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Ontario Racing Grateful for Opportunity to Resume Racing; Continues Effort for Ability to Race Safely During Future Lockdown

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Ontario Racing Grateful for Opportunity to Resume Racing; Continues Effort for Ability to Race Safely During Future Lockdown

February 23, 2021
Ontario Racing Grateful for Opportunity to Resume Racing; Continues Effort for Ability to Race Safely During Future Lockdown
Toronto, ON – February 23, 2021 – On behalf of the thousands of people and families horse racing supports throughout the province, Ontario Racing Independent Chair John Hayes would like to thank the Government of Ontario for the opportunity to safely resume racing.
 
“We are fully supportive of the Government’s efforts in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and will always do what is required as an industry,” Hayes said. “We are also extremely grateful for the opportunity to resume racing at several tracks across the province.”
 
Live racing recently resumed at Rideau Carleton Raceway in Ottawa, Western Fair Raceway in London, Woodbine Mohawk Park in Milton, and Flamboro Downs in Hamilton.
 
Since the pandemic began in Ontario last year, the horse racing industry, led by Woodbine Entertainment, has developed and implemented effective and industry-leading COVID-19 prevention protocols. These protocols have enabled the industry to race safely when permitted. Since each of the 15 racetracks in Ontario implemented the protocols last summer, there has only been one known on-site transmission of the virus, which was quickly contained and managed due to the stringent procedures and protocols that are in place.
 
Ontario’s robust horse racing industry continues to be a major contributor to the economy, both locally and provincially.
 
“Based on our proven ability to race safely and considering how much economic activity the industry generates, and the many jobs it supports, we are strongly advocating for the ability to safely operate live racing during a potential future lockdown situation,” Hayes added.
 
The horse racing industry supports more than 50,000 jobs nationwide, with the majority of those jobs located in Ontario, home to 15 racetracks, three breeds – Thoroughbred, Standardbred and Quarter Horse – and a racing product that is highly respected throughout the world.
 
“In addition to the thousands of people horse racing supports, we also have a responsibility to the horses,” noted Hayes. “Caring for and training horses is expensive and without the opportunity to earn income from live racing, the wellbeing of these amazing animals is at risk.”
 
The Woodbine backstretch alone is home to 1,200 Thoroughbreds, horses that will compete throughout Woodbine’s 133-day live racing meet scheduled to start on April 17 and run to December 12.
 
For horsepeople throughout the province, their financial welfare is directly dependent upon the ability of racetrack operators to conduct live racing for the respective number of race days that have been allotted by the AGCO.
 
“We have shown our ability to safely conduct live racing throughout the numerous challenges presented by the pandemic,” said Hayes. “We, as an industry, have gone above and beyond the mandated COVID-19 prevention measures, to ensure the health and safety of our horsepeople and horses. Should a future lockdown occur, the Ontario horse racing industry is fully capable of operating live racing in a safe and professional manner.” 

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