September 30, 2014

Cobalt Study Results Released

On Tuesday, September 30, the results of an intensive, United States Trotting Association-funded scientific study intended to ascertain the appropriate regulatory level for determining the excessive presence of the naturally-occurring substance cobalt were announced.

Based upon extensive research, the scientists have concluded that 70 parts per billion in blood is the appropriate regulatory threshold. The recommendation guards against false positives, while identifying those that are engaged in artificial administration with the intent to enhance a horse’s performance.

“I want to thank Doctors Maylin, McKeever and Malinowski for applying appropriate scientific principles and protocols to achieve a regulatory threshold that is both reasonable for the industry and efficacious in deterring those who would choose to violate it,” said USTA President Phil Langley, in praising the contingent’s diligent efforts.

“With substances that are a natural constituent of a horse like cobalt, there is always a fine line between catching the cheaters and protecting innocent horsemen from violation. These scientists worked hard to achieve a proper balance, which should serve as a guidepost for the rest of the industry,” added Langley.

The USTA Medication Advisory Committee will continue to study the overall effects of cobalt and other substances in the racehorse in greater detail.

Research indicates that cobalt stimulates the production of erythropoietin (EPO) to produce red blood cells. Widespread abuse of cobalt by human athletes has been rumored for years, and its purported use in racehorses prompted the USTA to take a highly proactive approach in the prevention of its artificial administration for the purpose of illicit performance enhancement.

In June, the USTA contracted with Dr. George Maylin of New York’s Drug Testing and Research Program at Morrisville State College to determine at what level cobalt ceases being considered a naturally occurring substance and becomes a clear attempt at performance enhancement. His work was assisted by Director Dr. Karyn Malinowski and Associate Director Dr. Ken McKeever from the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Based upon the USTA’s funding, Dr. Maylin was able to secure a long-term lease of a specialized state-of-the-art instrument required to conduct proper scientific analysis to determine the presence and levels of cobalt in samples. That new, unique equipment with unrivaled performance differentiates these results from any other scientific study on the artificial introduction of cobalt in horses.

It is anticipated that the regulators in several jurisdictions will consider the suggested threshold when the supporting data is released.


Mohawk Racing, Qualifying Changes

The Woodbine Entertainment Group would like to advise horsepeople of upcoming schedule changes for both live racing and qualifiers.

This coming Tuesday (September 30) will be the final Tuesday card of live racing at Mohawk Racetrack.

The following week, Tuesdays will be dropped and live racing will be offered four nights a week on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday’s, with first-race post time at 7:25 p.m.

This live racing schedule will be in effect until the end of the Mohawk meet (Monday, October 13) and will continue when live racing returns to Woodbine Racetrack on Thursday, October 16.

Horsepeople are advised that the draw schedule will remain the same (details appear below).

• enter Monday for Thursday
• enter Tuesday for Friday and Saturday
• enter Thursday for Monday

Beginning in October, the qualifying schedule at Mohawk will also be changed.

Tuesday morning qualifiers will be dropped and qualifiers will only be held on Friday mornings at 10 a.m.

Qualifiers and training will remain at Mohawk until November 15.

There will be no change to the training schedule, as the track will remain open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings.

The full schedule of qualifying sessions at Mohawk is available below.

• Friday, September 26
• Tuesday, September 30
• Friday, October 3
• Friday, October 10
• Friday, October 17
• Friday, October 24
• Friday, October 31
• Friday, November 7
• Friday, November 14


Racing-Gaming Integration Update

“I look forward to the future. I think the right people are sitting at the table to move this forward now, and the cooperation is there.”

In an update posted to the OHRIA website, Sue Leslie discusses the status of the long sought-after reintegration of Ontario’s horse racing industry with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. One problem that’s a current impediment, according to Leslie, is that there is still some lack of clarity on what exactly “integration” means.

“There’s been a little bit of a delay in pushing hard forward because all of us — both on the horse racing side and in the OLG — are trying to make sure that we really understand what Premier Kathleen Wynne and her government means by integration,” Leslie told Norm Borg. “So we’re trying to get a more well-defined description of what the government’s view of integration is and that should be forthcoming very shortly.

