July 24, 2016

OHRIA Notice – Budget Clause For Extension Of HRPP

February 25, 2016 – Today, Ontario’s Finance Minister, the Honourable Charles Sousa, presented the 2016 Budgetary Policy in the Ontario Legislature.

The budget makes reference to the government’s future commitment to our industry.  This is good news and we thank the government for this commitment.

OHRIA will work to bring resolution to the need for clarity on what this commitment will mean in detail.

“While we have not yet resolved certainty in our future, I have assurances from the Premier that the provincial government will continue to support and fund horse racing for many years to come,” said Sue Leslie, Chair of OHRIA.

“The budget presented today by Minister Sousa acknowledges the importance of the horse racing industry to the rural economy and the cultural fabric of Ontario.  We look forward to working with the government to assure a robust future for Ontario horse racing.” added Ontario Racing Executive Director, John Snobelen.

The 2016 Budget clause for OLG Modernization extends the $100 million in government support each year along with breeder support through the HIP program until the year 2021.

For more information on the existing Horse Racing Partnership Plan visit
http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/about/transition/index.html

For more information on the OLG Modernization clause in the 2016 Budget visit
http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/budget/ontariobudgets/2016/

For additional information or comment please contact
the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA)
horses@ohria.com  ~  www.ohria.com  ~ 416-679-0741

FINAL REMINDER! – ATTENTION ALL HORSEPEOPLE!!!!! Horse Racing Economic Impact Survey

November 6, 2015  - This is a final reminder to everyone to please take 20 minutes to complete the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ Horse Racing Economic Impact survey.

 

The government’s ongoing support of the horse racing industry is directly informed by available data. It is in the best interest of the industry to provide the data that the government is asking for so that they can make the most informed – and best – decisions for the industry going forward.

 

The survey will remain at the link above until midnight Tuesday, November 10th, so please help support the future of horse racing in Ontario.

 

Jeff Jarmain, CPA, CMA

Senior Program Analyst

Horse Racing Industry Transition Branch

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

 

519-826-3939

(OMAFRA)

OLG Seeks Input On Financial Model

October 16, 2015 - The horse racing industry in Ontario is being asked to provide input on a long-term financial model with respect to the ongoing integration and modernization of gaming in Ontario.

That news comes from a letter addressed to Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) President Sue Leslie on Thursday (October 15) by Stephen Rigby, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG).

Rigby’s letter notes that OLG is “developing a co-branding marketing strategy” that involves the launch of “horse-themed products through our Lottery and Internet business channels.” He went on to state that the next area of focus for horse racing’s integration within the province’s gaming strategy is developing “a financial model to provide a long-term funding framework,” exploring options and avenues “that help create economic confidence in a transparent and accountable way, beyond 2019.”

Rigby noted that he has discussed this focus with Cal Bricker, OLG’s Senior Vice President of Horse Racing, and has asked him to lead “a collaborative discussion on this subject with [OHRIA's] help, and members of the industry.”

The full text of the letter appears below.


Dear Ms. Leslie,

As you know, over the past eight months, the government, OLG and OHRIA have been working closely on key elements of horse racing integration.

All parties are engaged in a dialogue with the industry on areas of mutual interest. Through these discussions, we have accomplished a great deal. We are defining how horse racing fits into the modernization framework and laying a foundation for the industry’s success.

Today, OLG has a new horse racing division, led by a new Senior Vice President. We are developing a co-branding marketing strategy and preparing to launch horse-themed products through our Lottery and Internet business channels. We have also signed leases with almost all racetracks in Ontario.

In addition, the regulatory merger of the Ontario Racing Commission and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is moving forward and the government’s five-year Horse Racing Partnership Plan continues to support the industry.

The next area of focus is developing a financial model to provide a long-term funding framework. This includes exploring options that help create economic confidence in a transparent and accountable way, beyond 2019.

The government has asked OLG to provide recommendations on this topic by the end of the year.

We would like your ongoing input. I have asked Cal Bricker, OLG’s Senior Vice President of Horse Racing to lead a collaborative discussion on this subject with your help, and members of the industry.

As President of OHRIA, I would ask that you circulate this letter to your Board of Directors and membership. Horse racing is vital to Ontario’s rural communities and is an important part of our province’s rich heritage. Our ongoing collaboration will help create a sustainable industry in Ontario for generations to come.

We look forward to working with you and the broader industry on this matter.

