July 28, 2014

COSA Board Supports The OHRIA Plan As Best Option To “Get The Government To The Table”

The COSA Board of Directors has now gone on record as supporting and endorsing the OHRIA plan for the future of Horse Racing in Ontario.

In a press release issued, August 3, 2012, the organization states “…we must get the government to the table and believe the OHRIA plan offers the bset opportunity to achieve that aim.” The full press release is available by clicking here.

Liberal MPP Greg Sobara Hopeful That Government Will Show Some Movement On Ontario Horse Racing Issue

A day after announcing that he is resigning from his post in the City of Vaughan, veteran Liberal MPP Greg Sorbara has commented on the crisis the Ontario horse-racing industry is facing due to the decision by the Ontario Liberals to scrap the highly-sucessful slots-at-racetracks program. “I am hopeful, as we revisit this issue, we will take some amending steps that will ensure a strong horse-racing industry in this province,” Sorbara said.

Sorbara’s comments came during a radio interview with Paul and Carol Mott on The Motts Show. Carol didn’t beat around the bush when she broached the highly controversial subject with the outgoing Sorbara, a former Ontario Finance Minister who has been part of the provincial legislature for no less than 21 years.

“It’s the whole slots-at-racetracks program, and I think the government made a huge mistake here in cancelling that program,” Carol said. “It has been doing such great things for the province and for the industry.” Paul quickly followed, stating, “Well, call it for what it is. It was an idiot move on the part of the government. No, really.”

Preparing for a retort from Sorbara, Carol said, “Honestly, I don’t say [the Ontario Liberals] make ‘idiot moves’ too often, but this one was a big, big, big ‘boo-boo.’”

“Carol, I understand that,” Sorbara said, “and I’ve been working on this issue since Day 1.” Sorbara then carefully stated, “Let me put it this way: I am hopeful, as we revisit this issue, we will take some amending steps that will ensure a strong horse-racing industry in this province.”

Sorbara then stated, “I understand what was in mind when the initiatives were taking place were under very severe financial constraints. We are having another ‘look-see.’ I just got off the phone a while ago with (transition panel member) John Wilkinson and I’m hopeful, given the information that he’s putting together and the consultations that he’s having. Don’t give up hope.”

Sorbara also acknowledged the vocal response of Ontario horse-racing industry participants during the crisis, and ensured that all of the industry participants’ feedback has been hitting its mark.

“I think I can safely say that your voice and the voice of others are having an impact, and I know that the committee is doing very, very good work,” Sorbara said. “I’m not sure what the end result will be, but my counsel has been, from Day 1: Let us do what is necessary to make sure that we continue to have a strong horse-racing industry. And it’s not for those with deep pockets, but it is for the thousands of people that work on farms and look after horses, so all I can tell you is that we’re working on it.”

(Standardbred Canada)

David Willmot Retires As WEG Chairman of the Board

Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) has announced the retirement of David S. Willmot as the Company’s Chairman of the Board.

James J. Lawson has been elected Chairman.

Willmot was first elected to the WEG Board in 1984. He served as President & CEO of the Company from 1995 to 2010 and had been Chairman since 2001.

He led the repositioning of WEG, a not-for-profit corporation, around the objective of operating a multi-dimensional entertainment business, committed to maximizing financial performance in order to achieve the highest quality of horse racing.

To that end, the Company has invested approximately $385 million over the past 15 years improving its on-track and off-track customer experience and amenities, implementing industry-leading new broadcasting and wagering technologies and investing in its racetrack facilities and racing products to ensure that they are the very best for local and visiting horsepeople.

In addition to the many other successes during Willmot’s tenure, wagering on Woodbine and Mohawk races across North America and around the world grew significantly and Woodbine played host to both the Breeders’ Cup and Breeders Crown championships; the only racetrack to have hosted both.

Beyond Willmot’s leadership roles at WEG, he has also served on the boards of multiple industry organizations including Breeders’ Cup, International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities (IFHA), Thoroughbred Racing Association (TRA), Harness Tracks of America (HTA), Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA), the Jockey Club of Canada, the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society (CTHS) to name a few.

His contributions have been widely recognized across the industry by way of his induction in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame and with many industry awards including the Jockey Club of Canada’s E.P. Taylor Award of Merit; the HTA’s Messenger Award, the highest honour bestowed by the Association of 41 US and Canadian harness tracks; the John W. Galbreath Award for Outstanding Entrepreneurship in the Equine Industry and the CTHS’s Mint Julep Cup for outstanding contribution.

“The Board and management of WEG are fortunate to have benefited from David’s vision and commitment to the success of our company and the unfailing passion and integrity which have characterized David’s leadership,” commented Lawson. “David oversaw the transformation of WEG into an internationally admired and respected horse racing and entertainment organization that is the pride of the Ontario horse racing industry.”

“I am very proud of what we have accomplished at WEG and I appreciate so much the assistance and support of our Board members, management team and all our employees over the years,” stated Willmot. “When I stepped down as CEO in the summer of 2010, the Board requested that I stay on as Executive Chairman for a two year period to ensure a smooth transition. With the successful completion of our management succession over that time and with Jim Lawson agreeing to take over the Chairman’s responsibilities, I am confident that WEG will continue to play a leading role in the Province’s gaming strategy. I am therefore comfortable in retiring so that I may focus on my health, family and other interests.”

Lawson has served as a WEG Director since 2008 and was appointed Vice Chairman in 2012. He sits on the Company’s Thoroughbred Racing Committee, which he chairs, Standardbred Racing Committee, Pension & Compensation Committee and Audit Committee. Lawson is also Chairman of the Jockey Club of Canada and is active in the racing industry, both as an owner and as the manager of Jim Dandy Stable, a thoroughbred breeding and racing operation.

He is the Chief Executive Officer of Westerkirk Capital, a private investment company based in Toronto with substantial holdings in the manufacturing, real estate and hospitality industries.

“On behalf of WEG’s approximately 2300 full and part time employees, I would like to thank David for his leadership over the years,” stated Nick Eaves, WEG President & CEO. “He empowered all of us to play a part in building a fantastic company. His vision and determination have positioned the Company to respond to the changing landscape of horse racing and gaming in Ontario. The WEG management team and I look forward to working closely with Jim to continue this momentum.”

Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) is the largest operator of horse racing in Canada and is recognized as one of the most innovative in North America. In addition to its two racetracks – Woodbine in Toronto and Mohawk in Milton, WEG operates the Champions Off-Track Wagering network, WEGZ Stadium Bar in Vaughan, ON., Turf Lounge in downtown Toronto and Greenwood Teletheatre in the Beach area of the City. Remote wagering is also available to customers through HorsePlayer Interactive (HPI), the Company’s telephone and online account wagering service. WEG offers this service to all Canadian racetracks. WEG also operates HPItv, a CRTC- licensed digital television channel that broadcasts its racing product into homes across Canada.

WEG is committed to being a leader within the horse racing industry and in the communities in which it operates. The corporation has earned industry recognition, multiple awards and customer and community respect for its progressive and leading corporate responsibility agenda.

(WEG)