April 25, 2015

COSA Sponsors Seat to World Harness Handicapping Challenge

April 24, 2015 -

CAMPBELLVILLE, Ontario . . . The Central Ontario Standardbred Association, along with Woodbine Entertainment Group, hosted a handicapping contest for HIP customers who wagered at least $100 on Standardbred racing at Mohawk Racetrack from April 9 through April 13.  HPI bettors were then entered to win a seat to compete in the World Harness Handicapping Challenge at the Meadowlands on Saturday, April 25.

Kevin Petipas, a racing fan and horseplayer for 15 years was HPI’s contest winner.  Kevin is looking forward to his first trip to the Big M as he consistently wagers on the Meadowlands racing product. His favourite race is the Little Brown Jug and his favourite driver is Hall of Famer John Campbell. Kevin finds that an improved post position works as a handicapping strategy. The largest ticket he’s ever cashed to date was a $5,000 triactor at Mohawk.

COSA wishes Kevin the best of luck tomorrow night!

Alliance: ‘New Model Is Working’

Friday, April 24 – A press release from the Woodbine Entertainment Group, the ‘Standardbred Alliance’ stated that the Ontario harness racing industry is on track to a sustainable future, based on purse stability, growth in wagering and marketing initiatives that have proved successful over the course of the past year.

“The results so far are really remarkable, especially given all the pessimism there was about horse racing only a year ago,” Standardbred Alliance Chairman Jamie Martin was quoted as saying in the release. “It’s still early days, but we’re seeing positive signs that the new Alliance model is working for the industry and for racing fans, and we’re cautiously optimistic that Standardbred racing in Ontario is on the right track for a better future.”

The release states that between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015, wagering pools for Alliance tracks grew by 16.6 per cent, thanks to the increased distribution through an integrated off-track wagering network, as well as schedule co-ordination among Signature tracks, which maximized wagering opportunities.

The release also states that overall wagering, including Alliance tracks and WEG’s on-track and off-track operations, exceeded targets by more than $14 million, reaching $808 million for the fiscal year.

The contents of the release appear below.


Strong Wagering Growth, Fan Interest Show New Model For Standardbred Racing Is Working

The Standardbred Alliance today declared that significant wagering growth, stable purses and integrated marketing efforts from the first year of operation are showing signs that Standardbred racing in Ontario is on track toward a sustainable future.

Led by Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG), the Standardbred Alliance is a consortium of eight Ontario racetracks created in April 2014. Its goal is to deliver Standardbred racing and wagering opportunities with a focus on ease-of-access to customers, consistent racing opportunities and purses for its participants, efficient track operations and coordinated efforts to attract new fans. The members represent a three-tier racing hierarchy: Grassroots (Clinton, Hanover), Signature (Flamboro, Georgian, Grand River and Western Fair) and Premier (Mohawk and Woodbine).

Among the successes in Year 1 was a sharp increase in wagering. Between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015, wagering pools for Alliance tracks grew by 16.6%, thanks to the increased distribution through an integrated off-track wagering network, as well as schedule co-ordination among Signature tracks, which maximized wagering opportunities. Signature tracks enjoyed several programs with wagering in excess of $400,000, and in general achieved wagering totals not seen in years. Meanwhile, overall wagering, including Alliance tracks and WEG’s on-track and off-track operations, exceeded targets by more than $14 million, reaching $808 million for the fiscal year.

“The results so far are really remarkable, especially given all the pessimism there was about horse racing only a year ago,” said Jamie Martin, Chairman of the Standardbred Alliance. “It’s still early days, but we’re seeing positive signs that the new Alliance model is working for the industry and for racing fans, and we’re cautiously optimistic that Standardbred racing in Ontario is on the right track for a better future.”

A core objective for the Alliance is to maintain a live racing schedule with competitive purses. When it was formed, Alliance tracks set minimum purse targets for Premier, Signature and Grassroots racing, and in 2014-2015 daily purses not only met, but exceeded those targets in all three racing tiers. Total race days, at 593, were on track with target, and the Alliance honoured its commitment to continue or reinstate such high-profile stakes races as the Kin Pace at Clinton, the Earl Rowe at Georgian and the Molson Pace at Western Fair.