Stephen Rigby
President and Chief Executive Officer
OLG

 

Progress On Integration In Ontario

September 21, 2015 - The Board of Directors at the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) feel some optimism that progress is being made after meeting with two government agencies tasked with integrating horse racing into the Province’s overall gaming strategy.

Jean Major, CEO of both the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) and Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and David Phillips, Director of Strategic Engagement at AGCO, along with their colleagues updated the OHRIA Board on the amalgamation of the ORC into the AGCO. The transition for AGCO to become the Provincial regulator for the horse racing industry, scheduled to be completed by April 1, 2016, was confirmed to be on target and updates on the necessary change to legislation and the overall transition strategy were discussed.

Stephen Rigby, President and CEO at OLG and Cal Bricker, Senior Vice President of Horse Racing at OLG spoke to the Board with regard to the importance and expectation of governance for the industry and the advancement and timelines for the integration of horse racing into Ontario’s gaming strategy.

John Snobelen, Chair of the Industry Governance Committee (IGC) updated the OHRIA Board on the concept and vision of the new governance model for the industry. Work in this regard is ongoing however a framework has been established.

“Each Director on the OHRIA Board was steadfast in expressing to both AGCO and OLG that the industry needs progress to happen and to happen quickly,” commented Sue Leslie, President and Chair of OHRIA, “Upon hearing the updates at the meeting I am confident that our message was received and I am confident that Mr. Rigby and Mr. Bricker are committed to timely integration and a long-term strategy for the horse racing industry as quickly as possible.”

(OHRIA)

OLG Meets With Horse Racing

September 11, 2015 - In a release issued Thursday, the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) has confirmed meeting with new Senior Vice President of Horse Racing, Cal Bricker.

According to OHRIA’s release, Bricker spent an hour meeting with Sue Leslie, President of OHRIA on Monday, August 31.

“The perspective, insight and knowledge of the industry that Sue has will be invaluable to me in this role,” Bricker said. “I’m looking forward to learning about the strengths and unique characteristics of the Ontario horse racing industry by visiting communities across the province and meeting as many industry members as possible.”

Although the meeting was categorized as an introduction, OHRIA stated that the focus quickly shifted to the need for ongoing progress on integration and communications to the industry.

“Cal has sharp intuition and significant leadership experience working in industries that are supported by membership-based organizations like OHRIA,” Leslie said. “I am confident that OLG’s President and CEO, Stephen Rigby, has hired an executive who is open to collaborating with the industry to help set us on a path for long-term success. I look forward to working closely with him.”

The full release from OHRIA follows.


OLG Update
September 10, 2015

Building Strong Relationships to Support Horse Racing Integration

OLG and the horse racing industry continue to work together to integrate horse racing into the provincial gaming strategy. For many months, work has been underway to build strong relationships with the industry and lay the foundation for success.

Building on the momentum developed so far, Cal Bricker, OLG’s new Senior Vice President of Horse Racing met with Sue Leslie, President of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) on Monday, August 31. The two executives spent an hour sharing information and discussing the importance of moving integration forward.

“The perspective, insight and knowledge of the industry that Sue has will be invaluable to me in this role,” Bricker said. “I’m looking forward to learning about the strengths and unique characteristics of the Ontario horse racing industry by visiting communities across the province and meeting as many industry members as possible.”

While the meeting served as an introduction for the two executives, focus quickly shifted to the need for ongoing progress on integration and communications to the industry.

“Cal has sharp intuition and significant leadership experience working in industries that are supported by membership-based organizations like OHRIA,” Leslie said. “I am confident that OLG’s President and CEO, Stephen Rigby, has hired an executive who is open to collaborating with the industry to help set us on a path for long-term success. I look forward to working closely with him.”

Bricker and Leslie are both members of the Industry Executive Committee, a group of OLG and industry executives who meet bi-weekly to provide decisive leadership and guidance to the many areas involved in integration. The committee is chaired by Stephen Rigby and includes Sue Leslie, Cal Bricker, Michael Keegan (OLG), Jean Major (AGCO), John Snobelen (Ontario Horse Racing), Jim Lawson (Woodbine Entertainment Group) and Hugh Mitchell (Western Fair District – a member of the Ontario Standardbred Alliance). The Industry Executive Committee supports the work of the Government of Ontario and its Crown agencies to help develop the industry and grow the horse racing customer base.

