January 31, 2015

WEG Qualifiers Shifted

The Woodbine Entertainment Group would like to advise horsepeople that this week’s qualifying session at Woodbine Racetrack will take place on Friday (January 30) beginning at 4:00 p.m.



Just a reminder that the COSA AGM is being held tonight, Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at 7pm at the Nassagaweya Tennis Centre/Community Hall, 9267 Guelph Line, Campbellville, ON.  Membership will be checked at the door.

OHRIA Thanks Nick Eaves and Welcomes Jim Lawson to its Board

January 19, 2015 - OHRIA Thanks Nick Eaves and Welcomes Jim Lawson to its Board

As he prepares to step down as president and CEO of the Woodbine Entertainment Group, the board of directors of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) would like to thank Nick Eaves for his inspiring and tireless support of the Ontario horse racing industry.
During these last few tumultuous years with the very future of the sport hanging in the balance, Nick provided the kind of passionate leadership that helped stabilize Ontario racing and set it on a path toward sustainability. “His candour, courage and business acumen will be greatly missed by the OHRIA board and we wish him well in future endeavours,” said Sue Leslie, OHRIA President.
According to by-laws, the new Woodbine president will replace Mr. Eaves as an OHRIA director. Therefore, at the end of March, OHRIA will enthusiastically welcome WEG’s soon-to-be interim president, Jim Lawson, to its board.
Mr. Lawson will provide continuity to Woodbine’s contribution to OHRIA’s efforts for a sustainable future and that should bring confidence to the horse racing and breeding industry. “I have been fortunate to know Jim for a long time. He has been deeply involved in negotiations with government and brings a wealth of experience to the OHRIA table,” commented Sue Leslie.


2015 Ontario Sires Stakes Schedule

The 2015 Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) schedule is now available.

Please note that this schedule was drafted with the racing information that is known at this time and is subject to change if necessary. The schedule can be accessed by clicking on the OSS Logo on the COSA website which will take you to the OSS website or it can be accessed in the PDF below.

Draw dates and times, etc. will be entered on the Schedules and Results section of the website in early May when that information has been finalized.

For more information please contact:

Karen Hauver
OSS Administration Coordinator
519 369-3545

Nick Eaves Stepping Down

On Thursday, January 15, the Woodbine Entertainment Group issued a press release announcing that its president and CEO, Nick Eaves, will be leaving the company on March 31, 2015.

Eaves took on the role of CEO in 2010, with a mandate to establish a new and stable foundation for WEG, its role in the horse racing industry, and its future. The release states that, with this now in place, this is the right time for the company to transition to new, long-term leadership.

Eaves has worked at WEG for over 20 years, as president since 2006, and CEO since 2010. In that time, he has led the organization through significant change and helped create opportunities for continued development and future growth. This is due, in large part, to the five-year Horse Racing Partnership Plan with the Province of Ontario, under which WEG now leads the Standardbred Alliance and operates all off-track operations across the province for the benefit of the industry.

Additionally, WEG and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) have made significant progress in negotiating a new, long-term partnership, which truly integrates horse racing and gaming at WEG facilities.

“As I look back on the last 20 years, I am very proud to have been part of a team that was able to accomplish so many great things for WEG and in our industry,” said Eaves. “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. I want to thank all of my WEG colleagues for their hard work and collaboration over the years.”

Following the end of Eaves’ term at the end of March 2015, WEG chairman, Jim Lawson, will lead the company on an interim basis. The board will consider all options as it determines the best candidate to permanently fill the position.

“Nick has been with WEG for over two decades and in that time has been a big part of its evolution and success,” said Lawson. “The board and I want to thank Nick for his dedication, passion, and commitment, and wish him all the best as he embarks on the next stage of his life and career.”

Lawson continued, “As we look forward, now that we have stability we must work to achieve long-term sustainability for WEG and the horse racing and breeding industry and we will continue to put all of our resources towards that end.”

(With files from WEG)

WEG 2014 Standardbred Wagering Up

On Thursday, January 8, the Woodbine Entertainment Group announced that wagering on its 2014 Standardbred racing season was up over 2013.

Mohawk and Woodbine Racetracks hosted a total of 208 race dates in 2014, registering an all-sources betting total of $309,767,299, a 6.05 per cent increase over the 2013 figure of $292,088,583 from 195 cards.

The per-race handle showed a 3.56 per cent rise in 2014. An average wagering mark of $132,266 from 2,342 races was recorded last year, while $127,716 was bet per dash from 2,287 races contested during 2013.