As part of its efforts to improve the quality and consistency of the customer experience and attract larger wagering pools, the Alliance adopted a single betting platform – including betting devices and simulcast operations – across member tracks, and consolidated off-track betting operations under a single OTB licence, smoothing out inconsistencies in delivery and offerings while maximizing efficiencies. OTB operations were expanded and consolidated into the Champions network of Teletheatres, which now total 45 locations across the province. The network generated more than $350 million in wagering in Year 1, with significant gains from the newly acquired sites.

Meanwhile, Alliance tracks worked together to build horseplayer interest and attract new customers to Standardbred racing. A good example of the shared vision in action is the co-ordination of marketing efforts, including increased promotion of Alliance racing product and trial-and-education campaigns that successfully attracted thousands of new fans to racing in Year 1.

“We’re seeing our fan base growing and wagering recovering after a couple of very tough years of uncertainty for Standardbred racing,” said Martin. “There’s a lot more to be done, of course, but the good news is the Alliance model is already producing results, and we’re committed to making sure it does for many years to come.”

Redesigned HPIbet Website Launched

On Thursday, April 16, the Woodbine Entertainment Group unveiled the totally new HPIbet.com website.

HPIbet was also introduced as the new simplified brand name of the HorsePlayer Interactive suite of services.

HPIbet provides account wagering services to horseplayers from coast to coast in Canada. The new customer-focused site blends leading-edge technology with respected racing traditions, such as the Queen’s Plate.

“Today’s launch reveals the latest in website design and horseplayer functionality,” said Greg Martin, WEG’s senior director of wagering and technology. “The needs of our customers are always changing, and in order to exceed the needs of the modern horseplayer, HPIbet.com needed to evolve as well. This is change has produced a faster, more intuitive, feature-packed betting experience for 2015 and beyond.”

With an updated, easy-to-navigate website, HPIbet.com has maintained all the important functionality, including the key stats any fan needs, complemented by a wealth of sleek new features that maximize the horseplaying experience.

One of the new features that is certain to be a hit for bettors is the Streaming Centre. HPIbet.com players can now view four tracks on the screen simultaneously.

There’s more. A new search engine allows the racing fan to easily access Horse, Jockey/Driver and Trainer data, a note-taking feature offers the ability to capture and review all the insights and an ‘alert’ function enables HPIbet.com to maximize a racing fan’s entire wagering experience.

“Striking a balance between innovating HorsePlayer Interactive and respecting the legacy features our members admire was a difficult exercise but we believe we have achieved both with HPIbet.com,” said Martin. “It’s a whole new look for players.”

With the obvious prevalence of mobile devices, HPIbet.com utilizes responsive design on the new platform.

“HPIbet.com is designed to be more intuitive, responding to the popularity of mobile and tablet device usage,” said Martin. “We have incorporated responsive design into our framework, which allows us to give a great and consistent customer experience across all device types.”

(WEG)
(Standardbred Canada)

Woodbine Payment Deadline Reminder

April 14, 2015 – The Woodbine Entertainment Group has issued its final reminder that the next deadline for sustaining payments to WEG and ‘Alliance’ stakes events, including the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup, is tomorrow (Wednesday, April 15).

Sustaining payments are due April 15 for the Pepsi North America Cup, Canadian Trotting Classic, Fan Hanover, Elegantimage, Goodtimes, Somebeachsomewhere, Casual Breeze and the WEG SBOA stakes.

The first sustaining payment is also due April 15 for the Metro Pace, Shes A Great Lady, William Wellwood, Peaceful Way, Nassagaweya, Eternal Camnation, Canadian Pacing Derby, Maple Leaf Trot, Roses Are Red, Milton and Armbro Flight.

WEG also continues to handle the stakes administration for all Alliance racetracks.

Sustaining payments are due April 15 for the Confederation Cup at Flamboro Downs and the Battle of Waterloo and Battle of the Belles at Grand River Raceway.

For full event details and to view the WEG stakes booklet, click here.

To make payments online, click here.

Stakes payments to these stakes can also be made through SC Stakes Online. Click here for more info on how to get started.

(With filews from WEG)

Ontario Resident Mare Program Reminder

On Friday, April 2, officials with Ontario Horse Racing issued a reminder to participants of the Standardbred Improvement Program stressing the importance of enrolling their mares in the Ontario Resident Mare Program this year.

