March 31, 2015

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)

Updates On Ontario Race Dates

Published: March 26, 2015 -

It has been announced that the director of the Ontario Racing Commission has approved the applications for variance and amendments to the 2015 race-date and post-time schedules for Kawartha Downs and Mohawk Racetrack.

Details of the amendments appear below. To view the updated race-date calendars,click here.

KAWARTHA

Delete
• Saturday, October 10
• Saturday, October 17
• Saturday, October 24

Add
• Saturday, May 30
• Saturday, June 6
• Saturday, June 13

(First-race post time 7 p.m.)

MOHAWK

Revised Post Times

• Saturday, May 2
• Saturday, September 5

(First-race post time 7:05 p.m., switched from 7:25 p.m.)

• Saturday, May 16

(First-race post time 6:45 p.m., switched from 7:25 p.m.)

(With files from the ORC)
(Standardbred Canada)

Mohawk Shifts Qualifiers To Friday

The Woodbine Entertainment Group would like to inform horsepeople that this week’s qualifiers at Mohawk Racetrack will now be held on Friday morning.

Originally scheduled for Thursday morning, the first qualifying session of the season at Mohawk has been pushed back to Friday at 10:00 a.m. due to projected rain in the forecast over the next couple of days.

Entries for Friday’s qualifying session are due Wednesday morning at 10:30 a.m.

(WEG)

Toronto To Craft Expansion Report

Published: March 25, 2015 -

On Wednesday, March 25, the City of Toronto’s executive committee voted in favour of allowing city manager Joseph P. Pennachetti to assemble a report in regard to a potential gaming expansion at Woodbine Racetrack.

The executive committee voted on the issue Wednesday after a motion had been tabledby Ward 1 Councillor Vincent Crisanti.

Toronto Mayor John Tory stated on Wednesday that he supports Crisanti’s motion asking for Pennachetti to prepare report for council by June 30. The mayor stated that the idea of expansion at Woodbine “is worth looking at” and that “there is obviously no secret plan” regarding expansion at the track. Additionally, city staffers stated on Wednesday that council’s official position on casino expansion at Woodbine would need to be firm by this fall in order for the process to align with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.’s gaming modernization schedule. When it is complete, the city’s report on the potential gaming expansion at Woodbine will be voted on by full council.

It was announced earlier this month that Mayor John Tory was open for renewed discussions regarding casino expansion at Woodbine, but only if the plans involve an entertainment destination. Mayor Tory’s office has made it clear throughout the process that expanded gaming at the Rexdale, Ont. raceway would have to be in conjunction with a much broader vision that would also drive economic development in the area.

The Woodbine Entertainment Group’s outgoing CEO, Nick Eaves, addressed the committee earlier in the day and outlined why it should be supporting an expanded gaming and an entertainment complex at the track.

“With these three points in mind – the motion applies to the Woodbine site only; there’s already significant gaming at Woodbine; and Woodbine is the employment anchor in one of the most economically-challenged areas of the city and is already a major entertainment centre – I ask you to support Woodbine, to support the horse-racing and breeding industry in this province, and to support the economic and employment benefits that Woodbine brings to Toronto,” Eaves said.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has also weighed in on the idea of expanded gaming at Woodbine, stating “The fact of the horse racing at Woodbine means to me that it’s a different situation (than introducing a new casino complex in downtown Toronto). There’s already gaming there. I’m very interested in seeing the integration of gaming including horse racing. I think that it makes some sense for city council to look at it again.”

Premier Wynne went on to reiterate that decisions on the expansion of gaming should be municipal decisions.

“We always maintained that the municipalities were going to make these decisions, that there wasn’t going to be an imposition of a casino,” said Wynne, who later stated, “having said that, I was surprised at the time of the vote around the downtown casino that the Woodbine casino was part of that. I saw them as different cases.”

