June 28, 2017

Ontario Racing Newsletter Released

June 7, 2017 – On Wednesday, June 7, Ontario Racing released the most recent edition of its newsletter.

The contents of the newsletter appear below.


New Ontario Racing Commercial

Our newest TV commercial, The Thrill of Winning, is the result of a collaboration between the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) and Ontario Racing (OR), and was produced by Toronto agency BBDO which commissioned Suneeva production company and director Jason Van Bruggen. On April 20, The Thrill of Winning premiered at Flamboro Downs, and started airing in May 2017. The video features driver Scott Young, and showcases the energy and excitement of horse racing in Ontario. The goal of the commercial is to raise awareness and connect new fans to this great sport.

More information about the commercial can be found in Dave Briggs’ article, here, and the video can also be viewed here.

Horse Improvement Program Survey

To support Ontario Racing’s responsibilities for the management and administration of the Horse Improvement Program (HIP), OR is undertaking a comprehensive review of the Program. OR has engaged two firms to work jointly on the HIP review – Economic Research Ltd. (ERL) and Strategic Equine Inc. (SEI). The review process will be completed in two phases between April and September 2017.

A key part of the review will include a survey to industry participants to measure the economic output of the racehorse sector. The survey will measure full-time equivalent jobs, gross domestic product (GDP) and tax revenues generated.

A statistically significant and representative survey will directly support the economic assessment. The survey will be distributed by: Standardbred Canada for Standardbred people; Woodbine, Fort Erie and CTHS for Thoroughbred; and, by Ontario Racing for Quarter Horse people. We strongly encourage all survey recipients to participate and respond to the surveys to ensure the most accurate measurement possible.

Government Relations

Engaging our government partners in discussions about horse racing’s future is a key part of Ontario Racing’s mandate. As part of these efforts, OR will be hosting an industry event at Queen’s Park in September 2017 to raise awareness of horse racing issues among Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) and government staff. Ontario Racing will also be holding special race events throughout the summer and fall at racetracks across Ontario featuring local MPPs as special guests. Most of these events will be at Ontario Sires Stakes races.

Update: Director-At-Large Application Process

On March 31, 2017, Ontario Racing issued a call for nominations to our Board of Directors for two Director-at-Large positions. The notice for applications was broadcast by emails to industry participants, and posted on the ontarioracing.com website. By the April 21 deadline, 21 applications were received, representing a broad cross-section of the industry, from horse owners, racetracks, horseplayers and equine welfare professionals. Of these applicants, five were selected for in-person interviews by Ontario Racing’s Executive Committee, which took place in May. A final recommendation to OR’s board for the appointment of two candidates will be made by late-June 2017.

(Ontario Racing)

Ontario Resident Mare Program Now Administered By Ontario Racing

June 5, 2017 – As part of Ontario Racing’s mandate to administer programs, OR will now be administering the Ontario Resident Mare Program.

Commencing June 1, 2017, all correspondence for the program should be addressed to:

Ontario Racing
Att: Ontario Resident Mare Program
400 – 10 Carlson Court
Toronto, ON M9W 6L2

Email – ontariomare@ontarioracing.com
Phone – Kathie Wilkinson at 416-477-5529
Fax – 416 477-5499

In order to provide a smooth transition in services, Ontario Racing will continue to work with Standardbred Canada to ensure that all correspondence is handled in a timely manner.

(Ontario Racing)

Gateway Now Operating SW Bundle

May 9, 2017 – The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited each announced today (Tuesday, May 9) that Gateway has signed a 20-year Casino Operating and Services Agreement with the OLG and has purchased the business and assets of the Southwest Gaming Bundle. Gateway has taken over day-to-day operations and the assets of the Southwest Gaming Bundle, effective today.

Gateway and the OLG each issued press releases regarding the matter today. The contents of the releases appear below.


OLG signs 20-year Casino Operating and Services Agreement with Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited for Southwest Gaming Bundle Assets


Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) has signed a 20-year Casino Operating and Services Agreement (COSA) with Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited (Gateway). Under the agreement, Gateway takes over day-to-day operations and the assets of the Southwest Gaming Bundle, effective today (May 9, 2017).