The following incentives especially benefit Ontario-Bred foals:

• SBOA $12M Breeders Reward Enhancement
Only Ontario-Sired foals out of mares enrolled in and meeting the requirements of the Ontario Resident Mare Program, will be eligible to earn a share of the $12M enhancement funding through the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association (SBOA). Further details of this Breeders Rewards enhancement for foals that are BOTH Ontario Sired and Ontario Bred are available on the SBOA website.

• $2M Owners’ Bonus starting in 2017
Foals of 2015 will be eligible to earn a portion of the new $2M Owners’ Bonus based on their overnight earnings as two and three-year-olds. This Standardbred Improvement Program bonus, which was announced in January, will begin in 2017 and is available to owners of foals that are Ontario Sired OR Ontario Bred. However, if a foal is both Ontario Sired AND Ontario Bred they will receive double the bonus. Although it will be paid to the owners of eligible foals rather than the mare owners, it is anticipated that this bonus will increase the value of Ontario Bred foals.

These incentives are, of course, in addition to the Ontario Bred Rewards which have been in effect since 2011 and amount to 15% of OSS earnings plus 15% of earnings in selected Open Stakes in Ontario. Ontario Bred Rewards are paid to the person who enrolled the mare in the Program.

Mares may be enrolled in the Ontario Resident Mare Program for a fee of $50 before they foal or $300 after they have foaled (up to September 1st). The mare must be resident in the province of Ontario at the time of enrolment and must remain in the province for 180 days surrounding foaling in Ontario.

All forms are available on the new OHR website at ontariohorseracing.ca by clicking ‘Breeding Programs’ and then ‘Standardbred Improvement Program.’

For further information:

Karen Hauver – Ontario Horse Racing – 519-369-3545
Walter Parkinson – SBOA – 519-227-4294
Robin McClure – Standardbred Canada – 905-858-3060

(OHR)

Hall Of Fame’s 2015 Inductees

The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame is pleased to announce its 2015 inductees. A total of 10 horses and people have been elected to the Hall of Fame.

Standardbred inductees include horses ArtsplaceJ Cs Nathalie and people H. Charles (Charlie) ArmstrongWilliam (Bill) Gale and Harry Eisen. The Thoroughbred inductees are Mine That BirdRobert (Bob) M. AndersonJames (Jim) Bannon,Stewart Elliott and Roger Laurin.

Artsplace, representing the Standardbred Male Horse Category, was the 1992 O’Brien Award and Dan Patch Award winner as Horse of the Year following a sixteen race, undefeated four-year-old season. He was a World Record holder in his two-year-old season, winning the Breeders Crown in a time of 1:51.1 at Pompano Park in Florida. Under the care of trainer Bob McIntosh and driven throughout his racing career by Hall of Famers John Campbell, Bill O’Donnell, Cat Manzi and Bill Gale, Artsplace won 37 races and bankrolled over $3 million. As a stallion, Artsplace produced top horses from the time his first crop raced in 1996. To date, his progeny, including 18 millionaires, have accumulated over $173 million in earnings with an average of $126,372 per starter. Many of Artsplace’s sons and daughters have gone on to sire champions, including Art Major, sire of 2008 Meadowlands Pace champion Art Official, who won in 1:47, at the time a world record for three-year-old pacers, and the second fastest race mile in harness racing history.

Standardbred Veteran Horse Category inductee, J Cs Nathalie has produced two millionaires for owner John Lamers of Ingersoll, Ontario — pacing colt Dreamfair Vogel, and pacing mare Dreamfair Eternal. Dreamfair Vogel was a winner of 19 races and over $1.1 million with a race record of 1:49.3. Dreamfair Eternal, a winner of 56 races and over $2.5 million in purse earnings was Canada’s Horse of the Year in 2010 and was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2014. In total J Cs Nathaliehas produced 13 horses of which 11 have started and banked more than $4.5 million in purse earnings.

