael Harris MPP (Kitchener-Conestoga) in the judges booth at Grand River Raceway; Joe Dickson MPP (Ajax-Pickering) at Ajax Downs.

Top: Toby Barrett MPP (Haldimand-Norfolk) at Woodbine for the Queen's Plate. Below, in middle: Wayne Gates MPP (Niagara Falls) at Fort Erie Racetrack (Photo Credit: Michael Burns Photography). 

Ontario Racing Leadership Update

As announced on July 25th, Ontario Racing’s Executive Director, Rob Cook, has announced his resignation from the association, effective August 7, 2017. Ontario Racing’s Chair Hugh Mitchell wished Mr. Cook the very best for his future and expressed gratitude on behalf of OR’s board for Mr. Cook’s significant contributions in leading the organization during its development over the past year.

The Board of Directors is working closely with OR’s executive team to manage the transition. During the transition period, Ontario Racing’s Director of Policy, Mike Chopowick, will assume the role as Acting Executive Director. The Board of Directors of OR has commenced the formal search process for a permanent Executive Director.

Ontario Racing Delivers $2.5 million in Purse Money To Standardbred Racing

Ontario Racing is pleased to announce that it will distribute $2.5 million in stranded Standardbred purse funds to support Standardbred purse enhancements and supplements.

Beginning in the 2017 racing season, the money will directly support Standardbred track purses, the area of racing in which most participants earn their living. This is consistent with direction from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and agreed to by Ontario Racing and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG).

OR will manage the requested funds from a separate trust account and will implement management, reporting and accountability mechanisms, in consultation with OLG, to ensure that funds are dispersed in alignment with OR’s objectives of industry self-determination and sustainability. More information is on the OR website.

Prizes Available for Survey Participants

To support Ontario Racing’s responsibilities for the management and administration of the Horse Improvement Program (HIP), OR is undertaking a comprehensive HIP review.  OR has engaged two firms to work jointly on the HIP review – Economic Research Ltd. (ERL) and Strategic Equine Inc.

A key part of the review is the Economic Survey which will measure full-time equivalent jobs, gross domestic product (GDP) and tax revenues generated. The survey will be sent to horse racing industry participants on a random-sample basis.

Five survey respondents will have an opportunity to win one of five prizes:
1)    One free Equine Guelph course in Equine Sciences, Business Management or Equine Welfare, valued at over $500
2)    Dining Certificate at Mohawk Raceway, valued at $200
3)    Dining Certificate at Woodbine Racetrack, valued at $200
4)    Gift Certificate at Greenhawk Equestrian Sport, valued at $200
5)    Gift Certificate at Systems Fencing Ltd., valued at $200
The survey will be distributed by: Standardbred Canada for Standardbred people; Woodbine, Fort Erie and CTHS for Thoroughbred; and, by ERL for Quarter Horse people. We  encourage all survey recipients to participate and respond to the survey to ensure the most accurate measurement possible. The randomly-selected survey’s were released July 16th. Please look for the survey invitations in your email or mail, and respond at your earliest convenience.

AGCO Information Bulletin No. 45 (Horse Racing)

To better reflect the current state of racing operations and regulations, the Registrar hereby orders that the Rules of Standardbred Racing 2016 be amended, effective immediately. Standardbred Directive No. 3 – 2017 amends the Standardbred Rules of Racing, 2016, and removes the requirement for head numbers and revises the claiming provisions.

The following sections are affected:
  • Chapter 6 – Violations, Penalties And Expulsions, Section 6.02(h)
  • Chapter 15 - Claiming Races, Section 15.09(a)
For details, please see the attached Directive.

New Woodbine Stall Policy

Since a new Thoroughbred stall policy was first announced by Woodbine regulating the number of "ship-outs" to other tracks, Ontario Racing engaged in extensive discussions with Woodbine Entertainment Group, Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG), the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and Fort Erie Live Racing, to determine the reasons, the impact, and any potential implications of the new policy.

The specific issues surrounding this policy change, such as the supply of active race horses, the high costs of racetrack operations, and the business challenges of horse ownership, highlight the pressing need for a new industry funding and business framework for Ontario racetracks.

Ontario Racing has focused on this priority, including our 2016 consultation with all racetracks on how to build a foundation for the long-term economic sustainability of horse racing in Ontario, with these consultation findings outlined in Ontario Racing’s March 2017 recommendations report to the provincial government. Securing the economic sustainability of horse racing, including its vital economic importance to small town and rural Ontario, is of central importance to Ontario Racing, and our policy development discussions with our government partners.

Following discussions and consultations among all relevant stakeholders, Woodbine Entertainment Group has amended its stall procedures to allow additional flexibility for horses to ship out to other facilities. The amended policy took effect July 15th, and Horse People should contact the racetrack for any further details.

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