(With files from the Toronto Star and CTV News)

Mandatory Jackpot Hi-5 Payout Date

Published: March 26, 2015 -

The Woodbine Entertainment Group has announced that the mandatory payout for the Standardbred Jackpot Hi-5 is set for Saturday, April 4, the second-to-last card of the current Woodbine Racetrack meet.

Harness racing will move to Mohawk Racetrack for 118 dates, beginning Thursday, April 9.

In preparation for the event, the final opportunity to wager on the Jackpot Hi-5 before the mandatory payout date will be Monday, March 30. The carryover will continue to build through that date, provided there is not a single winner. The wager will then be suspended for the Thursday, April 2 and Friday, April 3 cards of racing, allowing customers to prepare for the mandatory payout prize.

The Jackpot Hi 5, which currently boasts a carryover of $726,120.53, requires horseplayers to select the first five finishers in exact order on the last race of the card.

The Jackpot proviso means that the entire pool pays out only when there is one winning ticket sold that correctly selects the first five finishers in exact order.

The Jackpot Hi-5, which has not been won since December 8, 2014, has become a popular part of the WEG wagering profile since it launched in 2013. WEG has offered mandatory payout events, with carryover, with much success.

On August 30, 2014, the Standardbred Jackpot Hi-5 at Mohawk generated a total pool of $2,522,851. Each 20-cent payout returned $1,347.36 that evening. The ‘Hi-5’ on May 17, 2014 at Woodbine also generated a large total pool of $2,002,026. That night, the 20-cent payout was worth $8,759.15.

On a card where there is not a mandatory payout, and not just one winning ticket, half of the wagering pool is carried over and offered on the next racing card. The other half is paid out in consolation payouts to those Jackpot Hi 5 tickets which have the correct order of finish. If there are no winners of the wager, the entire pool, minus takeout, carries over.

The Jackpot Hi 5, which offers a 20-cent minimum and a low takeout of 15 per cent, has proven to be popular among core and new racing fans. This past Monday night, $56,794 was wagered into the Jackpot Hi 5 pool.

For fans and horseplayers wanting further details on WEG’s Jackpot Hi 5, including details, strategy and carryover info, click here.

(WEG)

(Standardbred Canada)

 

Hall Announces 2015 Ballot

On Monday, March 23, the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame unveiled the names of horses and horsepeople which are on the Hall’s 2015 ballot.

A total of 30 horses and people comprised of 15 Standardbred racing candidates and 15 Thoroughbred racing candidates have been selected to appear on this year’s ballot. A 20-person Election Committee for each breed will determine the winners in their respective categories. Results will be announced Tuesday, April 7.

Standardbred ballots representing this year’s five voting categories are as follows:


In the Standardbred Male Horse category, Artsplace, Blissfull Hall, and Majestic Son are the candidates.

Artsplace was the1992 O’Brien Award and Dan Patch Award winner as Horse of the Year following an undefeated four-year-old season. He was a two-year-old world record holder winning the Breeders Crown in a time of 1:51.1 at Pompano Park in Florida. He won 37 races and bankrolled over $3 million during his racing career. 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.

In 1999, Blissfull Hall captured harness racing’s elusive Pacing Triple Crown for owners Ecuries Daniel Plouffe, Inc. of Bromont, Quebec, trainer Ben Wallace, and driver Ron Pierce. A 31-race career over two seasons amassed a record of 19-4-6, a mark of 1:49.2 and earnings of $1.4 million before he embarked on a successful career as a stallion. To date his progeny have amassed over $67 million in earnings, including 205 horses with earnings over $100,000, and average earnings per starter of $92,461

Majestic Son’s race career consisted of 38 starts, stats of 22-5-3, a mark of 1:52.2 and $1,993,157 in purse earnings. A son of Angus Hall out of the King Conch mare Celtic Contessa, Majestic Son’s career was highlighted by wins in the premiere stakes for sophomore trotters including the Champlain, Goodtimes, Canadian Trotting Classic and Breeders Crown. As a sire, his progeny have earned $8.2 million including three $500,000 winners, seven winners of $250,000 and 20 winners of $100,000.