In the Driver/Trainer Category, William (Bill) Gale, 66 of Woodstock, Ontario, has been elected to the Hall of Fame. Gale was one of Canada’s leading drivers for a period that spanned the 70s, 80s and 90s. Between 1982 and 1997, Gale recorded 16 consecutive $1 million+ seasons. During a driving career that spanned over 30 years, he won 6,375 races, started 32,134 times and earned $42.1 million. In the fall of ’91 at Pompano Park he won a pair of Breeders Crown Championships, as he guided King Conch to a World Record 1:56.2 win in the $300,000 Two-Year-Old Colt Trot and reined Three Wizards to an upset victory over Die Laughing and Artsplace in the $357,000 Breeders Crown for Three-Year-Old Pacing Colts.

In 1991, William Gale was honoured with an O’Brien Award as Canada’s Driver of The Year following a season where he exceeded $3.2 million in purse earnings.

H. Charles (Charlie) Armstrong, 93, of Brampton, Ontario, has been a true Icon in the Ontario and North American Horse Industry for over 60 years. Following the death of his father Elgin, Charlie and his wife Lenore took over the operation of Armstrong Bros. Farm, and as Chairman of Armstrong Holdings Brampton Limited, he oversaw the growth of the farm into the second largest Standardbred breeding operation in North America. The Armbro name was ever-present in the winner’s circles of prestigious races for both trotters and pacers, producing such champions as Armbro Flight, Armbro Feather, Armbro Omaha and hundreds of others. Of note, Charlie Armstrong and fellow Hall of Famer, Gustav Schickedanz were the breeders of champion trotter Goodtimes, who at the end of his 11-year race career was retired as the richest Canadian-Bred Trotting Horse of all time. Other notables include two-time Breeders Crown winner Village Jiffy, as well as such horses as Village Jove and Village Jolt. Stallions standing at the Armstrong breeding operation included King Conch, Camotion, Dream of Glory, Armbro Emerson and Adios Pick to name a few. The family company was dispersed in 2005; however Charlie, along with his daughters, continues to raise and race Standardbreds under the name Village Acres Limited. Charlie’s involvement in racing extended far beyond that of a breeder and owner and resulted in a long list of achievements for his commitment to the racing industry. In 1999 he was named Little Brown Jug Wall of Fame Honouree in 1999 and the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association presented him with the Van Bussell Award in 2003.

The 2015 Standardbred Communicator Inductee is the late Harry Eisen who spent a lifetime loving and covering horse racing in Ontario. Eisen, who once said he saw his first harness race when he was “three or four years old,” sold tip sheets at Dufferin Park Racetrack as a boy. As a lifelong journalist, he spent many years exposing the sport to the public, including the majority of his 40 years at the London Free Press and described his work as a “labour of love.” Eisen’s regular column, “Mostly About Horses” kept horse lovers in the loop. As a highly regarded handicapper, he also made the Western Fair selections for the Free Press. In 1980, he became the first non-horseman to be inducted to the Western Fair Raceway Wall of Fame.


Standardbred inductees H. Charles Armstrong, Harry Eisen, Bill Gale and J Cs Nathalie (with John Lamers)

Representing the Thoroughbreds in the CHRHF class of 2015:

Thoroughbred Male Horse, Mine That Bird was bred in Kentucky by Canadian Breeder Peter Lamantia and partners. The colt was purchased as a yearling by Canadian trainer Dave Cotey for $9,500 on behalf of owners Dominion Bloodstock, Derek Ball and Hugh Galbraith. His Juvenile year began at Woodbine with an impressive four wins in five starts, earning the 2008 Sovereign Award for Champion two-year old. Later in 2008 Mine That Bird was sold to Mark Allen (Double Eagle Ranch) and Leonard Blach (Buena Suerte Equine) of New Mexico. The gelding gained international attention with his 2009 Kentucky Derby longshot performance paired with jockey Calvin Borel when they made a sweeping 21 length ‘last to first’ victory. Mine That Bird’s Triple Crown pursuit was dashed with a 2nd place finish in the Preakness to Kentucky Oaks winner Rachel Alexandra, and a 3rd in the Belmont. Mine That Bird’s total career purse earnings were $2,248,496 in 18 starts (5-2-2).

