May 28, 2015

Big M Casino Proposal Next Week

May 27, 2015 -

The proposal for the ‘Hard Rock Casino Meadowlands’ will be officially unveiled next week, according to a report. In regard to the expansion, Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural has been quoted as saying that the proposal will not simply be ‘slots in a box.’

Word of next week’s official announcement comes courtesy of an article in The Bergen Record by John Brennan, who explains that the Meadowlands announcement will come roughly one month before election officials in the state decide whether the upcoming November ballot will feature a question asking if casino expansion should be allowed outside of Atlantic City.

The report has cited Gural as saying that the proposed casino area would be attached to the track’s new grandstand, and that he estimates a Meadowlands casino could bring $400 million in annual tax revenue to the state if the plan is approved.

Brennan’s report states that the unveiling of the proposal will take place next Wednesday (June 3) in a press conference that will take place in the track’s grandstand.

“We’re offering to pay a high tax rate, around 50 per cent, just like Pennsylvania,” Gural was quoted as saying. “I know there are people who think we’d just be building ‘slots in a box,’ but this is a spectacular project and I want them to see what we have in mind.”

(With files from The Bergen Record)

‘Doors Open’ A Success At Woodbine

May 26, 2015 – Doors Open Toronto, presented by Great Gulf, offered free and rare access to more than 155 architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant buildings across the city, including Woodbine Racetrack, this past weekend.

In honour of this summer’s Toronto 2015 Pan American/Parapan American Games, this year’s Doors Open theme – Sports, Recreation and Leisure – showcased private and public recreational sites ranging from aquatic centres to athletics stadiums.

At Woodbine, guided bus tours of the private stable area, grandstand, the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, as well as other key spots on the racetrack’s 680 acres, were offered to fans.

Nearly 2,000 people signed up for Woodbine tours over the two-day extravaganza.

“Woodbine Entertainment Group would like to acknowledge the great outpouring of support by the Rexdale community and those across Toronto who came to visit Woodbine and all the other venues during Doors Open Toronto weekend,” said Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment Group. “We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support of all that happens at Woodbine.

“I’m extremely proud of our employees and staff at Woodbine who went the extra step to show how great the racetrack really is,” Lawson said. “We also have to commend the efforts of the Doors Open Toronto organizers, who put on a terrific spectacle that displayed the city at its best.”


(Standardbred Canada)

OSAS Standardbred Horse Shows

May 26, 2015 – To view the upcoming OSAS Standardbred Horse Shows click here.

Forty-Seven N.A. Cup Eligibles

May 26, 2015 -

The connections of 47 three-year-old pacing colts and geldings have made the final sustaining payment to remain eligible to the 2015 Pepsi North America Cup.
The $1 million Pepsi North America Cup is Canada’s richest harness race and will be contested on Saturday, June 20 at Mohawk Racetrack. The N.A. Cup is also the richest event for three-year-old pacers in North America.

The list of 47 remaining eligibles includes last year’s two-year-old champion Artspeak and the undefeated Wiggle It Jiggleit.

The 2015 Pepsi North America Cup will be the 32nd edition of Canada’s most prestigious harness race. Eliminations for the Pepsi North America Cup will be held on Saturday, June 13 at Mohawk.

The full list of the 47 sophomore pacing colts and geldings that remain eligible to the Pepsi North America Cup can be viewed below.




Total Horses: 47

Total number of eligibles following each payment:

February – 72
March – 63
April – 56
May – 47


Mohawk’s Jackpot Hi-5 Pays $156,427

May 26, 2015 -

A single winning ticket correctly selected the top five finishers in Monday night’s final race at Mohawk Racetrack to score a massive six-figure return on the Jackpot Hi-5.

In Monday night’s Jackpot Hi-5 race, 8-1 shot Lancaster Park reached the wire first to win by three-quarters of a length over 30-1 outsider The Fire Within. Following the race, The Fire Within was placed by the judges from second to sixth for causing interference in the stretch against Mac Raider.

The official top five finishers from Monday’s Jackpot Hi-5 race are as follows:

1. #7 Lancaster Park – 8/1
2. #1 Regal Sight – 22/1
3. #2 York Seelster – 25/1
4. #10 Pier Ho Temptation – 30/1
5. #3 Mac Raider – 2/1

A single ticket correctly selected the official top five finishers in order to hit the Jackpot Hi-5 and take home a payout of $156,427.84.

The entire Jackpot Hi-5 pool and carryover is only paid out when there is a single winning ticket. If there are multiple winning tickets, half of the Jackpot Hi-5 pool is paid out, while the other half is carried over to the following the card.

The significant Jackpot Hi-5 carryover heading into Monday night had been growing for a month. The last time a single winning ticket hit the Jackpot Hi-5 was just over a month ago on Friday, April 24 for a payout of $93,203.57.

The Jackpot Hi-5 will now start from scratch on Thursday evening’s card.

(Standardbred Canada)

New Owner Program Revived

There will be an extra buzz at Ontario racetracks this summer, as the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association renews the highly successful New Owner Mentoring Program.