B Cor Tamara, Happy Lady and J Cs Nathalie are nominated in the Veteran Horse category.

Before embarking on her second career as a broodmare, B Cor Tamara enjoyed a productive racing career, earning more than $185,000. Bred and owned by Bill Core of Dresden, Ontario, the daughter of Dream Of Glory was the dam of 19 foals, including star trotter B Cor Pete, and granddam of two champion juveniles, Banker Hall and Broadway Hall. Her offspring have earned in excess of $2.7 million.

Happy Lady, a daughter of Most Happy Fella, raced in 1977 and 1978 for owners Myra Masterson of St. Catharines, and Linda Lockey of Ridgeville, Ontario. Though her race career was brief, she won $528,825 in purse earnings and attained a mark of 1:55.2. Trained and driven by the late Jim Rankin, she was almost flawless in her juvenile campaign, winning 15 of 16 races. As a sophomore she won 19 of 24 starts.

As a broodmareJ 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 mark 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.


The three candidates in the trainer-driver category are Jack Darling, Yves Filion, and William Gale.

Jack Darling, 62 of Cambridge, Ontario has enjoyed a successful career as a harness horse trainer in southern Ontario over three decades including campaigning 876 winners and conditioning horses to $17.3 million in earnings. In 1995, four fillies put Darling in the spotlight – Diamond Dawn, a winner of $175,000, Low Places (who would win a 1996 O’Brien Award), Faded Glory (winner of more than $250,000 as a freshman) and DieHard Fan (over $200,000 as a two and three-year-old). Other top horses included Northern Luck ($907,984), North America Cup champion Gothic Dream ($1,528,671), and Twin B Champ. Jack is also known for significant fundraising efforts on behalf of racing related causes, and was recently winner of the Lloyd Chisholm Memorial Award by the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario as well as the recipient of the United States Harness Writers Association Unsung Hero Award and the Good Guy Award.

Yves Filion, 68 of Saint-Andre-D’argent, Quebec was one of his province’s premier trainer-drivers for close to 30 years, driving in almost 18,000 races with 4,362 wins and $26.5 million in earnings. Training credits include 248 winners and horses earning in excess of $3.4 million. Pacing colts Runnymede Lobell and Goliath Bayama each became millionaires with Filion responsible for both training and driving. Filion bred, owned and trained pacing mare Rebeka Bayama, a multiple stakes winner who won 23 races and over $690,000 during her career.

William Gale, 66 of Woodstock, Ontario, 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 his career, he won 6,375 races, started 32,134 times and earned $42.1 million. In the fall of ’91 at Pompano Park when he won a pair of Breeders Crown races, he guided King Conch to a world record 1:56.2 win in the $300,000 Two-Year-Old Colt Trot and reining Three Wizards to an upset victory over Die Laughing and Artsplace in the $357,000 Breeders Crown for Three-Year-Old Pacing Colts.


Candidates in the Builders’ category include Charles Armstrong, John B. Ferguson and Ted Smith.

Charles Armstrong 93, of Brampton, Ontario, has been a true icon in the Ontario and North American horse industry 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. Stallions standing at the Armstrong breeding operation included King Conch, Camotion, Dream Of Glory, Armbro Emerson and Adios Pick to name a few.

The late John B. Ferguson may be best known for his time in the National Hockey League, but his passion for Canadian horse racing was drawn from early years spent with his father and grandfather at old Hastings Park in Vancouver, BC. In addition to his role as a very active owner and breeder, Ferguson also took a role in track management. He was hired by Blue Bonnets Raceway in Montreal, Quebec, and after leaving the NHL became the president of Windsor Raceway. He was also one of driving forces behind the formation of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

Ted Smith, of Rockwood, Ontario is the fourth generation of his family to have a passion and interest in horse racing. In 1976 he began working at the Canadian Trotting Association, leading many initiatives and developing many processes and procedures in areas that included freeze branding as a means of identification of Standardbreds in Canada, online systems for maintaining race lines and horse registration data. Ted was also responsible for the management and administration of the amalgamation of the Canadian Trotting Association and Canadian Standardbred Horse Society and became Standardbred Canada’s first president and CEO in 1998 where he remained until his retirement in 2010.