The Southwest Gaming Bundle includes:

• OLG Slots at Western Fair District
• OLG Slots at Clinton Raceway
• OLG Slots at Dresden Raceway
• OLG Slots at Hanover Raceway
• OLG Slots at Woodstock Raceway
• OLG Casino Point Edward

On December 13, 2016, OLG announced it had selected Gateway as the service provider for the Southwest Gaming Bundle. Since then, OLG and Gateway have been working towards concluding a Transition and Asset Purchase Agreement and entering into the COSA.

OLG has worked with Gateway to help ensure that transferring employees have a smooth and seamless transition. This includes the requirement for Gateway to retain transferring employees for a period of no less than 12 months in their current position and geographic location, and to provide eligible employees with benefits and a registered pension plan.

At more than $2.2 billion annually, OLG provides the Ontario government with its largest source of non-tax revenue. Modernization helps OLG provide more money to Ontario for key government services.

(OLG)


Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Becomes Canada’s Largest and Most Diversified Gaming and Entertainment Company with Ontario Expansion


Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited (“Gateway”) has signed a 20-year Casino Operating and Services Agreement (COSA) with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (“OLG”) and has purchased the business and assets of the Southwest Gaming Bundle. Gateway will take over the day-to-day operations effective today. The expansion into Ontario represents the next exciting chapter in Gateway’s successful growth strategy making Gateway Canada’s largest and most diversified gaming company.

“Today is a very exciting day and an important milestone for Gateway as we expand our footprint into Ontario with the completion of the transition process in Southwestern Ontario. We thank the OLG for the hard work throughout the transition process and we look forward to our long-term partnership,” said Tony Santo, Gateway’s Chief Executive Officer. “On behalf of our 4,200 employees in Western Canada, we are very proud to officially welcome the OLG colleagues to our Gateway team.”

Gabriel de Alba, Gateway’s Executive Chairman, said, “Gateway’s growth strategy and focus on a superior customer experience revolves around investing in the company’s unique gaming properties and creating a broader attraction across numerous demographics. Our success has resulted in significant job creation across the communities where we operate in Western Canada. We are bringing this same approach to Southwestern Ontario with a planned investment of over $200 Million to revitalize and enhance the gaming and entertainment landscape.”

In December 2016, Gateway was selected by OLG as the successful service provider in the Southwest and North Gaming Bundles. The Southwest Gaming Bundle includes a casino in Point Edward and slots in Woodstock (at Woodstock Raceway), London (at the Western Fair District), Clinton (at Clinton Raceway), Dresden (at Dresden Raceway) and Hanover (at Hanover Raceway). The North Gaming Bundle will transition to Gateway in late May 2017 and includes casinos in Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie, slots in Sudbury (at Sudbury Downs) and two planned casino builds in Kenora and North Bay. The Ontario acquisitions are expected to be immediately accretive to Gateway’s top-line growth, EBITDA margin and full year earnings.

The expansion into Ontario is the next step in the continued evolution of Gateway. In 2010, The Catalyst Capital Group Inc. (“Catalyst”), Gateway’s ownership group, took Gateway and its 9 properties under management to rebuild and restructure the company. A focus on superior customer experience and measured growth has seen Gateway’s portfolio expand to 28 properties once the Southwest and North Gaming Bundles are fully transitioned and developed.

Central to Gateway’s success has been the development of signature casino and restaurant brands that have dramatically improved the gaming customer experience while generating important new customer segments. With transition complete, Gateway will now focus on plans to invest over $200 Million in Southwestern Ontario communities to introduce the proprietary casino and restaurant signature brands.

A customer celebration will be held on June 22nd, 2017 at all Gateway’s Ontario sites in the Southwest and North. The daylong celebration will include new and exciting promotions and prizes, live entertainment, Gateway merchandise giveaways and delicious food and drink specials. To learn more about the celebration on June 22nd please visit www.gatewaycasinos.com.

A commitment to responsible gambling is integral to how Gateway operates. All Gateway properties in British Columbia and Ontario hold RG Check accreditation. Together with OLG and other government partners, Gateway will continue to implement responsible gambling initiatives at all properties across Canada.

(Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited)

WEG Would Welcome Development Of Mohawk Property

May 2, 2017 – Woodbine Entertainment Group CEO Jim Lawson has said the 440-acre parcel of land home to Mohawk Racetrack could one day be the site of the same kind of entertainment district and massive development being publicly courted on the 684-acre site of its sister track, Woodbine Racetrack.

