November 28, 2015

Reduced WEG Revenues Precipitate Changes To COSA Grooms’ Health Benefits

A reduction in revenue from WEG has forced COSA to make changes to its health benefits program for grooms. While qualifying grooms will still have their premiums paid in full by COSA, it has become necessary to reduce Prescription reimbursements from 80% to 60%, and cut Basic Dental reimbursements from 80% to 60%.

Members paying their own premiums will, for now, continue to receive the 80% reimbursement on both prescriptions and dental.

For more details, please read this communication from COSA President Bill O’Donnell.

Horse Racing Shows Up And Is Heard At Toronto Casino Hearings

On Monday, April 15, the City of Toronto’s executive committee kicked off its marathon two-day hearing into the divisive casino expansion issue, which could ultimately lead to Woodbine Racetrack being upgraded to a full casino in the future.

As the proceedings took place inside Toronto City Hall, members of the Ontario horse-racing industry let their feelings be known outside, as a rally spearheaded by the Central Ontario Standardbred Association showed up with strong numbers.

Inside, Hall of Fame thoroughbred jockey Sandy Hawley addressed the committee, as did Woodbine Entertainment Group CEO Nick Eaves and COSA President Bill O’Donnell.

“I thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today on the importance of your support for a full casino at Woodbine Racetrack,” O’Donnell told the committee.

“On the horsepeople’s side of the racing industry, we’re are seeing participants such as owners, trainers and backstretch employees, suppliers, veterinarians, blacksmiths, tack shops — you name it — either leaving the industry or withdrawing their investment in Ontario,” he said. “Some people are moving out of the province to the United States where they have a better chance to earn a living in the racing industry. Other industry participants that have not been as fortunate to be able to relocate to other thriving American jurisdictions are now losing their homes and farms and will be facing bankruptcy in the near future, if not already.”

“The Ontario horse-racing industry needs a full casino at Woodbine,” O’Donnell said, adding that the province’s horse-racing future is still currently in jeopardy because there is no plan beyond the two-year transitional funding agreement which is currently in place on the WEG circuit.

“We have a secure anchor, with our gaming and racing operations, to move forward with our development opportunities. With the casino, we can move forward with an integrated entertainment complex,” Jane Holmes, WEG’s VP of corporate affairs, told the committee.

Holmes — who stated that Woodbine Racetrack has more than an ample amount of parking to accommodate gaming expansion — would not speculate as to what financial state Woodbine Racetrack would be in in five years if it does not land casino expansion.

“Five years is very hard to project out,” said Holmes, who did say that WEG is committed to its live racing product, regardless of whether or not it lands gaming expansion.

“One of the things is that we have, obviously, had discussions with many of the operators (casino gaming operators). We believe that we have the ability to bring in the skill set to operate it (a casino), but that is a decision of the province. We may have to partner with somebody. Our concern is that there is a sufficient revenue share that Woodbine can reinvest back into horse racing because that is our core business. So, for us, it is all about our core business and maintaining horse racing.”

(Standardbred Canada)

Please Support WEG And Horse Racing By Attending Rally At Toronto City Hall, Monday, April 15th

The City of Toronto is holding council meetings on April 15th and 16th to discuss the recent long-awaited report on the pros and cons of hosting a  Casino.

Employees, horsepeople and community partners of WEG are staging a rally at City Hall to represent their interests on this important issue.

Central Ontario Standardbred Association (COSA) will be providing free transportation from Mohawk on Monday, April 15th, departing the parking lot at 10:00am. Complimentary box lunches will be provided for all.

The bus will be leaving Toronto at 1:30pm to return to Mohawk.

There will also be two buses departing the Woodbine Grandstand at the employee entrance at 10:30am and two buses leaving the Woodbine backstretch at the east stable gate at 10:30am.

You can contact the COSA office at 905-854-2672 to reserve your spot on the Mohawk bus.

Please show your support!




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 .

COSA Forced To Restrict Disability Payments According to Minimum Participation At WEG Tracks

Due to the current circumstances of the Ontario horse racing industry, COSA will experience funding cuts after March 31st of this year. We have  therefore been forced to alter our policy on disability payments to members.

Effective April 1, 2013, those who qualify for COSA disability top-ups must have had a minimum of 24 starts on the WEG circuit in 2012, OR have worked for a trainer at the time of the incident who had a minimum of 24 WEG starts in the previous year.