In the Communicators category the election committee will make their selection from Paul Delean, Harry Eisen, and Marie Hill.

North Bay native Paul DeLean, began his career as a horse racing writer in the late ‘70s at the Barrie Examiner where he met Bill Rowe and was in turn introduced to Standardbred racing. He has worked for The Gazette in Montreal since 1981 and was once referred to as the ‘English language voice of harness racing in Quebec.’ For owners, breeders, trainers, drivers and fans, Delean was the man on the front line telling what they needed to know about the racing game in the province. In addition, Paul was a frequent contributor to the many trade journals in racing. At age 61, Paul has compiled an impressive body of work in covering the sport in Canada.

The late Harry Eisen spent a lifetime loving and covering horse racing in Ontario. 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. 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. He was inducted into Western Fair’s Wall of Fame in 1980.

Marie Hill, a native of Black’s Harbour, New Brunswick became involved in harness racing as a youngster, she began writing at the age of 13 and had sporadic columns inThe Canadian Sportsman. She followed racing in the Maritimes and during her teen years became friends with Joe O’Brien who she later penned two biographical books about, ‘Gentleman Joe, The Story of Harness Driver Joe O’Brien’ and ‘The Horseman from Alberton.’ Other books she wrote include ‘Single G the Horse That Time Forgot’, ‘Adios, The Big Daddy of Harness Racing’ and ‘The Delvin Miller Story.’ In 2007, Marie was inducted into the Communicators Corner of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in Goshen, New York, becoming the first female author to receive this honour.

The voting ballots for Thoroughbreds will feature:


A Thoroughbred Male Horse ballot comprised of Joshua Tree, Mine That Bird and Quiet Resolve is offered for election committee consideration.

Irish-bred Joshua Tree’s career statistics feature earnings of $3,851,594 in 37 starts (7-7-4). The son of Montjeu achieved wins in multiple graded stakes around the globe including the Qatar International Invitation Cup (G1) in 2011 and three victories in the Pattison Canadian International Stakes (G1) in 2010, 2011 and 2013.

Mine That Bird, the 2008 Sovereign Award Champion two-year-old bankrolled $2,228,637 in 18 starts (15-2-2). His Juvenile year began at Woodbine with an impressive four wins in five starts. He gained international attention with his performance came in the 2009 Triple Crown winning the Kentucky Derby, a second-place finish in the Preakness and third in the Belmont.

Quiet Resolve, winner of the 2000 Sovereign as Champion Turf Horse and also named Canada’s Horse of the Year the same year, was a winner of $2.3 million and a homebred for Sam Son Farm. His race 10-6-4 career over 31 starts included multiple graded stakes wins highlighted by victories in the Atto Mile (G1), and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy Stakes (G2)


Stewart Elliott, Richard Grubb and Mickey Walls have been selected to appear on the Jockey ballot.

Toronto-born, second generation jockey Stewart Elliott made headlines around the world when he became the first jockey in 25 years to win the Kentucky Derby in their first appearance when he partnered with 2005 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones. 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.

Born in Kitchener, Ont., Richard Grubb began his riding career in 1966 at the age of 16 and won the first race he ever rode in as a professional, the first of 1,607 career trips to the winners circle. The following year he was Canada’s leading Jockey with 230 victories. That same year (1967) he won seven straight races on an eight-race card, a feat never duplicated. Richard rode some of the country’s most time-honoured stars including 1968 Sovereign Award – Horse of the Year, Viceregal, Mary of Scotland, and Rouletabille. During his career, Grubb won over 100 major races and was presented the Avelino Gomez Memorial Award in 1997. Following his retirement from racing in 1989, he became a senior steward with the Ontario Racing Commission.