“We think there is potential for development at Mohawk for all of the same reasons,” Lawson said after WEG announced a master plan has been completed for the Woodbine Racetrack lands.

“We are committed to (Mohawk)… and we would welcome development there in the nature that we just talked about (at Woodbine) as an entertainment district,” Lawson said. “We know the town of Milton is very supportive and they are a great municipality and council to work with. The zoning is there for that sort of thing. Milton is the fastest growing municipality in the country, so it lends itself to this sort of additional food and beverage, music and theatre experience. Right now, the idea is to locate the gaming within the footprint of the building, but we will be in discussion, and certainly open to, having that development go on at Mohawk.”

The release of the master plan for Woodbine is a signal to developers that the Rexdale, Ont. plant located just down the road from Toronto’s Pearson Airport, is open for development, with WEG acting as the landowner. Illustrations WEG released showing a multitude of entertainment options surrounding the racetrack are suggestions about what kinds of development could work well with the racetrack.

“Certainly, we don’t have the capital to do the development and we are risk adverse. Our main mandate is to support horse racing, so I would say that in most cases we will have a land lease and try to generate cash flow for the horse racing business,” he said. “Our role really is as the landowner and what I would call us ‘stewards’ of a great parcel of land to make sure that we do the right thing for the community and the right thing for the horse racing industry.”

Lawson was quick to stress development at Woodbine is likely a 15-to-20-year plan and there won’t be any construction until the Ontario Lottery and Gaming corporation (OLG) names the company that will operate an expanded casino at Woodbine. That announcement is expected in September of this year and the earliest a shovel would likely be in the ground for additional development on the property is the end of 2018, Lawson said.

Lawson said he is confident the development plan will come to fruition because WEG has “a committed gaming partner. We don’t know which gaming partner it will be, but we have a committed gaming partner that will be announced in September and, as we’ve said all along, the amount of development that will come with that is really a catalyst and a trigger for further opportunities to develop with the property,” he said.

Beyond being the site of an expanded casino and a top-tier horse racing venue, Lawson said what should also be attractive to developers about the Woodbine property is the fact that it is the “largest undeveloped piece of land in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area)… we’re in a unique position, really, of being a single landowner with that size of parcel of land that lets you phase it the way you want.”

He said improved public transportation to Woodbine would be a further inducement to developers.

“Developers are keenly interested in public transportation to the site. It’s something we are working on and it’s gaining momentum and acceptance. The municipality and the province are committed to public transportation in a way that is unprecedented in this province right now,” Lawson said, adding, there is “a big movement behind public transportation” in Toronto and, “potentially a mega hub in the Rexdale area, perhaps at the airport. Certainly, it would involve us. We have the Union-Pearson Line going right through our property and if the light rail transit goes over to Humber and has to make its way over to the airport, then Woodbine is the logical path, either down through (Highway) 27 or through our property.”

Meanwhile, WEG is continuing to move toward making Mohawk a year-round harness racing facility and leaving Woodbine to the thoroughbreds..

“I can certainly say it’s the direction we’re headed,” Lawson said. “We think the large majority of horsemen will be in favour of it. We talked of the traffic congestion in the GTA and, with a lot of the training centres and shipping in for harness racing, I think a lot of people would rather be at Mohawk. Our customers like watching harness racing at Mohawk better, because they are closer to the action. And part of our deal with the OLG is that we are going to be investing capital into Mohawk and you’ll see some improvements in the near term. We’re headed in that direction. I can’t confirm to you 100 per cent, but that’s a strong consideration of where we’ll be going.”

Those concerned that standardbreds may leave Woodbine just before that site becomes home to a flashy entertainment district need to “stay tuned,” Lawson said.

“Our goal is to make (Mohawk) the number one site for harness racing in North America,” Lawson said. “We are committed to it, to improving it, and I’m personally extremely excited for our contemplations for Mohawk and the way we are going to look at it. So, I don’t have those concerns at all.”

Lawson said a 20-year gaming lease with the OLG over the Mohawk slot hall means WEG is “committed to investing capital there and our goal is to make (Mohawk) – if it’s not already – the premier site. If I was a horseman, I would be thrilled with the direction that we’re going and you’ll be hearing more about it this year.”

He said he wants any development at Woodbine or Mohawk to be done in both a socially- and environmentally-responsible manner.