For an investment of $4,500, nine people will have the unparalleled opportunity to be mentored by Hall of Fame horseman Bill O’Donnell and trainer Dustin Jones as they select an Ontario-sired yearling from the fall sales and train it through the winter in preparation for the 2016 racing season.

“We’ll educate them about the ground-up stuff, the grassroots stuff,” explains O’Donnell. “They might be fans that go to the races, but haven’t seen this side before.”

In addition to his years of expertise, O’Donnell will also contribute $4,500 to the partnership, and the SBOA will boost the group’s initial operating fund to $60,000 through a $15,000 forgivable loan.

“That will allow the group to buy their yearling — and it has to be an Ontario-sired yearling sold at an Ontario sale — and then the first year is covered for training and staking and whatever,” explains SBOA Vice President Tammy McNiven.

Horses from the first 11 new owner groups ranged from Grassroots performers to Gold Final winners, earning from $27,000 to $500,000, but one yearling did not make it to the races and McNiven emphasizes that there are no guarantees.

“It’s not something where we say you are going to get your money back,” she notes. “It’s a learning experience.”

Several graduates of the New Owner Mentoring Program have put their education to work purchasing additional racehorses or breeding stock, including Adriano Sorella. A part of the 2008 Ten Most Wanted Stable — whose M G Home Run earned $31,084 under the tutelage of trainer Casie Coleman and mentor Rick Kostoff — Sorella went on to co-own 2013 Little Brown Jug winner Vegas Vacation.

“We have had some success stories over the years,” says McNiven. “We hope we can get people interested, get some new people involved.”

Detailed information and application forms for the 2015 New Owner Mentoring Program are available on the SBOA website (, or by contacting McNiven at 519-475-4276 or

(With files from SBOA)

Transformational Change

Hugh Mitchell, who has a BSc Degree in Agribusiness from the University of Guelph, first joined Western Fair District (WFD) in 1982 as the Agriculture Manager.

His career took him outside WFD for a period of time, when he served as Senior Vice President of Racing for Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) in Toronto, before returning to WFD in 2005 as Chief Operating Officer.

Mitchell has remained active in the horse racing industry and recently served as Chair of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Associaiton (OHRIA) and President of Harness Tracks of America (HTA).

He is a past Director of the London Chamber of Commerce and past Director of Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions. He currently serves as Vice Chair with Tourism London.

Mitchell joined the Fanshawe College Board of Governors on September 1, 2012.

By Chris Lomon

TROT: In a perfect world, if everything goes exactly as you’d hope, what does horse racing look like in Ontario in 20 years?

MITCHELL: Governance… The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association will have evolved to be the credible and exclusive voice of the racing industry. Membership in OHRIA will be mandatory, representing all breeds and all sectors within each breed, and funded through its membership and government support.

OHRIA will be a highly functional advisory board to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. OHRIA will serve as the only voice of the racing industry and will be responsible for overseeing the management of all industry programs. With the support of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and the Ontario Racing Commission, OHRIA will be responsible for implementing and monitoring an ongoing strategic plan for the industry.

OHRIA will be accountable to government, through the OLG, for the sustainability and growth of the racing industry. The current Standardbred Racing Alliance will have expanded to include all breeds and will have been wrapped inside of OHRIA’s new governance model.

That said, OHRIA cannot be consumed by looking at the industry in terms of the individual interests of racetrack operators, breeders, owners, horse people, Standardbred, Thoroughbred or Quarter Horse.
All stakeholders have to come together with a common focus of accepting, developing and driving a customer driven model that acts in the best interests of the industry. A model that best serves the industry rather than debating about how the model best serves each individual sector.

Fundamentals… In a perfect world racing will be very much market driven. More specifically, the needs of the two critical capital providers to our industry, namely the wagering customers and the horse owners, will be central to all of our business decisions.

The market, more specifically the customer, will dictate how much live racing is conducted in the province and where it is presented.

The production and distribution of our pari-mutuel product in Ontario will become customer centric.
The value proposition behind the pari-mutuel product will evolve to become extremely competitive with other gaming products.

Partnerships… Racing will be fully integrated with gaming and government oversight will come from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. The degree and extent of racing and gaming integration will be specific to each market and dictated by the supporting business case for each. The concept of one size or model fits all will have been disbanded.

OLG will be a heavily invested partner of racing and will have assumed a controlling interest in racing’s future. Racing will have willingly relinquished its independence and given OLG a controlling interest in racing because of a mutually beneficial funding model. This funding model requires a sharing of resources, risks and rewards.

OMAFRA will play a key role in assisting the industry in measuring and monitoring the trickle down economic impact of government support of racing across Ontario. They will also play a pivotal role in equine research and matters of equine welfare.

Regulation… The Ontario Racing Commission will have been absorbed into the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to drive further efficiencies and establish a North American industry high standard of racing integrity.

TROT: What is required to get there and who needs to lead the efforts?

MITCHELL: I honestly think there’s enough leadership inside Ontario’s gaming, racing, and its regulatory framework to deal with the challenges of reshaping and reconstituting our industry.