Toronto-born, second generation jockey Stewart Elliott will be inducted in the Jockey Category. In 2004, Stewart made headlines around the world when he became the first jockey in 25 years to win the Kentucky Derby in his first appearance when he rode Smarty Jones. The pair followed up with a dominating win in the Preakness, only to be beaten a length by Birdstone in the Belmont. During a career consisting of over 29,000 starts, horses ridden by Elliott horses amassed earnings in excess of $93 million with wins in 4,650 races. In 2010 he was named the winner of the Avelino Gomez Memorial Award. Steward Elliot currently stands 36th on the all-time list for career wins, and 5th on the all-time win list amongst Canadian-born rider.

Robert (Bob) M. Anderson was a long-time horseman based in St. Thomas, ON. As President of Anderson Farms, he was involved with breeding, racing and selling both thoroughbred and Standardbred horses for 41 years in Canada, U.S., and Europe. A former Director of Woodbine Entertainment Group (formerly OJC) and past national President of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society from 1981-82, he was also a Board member of Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association in the U.S.A, a Steward of the Jockey Club of Canada as well as a member of the Ontario Racing Commission Advisory Board, the First Chairman of the Guelph Research Centre for Equine Research and member of the E.P. Taylor Equine Research Fund.

He bred and matured over 1,400 thoroughbreds including champions Pinafore Park, Larkwhistle, and Prince Avatar. He was the breeder of successful sires Ascot Knight, National Assembly and Alydeed.

His Standardbred success stories include Pampered Princess, a champion at two and three and winner of $1.74 million; as well as champions and world record holders Southwind Allaire and Cabrini Hanover.

Toronto’s James (Jim) Bannon was part of the first Simulcast Racing TV Show in North America in 1981. His natural comfort in front of the camera and extensive Thoroughbred racing knowledge propelled Bannon into a career that includes television analyst, commentator and handicapping expert with followers at racetracks and living rooms across North America. From that humble start, Bannon became the face of Thoroughbred racing in Canada. Jim became a television analyst, commentator and handicapping expert for the CBC’s Queen’s Plate and Breeders’ Cup shows and in 2010 he was rewarded with a Gemini Award as Canada’s Best Sports Analyst. For the past 40 years he has published Woodbine Journal, a staple for bettors. In addition to his journalistic endeavours he gives generously of his time as an educator in handicapping seminars. He is head of the Chaplaincy Program at Woodbine. Jim is a Director of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame and in 2010 was voted into the Etobicoke Hall of Fame for his contributions to the community.

The 2015 Inductee in the Thoroughbred Veteran Person Category will be trainer Roger Laurin. The Montreal-born son of Hall of Famer Lucien Laurin came into prominence in 1964 when he took charge of the conditioning of a filly named Miss Cavandish for Harry S. Nichols. Miss Cavandish became one of the top two fillies racing in the United States that year. From there, the list of graded stakes horses he conditioned reads like a who’s who of 1960’s and ‘70’s racing. He trained Drumtop who won numerous top stakes and who broke three track records in 1971 for John Moseley, while at the same time conditioning the 1971 two-year-old Eclipse champion filly Numbered Account for Ogden Phipps. In 1984 Chief’s Crown won the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and was named the two-year-old male Eclipse Champion. Roger continues to keep his hand in the game with a small stable based at Woodbine.

The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame 2015 Induction Ceremony will be hosted at the Mississauga Convention Centre on Wednesday, August 5th, 2015.

Standardbred Inductees

Male Horse Category: Artsplace – bred and owned by George I. Segal, Chicago, Illinois & Brian P. Monieson, Northbrook, Illinois; later owned by Artsplace Syndicate, Versailles, Kentucky.
Veteran Horse Category: J Cs Nathalie– bred by Gaetan Dessureault, St. Ours, Quebec; owned by John P. Lamers, Ingersoll, ON
Builder Category: H. Charles Armstrong, Brampton, Ontario
Communicator Category: Harry Eisen, London, Ontario
Driver/Trainer: William (Bill) Gale, Ingersoll, Ontario

Thoroughbred Inductees

Male Horse Category: Mine That Bird, bred by Lamantia, Blackburn & Needham/Betz Thoroughbreds; owned by Double Eagle Ranch Inc. and Buena Suerte Equine, New Mexico
Builder Category: Robert (Bob) Anderson, St. Thomas, Ontario
Communicator Category: James (Jim) E. Bannon, Toronto, Ontario
Jockey Category: Stewart Elliott, Auburn, Kentucky
Trainer Category: Roger Laurin, Ocala, Florida

(Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame)

Massive Jackpot Hi-5 Pool Looms

Published: April 1, 2015 -

The hype and anticipation has been building for more than three months and it will all come down to the final race this Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack.