Proof of Eligibility For COSA Health Benefits For Grooms Due Friday, February 1

The Central Ontario Standardbred Association would like to remind grooms covered under its Health Benefits program that proof of eligibility must be filed annually.

The current Eligibility Check Form has been mailed and is also available here.

A completed form, together with proof of fulltime employment as a caretaker must be received in COSA’s Campbellville, Ont. office by Friday, February 1. Groom’s must also have valid ORC and SC licenses to be eligible.

Failure to provide the proper paperwork by the deadline will result in benefits being immediately terminated.

If you have any questions about the Benefits Program for Grooms, please contact either Cathy Boughton or Stacey Newman in the COSA office at 905-854-2672.

COSA Responds To WEG Agreement With Ontario Government

COSA extends congratulations to Woodbine Entertainment Group on their recent agreement with the Ontario Government that ensures horse racing for 2013 and 2014. The announcement is welcome news following the months of uncertainty in the industry.

COSA thanks Ted McMeekin, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, his OMAFRA panel: Elmer Buchanan, John Snobelen and John Wilkinson, as well as Jim Lawson and Nick Eaves from WEG, for their tireless efforts throughout these negotiations.

This is a first step towards the sustainability of our industry after March 31, 2013 when the Slots At Racetrack Program ends.


Let’s Load Up The Buses For The Liberal Leadership Convention, Jan. 25 and 26 !

The Liberal Leadership Convention will take place January 25, 26, and 27th at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre (the old Maple Leaf Gardens) in Toronto.

The Candidates have expressed an interest in reconnecting with rural Ontario. So we are asking for your support to impress upon the candidates the seriousness of harness racing’s current situation.

If you are interested in attending, carrying signs, and committing four hours of your time on either the 25th or 26th, please contact Cathy Boughton of the Central Ontario Standardbred Association 905-854-2672 or Brian Tropea of the Ontario Harness Horse Association 905-854-6442.

Transportation will be provided to and from the convention on both days from Mohawk Racetrack (front entrance parking lot).

Please call to reserve a seat on the bus. The buses will be leaving Mohawk at 8am and Noon on both days.

Thank you for your anticipated support!


COSA Members Reminded About AGM On Wednesday, Nov. 28

The Central Ontario Standardbred Association (COSA) reminds members that it has scheduled its 3rd Annual General Meeting for Wednesday, November 28, 2012.

The meeting will be take place at the Campbellville Lions Hall, 42 Main St. S, Campbellville, ON, and will begin at 7:00pm.

The AGM will update all members with respect to the ongoing business of COSA and will present the COSA 2011/2012 Audited Financial Statements from Deloitte & Touche.

In addition, there will be discussion on the future of Standardbred racing at Woodbine Entertainment Group racetracks.

Please bring your membership card, as membership will be verified at the door.

Standardbred Groups Meet Regarding OMAFRA Report

Central Ontario Standardbred Association (COSA) issued the following press release concerning a meeting which took place on November 6 and November 8th:


A group of Standardbred stakeholders met for discussion on Tuesday and Thursday of this week. The group was comprised of members from COSA, NCRHHA, NHA, OHHA, SBOA and Standardbred Canada.

Discussion centered on the OMAFRA report, how it impacts the Standardbred racing industry as well as possible options for addressing the concerns this industry has with the OMAFRA Panel’s recommendations.

The discussion concluded that a task force is to be formed to focus attention on the issues that have been identified in the final OMAFRA report.

It is important that COSA, the NCRHHA, NHA and SBOA work with our Standardbred Task Force to bring these issues forward through OHRIA with a unified voice. In doing so, we need to reach out to members in public office as well as industry experts to strengthen our position to Government and to the OMAFRA Panel.

We can only succeed in changing the future of the Standardbred racing industry if we make a concerted effort to understand what is best for the industry as a whole, and work smartly with partners from all sectors of the racing industry to adopt clear solutions and a common approach to implementing them.

Our efforts going forward will be focused on supporting this Standardbred Task Force and OHRIA promoting the principle of cross-industry collaboration as a means to achieving success for the Standardbred racing community and the industry as a whole. This includes working with OHRIA to determine how we best position and negotiate the desired outcomes for the Standardbred Industry.

OHRIA is composed of the following Standardbred associations: COSA, NCRHHA, NHA, SBOA, Standardbred Canada and for-profit as well as not for profit race tracks across Ontario.