“We had a strong 2014,” said Jamie Martin, WEG’s executive vice-president of racing. “Our customers saw tremendous value in the product offered at both Woodbine and Mohawk and responded in their wagering and overall interest in the WEG Standardbred racing program.”

Total purses paid over the entire 2014 year totalled $56,927,842, an increase of 7.4 per cent over the $53,005,732 figure paid over the full 2013 calendar. The daily purses paid in 2014 was $273,691.

The largest handle figure in the 51-year history of Mohawk Racetrack, $5,006,896, was recorded on August 30, the night of the Canadian Pacing Derby/Metro Pace. The total was the third highest in the history of the WEG Standardbred racing circuit.

The Pepsi North America Cup, won by JK Endofanera, featured the highest handle, $3,437,037, for a ‘Cup’ card since the race moved to Mohawk in 2007.

The Jackpot Hi-5 wager was in the spotlight during the 2014 season.

On Saturday, May 17 at Woodbine, over $1.3 million was wagered into the Jackpot Hi-5 pool that featured a carryover of more than $656,000, bringing the total pool to over $2 million.

That figure would be topped on August 30 at Mohawk, when more than $2 million was wagered into the pool that had a carryover of $647,000.

“We’ve seen an enthusiastic response to our Jackpot Hi-5 bet,” Martin said. “Both core and casual racing fans are willing to handicap one race in their own manner for the chance at lucrative payout. It’s a legitimate area of wagering growth.”

WEG kicked off its 221-date 2015 campaign this past Saturday evening and will offer four nights of racing all winter on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.


Pentafecta Model Rules Amended

On December 22, 2014, the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA) released a Memorandum to Provincial Regulatory bodies noting the ARCI Board approval of an amendment to the Model Rules for the Pentafecta. As the CPMA memo advises, this type of bet is now available to Canadian race-course associations.

A copy of this CPMA Memorandum can be viewed by clicking here.

The contents of the CPMA memorandum appear below.

On December 12, 2014, the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) Board of Directors adopted a proposal to amend the RCI Model Rules for the Pentafecta. Ad per section 143 of the Pari-Mutuel Betting Supervision Regulations, this type of bet is available to Canadian race-course associations.

The pool rule amendment, supported by the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA), allows the race-course association to request authorization to move Pentafecta carryover amounts amongst race meetings for which they are the pool host. This is limited to associations utilizing the ‘unique winning ticket’ option of the Pentafecta pool rules. This change will allow associations greater flexibility in building upon the popularity of this bet, and will offer bettors the greater opportunity to follow the Pentafecta’s jackpot pool.

The amending language to the Pentafecta pool rules will soon be available online athttp://arcicom.businesscatalyst.com/model-rules—standards.html.

Gural: Southern Tier ‘screwed’ by casino decision

By Laura Nahmias

ALBANY—Jeff Gural, the real estate developer and owner of both Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs racinos, was quaking with anger as he left a meeting of the state gaming board that announced its recommendations for three new casino licenses today.

Gural’s bid for a full-scale casino at Tioga Downs was not chosen by the board, despite a persistent rumor among casino industry insiders that it was the favored bid.

“I’m totally shocked. I really am. I didn’t think that, first of all, I didn’t think that they belonged in the competition, they’re not in the Southern Tier,” he said of Lago Resort, the proposal selected among the three bidders in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes region.

“The governor came to Binghamton and announced this and promised the people of the Southern Tier a casino,” Gural said. “Um, I was asked to help get the law passed. I spent about $800,000 of my own money to get Proposition One passed, only to get put out of business. I mean, I, I think it’s a joke to be honest with you.”

He speculated the decision could sink his racino at Vernon Downs, which is about 80 miles from the site of a new casino license in Tyre, and said it would hurt the broader Southern Tier region.

“It will hurt me at Vernon. But, I don’t give a shit about me, I’m wealthy,” Gural said.

“But it certainly screwed the people who live in the Southern Tier. There are five casinos where Lago is and now there are no casinos in the Southern Tier. That’s—that’s shocking!”

“I think the Southern Tier just got wiped out economically,” he said. “Poor people, they’re going to have no jobs. Take a ride around the Southern Tier and see what it looks like. It’s about as depressed an area as there is and when you had a chance to help these people, with the fracking and the casino, they give them a doubleheader. It’s just sickening. I feel bad for the people. Don’t worry about Jeff Gural, I’m fine.”

Gural said he may eventually close Vernon Downs.

