April 19, 2014

OHRIA Issues Industry Update

The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) issued an update to the horse racing industry late Tuesday afternoon.

OHRIA’s President and Chair Sue Leslie issued the statement, and the contents of the update appear below.

OHRIA is pleased to report that there have been many positive advancements towards stabilizing the horse racing and breeding industry during the first weeks of 2014.

OHRIA continues to work closely with Ontario Horse Racing (OHR) led by John Snobelen and the Ontario Government to ensure that horse racing and breeding are integrated into the Province’s gaming strategy. Integration continues to be OHRIA’s top priority, as ultimately new revenue streams are required to allow horse racing and breeding to grow again. Some has been accomplished as we continue to raise awareness of the importance of our industry. Presentations and solutions are being presented to the OLG as alternatives that will include Ontario horseracing and protect the future for Ontario horse people.

Thanks to the efforts of HBPA, OHR and many others, the Fort Erie racetrack will be hosting live thoroughbred racing in 2014 thus ensuring two venues for thoroughbred horse people to race their horses in the Province. Details regarding the start date, number of race dates and purses offered are currently being discussed and will be released once confirmed.

A deal to run 27 days of quarter horse racing has been reached in principle, congratulations to QROOI and the Picov family for their hard work to make this a reality for the Quarter Horse Industry.

Funding for the Horse Improvement Plan and the Ontario Sires Stakes Program has been approved by the Ontario Racing Commission after extensive consultation with the industry.

Woodbine live thoroughbred meet is ready to start April 12 with a purse structure similar to 2013. The 2014 stake schedule has almost been finalized and will be released shortly. Horses are shipping in as of Feb 18 (today), a much earlier opening to last year.

The Alliance between Standardbred racetracks operating in southwestern Ontario is almost finalized. This cooperative effort will enhance the Standardbred racing and breeding product by minimizing costs and help ensure long term stability for the industry.

Work is beginning this upcoming week with the other regional tracks and talks with Rideau in Ottawa are underway.

OHR, led by John Snobelen is meeting with individuals both inside and outside our industry to discuss marketing and promotion for the upcoming year.

In response to encouragement from OHRIA, to keep the industry better informed, update letters to the Minister are now being posted on the ORC website.

OHRIA will also be providing more frequent updates to the industry with information as it becomes available.

(Standardbred Canada)

OHRIA Brochure on Transition Support Services for Industry Participants

For horse people and horse racing related businesses affected buy the transition of the industry from the Slots at Racetracks Program, the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) is providing information on services available, specific to the needs of the industry, through various existing agency programs.  Click below for downloadable copies of the OHRIA brochure:

OHRIA Brochure (back)

OHRIA Brochure (front)


MPP Randy Pettapiece Named PC Critic For Rural Affairs

QUEEN’S PARK – Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece is the new PC caucus critic to the Minister of Rural Affairs. Pettapiece’s new job was one of several new appointments announced today by Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak.

“I’ve always tried to speak up for the people of rural and small-town Ontario – and especially to represent the values and concerns of the people of Perth-Wellington,” said Pettapiece. “That will remain my top priority, but this new role will build on our efforts.”

Read the entire release: Pettapiece named PC critic for rural affairs



OHRIA Response To Ontario Horse Racing Transitional Panel

The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) has responded to the proposals put forward by the Transition Panel’s Plan for Horse Racing in Ontario with what they consider “a more workable approach to moving the Industry forward.”

“The crisis in our industry is urgent, deep, and requires rapid decision-making to stabilize losses of jobs and investment,” states the report.”It should be noted that there is broad consensus within the industry that the most expedient, simple and profitable solution (for both the horse racing industry and the Government of Ontario), would be to establish expanded gaming at existing racetrack sites, with transparency, accountability and performance benchmarks established for revenue sharing between the horse racing and breeding industry and the OLG.”

To view OHRIA’s repsonse to the Transitional Panel, click the following link.

(Standardbred Canada)

JoeScully.com: Ontario Horse Racing Industry Needs Our Input – Karen Dallimore

What will Ontario horse racing look like in 2018? That’s the question that three former Cabinet Ministers – John Snobelin, Elmer Buchanan and John Wilkinson – are trying to figure out. They’re advisors in the Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel and they have been asked to make a plan.

They want our help.

When the McGuinty government called for the cancellation of the Slots at Racetracks agreement by March of 2013 it threw the racing industry into a tailspin. Under that revenue sharing agreement twenty percent of slots revenue was being returned to the industry – half to the horsemen and half to the tracks – to the tune of $345 million per year.

Now the industry must try to figure out how to get by with less. According to Snobelin, approximately $220 million has been earmarked for transition support for 2013. This includes $60 million in each of the next three years set aside for government transfer payments, and for 2013, $50 million in pari-mutual tax reduction and $110 million from gaming product commissions.

But what about 2014? What then? In what Snobelin called the ‘Buchanan Proposal’ at a recent facilitated discussion at Picov Downs in Ajax, the total government investment would call for the transfers and tax credits to equal the commissions, matching funds. In other words, if wagering went down, government funding would go down. If wagering went up, government funding would go up.