“The cooperation is there; obviously with what we’ve all been through, and as much as we really don’t have sympathy for OLG, this has been a difficult two years for them, too. They haven’t had a lot of stability in terms of their leadership at OLG. To [OLG Chair] Phil Olsson’s credit, he is starting now to gel that and gel his board.”

By “very shortly”, Leslie indicated that she’s hopeful that answer would come “in the next couple of weeks.”

On the side of horse racing is, according to Leslie, the majority government in Ontario that should help expedite any future projects. There are some “short-term” projects on the table now that, according to Leslie, would take less time to realize than others. Details on those products were not elaborated on in fairness to those currently working on them.

Leslie and Borg also discuss the recent announcements pertaining to Fort Erie and the Standardbred yearling crop as well as the idea of establishing a marketing fund for racing from the province’s purse pool. To listen to the full interview, click the link below.

Racing-Gaming Integration Update

New Pennsylvania Whipping Rules

On Thursday, September 25, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced that it is imposing stricter standards to safeguard equine athletes from direct contact with whips during harness racing at the state’s tracks.

“Harness racing is a timeless sport that relies on quality horses, so protecting our equine athletes is a top priority,” said George Greig, the state’s secretary of agriculture. “We have worked with horsemen, judges and industry leaders to develop these standards for the safety of the animal without sacrificing the quality of Pennsylvania racing.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture release states that drivers must now use two hands on the reins at all times, which restricts motion of the whip to a flick of the wrist and forearm. Whips are normally used to strike the sides of the sulky or the horse’s saddle pad, generating the ‘cracking’ sound that encourages horses faster down the home stretch.

“Our new policy on whipping now becomes the most progressive in the country,” said Harness Racing Chairman Jonathan Newman. “We care about the horse and hope families will come to the races to enjoy this wonderful sport together as the best racing is here in Pennsylvania.”

(Standardbred Canada)

Autumn Series Nominations Coming Due

The Woodbine Entertainment Group would like to remind horsepeople that nominations for this year’s Ontario Sired Autumn Series are due next Wednesday (October 1).

The series will be offered to two and three-year-olds of both sexes and gaits. The series will take place at Woodbine Racetrack.

Ontario Sired two-year-olds that are non-winners of $30,000 lifetime, as of midnight, September 30, 2014 will be eligible to the series.

As for the Ontario Sired three-year-olds, non-winners of $50,000 lifetime or $30,000 in 2014 as of midnight, September 30, 2014 will meet the conditions for the series.

Each series will consist of two preliminary legs and a final.

The nomination fee for each category is $200 and is due by Wednesday, October 1, 2014.

To view the nomination form, please click here.

To pay the $200 nomination fee online, please click here.

If sending nominations by mail, envelopes must be clearly post-marked no later than October 1, 2014 or payment will not be accepted. Registered mail is recommended.



2015 Purse Bonuses for Ontario Sired Standardbred Two-Year-Olds

Ontario Horse Racing (OHR) is pleased to announce that in the 2015 calendar year, Ontario Sired Standardbred two-year-olds racing in Ontario will receive a projected $700,000 in new purse bonuses distributed as a 20% bonus on overnight races plus a 5% purse bonus on Ontario Sires Stakes earnings.

The proposal, which was brought forward by the Standardbred Advisory Group, was approved by the ORC Board this week. Elmer Buchanan, ORC Chair, said “It is encouraging to see innovative ideas brought forward by the industry, especially those ideas that demonstrate a strong commitment to the breeding sector”.

OHR wishes to thank the Standardbred Advisory Group for their leadership in developing the incentive designed to benefit Ontario owners and breeders.

“Ontario Sired” is defined as a foal sired by a stallion that is recognized as an Ontario Sire by the Standardbred Improvement Program in the year of conception.

Year after year Ontario breeders produce leading performers, trotters and pacers. Most recent successes are trotting mare Bee A Magician and pacing horse Somebeachsomewhere, who absolutely dominated in their Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) races as well as the elite Grand Circuit races. Virtually all of the sport’s most coveted races have been won by an Ontario Sired performer. 