Bricker, who began his new role at OLG on September 1, will spend his first weeks with the organization learning about OLG’s involvement with the horse racing industry and the progress that is being made on integration.

Bricker is making it a priority to visit racetracks. He attended the OLG-sponsored Canadian Millions Sales Stakes Day at Woodbine Racetrack on September 2, along with Stephen Rigby and Philip Olsson, Chair of OLG’s Board of Directors. OLG’s sponsorship and attendance at industry events is a tangible demonstration of our commitment to sustainable horse racing in the province.

In the coming weeks, Bricker will begin visiting tracks across the province to see firsthand the critical role they play in support of thriving communities across Ontario.

(Standardbred Canada)

Spread The Word, Not Germs

August 19, 2015 - Equine Guelph, in partnership with the Ontario horse racing industry, has launched a targeted, racing-specific biosecurity training program for all levels of the racing industry – from key stakeholders all the way down to grassroots.

Training sessions, tools, resources and videos are available to all three horse racing disciplines – Standardbred/Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse – to help protect the industry from the threat of infectious disease. Visit the Equine Guelph Infection Control Resources page.


Infection control is easier to understand when illustrated by Mark and Dan. Through unique whiteboard videos, Equine Guelph would like you to meet Mark, a lifelong member of the horse racing industry. Mark takes you on a journey through a steep learning curve as he recognizes the threats viruses and bacteria pose for his herd. You will hear about how he experienced the need for good infection control practices firsthand. His story is all about the basics and answers: What are the differences between bacteria and viruses? How are they spread? What can you do to prevent them?

His brother Dan also has an important story to tell. Watch a second video where he tells his story about improving infection control practices to keep his horses happy, healthy and at peak performance. This video answers: What should my goals for infection control be? How can I prevent illness at home? How can I prevent illness at the track?

Both whiteboard videos are part of a targeted, racing-specific biosecurity training program launched by Equine Guelph in partnership with the Ontario horse racing industry. The program consists of training sessions, tools, resources and videos available to all three horse racing disciplines – Standardbred/Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse. This three-stage program will help to protect the industry from the threat of infectious disease.

STANDARDBRED TRAINER BEN WALLACE (3:15 min)

 

QUARTERHORSE TRAINER BOB BROADSTOCK (3:46 min)

 

THOROUGHBRED TRAINER SHERRY MCLEAN (2:28 min)

 

In the first stage, Equine Guelph tailored its successful two-week online biosecurity course to Ontario Racing Commission officials (ORC) in a half-day workshop and subsequent two-week online course. The course covered racing specific topics.

In the second stage, a ‘Virtual Video Tour’ featuring biosecurity expert Dr. Scott Weese was developed. These informative five-minute videos offer assessments and practical solutions for racetrack paddocks and training centre barns. The videos are packed full of useful and practical information that make sense for every racing stable wanting to reduce the chances of illness. The videos can be viewed on the Equine Guelph website, under infection control resources.

INFECTION CONTROL AT THE TRAINING CENTRE (5:04 min)

 

INFECTION CONTROL AT THE RACETRACK (5:04 min)

“Biosecurity is trying to prevent things from coming on the property and infection control is trying to contain the risk we always have.” Weese explains. One practical example of infection control is using chain cross ties rather than rope because they can be easily be cleaned with a disinfectant wipe. They should also be adjusted short enough that horses cannot chew on them.

In stage three, racehorse owners, trainers and groomers have been receiving material distributed by the ORC and racetrack officials. Printed resources are available at all ten Ontario race tracks, paddocks and offices as well as approximately twenty major training centres. The print material includes posters outlining five key things horse care takers need to know to protect horses from getting sick, and a handy checklist to use at home and the track. USB sticks containing the new video resources will also be distributed.

The key to prevention is focusing on what you can control. Using vaccines to lower the odds of sickness, not sharing equipment such as buckets and washing hands regularly, especially if you are handling more than one horse are just a few of the practical steps. By spreading the word on biosecurity and infection control, Equine Guelph is helping facilities save money in veterinary bills and days off by lowering the odds of their horses getting sick in the first place.

In partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Equine Guelph is developing a ‘Full-Circle-Responsibility’ equine welfare educational initiative which stands to benefit horses in both the racing and non-racing sectors.