The Jackpot Hi-5, which has not been won since December 8, 2014, will finally be paid out this Saturday night, as a mandatory payout is in effect.

On a regular evening, the entire Jackpot Hi-5 pool is only paid out if there is a single winning ticket. If multiple winning tickets hit the ‘Hi-5’, half of the wagering pool is carried over to the next card, while the other half is distributed in consolation payouts.

The traditional rules are not in effect this Saturday, as instead the entire Jackpot Hi-5 pool will be paid out and split among all the winning tickets.

A mandatory payout is familiar ground for this wager on the Woodbine Entertainment Group circuit, but the carryover of $847,458.26 is the largest carryover into a mandatory payout in track history.

Since the Jackpot Hi-5 was integrated into the WEG betting menu in October of 2013, two large ‘mandatory payout’ programs have taken place.

The first to draw major interest was on May 17, 2014 at Woodbine. A carryover of $656,383 was brought into that evening and helped generate a total pool of $2,002,026.

The Jackpot Hi-5 race that night featured a field of 11 pacers and was won by Drain Daddy and Jody Jamieson from post position three at odds of 4-1.

The winning trip saw Drain Daddy get away fifth and make a first up move down the backstretch, clearing to the front in the third-quarter and never looking back.

The favourite in that contest finished out of the top-five helping return a $0.20 payout of $8,759.15.

The next mandatory payout on a large carryover took place at Mohawk Racetrack on Canadian Pacing Derby and Metro Pace night, August 30, 2014.

The stakes-filled card and the substantial interest in the Jackpot Hi-5 carryover of $647,331 would lead to a record-setting evening for Mohawk.

An additional $2,026,548 was wagered into the Jackpot Hi-5 to bring the total pool for the mandatory payout to $2,673,879.

The Jackpot Hi-5 dash was scheduled to feature a field of 11 pacers; however a scratch reduced the race to a field of ten with one trailer.

Resistance Futile, the 9-5 favourite, and driver Corey Callahan came away with the victory from Post 2.

The winning duo moved out from fourth in the second-quarter following cover and would clear to the front as they entered the final turn. The public’s choice would pace away from his rivals in the stretch to score a four-length victory.

The second and third choices on the board finished third and fourth, playing a large factor into a $0.20 payout of $1,347.36.

The Jackpot Hi-5 helped propel the handle for that August evening to a new Mohawk Racetrack record of $5,006,896.

If the healthy pools from the past two sizable mandatory payout nights are any indication, this Saturday’s Jackpot Hi-5 race has a chance to generate a large pool exceeding well over any previous mandatory payout pools.

The nearing Jackpot Hi-5 race will also feature a different twist, as a field of 12 horses will contest the mandatory payout dash. Each starter in the field will receive money and the class level itself will receive a purse increase.

The Jackpot Hi-5 offers a 20-cent minimum bet. A horseplayer could spend $19,008 by boxing all 12 horses in the field. Boxing five horses would cost a fan $24.

The combinations appear to be endless, but ultimately if a horseplayer is able to map out a ticket with the top-five finishers, certainly a portion of a hefty Jackpot Hi-5 pool is there to be collected.

(WEG)
(Standardbred Canada)

Expanded Gaming Closer For Woodbine

After receiving approval from the Toronto Executive committee last week, the Toronto City Council formally passed a motion on Tuesday to study expanded gaming at Woodbine Racetrack.

The vote passed late Tuesday by a vote of 29-11.


(Photo: Matt Elliott/twitter.com)
The Executive Committee recommends that:

1.  City Council authorize the City Manager to conduct a public consultation process to seek input from Torontonians on the matter of expanded gaming at 555 Rexdale Boulevard (Woodbine Racetrack); including:

a.  a public meeting in Etobicoke;

b.  an online questionnaire promoted on the City’s website and via social media;

c.  a city-wide public opinion poll; and

d.  a presentation at Executive Committee

2.  City Council direct the City Manager to prepare a report for the June 30, 2015 meeting of Executive Committee, which would include an assessment of the technical planning requirements, and merits and potential risks of expanded gaming at 555 Rexdale Boulevard (Woodbine Racetrack); including:
a.  the size and type of facility that would be suitable at the Woodbine location, including:
1.  total number of slot machines; and

