MILTON, FEB. 2, 2024 – The Ontario Sires Stakes program will open its 50th anniversary season on Sunday, May 19 with the three-year-old trotting colts squaring off in Grassroots action on the Charles Juravinski Memorial Cup program at Flamboro Downs.
Later that week Woodbine Mohawk Park will host the Gold Series opener with a star-studded Saturday, May 25 card that will feature the three-year-old pacing colts and fillies and three-year-old trotting colts.
Click here for the complete 2024 Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) schedule.
Reigning pacing colt champion Storm Shadow (Bettors Delight – Fade) will be targeting the May 25 card for his sophomore OSS debut, along with his stablemates in the Dr. Ian Moore barn, three-year-old pacing fillies Odds On Platinum (Bettors Delight – American Jewel) and Ann (Hes Watching – Addicted To Love). Moore, who is a nominee for Trainer of the Year at this weekend’s O’Brien Awards, also has nine two-year-old pacers prepping for the OSS, six colts and three fillies.
“In general, and I’ve said it many times before, I feel the OSS is one of the best programs out there,” said Cambridge, Ont., resident Moore. “Most of mine this year are Ontario Breds, so hopefully they pan out for us come July, or whenever, and we get to participate in the OSS, because I do enjoy the program quite a bit. It’s been good to us; we’ve had a lot of success over the last few years with the program.”
The Gold Series will have a new format in 2024, with two legs followed by a $150,000 Mid-Season Final and $40,000 Consolation, then two more legs followed by the $300,000 Super Final. Horses will accumulate points in each of the four legs to earn a berth in their respective Final or Consolation. Dates and locations for the Mid-Season events vary by age, sex and gait category, while the Super Finals will serve as the finale for the 50th anniversary celebrations on Saturday, Oct. 12 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
In 2024 the top 10 Grassroots point earners will advance directly to their respective $75,000 Championship on Saturday, Sept. 28, with the next 10 competing in a $25,000 Consolation on Friday, Sept. 27, both at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
A unique twist for the 50th anniversary season will see Grassroots Championship winners have an opportunity to enter and draw into their respective Super Final if it does not fill with Gold Series point-earners.
The Prospect Series will once again offer eight racing opportunities across five legs with the top point earners advancing to a $15,000 Final. The three-year-old Prospect Series Finals will be hosted by Grand River Raceway on Friday, Sept. 27 and the two-year-olds finalists will head to The Raceway at the Western Fair District on Friday, Oct. 11.
Although Home Market Area (HMA) wagering fell seven per cent in 2023, resulting in a $1 million dollar reduction in the Standardbred Improvement Program (SIP) revenue generated through the associated Pari-mutuel Tax Reduction (PMTR), purses will remain stable in the Gold, Grassroots and Prospect Series. The Gold Series legs will see $190,000 split between divisions, or $140,000 allocated to a single division, the Grassroots Series divisions will be worth $20,000 and the Prospect Series divisions $8,000. To make up for the shortfall in PMTR revenue, starting fees will be included in the guaranteed purse amount, not added on to the purse as they have been in past years.
“For a variety of reasons — all the online sports wagering available, rising interest rates — Home Market Area wagering took a hit this year, and revenue from that wagering makes up about 65 per cent of the OSS purses,” said SIP Committee member and Ontario Racing board member Ian Fleming. “The SIP committee had to find a way to balance the budget, and incorporating starting fees into the guaranteed purses was the best way to do that.”
For complete details about the 2024 Ontario Sires Stakes program please visit the website.
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