Mickey Walls of British Columbia was born to a horse racing family. His parents Joe and Carol Walls are well-known owner and trainer on the backstretch at Woodbine. In 1990, when Walls was just 16 he won his first Sovereign Award as Canada’s Outstanding Apprentice Jockey. His 1991 efforts saw him become the first apprentice jockey to be voted the Sovereign Award and the United States’ Eclipse Award in the same year. In addition, he was voted the overall Canadian Champion Jockey. An early season injury forced him to sit out most of 1992, but he bounced back in 1993 to become leading riding for the second time at Woodbine. In the mid 1990’s he competed in the USA at various tracks before returning to Canada in 1996, winning the final two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown. Among his accomplishments in 1999 he rode Queen’s Plate winner Woodcarver. Career stats include earnings of over $37 million between 1990 and 2002


Election Committee members will select between Thoroughbred Builders Robert Anderson, Michael Byrne and Michael Colterjohn.

Robert M. (Bob) Anderson was a longtime horseman based in St. Thomas, Ont. As president of Anderson Farm, he was involved with breeding, racing and selling both Thoroughbred and Standardbred horses for 41 years in Canada, the U.S., and Europe. A former director of the Woodbine Entertainment Group (formerly the Ontario Jockey Club) 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.

Michael C. Byrne emigrated from Ireland in 1970, and quickly found a job with Thoroughbred owner George Gardiner. Twelve years later, Byrne opened his own operation in Orangeville, Ontario, Park Stud, that became home to Ontario stallions such as Brave Shot, Geiger Counter, and Bold Ruckus. In time Byrne took on a larger role in the industry, serving six years on the Ontario Racing Commission, and was a director of the Ontario Jockey Club for a decade. Other industry positions included steward of the Jockey Club of Canada in 1993, chief steward from 1996-2005. He helped form the Canadian Graded Stakes Committee in 2000 and is also a member of the International Cataloguing Standards. He founded his own sales company, Canadian Breeders’ Sales in 1990, and subsequently took over the CTHS sale at Woodbine for 11 years.

Dr. Michael Colterjohn, one of Canada’s top equine reproductive experts joined Gardiner Farms in 1987 and soon became farm president. Under his management, the Caledon East farm became one of the country’s most well-respected and accomplished breeding operations. He built a quality broodmare band to elevate the farm into a significant player in the Canadian-yearling market. Following the sale of Gardiner Farms 2008, Colterjohn along with his wife Dr. Moira Gunn and farm manager Sherry McLean, purchased the Gardiner livestock he had spent so much time and effort amassing and the three partners launched Paradox Farm Inc. The long list of Paradox-bred horses include 2014 Queen’s Plate winner Lexie Lou along with venerable Ontario-sire performer, Pender Harbour.


The three Communicators appearing on the Election ballot are Jim Bannon, Curtis Stock and Tom Wolski.

Toronto’s 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. He has been the face of 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 the Woodbine Journal, a staple for bettors. In addition to his journalistic endeavours he gives generously of his time as an educator in handicapping seminars, as well as an instructor at Humber College’s Canadian Racing Official’s Course. He is head of the Chaplaincy Program at Woodbine and is also a director of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

Curtis Stock, originally from Calgary, got his start as a horse racing reporter while still in university, before working at Woodbine with CHRHF member Bruce Walker. He returned to Alberta to take over the publicity, marketing and advertising at Northlands Park and is now with the Edmonton Journal. Stock’s affection for the horses, jockeys, trainers and horsepeople in general, is reflected in his writing. His reporting has resonated with Sovereign Awards judges. Stock was the recipient of back-to-back Sovereign Awards for Outstanding Feature Story in 1993-94 and beginning in 1985 took home an unprecedented eight Sovereign Awards for Outstanding Newspaper Story in Canada.