“I’m probably going to stop,” he said. “It’ll hurt me at Vernon eventually. I wouldn’t be surprised if Finger Lakes closes. This is a devastating impact on the racinos in the state that have provided millions of dollars to the state and our thanks is this idiotic decision? It’s a disgrace. No fracking and no casinos? Why don’t you just tell them they should all move someplace else?”

Gural questioned the credentials of the casino siting board who made the recommendations.

“I mean I was concerned, to be honest, that they had a committee of people who knew nothing about the industry, and that’s what you get, you know? I think they’re well-intentioned, but how, they certainly screwed Turning Stone and they put Finger Lakes out of business. They probably put Vernon Down out of business. So basically, they put two casinos out of business and screwed the third one.”

Gural, who owns a horseracing track at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, wouldn’t say whether or not he’d pursue plans to build a casino there.

“I have the Meadowlands, so, I think there will be a casino at the Meadowlands eventually,” Gural said. “But that’s not the issue, I mean this is really for me, it’s got nothing to do with me, I have enough money. But the people of the Southern Tier—they just told them ‘no fracking’ and now they give ‘em a doubleheader of not only no fracking, but no casino and they’re putting it in an area where there are five other casinos? And what really pisses me off is the governor asked me to spend $800,000 of my money to pass Local Law 1, Proposition One? What was that all about? I mean—why would—the whole thing is sickening to be honest with you,” he continued.

“There’s no way you could analyze this properly and come to the conclusion that Lago—80 percent of their customers are going to come from the five existing casinos up there,” he said, questioning whether the resort could serve as a draw for customers traveling from New York City.

“Does anyone in their right mind think that people would drive up from New York to go to that place and they made a deal with Turning Stone to give them exclusivity and then they put a knife in their back and put a casino 30 miles outside of Syracuse? I mean, it’s outrageous. Honestly.”

(With files from Capital)


Amended Race Dates Approved

The Director of the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) has approved the following applications to amend 2015 race date calendars.

In accordance with Policy Directive 3-2007, the racetracks noted below submitted applications to vary their pre-approved 2015 race date calendar as part of the 2015 racetrack licensing process.

The Director has approved the following:


Woodbine Racetrack – 133 days


Hiawatha Horse Park & Entertainment Centre – 21 days
Leamington Raceway – 14 days
Mohawk Racetrack – 118 days
Woodbine Racetrack – 103 days

The race date schedule for Dresden Raceway has not been approved at this time and is still under review, pending the submission of certain documents.

Please be advised that any aggrieved party has the right to appeal the Director’s decision to the Commission.

Click here for race date calendar



New OLG President/CEO Announced

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) has announced the appointment of Stephen Rigby as President and Chief Executive Officer, starting January 5, 2015.

“Stephen Rigby was chosen for his skills and experience in leading organizational change,” said Philip Olsson, Chair of OLG’s Board of Directors. “The Board is confident that Mr. Rigby has the ideal experience for the job and will follow through on OLG’s renewal plan. Under his leadership, OLG will keep its focus on responsible gambling while building a strong lottery, gaming, charitable gaming and iGaming industry.”

Mr. Rigby has led major transformations as President of the Canada Border Services Agency and in the role of Associate Deputy Minister of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Most recently, Mr. Rigby was the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada.

As OLG’s new President & CEO, Stephen Rigby will lead an organization supported by 7,000 employees throughout the province. OLG is responsible for 24 gaming sites and sales of lottery products at approximately 9,800 retail locations. At approximately $2 billion annually, OLG provides the Ontario government with its largest source of non-tax revenue. Modernization will help OLG provide more money to Ontario for health care and education. Mr. Rigby will also lead OLG as it integrates horse racing into the provincial gaming strategy to further the Ontario government’s commitment to a sustainable industry.

“I am eager to begin my role with the OLG Board and management team at this critical point in OLG’s transition,” said Stephen Rigby. “I will be focused on helping to ensure OLG is offering its customers the best possible lottery and gaming entertainment experience for the benefit of the people and the Province of Ontario.”

OLG reports through its Board of Directors to Ontario’s Minister of Finance. Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance, stated: “I look forward to working with Mr. Rigby as he leads OLG in its continued modernization to increase returns supporting important priorities for Ontarians, including health care and education, while promoting a sustainable horse racing industry.”

OLG is a provincial agency responsible for province-wide lottery games and gaming facilities. Since 1975, OLG has provided nearly $40 billion to the Province and the people of Ontario. OLG’s annual payments to the Province have helped support health care; education, research, prevention and treatment of problem gambling; amateur sport through the Quest for Gold program; and local and provincial charities.

(Standardbred Canada)