February 21, 2017

SBOA Stallion Auction A Success

February 17, 2017 – The Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association reports that its 2017 Stallion Breeding Auction was a huge success.

Total bidding was up substantially from the 2016 edition. There was $67,875 in bids on the 2017 breedings offered, up $15,000 from the 2016 auction. The auction site had more than 3,300 views and bids were received from across Canada.

“We would like to thank all the stallion breeding donors, and all the bidders for their generous support,” the SBOA stated in a Friday morning release, noting the funds will “further [the organization’s] leadership role as an advocate of breeders’ priorities and interests with government, regulators and other industry participants.”

(with files from SBOA)

AGCO Releases Finding Report

February 16, 2017 – In the spring of 2016, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) launched its ‘Moving Ahead: Horse Racing Regulation in Ontario’ project, directed at modernizing the regulatory rules that govern horse racing in Ontario. The AGCO is committed to ensuring integrity, safety and public interest in horse racing, while also taking steps to reduce the administrative burden on industry participants, and contribute to the government’s ongoing effort to support the commercial sustainability of horse racing.

The AGCO release states the organization is “actively consulting with the horse racing industry as part of this initiative, and we are committed to keeping industry informed on the status of the project.” Updates and information related to the ACGO Racing Reform Project will be posted to the AGCO’s Moving Ahead page.




(with files from AGCO)

EHV-1 Confirmed In Ontario

February 16, 2017 – The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has been notified of two confirmed cases of Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy (EHM), caused by equine herpes virus 1 (EHV-1).

The horses from Durham Region were referred to the Ontario Veterinary College with neurological signs and are receiving treatment. Three other horses on the farm have tested positive for the mutated (neuropathogenic) strain of EHV-1 on nasal swabs but are not demonstrating neurological signs at this time. The farm owner has voluntarily placed the premises under a self-imposed quarantine to reduce the risk of viral spread.

These are the first cases of EHM diagnosed in Ontario this year; however, cases of EHM have been diagnosed in California, Kentucky, Louisiana and Michigan since the beginning of the year. In 2015, there were three laboratory-confirmed cases of EHM in Ontario

EHV-1 infection in horses can cause respiratory disease, abortion, neonatal foal death, and/or neurological disease. EHV-1 is not a federally reportable disease but is immediately notifiable by laboratories under the reporting regulation of the provincial Animal Health Act. Attending veterinarians suspicious of EHM should contact OMAFRA as soon as possible.

Because infected horses may show no clinical signs, but still shed the virus, the temperature of suspect animals should be monitored twice daily for 14 – 21 days and any abnormalities discussed with a veterinarian. Neurological signs, if they develop, may include loss or balance, hind-limb weakness, recumbency, difficulty urinating, decreased tail tone and depression. It is important that a veterinarian assess suspect cases of EHM since it can be difficult to distinguish this from other serious neurological diseases, such as rabies.

EHV-1 is easily spread by nose-to-nose or close contact with an infectious horse, by sharing contaminated equipment (bits, buckets, towels, etc.) or by the clothing, hands or equipment of people who recently had contact with an infectious horse. This highlights the need for routine biosecurity measures (including hand hygiene and basic cleaning and disinfection practices) to be in place at all times to prevent a disease outbreak. Special attention should be given to cleaning and disinfecting trailers.

Current EHV-1 vaccines may reduce viral shedding but are not protective against the neurological form of the disease. Implementing routine biosecurity practices is the best way to minimize viral spread. The best method of disease control is disease prevention.

Ontario cases of EHM and other equine neurological disease are listed on the OMAFRA website.










Equine Security Best Practices Guide

(with files from OMAFRA)


Joining Forces in Ontario

Friday, February 17, 2017 – For many years, the Forest City Yearling Sale and Canadian Yearling Sale competed over Canada’s top yearling market. Now the two sales are coming together to present one sale in the hope of providing the best possible buyer and seller experience.

by Dave Briggs

A new spirit of cooperation between Canada’s two biggest yearling sales has resulted in the Forest City Yearling Sale (FCYS) joining forces with Standardbred Canada’s Canadian Yearling Sale to produce a single, two-day select sale. An agreement in principle was, fittingly, announced on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14).

