March 31, 2015

2014 Approved Ontario Race Dates

On Tuesday, April 1, the Ontario Racing Commission announced its decision in regard to the race-date applications for nine standardbred racetracks.

The ORC has announced the approved race dates for Woodbine Racetrack, Mohawk Racetrack, The Raceway at Western Fair District, Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs, Grand River Raceway, Rideau Carleton Raceway, Clinton Raceway and Hanover Raceway.

On Monday, March 31, the ORC released the proposed race dates for the period: April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015, for almost all of the province’s racetracks. To view a list of the proposed race dates, click here.

The ORC’s release regarding approved dates explains that the live race date schedules for other racetracks will be announced as their agreements are finalized.

Please note that these dates are not necessarily the same as the proposed calendar sent out on Monday, as the Monday release used a fiscal calendar of April 2014 through to March 2015 while today’s announcement simply encompasses 2014.

The contents of the ORC release appear below.

ORC approves Ontario Race Dates for 2014 and beyond

Notice of Director’s decision regarding 2014 Race Dates

The Director of the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) today announced the decision regarding the schedule of live race dates for 2014 for certain racetracks. Following the successful conclusion of agreements, the following racetracks were in a position to commit to their race date schedule for the remainder of 2014:

Western Fair
Flamboro Downs
Georgian Downs
Grand River
Rideau Carleton

The live race date schedules for other racetracks will be announced as their agreements are finalized.

Agreements were possible due to government’s commitment to provide funds to horse racing to support the industry`s efforts to grow its business. This five-year commitment has allowed for the negotiation of long term agreements which secure this schedule of race dates for each of the next five years.

The Director confirms and approves the schedule of race dates for the 2014 as follows:


Woodbine Racetrack
Standardbred (Premier) – 37 – 71 – 108
Thoroughbred (Premier) – 0 – 133 – 133

Mohawk Racetrack
Standardbred (Premier) – 0 – 102 – 102

Western Fair
Standardbred (Signature) – 38 – 87 – 125

Flamboro Downs
Standardbred (Signature) – 52 – 94 – 146

Georgian Downs
Standardbred (Signature) – 0 – 40 – 40

Grand River Raceway
Standardbred (Signature) – 0 – 48 – 48

Rideau Carleton Raceway
Standardbred (Signature) – 14 – 78 – 92

Clinton Raceway
Standardbred (Grassroots) – 0 – 15 – 15

Hanover Raceway
Standardbred (Grassroots) – 0 – 16 – 16

In accordance with Policy Directive 3-2007, all other race date calendars are approved, but are subject to change where a racetrack operator or other interested party makes an application to vary the approved dates, which will be considered based on the strengths of the business plans submitted and the industry funding available.

The Director has been moving forward to implement the components of the five-year Horse Racing Partnership Plan (HRPP), as approved by the Ontario government. Announcements have been made awarding Woodbine Entertainment Group as the single teletheatre operator under a procurement process that is now complete. Revenue earned from the teletheatre network will be used for the benefit of the Centralized Racetracks, which include Woodbine, Mohawk, Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs, Western Fair, Grand River, Clinton, Hanover and Ajax Downs. Additionally announcements have been made designating WEG as the single telephone account betting operator, where revenue earned will be used for the benefit of the Centralized Racetracks. Operation of regional racetracks and the related purses will be funded through a mix of on-track wagering and Horse Racing Partnership Funding Program funds.

Please be advised that you or any other aggrieved party have the right to appeal the Director’s decision to the Commission.

Steve Lehman
Executive Director

(Standardbred Canada)

ORC And Eight Racetracks Will Ink A Deal This Week

LONDON, Ont. ─ The Ontario Racing Commission and eight standardbred racetracks will ink a deal this week that will map the future of the horse-racing industry for the next five years.

“It’s a pretty exciting program. We’re going to have more purses and more race opportunities this year than we had last year,” said John Snobelen, who is working with the Ontario Racing Commission. “We have the industry rowing together, we have tracks now co-operating with each other to help market the product and put it on properly.”

The deal will give the industry the longest period of stability it’s ever had, he said.

The details are in how the money from a promised $400 million over five years from the Ontario government will flow.

About 90% of that money will go into a racing at core racetracks ─ eight of them standardbred tracks that will provide a circuit of racing that’s year-round with uniform purses between races of similar calibre at similar tracks.

“It’s really the first time we’ve had an integrated look at racing in the province,” Snobelen said.

The funding will allow Western Fair near London, Ont., to have 125 days of standardbred racing with purses between $60,000 to $65,000 a card, chief executive Hugh Mitchell said

The money will also fund the racetracks to put on the races.

The new model, Mitchell said, is customer-driven and focused on wagering. It’s also transparent ─ everything is on the table and stakeholders know where they stand and what their responsibilities are, he said.