Racing’s evolution starts with the industry losing its sense of entitlement and accepting accountability and responsibility for managing the much needed transformational change to take it where it needs to go. In addition, the industry must champion a more collaborative and consultative approach to working with government and their agencies.

TROT: Is there a model that you look to as a success?

MITCHELL: There are numerous gaming integration models in place in various jurisdictions across North America. Our circumstances here in Ontario are somewhat different and unique. For example, I understand that the Ontario government’s gaming privatization plan will be one of, if not the largest, ever implemented in North America. In addition, Ontario’s racing industry is one of the largest in scope and size in North America.

However, as unique as our situation is in Ontario, so too is the opportunity.

I think we can learn from racing and gaming models in other jurisdictions but I’m not sure we should plan to replicate a model from another jurisdiction because each does have its shortcomings.

TROT: Why does the industry matter?

MITCHELL: What’s really unique about racing is yes, it’s a business, but it’s also a very gratifying way of life. For those who have stayed involved in the industry, one must have a certain level of passion for the sport and an affinity for the horse. Very few of us who have survived in this business have let numbers dictate our reasons for staying involved.

It’s an industry that was built around the notion that we’re not always in it for the money but the sport and love of the horse. This principle will prevail going forward and will dominate in the next model for racing.
Horse racing matters because it’s a way of life for many people and has been for many generations and can be for many future generations. It’s an honourable way of life that has a tremendous economic trickle down effect in both rural and urban Ontario.

We all need to set aside our own individual interests and focus on what’s in the best interest of the overall industry for us to be successful. If we take this approach with discipline, the chances of our own interests eventually being served are infinitely greater.

Finally, with the right attitude and resolve, together we can and we will make our industry better.

(Standardbred Canada)

Buprenorphine Added To The Schedule Of The Pari-Mutuel Betting Supervision Regulations

May 20, 2015

MEMORANDUM TO:Provincial Regulatory Bodies and The Canadian Horse Racing Industry

SUBJECT: Addition of Buprenorphine to the Schedule of Prohibited Drugs in the Pari‐Mutuel Betting Supervision Regulations

Please be advised that the regulatory amendment to add the drug buprenorphine to the Schedule to the Pari‐Mutuel Betting Supervision Regulations has been finalized. The Canadian Pari‐Mutuel Agency, in consultation with the Drug Advisory Committee, has determined that this drug should be added to the Schedule of Prohibited Drugs.Buprenorphine belongs to a group of drugs known as synthetic opioid analgesics. It is used to control pain in humans and in animals and accordingly, should not be used in race‐horses participating in races on which pari‐mutuel betting is being conducted.


‘Doors Open’ At Hall Of Fame

May 20, 2015 – Looking for something to do this weekend? Visit the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame and Woodbine Racetrack as they take part in ‘Doors Open Toronto,’ presented by Great Gulf.

This is your opportunity and to learn about the history and heritage of Canadian horse racing from historians and docents including Hall of Fame Founder/Director Emeritus, Lou Cauz; author and Hall of Fame Member, Bill Galvin; and harness racing ambassador, owner and super fan, Sydney Weaver.

See rare memorabilia and photos of iconic Canadian horses Northern Dancer and Cam Fella, test your trivia knowledge for the chance to win great CHRHF merchandise, and take your picture as a harness driver or jockey in the photo area.

Woodbine activities include backstretch bus tours starting at 10 a.m. each day, with behind the scenes tours beginning at noon. Also, don’t forget that there is a full card of Thoroughbred racing beginning at 1 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. Hall of Fame driver Ron Waples and Hall of Fame jockey Sandy Hawley are also scheduled to make appearances.

Events take place this Saturday (May 23) and Sunday (May 24) from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, founded in 1976, offers visitors a one of a kind look into 250 years of rich history and heritage of both the Thoroughbred and Standardbred horse racing industry in Canada.

For further information on the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, visit and join the conversation via Facebook and Twitter (on Facebook, ‘Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame’; and on Twitter, @cdn_halloffame @woodbineracing @Doors_OpenTO and using the event hashtag #DOT15).

(Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame)

Mohawk Hosts Fireworks & Family Fun

May 15, 2015 -

The highly anticipated Fireworks and Family Fun Night returns to Mohawk Racetrack this Saturday and it promises to be a fantastic night of entertainment for all ages.

Doors open at 5 p.m. Saturday and fans will be greeted by live music and several of Mohawk’s top drivers upon their arrival to the track. Live racing will get underway at 6:45 p.m. and fans will be able to enjoy a ten-race card.

Racing is scheduled to conclude at approximately 10 p.m. and the spectacular fireworks show will begin shortly afterwards.

There will be an abundance of free activities all night for children, including face paintings, carnival games and balloon clowns. There will also be strolling entertainment acts, such as hula hoop artists, stilt walkers and illusionists, making their way throughout the grandstand.

Kids will receive a free reusable lunch bag with the purchase of a special $5 kids meal.

For racing fans looking to catch the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, the Second Jewel of the Triple Crown will be shown live on the infield screen with full sound. Post time for the Preakness is approximately 6:20 p.m.

As always, admission and parking is free to Mohawk Racetrack.

For more information, visit

(Standardbred Canada)