BC based Tom Wolski has been involved in Thoroughbred horse racing for 40 years, during which he has worn many hats including jockey, radio-television sportscaster, racing columnist, racetrack media and publicity director, film actor and public speaker. Wolski is the recipient of multiple Sovereign Awards in the category of Outstanding Film &Video Broadcast as writer/ producer in 1998, 2001 and 2011. He was also honoured with the USTA’s John Hervey Award in 2004, which recognizes the best in harness racing television and radio journalism.


The Veteran Person category will be contested by Roger Laurin, J.G. (Jerry) Lavigne and Robert A. (Red) McKenzie.

Roger Laurin, the Montreal-born trainer, came into prominence in 1964 when he took charge of the race 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 1960s and ‘70s 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 achieving conditioning the 1971 two-year-old Eclipse champion filly Numbered Account for Ogden Phipps.

J.G. (Jerry) Lavigne’s career as a trainer began in 1958. His achievements included 68 stakes race wins with 22 stakes winners, as well as two Queen’s Plate races with Almoner in 1970 and Son of Briartic in 1982. He was the conditioner of Canadian Champion colt Nice Dancer, a multiple stakes winner on the turf; Lost Majorette and sprinter Park Romeo. His trainee Fabe Count had a stellar record over four years as a multiple stakes winner at nine different distances over both turf and dirt.

Alberta-based trainer Robert A. (Red) McKenzie has literally spent a lifetime on the racetrack, joining the backstretch community at the age of 11 before becoming a jockey at age 16 and going on to be a leading rider in western Canada in the mid-40s. When McKenzie grew too big to be a jockey, he took out his trainers’ licence. He had early success at Bay Meadows, Golden Gate, Hollywood Park, Meadowlands, Assiniboia Downs, Hastings Park, as well as the Ontario tracks in the fall. In later years, he concentrated on racing in Alberta; at Calgary, Edmonton, or Whoop Up Downs and Grand Prairie.

McKenzie won both divisions of the Alberta Derby in 1965 with the filly Chariot Chaser while Chopstick won the other division. Chariot Chaser would go on to win the Prairie Triple Crown that year, a record that stood for 34 years. McKenzie also won 29 races with the venerable campaigner Grandin Park.

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

Additional information about the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame may be found byclicking here.

(Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame)

Update On Integration With OLG

Sue Leslie, President of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association, recently spoke on the process of integrating horse racing with the province’s gaming arm — the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.

The update was part of an audio interview posted on the OHRIA website.

“Well,” Leslie said with a sigh to interviewer Norm Borg, “integration continues to be a very slow process, unfortunately. I do believe that the people involved at OLG and the province are sincerely working with us and trying to move integration along.

“The more involved we get in it, the more complex it becomes and, as you know, OLG were operating for some time without a CEO. Stephen Rigby now is in charge over there and I’ve found him to be very demonstrative, very willing to work with us, a good communicator. And so I think that getting him in place is going to help the process a lot.”

Leslie noted that one of the key individuals working on the integration process — Larry Flynn, Senior Vice President of Gaming at OLG — is retiring at the end of the month after 14 years.

“[Larry] probably understood our industry better than most there so that will be a little bit of a setback but I know he’s been briefing Stephen (Rigby) like crazy. We have had excellent communication, and I have had excellent communication. I think Phil Olsson, the Chair, has done a good job in the selection there.”

Noting that she’s well aware of the frustration on the horse racing industry side, Leslie offered reasons for those wondering why the process isn’t moving as quickly as everyone would like.

“The frustration is hard to take some days. I know the OHRIA Product Committee, who’s been working for months now to get something up and moving, sure has their frustrating days…but you’re trying to satisfy two regulators, you’re trying to satisfy legislation, you’re trying not to cannibalize existing products, and figure out how strategically a product will work to increase money both for the province and horse racing. It is a very complex issue.”

In addition to this integration, Leslie notes that there is still some discussion at the government level on where the horse racing industry should be placed and reporting to: OLG or OMAFRA.