All sides are also working on milestones that will assess how well the industry is doing and the economic impact horse racing is having on the economy of rural Ontario, he added.

The funding begins April 1.

Eight standardbred tracks are guaranteed a cut of $72 million a year for five years ─ they’ve already worked out between themselves who will get what, said Snobelen. The rest, such as Sarnia’s Hiawatha Horse Park, will have to submit a business plan to get a cut of the remaining $8 million.





In an effort to re-establish harness racing in Quebec, the Quebec Jockey Club has announced the revival of the Prix d’ete, once Canada’s primary harness race. The 2014 edition will be for 4 year olds with a purse of $200,000, and a consolation race for $50,000.  Click here for more details.

Mother’s Day Open House at High Stakes, Oak Knoll On May 12

For the second consecutive year, the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association and Standardbred Canada’s ‘I Love Canadian Harness Racing’ Fan Club are partnering to present a special Mother’s Day Open House event.

On Sunday, May 12, High Stakes Farm in Moffat and Oak Knoll Stables in Campbellcroft will open their gates and farms to the general public from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. to showcase their mares, foals and facilities.

The Open House will give the general public an opportunity to get up close and personal with the mares and foals, take a behind the scenes tour of the farm, and talk with the owners about a day in the life of a standardbred breeder.

“Although we have fewer farms taking part, we felt it was important to continue the event after such great results and feedback from last year’s program,” commented Walter Parkinson, the recently elected President of the SBOA. “Many of our breeders are trying to cope with challenges as a result of the end of the Slots-at-Racetracks program, which has had a devastating impact on the breeding industry. We want this to continue as an annual event and are hopeful that more farms will take part in future years.”

The goal of the program is to educate the general public on the standardbred breeding and racing industry as well as demonstrate the importance of the industry to the rural community and Ontario’s economy.

This is a great opportunity for people who wouldn’t normally have a chance to visit a horse farm to connect with the horses and the people in the standardbred industry.

High Stakes Farm in Moffat, Seelster Farms in Lucan, St. Lads Farm in Ruscom and Twinbrook Farms in Embro took part in the inaugural edition of the Open House last year.  More than 1,000 people visited and toured the four farms.

Horseplayer Jim Valleau Headed To New Jersey For World Harness Handicapping Challenge, Saturday, April 13

Jim Valleau will be the COSA/WEG representative at the upcoming $100,000 World Harness Handicapping Challenge at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

The Pickering, ON resident’s name was selected April 1st from ballots earned on March wagers through HorsePlayer Interactive. He’ll receive a spot in the lucrative New Jersey contest, plus a travel and accommodation package sponsored by COSA.

Valleau has long been an avid follower of harness racing. “I started going to the races at the old Greenwood track located in Toronto with my father when I was a teenager,” he said.

“As I grew older, I had a keen interest in harness racing and for a few years back, in the late 80s and early 90s, owned a few standardbred horses at the Ontario-based tracks.”

Although he no longer owns horses, Valleau continues to attend live racing 4-5 times a month at Woodbine or Mohawk. And since last year, he says, “I’ve been able to watch and wager on live racing at Woodbine and Mohawk more frequently using my HorsePlayer Interactive membership.”

Valleau’s berth in the April 13th World Harness Handicapping Challenge earns him a shot at prize money anywhere from $2000 to $40,000 if he can make the Top Ten on the leaderboard.

WHHC contestants must choose seven races from the Meadowlands Saturday night card and one race each from Balmoral, Buffalo and Woodbine for their wagers.

Valleau will join fellow Ontario handicappers Bill Porter, Roy Sproxton, Don Sproxton and Garnet Barnsdale who have each also earned seats at the WHHC table.

COSA wishes the very best of luck to all on their big night at the Big M!

Proposed Changes To Income Tax Act Could Thwart Industry Investment, According To Standardbred Canada

On March 21, 2013, the federal budget was released, containing proposed changes to Section 31 of the Income Tax Act.  This Section of the Act outlines the circumstances where a farmer may deduct up to $8,750 of losses against his/her non-farm income.

As previously reported, the government has proposed to increase this limit to $17,500, whereby a farmer can deduct his/her first $2,500 of losses and 50% of the next $30,000.   Although this very modest increase will benefit some of our members, overall Standardbred Canada believes that the proposed change will be detrimental to our industry.

Standardbred Canada has been working on this issue for many years.  Over the last 18 months, we have been working with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture to have discussions with government regarding the importance of making meaningful change to Section 31 for the benefit of farmers.   We support the position of the CFA, which is to reinforce the importance of the decision made by the Supreme Court of Canada (Canada vs. Craig, 08-01-2012), and to recommend that the loss restriction be increased to a more realistic $40,000. These two changes are critical to an industry that requires significant capital investment.