This project is funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario. Other partners include: Central Ontario Standardbred Association, Equine Canada, Grand River Agricultural Society, Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Ontario Harness Horse Association, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ontario Racing Commission, Ontario Veterinary College, Quarter Horse Racing Association, Standardbred Canada and Vétoquinol Canada Inc.

Equine Guelph is the horse owners’ and care givers’ Centre at the University of Guelph. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government – for the good of the equine industry as a whole.

(with files from Equine Guelph)
(Standardbred Canada)

OLG Pens Letter To Horse Racing

June 26, 2015 - In a letter dated Thursday (June 25), representatives from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) and the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) provided an update on the process of integrating horse racing with the province’s gaming strategy.

The letter appears below.


A Message To The Ontario Horse Racing Industry

For the first time, representatives from the horse racing industry, the Government of Ontario and crown agencies are working together in support of a sustainable industry.

Following government direction first announced in October 2013, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) and the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA), are working with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, the Ontario Racing Commission, government and the broader horse racing industry on a number of initiatives that will help develop the industry and grow the horse racing customer base. The government, OLG and OHRIA restated their support for integration at a meeting in February 2015.

The overall goal of integration is to build the foundation for a sustainable horse racing industry in Ontario, but achieving that goal will take time and a significant amount of work. For many months, OLG and OHRIA have been working with the government to lay the groundwork for success.

As part of this collaborative effort, a committee structure has been established to guide the many areas involved in integration. Comprised of senior representatives from both OLG and the industry, the Horse Racing Industry Executive Committee is providing decisive leadership and guidance by:

  • Creating a business model for integration that is focused on stability
  • Determining an appropriate funding framework to ensure long-term sustainability
  • Providing advice to the government and supporting future legislative changes
  • Partnering with the industry to optimize branding and build public awareness about horse racing
  • Reviewing and assessing new horse-themed gaming products

The Industry Executive Committee meets bi-weekly. Joining us on the committee are: Preet Dhindsa (OLG), Richard Carson (OLG), Michael Keegan (OLG), Tina MacMillan (OLG), Jean Major (AGCO), John Snobelen (Ontario Horse Racing), Steven Lehman (Ontario Racing Commission), Jim Lawson (Woodbine Entertainment Group) and Hugh Mitchell (Western Fair District).

Our committee is supported by the work of other groups, including the Interim Governance Committee (IGC). Chaired by John Snobelen, the IGC is developing options for improving industry self-governance and is building the capacity necessary for effective partnerships with OLG. Read a recent update from John here.

One of our committee’s objectives is to begin to communicate regularly with members of OHRIA and the public about the progress being made on integration so that we can build a narrative to increase confidence in the long-term future of horse racing. We are working together on several initiatives and will have more to discuss in the coming weeks.

Sincerely,

Stephen Rigby, President and CEO, OLG and Chair of the Industry Executive Committee

Sue Leslie, President and Chair, OHRIA and member of the Industry Executive Committee

 

OHRIA Industry Update

April 27, 2015 – The cancellation of Ontario’s Slots at Racetrack Program (SARP) has necessitated a lengthy and critical review of how the province’s vital horseracing industry might move forward to a future of profitable growth and true self-sustainability.  This is, by no means, a simple task or one to be taken lightly.   Patchwork “fixes” are not an option when an entire industry’s future is at stake.  A real solution to a problem this complex, unfortunately, takes more than a few months to achieve.  In order to provide the time to affect a strategic, long term plan, the government of Ontario, as you know, has provided $500,000,000 over 5 years to help stabilize the industry in the interim.

In the meantime, a group of key stakeholder organizations has been meeting regularly and collegially to envision, agree upon and provide ongoing support for such a plan.

Senior representatives from the provincial government, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), racing and gaming regulators and the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) on behalf of horse people, racetrack operators, breeders and owners, continue working in earnest to design a roadmap for success.  This group is tackling a number of complex and time-consuming challenges including:

1.             Optimizing the OLG’s evolving approach to the modernization of its facilities and products with its obligations to meet government revenue demands as well accommodate a fully integrated partnership with the provincial racing industry.

2.             Looking for opportunities to create and grow new revenues for both the racing industry and OLG.

3.             Equipping government ministries such as finance and agriculture and food with the proper resources to assist in the growth and sustainability of racing.

4.              Tasking regulatory bodies such as the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) to reorganize in order to meet the demands of racing and gaming integration, including the potential revision of significant legal and regulatory barriers to new programs.