“We are reaching a whole new era in terms of urban planning and making sure that we have green space, bicycle paths and foot paths. We want to make it a nice community, which is going to take a long time.”

According to the WEG press release, the “‘city within a city’ concept is designed to unlock the value of the undeveloped land, generating long-term revenues that will sustainably support WEG’s horse racing operations, and thousands of farming jobs in rural communities across Ontario… The vision for the plan is for Woodbine to continue to be the ultimate destination for horse racing and gaming, while integrating new expanded entertainment and cultural offerings, food and dining, hotel, shopping, office space, post-secondary education, recreation, health, wellness, and urban residential living.”

Lawson said the key is to make sure development “complements and helps sustain racing for the next 20, 30, 40 years and Woodbine is the focus of that.”

He said the initial development phase “is that the gaming expansion will be a trigger for entertainment — a music venue and entertainment venue that comes with having a gaming experience and a horse racing experience… We’re trying to build the guest experience, restaurants, complementary retail, and all the rest.”

The entire point is to draw people to both the Woodbine and Mohawk sites and try to turn people on to horse racing.

“If we can get people out to Woodbine and Mohawk through these additional amenities and guest experiences, it gives us the chance over the longer term to introduce people to horse racing and introduce people to invest in horse racing and we really need to do that. We need to generate that kind of exposure and that’s what this is all about,” Lawson said.

(Courtesy Ontario Racing)

Ontario Breeders Lawsuit Continues

April 27, 2017 – Trot Insider has received an update on the status of the legal proceedings between a group of Ontario breeders against the Province of Ontario and the Ontario Lottery And Gaming Corp. (OLG).

The factum below was filed in Ontario court yesterday (Wednesday, April 26).

In February 2015, the group of breeders won a decision seeking broad production of internal documents from Ontario and OLG concerning the cancellation of the Slots at Racetracks Program (SARP). The motion was brought by the breeders in their lawsuit for damages caused by the abrupt cancellation of SARP in March 2012. The Standardbred breeders have alleged that Ontario and OLG made a systemic series of representations about SARP over a number of years that were ultimately breached when the SARP revenue-sharing partnership was terminated.

The factum filed references some of the internal documents and notes that a number of individuals have been served summonses to testify on this case, including former Minister of Finance Dwight Duncan and Don Drummond, author of the now-famous Drummond Report. The factum claims that the section discussing horse racing in the report was crafted by the Ministry of Finance.

87. In the weeks and months before this report was released, the Ministry of Finance had written this narrative for inclusion in the Drummond Report. 57 Far from being the independent by-product of wide-ranging mandate to “delve into almost every corner of the government’s activities and to think long and hard about how government can work better for the benefit of everyone in the province”,58 the Drummond Report was — as least as far as SARP was concerned — a scripted contrivance.

88. The SARP language in the Drummond Report was, in its material parts, written by Ministry of Finance functionaries entirely devoid of independent analysis or thought to justify a preordained result. It was the opposite of independent and thoughtful. It was a political cover up for a formed intention to breach an agreement knowing great harm would result to a politicially expedient rural Ontario.

The factum is available here in PDF format or embedded below.


Harness Racing Commercial Unveiled

April 21, 2017 – A brand new commercial featuring harness racing will soon be featured and broadcast on screens and devices around Ontario.

Unveiled for the first time at a special screening at Flamboro Downs on Thursday night (April 20), the commercial, titled The Thrill of Winning, is a collaborative effort between Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) and Ontario Racing.

“We don’t think of this as an OLG commercial as much as an Ontario Racing commercial we get to be proud supporters of,” Adriana Spatzner, OLG’s Director of Product Development & Marketing – Horse Racing told Trot Insider. “We really wanted to create awareness for horse racing because we feel that’s something that’s lacking. We wanted to deliver the excitement and passion of horse racing and we wanted to do it in a meaningful way where people would either remember past experiences and remind themselves that they miss having gone to the track or if they’re brand new to the sport it would create enough interest that they’d be like ‘yeah, I have to go to the races, that looks really exciting.'”

The commercial was shot over three days in December 2016 at Flamboro Downs, but the prep work for the spot started with the writing of the script in October. The ad will debut for the general public in early May. Trot Insider will post the commercial once it’s publicly available.