Principals from both sales say consignors and buyers should benefit from a combined auction to be called The London Selected Yearling Sale that will held Oct. 14-15 at The Western Fair District’s Metroland Media Agriplex in London, ON.

For many years, the two held competing yearling sales on different weekends in different locations — FCYS at the Agriplex and the Canadian Yearling Sale at Flamboro Downs in Hamilton.

“The question has always been: ‘Why are there two sales?’ That was a hard one for people to really answer,” said Dan Gall, CEO of Standardbred Canada. “What we’re trying to do is offer opportunity to showcase the best of the yearlings under one roof and at one sale.”

FCYS president Ann Straatman said declining yearling numbers in Ontario in recent years means a single, strong sale is the best way to go for all parties.

“Customers have been asking for this for awhile now. I’m hoping the consignors will be as on board as the customers are,” Straatman said, adding the division of duties between the two companies will play to each other’s strengths.

Straatman will oversee site management — coordinating setup, stalls, the auction block, hiring local help, etc. — while Standardbred Canada, led by sales manager Heather Reid, will handle the administration — taking in sale entries, coordinating the inspections, creating the catalog and running the sale office on the sale days.

“I think it’s a true partnership where we’ve delegated and compartmentalized our roles and have some true savings and efficiencies by doing so,” Straatman said.

Gall called the partnership, “a win-win not only being able to partner with Ann (Straatman) and her team, but also for those that now only have to go to one sale to do their shopping. It’s almost like a one-stop shop.”

The sale will be the same weekend the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Super Finals will be held on Oct. 14 at Mohawk Racetrack.

“Hopefully, that will attract people who wouldn’t necessarily come into the province for that weekend,” Straatman said. “We will accommodate those wanting to attend the races as well as those actually participating in the races. We’ll make sure everyone is able to get away in time and there will not be an interruption from the sale. It will likely create a longer day — depending on the entries — on the Sunday.”

Straatman said the combined sale will benefit from the fact that both sales were already similar in structure.

“Standardbred Canada runs their sale much like ours and very efficiently,” Straatman said. “I think Heather Reid has done a great job over the years and has a great staff support behind her… I have complete faith in their abilities to run the sale efficiency. There’s nothing major that still needs to be decided.”

Both Gall and Straatman said having the sale in London was the obvious choice.

“The airport is right there, there’s many hotels very, very close. There is lots of restaurants, the racetrack has Friday night racing,” Straatman said. “There were so many reasons why the Western Fair District is a one-stop place for sales and shows. The Agriplex itself has just undergone a huge renovation and it is a state-of-the-art facility with everything we could ask for.”

Straatman said the deal to run a joint sale is just a one-year agreement for now to see how the arrangement works before deciding whether to enter into a longer-term contract.

“So far, it has been moving along very smoothly,” Straatman said, though both she and Gall admitted there’s a lot of work to do.

“We really do have to roll up our sleeves and say, ‘What’s best for the sale? What’s best for the industry?’ We have to keep that focus on our customer,” Gall said. “This is a very customer-focused decision.”

In a press release announcing the merger, Reid said she was “looking forward to working with our sellers and Forest City Sales to present a best in class Yearling Sale.”

Gall said he liked Reid’s comment and hopes the new partnership will prove to be, “something that we can all be proud of, we can all promote and rally around… We want to create an event that’s going to get not only the horse-buying public excited, but, hopefully, the general public excited about what our sport is all about and get some interest in generating outside of the norm of those horse buyers.”

(Harness Racing Update)

Stay Mindful Of EHV-1 Signs

February 15, 2017 – It’s that time of year again when horses are returning home from racing, training and competition grounds south of the border.

Equine Herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) has caused outbreaks of neurological disease in at least four states over the last few months. It is important for you, as an industry participant, to be aware of the signs of disease caused by this virus and to discuss, with your veterinarian, methods of limiting entry and spread of this virus in your barn.

Please read this factsheet courtesy the Ontario Animal Health Network as a step towards increasing your awareness about EHV-1. The factsheet is presented below, or available here.



Ontario Racing’s Strategic Direction

February 15, 2017 – Ontario Racing is pleased to share its board-approved strategic directional statements.

Ontario Racing’s vision, mission and objectives will guide its work as it continues to evolve to best represent and support the horse racing industry in Ontario.