2.  total number of other gaming tables

b.  any required land use, infrastructure and other planning matters associated with expanded gaming at the Woodbine site;

c. the potential economic impact (GDP and jobs) of expanded gaming at Woodbine Racetrack and the potential added economic impact of an expanded entertainment and retail destination, including a breakdown of anticipated part-time and full-time employment in the proposed gaming facility as well as projected salaries based on data from comparable casinos in Canada and the United States, and include estimations for:

1.  gaming revenue;

2.  non-gaming revenue;

3.  total revenue;

4.  direct, indirect, and induced jobs (FTE);

5.  average Annual Income (full-time employee); and

6.  an economic analysis to determine per slot machine how much discretionary income each slot machine would remove from the economy on an annual basis;

d.  the potential risks to the current employment at the Woodbine Racetrack if a new casino were to be located within the GTA but outside of the City of Toronto;

e.  the identification of social and economic development objectives that the City may require as conditions for its approval of expanded gaming at Woodbine, to leverage any new development to benefit local Toronto residents and communities; including recommendations to encourage full time employment.

f.  the potential additional social impact to individuals and families due to gambling-related addictive behaviour and crime; options to mitigate and strategies to address the negative human and social impacts; social procurement opportunities in the development and operation of a casino and related facilities (i.e., convention centre, hotel etc.); City and community use of space agreements for appropriate uses (i.e., local arts, culture, etc);  and measurement and monitoring systems to independently assess Social Contract implementation and effectiveness; and include information on funding for any major research used in this analysis;

g.  any incremental costs associated with expanded gaming at Woodbine including police, fire and emergency medical services costs;

h.  the amount of projected revenue to be received by the City as part of a Municipal Contribution Agreement with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation reflecting projected revenues at the new gaming site including:

1.  total annual revenue to the City;

2.  average City share of estimated total gaming revenue; and

3.  annual minimum revenue;

i.  the benefits identified in the Woodbine Live initiative;

j.  a framework for ensuring that a Labour Peace Agreement is in place for all aspects of the proposal and a local hiring and training requirement; and

k.  the results of the public consultation, set out in Recommendation 1.

(Standardbred Canada)

Nick Eaves Profiled

Published: March 31, 2015 -

On the last day of Nick Eaves’ tenure as president and CEO of the Woodbine Entertainment Group, the Toronto Sun has published a profile piece on Eaves titled ‘Woodbine chief Nick Eaves steps down after revitalizing horse racing in Ontario.’

Woodbine announced in January that Eaves would be leaving WEG after having served the company for more than 20 years. In WEG’s release on the matter, Eaves, 46, was quoted as saying “Looking forward, I have confidence that the organization is pointed in the right direction and know the current leadership team will continue to grow and improve on the model we have developed.”

The Woodbine Entertainment Group’s chairman, Jim Lawson, will lead the company on an interim basis while the board seeks Eaves’ replacement.

In The Sun’s piece, which was penned by Bill Lankhof, Eaves stated that “Leaving [Woodbine] is the most difficult decision in my life,” adding, “this place has been everything to me, and my family.”

In terms of looking to the future, Eaves went on to say “Woodbine, and our industry, has been able to change …OK, bemoan the fact a very successful partnership was cancelled unnecessarily? OK. But that’s yesterday’s news. The thing was, what were we going to do about it? Let’s build a new partnership. This industry and company is on its way to an even more profitable relationship.”

In terms of the upheaval and uncertainty that the Ontario racing industry went through with the termination of the Slots at Racetracks program, Eaves states that he believes “the worst has passed.”

Eaves said, “There’s a confidence again among breeders that there will be a return on investment. Three years ago when the province cancelled the slots program, investment in the breeding industry dried up. There was no certainty or stability with what was happening in our industry.” Eaves went on to say, “the breeders are only now beginning to invest again.”

Eaves discussed how the industry has been forced to change, and how that forced change has led to a new business model.

“I’ve been thrilled to see an industry embrace change; a very traditional industry that is often resistant to change,” said Eaves. “There is now a new business model upon which the industry is going to grow. We couldn’t say that three years ago.”