Marketing agency BBDO Toronto worked with director Jason Van Bruggen of film house Suneeva to produce the spot that was designed to tell a story that captures harness racing and its roller coaster of emotions. BBDO also worked with Ontario Racing and OLG on the 2016 ‘Your Horse’ campaign.

“There was an insight about driving home talking about the heartaches and the losses that participants go through with horse racing,” said BBDO’s Jeff Cheung, “so we just kind of wanted to showcase that a little bit different than what we did the year [with Ontario Racing] before where we focused on picking your horse. We wanted to tell more that journey, and that story of the connection that happens between driver and horse.”

“I was given a wonderful script by these guys, which is the backbone of the commercial and hopefully I was able to add some value conceptually in terms of the look and feel of the commercial,” noted Van Bruggen.

Much like the development of a horse for the races, the process for creating a 60-second commercial takes significantly more time than most people removed from the process can understand.

“I think the start of the process was October and then we ended up filming in December so I’d say the entire process of filming took about two months and then we had to actually finish the spots and then go into editing and go into post-production,” said BBDO’s Rana Chatterjee. “We started that probably in March, that took another month or so. It takes quite a bit of time to bring these things to life, you know, and then run everything up the ranks and make sure everyone’s happy with everything as we’re going through the process. It’s quite a process; I’m sure most people aren’t familiar with how much work goes into the average commercial that you see on TV.”

While the filming at Flamboro took just three days, it wouldn’t have been possible without the co-operation of the track and the horsemen involved.

“We were ecstatic in doing what we could and certainly we worked really well with the team from Ontario Racing,” noted Flamboro General Manager John Stolte. “The horsemen were very cooperative. They all wanted to be involved, it was just at what level we could get them involved and obviously there were racing opportunities going on when we were closed here and not racing so we were trying to get the best of both worlds — having them involved here as well as looking after the livelihoods and opportunities to race elsewhere. But they were very accommodating, very flexible and did everything they could to make it work for us.”

One of the horsemen involved in the commercial is driver Scott Young, who gets a fair share of face time in the commercial.

“Marnie Bochenek, the [Flamboro] Paddock Judge, told me that there was a commercial going on and asked me if I’d like to partake in it and I said sure, I will,” Young told Trot Insider. “And after I said OK then the director and his people talked to us and they asked me if I’d like to be the main guy and I said ‘absolutely’ again. I mean, if I can be on camera I’ve got no problem with it.”

Young is featured as a competitor experiencing the agony of defeat, resiliently bouncing back and eventually emerging victorious: a classic, powerful yet approachable and familiar feeling.

“It’s the feeling of winning, the feeling of being at the track and it produces these up and downs and this range of emotions, and I think that’s what attracts us to sports in general,” noted Chatterjee. “In a way we kind of wanted to show that horse racing, in all its beauty and majesty, has all these ups and downs and ebbs and flows of all the other great sports that we love to watch. And wanted to associate that with victory, that feeling of watching your horse cross the finish line first.”

The key for director Van Bruggen was to capture that emotion and present it in a novel and realistic package.

“For me the thing that interested me most about this was the story of the driver and the horse and the relationship between them and the audience but the fact that these are guys that go out there and race in all sorts of weather, in all sorts of conditions, day in day out…it’s a real job and it takes a lot of perseverance and it doesn’t always break your way and there’s a lot of variables you can’t control. But you have to pick yourself up everyday and do your job.

“The human element of the story really interested me. It represented an opportunity to show someone who’s down but not out and was able to sort of maintain faith in himself and his horse and win at the end of the day.”

Never involved with horse racing shoots in the past, Van Bruggen did come into this project with a deep respect for the equine-human bond.

“I direct sports commercials, I don’t have a background in horse racing. My wife rides horses and we have a farm, and I have a huge admiration for horses as such and I really respect the relationship between a driver and horse and the subtlety and nuance that goes into bringing out the best in each other and how special a relationship that can be. Physically it was very interesting to me because it’s a beautiful and majestic sport and they’re amazing animals and I loved the visual potential of this spot.”

One thing that everyone involved with this commercial can agree on is how thrilled they are with the outcome.

“I’m elated, I think the job that Scott [Young] did was phenomenal and all the drivers were amazing,” said Spatzner. “But I just think it really shows the passion that there is in this sport, the skill and the heart…it’s just an exciting commercial. I couldn’t be happier.”

The team at BBDO was as interested in seeing the finished piece as they were to watch the reactions of those around them taking it in for the first time.

