November 23, 2014

Ontario Track Alliance Announced

The Ontario Horse Racing division of the Ontario Racing Commission has provided the Premier of Ontario and the province’s Minister of Agriculture & Food, Kathleen Wynne with this update on the progress in implementing the five-year Horse Racing Partnership Plan.

While the announcement does not include a racing calendar, it does officially announce the Ontario alliance tracks.


The Honourable Kathleen Wynne
Minister of Agriculture and Food
Government of Ontario

Dear Minister,

I am pleased to provide a further update on progress in implementing the Ontario Horse Racing Partnership Plan.

Under your direction, the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) and its business development division – Ontario Horse Racing (OHR) – have been tasked with building a racing calendar for Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds and Quarter Horses.

The Partnership Plan supports Ontario’s proud legacy of Standardbred racing and the thousands of jobs across the province with three distinct components;

- Traditional summer grassroots racing in rural Ontario.
- A long racing season at Rideau-Carleton Raceway.
- A year round circuit of top quality racing at eight core tracks.

While a robust Standardbred racing industry requires all three components, the cornerstone of the program is year-round, world-class racing that will attract a global audience and increase its fan base and wagering revenues.

To ensure a circuit of high quality racing is coordinated for the benefit of horsepersons and horseplayers, I am pleased to inform you that eight racetracks – Clinton Raceway, Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs, Grand River Raceway, Hanover Raceway, Mohawk Racetrack, The Raceway at Western Fair District and Woodbine Racetrack – have united in a world-leading alliance.

This innovative and cooperative racing alliance has collectively determined there is greater benefit for the industry as a whole in working together to capitalize and succeed in presenting Ontario Standardbred racing to a global audience.

We have recently completed an agreement with the alliance tracks and are now ready to engage in discussions with horsepersons groups as the final step in preparation for an exciting season of racing featuring guaranteed purses and some of Ontario’s finest racehorses.

Partnerships are all about people and we continue to benefit from the passion, commitment and expertise of the Ontario racing community as we implement the Partnership Plan.

John Snobelen

(Standardbred Canada)

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:
http://standardbredcanada.ca/news/6-28-13/plan-ontario-racing-released.html
OMAFRA government website at:
http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/about/transition/

Information on how to submit your comments to the Panel, are available
from the OMAFRA website at:
http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/about/transition/suggestions.html

Sincerely,
Sue Leslie
OHRIA President & Chair

 

Horse Racing Transition Panel Interviewed On “The Agenda”

The OMAFRA Horse Racing Transition Panel members are guests on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paiken for a segment which airs Tuesday night, December 4th.

The show features former cabinet ministers Elmer Buchanan, John Snobelen and John Wilkinson discussing the challenges facing Ontario horse racing on the road to reinventing itself.

The video is available here:

http://ww3.tvo.org/video/185730/ontarios-horse-racing-future

 

“Save Ontario Horse Racing” Video Popular On YouTube

A popular “Save Ontario Horse Racing” video is now showing on YouTube:

Horwath, Hudak Oppose McGuinty’s Call For Prorogation Following His Resignation As Premier

According to October 15th interviews with the Toronto Sun, neither NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, nor PC Leader Tim Hudak supports Dalton McGuinty’s plan to prorogue Parliament in league with his surprise resignation announcement.

Prorogation could stymie legislature activities for six months while the scandal-ridden Liberals organize a Leadership Convention and try to regroup.

Horse racing leaders are currently scrambling to assess what the current political situation means for an industry that has been eagerly awaiting the OMAFRA Transition Panel’s Final Report. That document is expected to contain a formal plan to allow for the sustainability of horse racing and was to have been submitted to the government by mid-October.

See the Toronto Sun’s Andrea Horwath Interview here.

See the Toronto Sun’s Tim Hudak Interview here.

McMeekin Extends OMAFRA Transitional Panel’s Report Deadline Until Mid-October

Ontario Minister of Agriculture Ted McMeekin has announced that the OMAFRA Panel  charged with recommending the path ahead for a sustainable Ontario horse racing industry has requested more time to complete its deliberations.

The Panel’s final Report had been due on September 30th, but is now expected around mid-October.

Breeders with yearlings in the Forest City Sale had been  praying for a concrete government commitment  prior to that London auction on October 13-14. Any positive news before that Sale now seems extremely unlikely.

McMeekin’s Press Release appears below:

September 27, 2012

The horse racing industry transition panel has asked me, on behalf of itself and the industry, for additional time to complete its work. The panel members have told me that they are encouraged by the industry’s willingness to work together on a successful transition to a more self-sustainable business model.

The panel wrote:

We have been engaged with the industry and believe we have made substantive progress on delivering on our mandate. In fact several representatives of the industry have given us written proposals on a way forward. We recognize that the horse racing industry is at a crossroad and has challenging decisions to make as it considers its future opportunities.