For further information on this new incentive, contact:
Karen Hauver
OSS Administrative Coordinator

Ontario Horse Racing (OHR) is a division of the Ontario Racing Commission and, as the Program Administrator for Ontario’s Horse Improvement Program, is responsible for the development and implementation of all Program elements, designed to recognize excellence for Ontario Bred and Ontario Sired horses racing in their home province.

(with files from OMAFRA ,OHR and OSS)

Five Year Agreement Reached Between WEG and COSA

On Friday, September 12, the Woodbine Entertainment Group and the Central Ontario Standardbred Association issued a joint release which states that the two organizations have reached a five-year deal which establishes minimum race dates and purses for the duration of the contract.

The release does not contain any specific facts relating to the minimum race dates and purses, but it contains positive comments from COSA President Bill O’Donnell and WEG Executive Vice-President of Racing Jamie Martin.

The release states that the contract ‘runs through March 31, 2019.’

The contents of the release appear below.

Five Year agreement reached between WEG, COSA

TORONTO, September 12, 2014 – Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) and the Central Ontario Standardbred Association (COSA) today jointly announced a new agreement that has established minimum purse levels and race dates for the next five years.

“The five-year agreement provides a level of stability and purse certainty for our horseman to plan for the future,” said Bill O’Donnell, President of COSA. “WEG has clearly shown a significant commitment to our sport in these evolving and challenging times.”

“Confirming our ongoing relationship with COSA through 2019 represents a key plank to re-energizing the standardbred racing business in Ontario,” said Jamie Martin, Executive Vice-President of Racing. “We look forward to working together as new opportunities develop.”

The contract runs through March 31, 2019.

Niagara And Valedictory Series Nominations Due Nov.17th


Nomination fee: $200 (CDN & U.S.)

EVENT #61: Eligible: 3‐year‐old pacing fillies, non‐winners of $50,000 lifetime,
as of midnight, October 31, 2014. No allowances. Raced at Woodbine Racetrack

1st Leg: Thursday, December 11, 2014 $15,000 G each

2nd Leg: Thursday, December 18, 2014 g $15,000 G each

Final: Friday, December 26, 2014 $30,000 Added

Declarations close as posted on weekly condition sheet.

EVENT #62: Eligible: 3‐year‐old pacing colts and geldings, non‐winners of $50,000 lifetime, as of midnight, October 31, 2014. No allowances. Raced at Woodbine Racetrack

1st Leg: Friday, December 12, 2014 $15,000 G each

2nd Leg: Friday, December 19, 2014 $15,000 G each

Final: Friday, December 26, 2014 $30,000 Added

Declarations close as posted on weekly condition sheet.


Bidding War At OLG?

It was announced today (Monday, September 8) that the Ontario Government is seeking a service provider to operate specific areas of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.’s lucrative lottery business.

News of the announcement broke Monday morning, with the Toronto Star, pegging Canadian telecommunications giants Bell and Rogers as expected bidders on the contract.

The OLG is not looking to privatize; the Ontario government would still retain ownership and would continue to oversee the operations.


On Monday afternoon, the OLG issued the following press release.


September 8, 2014

TORONTO – The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) has initiated the final phase of its procurement process for lottery by issuing Request for Proposal (RFP) documents to pre-qualified service providers.

The RFP will enable OLG to select one service provider to run specific day-to-day operations of the lottery business in Ontario.

To OLG, the integrity of the procurement process is of the utmost importance. Procurement involves information of a commercially sensitive nature. As a result, details of the RFP documents and names of pre-qualified proponents will not be released while the process is ongoing. There will be no further communication about the RFP until a service provider is announced. OLG expects to announce the successful service provider in fall 2015.

Throughout the procurement process, OLG has engaged the services of a Fairness Monitor to provide oversight and advice to support integrity and fairness.

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 hospitals and other government priorities.

CPMA Adds Telmisartan to Schedule of Prohibited Drugs

On August 27, 2014, the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA) released a Memorandum to the Canadian racing industry and to Provincial Regulatory bodies advising that this drug has been added to Schedule of Prohibited Drugs.

To view a copy of this CPMA Memorandum, click on the link below.

CPMA Memorandum – August 27, 2014