“Those things are all being discussed right now to try and figure out both how the government should be governed as it pertains to horse racing…if we’re actually going to become a part of OLG, which is what the Premier wants — us to be fully integrated. Well, if we’re going to be fully integrated, that’s a big step.

“So, we need to make decisions on the governance on the government side and we also need to finalize governance on the industry side. Are the right people sitting at the table? How should that move forward? How should it work with OHR, ORC, AGCO, not to mention all the industry members…so we’re looking at that model to see if the existing model really or does that need to be tweaked somehow. Or does some type of interim governance model make sense as we go through integration and transition. Not to make excuses but they are very time-consuming.”

Leslie concluded the integration discussion with assurance and confidence that those involved have the best interests of horse racing in their scope of vision.

“All I can say is I believe OHRIA is working hard and both OLG and government — Minister Leal at OMAFRA has been terrific, I really believe Minister Leal cares about horse racing and he has his staff working diligently on all these things too. We’re trying to marry it all together — the agencies, the ministries, the industry — and come up with a formula that is going to work best for the future for everybody.”

To listen to the full interview, with Leslie’s thoughts on the new tapeta surface going in at Woodbine Racetrack as well as the Pari-Mutuel Tax Reduction, click the play button below.


Out-Of-Competition Cobalt Testing

On Friday, March 20, the Ontario Racing Commission announced that it will begin working with the horse racing industry to develop a practical and appropriate response to the testing for cobalt.

In a Notice to the Industry – the contents of which appear below – the ORC announced that it plans to move through its existing Out-of-Competition Testing (OCT) Program in a timely manner.

The ORC has also announced that the addition of a cobalt threshold would be communicated to the industry prior to implementation.


ORC To Work With Industry On Out-Of-Competition Testing Of Cobalt


The Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) announced that it will begin working with the horse racing industry to develop a practical and appropriate response to the testing for cobalt.

The ORC plans to move in a timely manner through its existing Out-of-Competition Testing (OCT) Program. It is noted that the addition of a cobalt threshold would be communicated to the industry prior to implementation.

The following steps will be undertaken:

  • consultation with the horse racing industry;
  • a new (or revised) Rule which would need to be approved by the ORC Board;
  • determination of a threshold in coordination with the CPMA;
  • a penalty guideline based on some classification of cobalt (e.g. Class III substance).

The ORC believes that the testing for cobalt should be addressed on an urgent basis. It is not only a matter related to the integrity of horse racing but more importantly an animal welfare issue. When administered in appropriate quantities, there is likely very little performance benefit to cobalt. And when used in excess, this element can be toxic to horses.

On February 16, 2015 the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA) issued a Memorandumto provincial regulatory bodies and industry groups regarding its plans for the testing of cobalt. The memo noted that a threshold of 100ng/ml in urine has been proposed by several international jurisdictions, and in the United States, some have implemented thresholds between 25 and 70 ng/ml in blood.

On March 19, 2015, Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) President Ed Martin indicated that he expected regulators would set a uniform approach on cobalt when they meet in Tampa, Florida, at meetings held April 21-23, 2015.

Possible Woodbine Expansion Profiled

The possibility of casino and entertainment expansion at Woodbine Racetrack has been profiled in a piece by the Toronto Star.

It was announced last week that Toronto Mayor John Tory is open for renewed discussions regarding casino expansion at Woodbine Racetrack if the plans involve an entertainment destination.

In May of 2013, Toronto City Councillors voted 24-20 against gambling expansion at the Rexdale raceway. Last week, the Woodbine Entertainment Group’s outgoing CEO, Nick Eaves, was quoted as saying that WEG believes that “the way the issue was approached back in the spring 2013 was very much about the unpopular prospect of a casino downtown, and the Woodbine question didn’t get considered fully on its own merits.”

The Toronto Star’s profile piece on the possibility of expansion at Woodbine highlights some of the benefits that would come with the undertaking, but it also states that some people do not think that expansion is in the best interest of the area.

(With files from the Toronto Star)

(Standardbred Canada)