In order to deliver a comprehensive final report with thoughtful recommendations to the government, we need additional time. On behalf of the panel and the industry we request up to another two weeks to explore details of how such a model would work. We are optimistic that there is the potential to develop a framework that could work for both the industry and government.

I have agreed to the panel’s request and look forward to receiving its final report, in mid-October.

The Honourable Ted McMeekin, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

MPP Natyshak Asks Minister McMeekin For a Timeline On Future Of Ontario Horse Racing

MPP Taras Natyshak asked Minister of Agriculture Ted McMeekin during Question Period for a more specific timeline on the future of Ontario horse racing.

You can read the transcript of the exchange here.

Liberal MPP Liz Sandals Says There’ll Be No New Slots Deal For Horse Racing

Guelph MPP Liz Sandals is adamant that there’ll be no new Slots deal for Ontario’s racetracks.

Sandals downplayed the economic impact of the Liberal government’s decision on her local county of Wellington in a recent article in The Guelph Tribune.

Read the complete article by clicking here.

Liberal MPP Greg Sobara Hopeful That Government Will Show Some Movement On Ontario Horse Racing Issue

A day after announcing that he is resigning from his post in the City of Vaughan, veteran Liberal MPP Greg Sorbara has commented on the crisis the Ontario horse-racing industry is facing due to the decision by the Ontario Liberals to scrap the highly-sucessful slots-at-racetracks program. “I am hopeful, as we revisit this issue, we will take some amending steps that will ensure a strong horse-racing industry in this province,” Sorbara said.

Sorbara’s comments came during a radio interview with Paul and Carol Mott on The Motts Show. Carol didn’t beat around the bush when she broached the highly controversial subject with the outgoing Sorbara, a former Ontario Finance Minister who has been part of the provincial legislature for no less than 21 years.

“It’s the whole slots-at-racetracks program, and I think the government made a huge mistake here in cancelling that program,” Carol said. “It has been doing such great things for the province and for the industry.” Paul quickly followed, stating, “Well, call it for what it is. It was an idiot move on the part of the government. No, really.”

Preparing for a retort from Sorbara, Carol said, “Honestly, I don’t say [the Ontario Liberals] make ‘idiot moves’ too often, but this one was a big, big, big ‘boo-boo.’”

“Carol, I understand that,” Sorbara said, “and I’ve been working on this issue since Day 1.” Sorbara then carefully stated, “Let me put it this way: I am hopeful, as we revisit this issue, we will take some amending steps that will ensure a strong horse-racing industry in this province.”

Sorbara then stated, “I understand what was in mind when the initiatives were taking place were under very severe financial constraints. We are having another ‘look-see.’ I just got off the phone a while ago with (transition panel member) John Wilkinson and I’m hopeful, given the information that he’s putting together and the consultations that he’s having. Don’t give up hope.”

Sorbara also acknowledged the vocal response of Ontario horse-racing industry participants during the crisis, and ensured that all of the industry participants’ feedback has been hitting its mark.

“I think I can safely say that your voice and the voice of others are having an impact, and I know that the committee is doing very, very good work,” Sorbara said. “I’m not sure what the end result will be, but my counsel has been, from Day 1: Let us do what is necessary to make sure that we continue to have a strong horse-racing industry. And it’s not for those with deep pockets, but it is for the thousands of people that work on farms and look after horses, so all I can tell you is that we’re working on it.”

(Standardbred Canada)

Chantal Sutherland Takes Ontario Horse Racing’s Cause To Conan O’Brien’s Late Night TV Audience

After making her heartfelt plea to save Ontario’s horse racing industry last week, Canadian-born jockey Chantal Sutherland will continue her Lady Godiva-esque quest to bring attention to Ontario government’s decision to end its partnership with horse racing to a different audience.

On Tuesday night, Sutherland will be appearing on Conan O’Brien’s late night TV show (TBS, 11pm ET). According to sources, Sutherland will be mentioning the situation facing Ontario’s racing industry during her interview segment.

Signs Pointing Out Job Losses Available From Mardon
Before appearing on Conan, Sutherland will be making a rare appearance back at Woodbine Racetrack on Sunday to ride her brother Hugh Jr.’s horse Awesome Fire in the $250,000 Wonder Where Stake. Should she win, expect signs in the winner’s circle like the ones pictured below. The people behind those signs: standardbred owner Marv Chantler – who races under Mardon Stables – and Sutherland’s father Hugh.

These signs are being made available on a first come first serve basis. Both Chantler and Sutherland told Trot Insider that signs are up in the Caledon area now and they have had numerous requests for these signs, available as both two-sided lawn-stake type signs or one-sided wall-mounted signs with grommets.

Signs are available for pickup at Mardon Stables; RR#2, 2996 Conc 7; Loretto, ON L0G 1L0 or Sutherland’s farm in Caledon.

(Standardbred Canada)