It would appear that the government is changing the tax law to nullify the Supreme Court of Canada and eliminate the decision of Canada vs. Craig. That judgment clarified that a taxpayer could deduct all of his/her losses against off-farm income if the specifics of the combination test were met.  Now, under the current proposal, it would appear that farmers will be limited to a deduction of $17,500 – an increase that is less than inflation.  At a time where our industry needs to maintain investment and attract new owners, this proposed tax change may pose a serious challenge to those looking to enter or stay in the industry.

Standardbred Canada encourages the government to engage in discussions with CFA to implement meaningful changes to the Tax Code that will encourage growth and investment in rural Canada.

COSA and WEG Sponsoring Draw April 1st For World Harness Handicapping Challenge Representative

Central Ontario Standardbred Association (COSA) is pleased to announce that it is joining with Woodbine Entertainment Group to sponsor a local handicapper at the upcoming World Harness Handicapping Challenge at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

The contest winner will be drawn from ballots earned by March 31st through wagers via Horseplayer Interactive. Bettors will receive one ballot for each day that they wager at least $100 on Woodbine Standardbred Racing through HPI online, mobile, phone or in person with their card at Woodbine Racetrack until March 31st.

The draw will be held Monday, April 1st and will include travel, accommodations and a seat at the World Harness Handicapping Challenge at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey on Saturday, April 13, 2013. Cash prizes of up to $40,000 will be earned by the top 10 finishers in the Championship.

The WEG/COSA Contest details are available here on .

WEG Confirms Standardardbred Purses To Stay At Existing 2013 Levels

Coinciding with the Woodbine Entertainment Group’s Thursday, January 24 press conference regarding its agreement in principle with the Ontario Government’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs which ensures the continuation of live horse racing at Mohawk Racetrack and Woodbine Racetrack for the next two years, WEG has issued a release with some details for its planned racing activities for the near future.

Although the WEG release carries a headline of ‘Woodbine Announces 2013 Thoroughbred Racing Events Including Queen’s Plate’, the report does state that WEG will be making an application for a total of 183 standardbred race days at Woodbine (99 dates) and Mohawk (84 dates). The Canadian racing giant will also be applying for 133 thoroughbred racing days at Woodbine.

The WEG release did not make mention of whether the Mohawk backstretch will open or not, but it did state that the Woodbine backstretch will re-open on March 1.

In regard to standardbred purses on the WEG circuit, the release states that purses will continue at existing 2013 rates.

In terms of WEG’s major standardbred stakes events, not much is mentioned, outside of the fact that the Pepsi North America Cup for three-year-old pacers will take place at Mohawk Racetrack for the upcoming race season. There was no mention of the amounts of purses that will be offered for the NA Cup.

The contents of the WEG release appear below.

Woodbine Announces 2013 Thoroughbred Racing Events Including Queen’s Plate

Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) today confirmed that it will once again be the home of the iconic Queen’s Plate as part of Woodbine’s 2013 thoroughbred racing season, which opens on April 20.

WEG will be making an application for 133 thoroughbred racing days at Woodbine, along with a total of 183 standardbred race days at Woodbine (99 dates) and Mohawk (84 dates).

The Woodbine backstretch will re-open on March 1.

The announcement followed a two-year transitional funding agreement reached this week with the government of Ontario, and an agreement-in-principle with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. over leases for continuing slots operations at Woodbine and Mohawk Racetracks.

“I am delighted that at long last, we have been able to provide our fans, industry partners and the horsemen and women of Ontario with more clarity about our 2013 schedule,” said Nick Eaves, President and CEO of Woodbine Entertainment Group. “We will continue to work hard to achieve an industry model that will sustain and grow our industry, and this sport, for the long haul.”

Major events for the upcoming racing season include:

    • The 154th running of the Queen’s Plate: The first jewel in Canada’s Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing and the longest continuously run stakes race in North America.
    • The Pattison Canadian International: Traditionally, competitors from all over the world have competed in Woodbine’s famed 1 1/2–mile turf classic and 2013 will be no different. All-time greats, including Secretariat, Youth, Chief Bearhart and Sulamani captured the autumn time event.
    • The Ricoh Woodbine Mile: Has featured star-stacked international fields of older horses including the 2012 edition, which spotlighted eventual multiple Eclipse Award-winning Horse of the Year, Wise Dan. Launched in 1997, the race is contested over Woodbine’s world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
    • The Pepsi North America Cup (Mohawk): Staged for the first time in 1984, it has become one of the standards of excellence in harness racing. The continent’s finest three year-old pacers and dramatic finishes have factored into establishing the Pepsi North America Cup as a world-class sporting event.
    • Mohawk will also host the traditional standardbred Summer Meet from late spring through to the fall.

These agreements ensure the continuation of live horse racing at Woodbine and Mohawk Racetracks for the next two years. They take effect after the Slots-at-Racetracks program ends on March 31, 2013.