In terms of making the tough decision to step away from WEG, Eaves said, “It’s time for somebody else to lead for the long term … It just felt like a good time for me to go.”

To read the Toronto Sun piece in its entirety, click here.

(With files from the Toronto Sun)
(Standardbred Canada)

Cobalt Threshold Recommended

Published: March 26, 2015 -

The board of directors of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium announced on Thursday, March 26 that a uniform threshold for cobalt regulation in the United States was approved at its regularly scheduled meeting held on March 24 at Gulfstream Park racetrack in Hallandale, Fla.

The cobalt threshold, which was developed and unanimously recommended by the RMTC’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), will be submitted to the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) for consideration as a model rule at RCI’s April meeting in Tampa Bay, Florida. Technical assistance will be provided by the RMTC to individual jurisdictions seeking to adopt cobalt regulations. The SAC is a standing committee of the RMTC, comprised of leading chemists, pharmacologists, lab directors, regulatory veterinarians and racetrack veterinarians from across the U.S. horse racing industry.

Under the RMTC recommendation:

  • Horses that test above 25 parts per billion (ppb) of cobalt in plasma shall be: (i) subject to a fine or a warning for the first offense; (ii) placed on the veterinarian’s list; and (iii) ineligible to race until they test below 25 ppb of cobalt in plasma (at the owner’s cost); and
  • Horses that test above 50 ppb of cobalt in plasma shall be subject to a Class B penalty which in most jurisdictions includes: (i) disqualification of the horse; (ii) a fine; and (iii) trainer suspension.

“This proposal is designed to protect the health and welfare of the race horse,” explained Dr. Rick Arthur, RMTC Secretary and California’s equine medical director. “The recommended thresholds provide generous allowances for vitamin and mineral supplementation but make the administration of cobalt salts impractical. Importantly, the 25 ppb total cobalt threshold in blood is comparable to the 100-200 ppb thresholds in urine being administered internationally.”

In other action, the RMTC board approved Interim Accreditation for the Pennsylvania Equine Toxicology and Research Laboratory (PETRL), after receiving a report from the Horseracing Testing Laboratories Committee – a committee which oversees the RMTC laboratory accreditation process. PETRL is the sixth laboratory accredited by the RMTC since the program began in 2011. With this action, Pennsylvania becomes the 24th horse racing state to utilize an RMTC-accredited lab and an external quality assurance program for its equine drug and medication testing services.

RMTC laboratory accreditation is one of four key components of the National Uniform Medication Program that continues to gain traction throughout the United States. The RMTC board received updates on the nationwide adoption of a Controlled Therapeutic Substances Schedule, third-party administration of furosemide, and a Multiple Medication Violation penalty system. In the past 15 months, the industry has seen major gains in the number of jurisdictions that are presently operating or soon-to-be operating under one or more of the reforms.

“We applaud the many state racing authorities and industry stakeholders around the U.S. who are working diligently toward nationwide adoption of the uniform medication program,” said Alex Waldrop, RMTC Chair. “These reforms are critical to the health and safety of horse and rider, while also creating a level playing field for horseplayers and for horsemen who race in multiple jurisdictions.”

The RMTC board also addressed the use of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) – an endogenous substance that has also been inappropriately administered on race-day as a performance enhancer under the name Carolina Gold. Representatives from the SAC updated the RMTC board on the status of research into the proper regulation of GABA, including an RMTC-funded administration study and industry-sponsored analysis of more than 400 post-race samples. Based upon the final results of the SAC’s study and analysis, the RMTC board expects to finalize a recommendation concerning a normally occurring threshold for GABA in the next two weeks. The RMTC will then submit the recommended threshold for GABA to the RCI for consideration at its April meeting.

The RMTC consists of 23 racing industry stakeholders and organizations that represent Thoroughbred, Standardbred, American Quarter Horse and Arabian racing. The organization works to develop and promote uniform rules, policies and testing standards at the national level; coordinate research and educational programs that seek to ensure the integrity of racing and the health and welfare of racehorses and participants; and protect the interests of the racing public.

For additional information, visit the RMTC website at rmtcnet.com or contact Hallie Lewis, RMTC communications and development consultant, at 859-224-2848.

(RMTC)
(Standardbred Canada)