As Snobelin said, if we don’t turn the industry around, government funding retreats with the industry.

Continue reading at JoeScully.com…


New MPPs All Committed To Solutions For Horse Racing Industry

The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) congratulates Ontario’s five newest MPPs today and looks forward to working with them to improve Ontario’s horse racing industry.

The industry has been in the spotlight since the McGuinty Government’s decision to scrap the successful Slots at Racetrack Program. With all parties now committed to finding a way to stabilize the horse racing industry, OHRIA hopes these new MPPs will help secure a brighter future.

New Scarborough-Guildwood MPP Mitzie Hunter is committed to putting the Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel’s recommendations into action when she joins the Liberal Caucus with new Ottawa South MPP John Fraser.

“Premier Wynne and the Ontario Liberals are committed to a sustainable future for horse racing in this province,” said Ms. Hunter. “I believe that the [Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel] plan presents a strong approach to an Ontario horse racing industry that has a long term future, and I hope that input from stakeholders like OHRIA makes it even stronger.”

The NDP’s new MPP from Windsor, Percy Hatfield, has committed to working with the horse racing industry, a view shared by his party and new London-West MPP Peggy Sattler.

“I agree with the horse racing community that the ideal option is to reestablish the Slots at Racetrack program or comparable partnership. I also agree that racetracks should have the first right of refusal to host a new casino before building new casinos in the same region,” said Mr. Hatfield in an email.

The Progressive Conservative’s Doug Holyday has also acknowledged the importance of horse racing in Ontario.

“Horse racing must be a key component of Ontario’s gaming strategy,” said Mr. Holyday. “[The Progressive Conservatives] will build partnerships with the horse racing industry, allowing it to thrive.”

OHRIA President Sue Leslie is cautiously optimistic about the future of the horse racing industry in Ontario.

“We’ve had a tough couple of years, but we are pleased that all parties, and their new MPPs are committed to working towards a solution that will result in stability and success for the horse racing industry,” said Ms. Leslie.

“We congratulate these new MPPs and look forward to working with them, and the Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel to chart a path forward.”


OHRIA Preparing An Industry Response To Transition Panel’s Preliminary Report

OHRIA has announced that it is currently preparing an industry response  to the Horse Racing Transition Panel’s Preliminary Report. For details, please see OHRIA’s complete press release below:

During the week of July 8 to 12, the OMAFRA Horse Racing Transition
Panel undertook a province-wide series of consultative sessions to
present their proposed plan for restructuring the Ontario horse racing
industry. The Panel (in partnership with Rod Phillips, CEO of Ontario
Lottery & Gaming (OLG) presented key elements of their plan at four
sessions (London, Toronto, Ajax and Ottawa) and to the public via WEBex
connection. The sessions were well attended, and provided an interesting
cross-section of views on the Plan proposed by the Panel.

OHRIA would like to thank those that participated in the consultation
sessions, and commend participants on their constructive input into the
Panel’s presentations. Many thoughtful and valuable suggestions came
forward from participants. However, there is still much work to be done
before there is a clear view of what the future of horse racing in
Ontario will look like.

OHRIA is currently developing an industry response to the Transition
Panel’s proposal, with specific focus on providing recommended options
on the subjects identified in the sessions. It is expected that OHRIA
will prepare a detailed submission to the Panel over the next few weeks.
We have received many responses and ideas from industry associations and
individuals, and we will examine and consider them in our response.

There is still an opportunity for any interested stakeholder (or other
parties) to submit their comments and feedback on the OMAFRA Transition
Panel proposal, and we would encourage you to do so an ask that you
please copy OHRIA at ohria@ohria.com.

A copy of the full report from the Horse Racing Industry Transition
Panel report “Toward a Sustainable Future – a Plan for Horse Racing in
Ontario” is available for viewing at:

Standardbred Canada website:
OMAFRA government website at:

Information on how to submit your comments to the Panel, are available
from the OMAFRA website at:

Sue Leslie
OHRIA President & Chair


Industry Consultations With Panel Kick Off July 8 At Western Fair, OHRIA Advises

The Horseracing Transition Panel will be holding public consultation meetings during the month of July. They will be reviewing and explaining their draft plan for the future of horseracing in Ontario which has been submitted to the Wynne government.

The panel will be taking questions and are looking for feedback from stakeholders.

We hope you take advantage of this opportunity to obtain and provide information to the Panel.

Please note the following schedule.

  • Monday July 8th at Western Fair
  • Tuesday July 9th at Woodbine
  • Wednesday July 10th at Ajax Downs
  • Thursday July 11th at Rideau Carleton


Please note all sessions are from 1-4 pm.

We encourage your attendance.


OLG’s Phillips Responds To OHRIA’s Concerns

Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corp. President & CEO Rod Phillips responded to the concerns raised by the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association recently with a letter dated Monday, June 3rd.

Phillips’ letter appears below:

Re: OHRIA Sounds Alarm Over RFPQ, Sole Bundle Operators

OLG will be working closely with the Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel to integrate horse racing into Ontario’s gaming strategy so I’m glad there is attention being paid to the issue. I’m writing to clarify a few issues that have been raised recently.