While the agreements will result in significant changes to WEG’s operating model, the average daily purses for thoroughbred will be comparable to those of 2012, and standardbred purses will be continue at existing 2013 rates.

“The uncertainty around racing this year has been very difficult,” said Sue Leslie, President of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. “Confirmation of a 2013 racing season and a commitment to the long-term sustainability of horse racing is critical for horsemen.”

Eaves noted that while the agreements provide short-term stability, a long-term, sustainable model for WEG and the Ontario horse racing industry could only be achieved by integrating horse racing into the province’s overall gaming strategy. He added that a core element of that strategy must be permanent, expanded casinos at Woodbine and Mohawk Racetracks.

(Courtesy of Standardbred Canada)

Prizes Galore For Mohawk Diners And Fans During Summer Meet

Each race day during Mohawk’s summer meet, fans
who dine in the Trackside Bar & Patio or Terrace Lounge may find themselves
winners of some awesome prizes.

Monday nights, fans have two chances to
win a round of golf for two. In the Trackside Bar & Patio, fans can enjoy
half-priced wings or in the Terrace Lounge, they can dine on half-priced
ribblets.  Fans who order a Wing or Rib Night promo will be entered
into the weekly draw and receive a free $2 show bet.

The winners are announced by the end of the racing card
each Monday night.

On Thursdays in the Trackside Bar &
Patio, two can dine for $29.99, which includes two Fish and Chips
entrées and two bottles of Alexander Keith’s. With the purchase of
the Fish and Chips combo, fans receive an entry into a contest where they could
win a trip for two to Halifax for Alexander Keith’s Birthday

With the combo, fans will also receive
an instant scratch-card, which give them a chance to score some Alexander
Keith’s swag.

Also on Thursdays, it’s Buds’ Night Out in the Terrace
Lounge, where two can dine for $24.99, which includes two Burgers with Kettle
Chips and two bottles of Bud or Bud Light.  With the purchase of
the special food and beverage offer, fans will receive two ballots to be put
into a draw where they could win a BBQ, Bud Hockey Stick Muskoka Chair
along with some Bud swag, valued at $1,000.

Friday nights in the
Trackside Bar & Patio is Girls’ Night and one lucky lady could win two floor
seats to see Madonna live in concert.

Until August 3, ladies who purchase a special food and
beverage offer will receive an invitation to the final Girls’ Night Out
extravaganza in the trackside tent at the Campbellville racetrack on August

The invitation includes a $10 cash card to be used in an
exclusive handicapping challenge where the winner will walk away with the grand
prize, the Madonna Prize Pack, valued at over $2,000.

The winner and a friend will spend some pampered time at
the Elmwood Spa and then dine at the elegant Turf Lounge in downtown Toronto,
before watching Madonna live in concert at the Air Canada Centre. After the
concert, they will spend the night at the luxurious Fairmont Royal York

And on every race night in
the Trackside Bar & Patio, fans also have chance to win a 60″
Sharp AQUOS Flat Screen TV with the purchase of any burger, sandwich or

The winners of the trip for two to Halifax
for Alexander Keith’s Birthday Bash, the BBQ, Bud Hockey Stick Muskoka Chair and
the 60″ Flat Screen TV will be announced at the end of the summer

Local Standardbred Breeding Farms Open Doors To Mother’s Day Visitors

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and we’ve got a great way for you to
make this Mother’s Day one to remember for the whole family. Forget the flowers
and chocolates, why not take a drive through the countryside and visit some
mares and foals at one of four breeding farms taking part in a special Mother’s
Day event.

High Stakes Farm, Seelster Farm,  St. Lads Farm and Twinbrook Farms will all host a Mother’s Day Open House from
2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 13.

You can take your Mother, sister, wife, grandmother, family out to brunch and
then make your way to one of these fine breeding establishments to have a
snapshot of a day in the life of a Standardbred breeder…or you can hit the
breeding farm first and work up your appetite for dinner.

Wear comfortable shoes and clothing and bring your camera as there are sure
to be some Kodak moments you won’t want to miss. Tell your friends, colleagues,
neighbours about this great way to spend time with the family while learning
about a day in the life of a standardbred breeder and seeing the mares and

High Stakes Farm
Moffat, ON L0P
(5 minutes from downtown Milton)
Tel 905-339-6748

Seelster Farms
33618 Roman Line
R.R. # 3 Lucan, ON N0M
(40 minutes from London)
Tel 519-227-4294

St. Lads Farm
1078 Countryview Lane
Ruscom, ON N0R
(40 km east of Windsor)
Tel 519-975-2067

Twinbrook Farms
R. R. # 4 Embro, ON N0J 1J0
25 miles
east of London, 3 miles north of Hwy #2 (Dundas St.)
Tel 519-475-4276

For directions and maps to the farms, visit the Fan Club’s Events page.