5.             Effecting day-to-day racing industry self-governance to ensure the smoothest possible path to industry sustainability, the most effective relationship with the OLG and regulators and the most effective reporting relationship with the provincial government.

6.             Broadening public interest in horse racing through planning for an integrated, province-wide marketing campaign designed to impact current and future generations of potential new racing and gaming enthusiasts.

7.             Coordinating and cooperating on market initiatives and interactive communications.

8.             Planning for the implementation of the best and most relevant ideas presented by members of the public to racing’s transition panel as part of the long term plan to sustain racing.

Frankly, getting this many groups and individuals on the same page on this many weighty issues is never easy regardless of the industry in question.  All have strong opinions, diverse points of view and each one really wants to make a positive contribution to the process.  It is also true that the OLG has gone through a protracted leadership change in the midst of its wide-ranging modernization initiative.

Now, under the leadership of new OLG CEO, Stephen Rigby, this industry restructuring committee is moving rapidly toward answers to all of the above challenges.  In fact, hands on task forces have been working, in some cases for many months, on each topic.  The good news is that meaningful executive meetings are now occurring with regularity and solid progress is being made.

All parties are aware of the uncertainty and anxiety being suffered every passing day by industry participants at all levels.  Please be assured that the people and organizations responsible for the racing industry renewal are moving forward. We are taking the time, as precious as it is, to get it right for a strong, vibrant racing industry both in the near future and for future generations.

Update On Integration With OLG

Sue Leslie, President of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association, recently spoke on the process of integrating horse racing with the province’s gaming arm — the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.

The update was part of an audio interview posted on the OHRIA website.

“Well,” Leslie said with a sigh to interviewer Norm Borg, “integration continues to be a very slow process, unfortunately. I do believe that the people involved at OLG and the province are sincerely working with us and trying to move integration along.

“The more involved we get in it, the more complex it becomes and, as you know, OLG were operating for some time without a CEO. Stephen Rigby now is in charge over there and I’ve found him to be very demonstrative, very willing to work with us, a good communicator. And so I think that getting him in place is going to help the process a lot.”

Leslie noted that one of the key individuals working on the integration process — Larry Flynn, Senior Vice President of Gaming at OLG — is retiring at the end of the month after 14 years.

“[Larry] probably understood our industry better than most there so that will be a little bit of a setback but I know he’s been briefing Stephen (Rigby) like crazy. We have had excellent communication, and I have had excellent communication. I think Phil Olsson, the Chair, has done a good job in the selection there.”

Noting that she’s well aware of the frustration on the horse racing industry side, Leslie offered reasons for those wondering why the process isn’t moving as quickly as everyone would like.

“The frustration is hard to take some days. I know the OHRIA Product Committee, who’s been working for months now to get something up and moving, sure has their frustrating days…but you’re trying to satisfy two regulators, you’re trying to satisfy legislation, you’re trying not to cannibalize existing products, and figure out how strategically a product will work to increase money both for the province and horse racing. It is a very complex issue.”

In addition to this integration, Leslie notes that there is still some discussion at the government level on where the horse racing industry should be placed and reporting to: OLG or OMAFRA.

“Those things are all being discussed right now to try and figure out both how the government should be governed as it pertains to horse racing…if we’re actually going to become a part of OLG, which is what the Premier wants — us to be fully integrated. Well, if we’re going to be fully integrated, that’s a big step.

“So, we need to make decisions on the governance on the government side and we also need to finalize governance on the industry side. Are the right people sitting at the table? How should that move forward? How should it work with OHR, ORC, AGCO, not to mention all the industry members…so we’re looking at that model to see if the existing model really or does that need to be tweaked somehow. Or does some type of interim governance model make sense as we go through integration and transition. Not to make excuses but they are very time-consuming.”

Leslie concluded the integration discussion with assurance and confidence that those involved have the best interests of horse racing in their scope of vision.

“All I can say is I believe OHRIA is working hard and both OLG and government — Minister Leal at OMAFRA has been terrific, I really believe Minister Leal cares about horse racing and he has his staff working diligently on all these things too. We’re trying to marry it all together — the agencies, the ministries, the industry — and come up with a formula that is going to work best for the future for everybody.”

To listen to the full interview, with Leslie’s thoughts on the new tapeta surface going in at Woodbine Racetrack as well as the Pari-Mutuel Tax Reduction, click the play button below.


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.

(OHRIA)