OLG’s modernization of gaming is an opportunity to bring private sector expertise into our business. OLG’s procurement process was designed very carefully to ensure that it is fair and competitive.

In fact, OLG’s procurement process presents an opportunity for racetracks. Racetrack owners/operators may compete in this public procurement on the same basis as other vendors. Another option is for owners/operators to join with a larger consortium or group to become a partner in a gaming facility. This would mean generating additional revenue (beyond rent) from a facility on racetrack property.

OLG is grouping some of its gaming zones into gaming bundles. The bundles are designed to make the day-to-day operation of the businesses more efficient for service providers. As we know, customers tend to be drawn from geographic areas–and they often visit a number of facilities in the same region. So bundling will allow easier cross-marketing and cooperation between groups of facilities.

It’s important to note that Gaming Bundles will not mean the merging of current or proposed facilities, or Gaming Zones. There will be just one facility in each Gaming Zone.

As part of modernization, OLG is working with the government to ensure that horse racing is integrated with the provincial gaming strategy to ensure future revenue streams for the industry.

OLG is moving forward with approved government policy to help make Ontario’s lottery and gaming industry a long-term success.

When the modernization of lottery and gaming is complete, additional revenue will be available to help fund provincial priorities such as hospitals and municipal infrastructure. In addition, a modern OLG will help create thousands of jobs and drive more than $3 billion in capital investments across Ontario.


Rod Phillips
President and CEO

OHRIA Expresses Grave Concern About OLG Rolling Ahead With Modernization Plan

The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) is concerned that the integration of horse racing into the OLG’s Gaming Strategy will be impossible if the existing OLG Modernization Plan continues to go forward.

The OLG’s announcement of the RFPQs for their Southwest Gaming Bundle puts Ontario’s horse racing industry at further risk of collapse because the existing Modernization Plan does not allow for racetrack operators to submit a proposal to operate the slots that already exist in their racetracks.  The current “bundle” proposal that requires a single operator for all six gaming zones in the Southwest would further eliminate individual racetracks from consideration as hosts.

The Government won’t know the final strategy on how horse racing will be integrated into the Modernization Plan until October 2013, a full two months after the latest RFPQ deadline for the Southwest Bundle, which contains five OLG Slots at racetracks.

The commitment by Premier Wynne to integrate horse racing on March 6 resulted in the Horse Racing Transition Panel being re-struck with specific reporting deadlines on the strategy for horse racing integration.

OHRIA has been grateful for Premier Wynne’s efforts over the past few months, but is concerned that the latest OLG move does not allow the local racetracks in Ontario’s southwest to get a fair chance at integration.

“Western Fair, Clinton, Dresden, Woodstock and Hanover Raceways fall into the Southwestern region zones and they could potentially lose their zones before the integration strategy for horse racing is finalized,” said Sue Leslie, President of OHRIA.  “We thank Premier Wynne for her commitment to horse racing, but are concerned that integrating the industry will be meaningless if racetracks in Northern, Eastern and Southwestern Ontario lose their zones to other gaming operators due to OLG decisions before integration has occurred.”

Fourteen of the Provinces 17 racetracks will have 2013 racing seasons, however, the horse racing industry needs a long term revenue stream to compete with the overwhelming gaming competition from the OLG which will only increase with their existing Modernization Plan.

“All we are asking is for time to ensure that the Panel, after consulting with OHRIA and industry participants, can report back to the Premier and that horse racing can be integrated before the OLG’s expansion continues.  We’d like the Premier to tell the OLG to halt its RFPQ process province-wide until October, until integration decisions have been finalized.”

The Panel’s report, due in October, will help the Government decide how integration should go forward beginning in 2014.




Darryl Kaplan of Trot Magazine Interviews Kathleen Wynne

Upcoming Stakes Events at WEG Tracks


Blossom - Friday, April 11
3YO F Pace FINAL - $30,000

Don Mills - Saturday, April 12
4&5YO Open Trot Leg 1 - $18,000

Youthful - Monday, April 14
3YO C&G Pace FINAL - $30,000

Lifetime Dream - Monday, April 14
4&5YO Mare Trot Leg 2 - $18,000

Celias Counsel - Thursday, April 17
3YO F Trot Leg 1 - $15,000

Don Mills - Saturday, April 19
4&5YO Open Trot Leg 2 - $18,000

Lifetime Dream - Monday, April 21
4&5YO Mare Trot FINAL - $40,000

Tie Silk - Monday, April 21
3YO C&G Trot Leg 1 - $15,000

Celias Counsel - Thursday, April 24
3YO F Trot Leg 2 - $15,000

Princess - Friday, April 25
3YO F Pace Leg 1 - $20,000

The Diplomat - Saturday, April 26
3YO C&G Pace - Leg 1 - $20,000

Don Mills - Saturday, April 26
4&5YO Open Trot FINAL - $40,000

Tie Silk - Monday, April 28
3YO C&G Trot Leg 2 - $15,000