(Ontario Racing)

WEG Stakes Noms Due Wednesday

February 13 – The due date for nominations to all Woodbine Entertainment Group’s (WEG) stakes events in 2017 is this Wednesday (February 15).

WEG has moved to an across-the-board closing date of February 15 for all stakes in 2017.

The new format has pushed the closing date up to February 15 for WEG’s signature two-year-old stakes (Metro Pace, Shes A Great Lady, Wellwood Memorial, Peaceful Way) and older horse stakes (Canadian Pacing Derby, Maple Leaf Trot, Roses Are Red, Milton, Armbro Flight).

Nominations are also due on February 15 for the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup for three-year-old pacers. North America’s richest race for pacers will take place on Saturday, June 17 at Mohawk Racetrack.

Other events to require nominations by February 15 include the $650,000 Canadian Trotting Classic (three-year-olds), $400,000 Elegantimage (three-year-old trotting fillies), $400,000 Fan Hanover (three-year-old pacing fillies), $265,000 Goodtimes (three-year-old trotters), $160,000 Casual Breeze (three-year-old trotting fillies) and the $130,000 Somebeachsomewhere (three-year-old pacers).

Sustaining payments are also due Wednesday for this year’s Simcoe and SBOA Stakes.

A fee of $500 ($360 USD) is due Wednesday to keep three-year-olds (foals of 2014) eligible to this year’s Simcoe Open and Simcoe Filly Stakes. The SBOA Stakes for Ontario Sired three-year-old fillies requires a sustaining payment of $300 ($215).

To view the sustaining payment information, click here.

Similar to recent years, WEG continues to handle all administration duties for Alliance racetrack stakes.

Nominations are due on February 15 for Grand Rivers Raceway’s Battle of Waterloo and Battle of the Belles (Ontario Sired two-year-old pacers), Flamboro Downs’ Confederation Cup (four-year-old pacers), Clinton Raceway’s Kin Pace (Ontario Sired three-year-old pacing fillies) and Hanover Raceway’s Dream of Glory (Ontario Sired three-year-old trotters) and Balanced Image (Ontario Sired two-year-old trotters).

The nomination form for all the events closing on February 15 can be viewed by clicking here.

Nomination fees for all events can be paid online by clicking here.

If sending nominations by mail, envelopes must be clearly post-marked no later than February 15, 2017 or payment will not be accepted. Registered mail is recommended.

All inquires regarding the February 15 closing date can be directed to the Mohawk Racetrack race office, 905-854-7805.

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



McKee Making Positive Progress

February 13, 2017 – The family of Meadowlands Racetrack announcer Sam McKee has provided another update regarding the progress that the famed racecaller is making after having suffered a serious stroke earlier this month.

The progress report on McKee has come via the Go Fund Me page that has been set up to help deal with medical costs.

The entry states that McKee has reached another recovery milestone, as he was moved from the intensive care unit on Saturday (February 11) into a ‘step-down’ unit, meaning he is healing well and needs only intermediate care.

“Although he is still working on speech and mobility, we are encouraged that the doctors feel he’s close to heading off to rehab,” the family has said. “Sam smiles when we read him your notes and comments, and we know he can feel the love and support from you all.”

As of Monday morning (February 13), the Go Fund Me page has raised more than $144,000 in donations to aid McKee in his recovery.


Fundraiser For Tanya Mitchell

February 13, 2017 – An online fundraiser has been launched for Tanya Mitchell, a longtime harness racing industry participant who has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 38.

“Tanya has never been one to pass up work or call in sick, working through three knee surgeries and countless other injuries,” said horseman Ryan Maxwell, who started a GoFundMe page for Mitchell on Monday, “However, due to the marked size of the tumour and severe abdominal pain she is unable to work and has several months ahead of major surgery, and rehabilitation.”

The online fundraiser for Mitchell is available at the following link: SupportNLove4Tanya on GoFundMe.


Letter Of Intent Published

February 10, 2017 – As part of its information session on Friday (February 10), Ontario Racing published the executed Letter Of Intent (LOI), the nonbinding legal document which underpins the proposed long-term funding agreement for horse racing in Ontario.

The Letter of Intent (LOI) is available here