“We feel great about it. Seeing the finished product…it’s weird when you see it from the conception stage to when we were actually filming it to the final product, it’s like night and day,” said Cheung. “You forget what happens during that journey. To see it all come together, and all the pieces, it’s the most rewarding part because then at an event like today you see the faces of the people that worked on it and see their reactions…it’s been great.”

“To echo Jeff’s point, I remember just even driving in here again and remembering going to Marnie’s barn and just getting a sense of the place,” stated Chatterjee. “And you think back to that, when we didn’t even have a spot. Now we have this fully blown-up thing. And it’s really great to see the whole community in and around Flamboro and everybody coming together to help create this story. And it’s really nice to be here and actually see all of the people involved with the track and all of the community around it, sort of rallying around this piece that we all helped to create. It’s a great feeling. And to echo Adriana’s point, I really hope it rallies people around the sport and gives the sport the attention it deserves here in Ontario.”

“It’s great, when this came about I thought it was a fantastic idea and they should be doing more things like this,” stated Young. “Whether people are watching a Jays game or a Leafs game or whatever, and if this was to come on it’s absolutely going to catch people’s eye and hopefully they’ll come to the track.”

Stolte knows that only the diehard harness racing fans will (possibly) recognize Flamboro as the backdrop but he too understands the value of such a strong creative piece for the good of the industry.

“I think it’s a great product. It really drives some emotion out, and you see the bond between the horse and the driver and the whole story about winning and what it takes. I think it looks great and it’s going to resonate really well.”

Most commercials featuring any sort of racing are set during the day. This one will be different, completely by design.

“Standardbred racing hasn’t really been featured like this. Traditionally when you see horse racing commercials from around the world, more times than not it’s featuring thoroughbred racing. I think one thing that we’re really, really excited about is, working with our director Jason, he really thought about how to bring this sport to light in a unique way,” said Chatterjee. “And one of things he thought about was shooting at night. That’s when the guys actually race, and the reality of it makes the commercial just feel more cinematic, moody. It just draws you in a little bit more to tell that story.”

“I was the guy that pushed for the nighttime shoot and I was very keen on that,” admitted Van Bruggen. “Having the big, beautiful stadium lights on and the backlit breath that only really come to life in the winter. The nighttime seemed like a more interesting visual opportunity to me and brought out the drama and teased out the deepest value in the script that we had. It also to me represented when I went out here, I scouted at night…so I felt it was also representative of what harness racing looked like on many nights and on major nights for sure when people are out here at night watching the race.

“I also want to add that I really wanted to do justice to the experience of these drivers to make that authentic, and I worked with real drivers and put them in real situations and I wanted to feel like this was something they could have ownership over, have pride in and feel was an accurate representation of their experience on the track.”

The importance of presenting harness racing accurately was of utmost importance to the developers of the commercial in order to pay proper respect to the process people go through to develop the equine stars and compete with them night in and night out.

“They were terrific, a wonderful bunch of guys, a terrific community out here,” Van Bruggen said of the horsemen at Flamboro. “I met all the trainers and drivers and everyone and I had a really socially rewarding four days out here. I interacted with all of them…it’s a warm and welcoming bunch of people and they were very happy to be profiled within the broader sport of horse racing. It was a wonderful rapport that we built.

“I hope [the commercial] worked hard for the sport and the people involved in it. They’re good people and I loved watching it, I found it super-exciting and it was nice to be able to celebrate a sport that wasn’t as glamourous or universally recognized as thoroughbred racing, and I felt there was an opportunity there to tell a richer story and I hope it gives back and gets these people more of the recognition and everything they deserve.”

The ad that was shown at Flamboro was the 60-second version that will be shown in movie theatres. A 30-second spot has also been produced for TV.

“We’re going to be on TV, we’re going to be in cinemas during the month of June, we’re going to be on the web in social media,” said Spatzner of the media plan for the commercial. “We actually have some billboards that we’ve already brought to market and some other sponsorships and print advertising as well so we’ve got a pretty good comprehensive plan behind it.

“I don’t know how many people know as much as they should about harness racing in the province, particularly given we have so much harness racing throughout the province. And I hope that this shows it in a way that really drives what a great sport it is. Because people are missing out, this is a fantastic sport and people should really engage with it because it’s so unique to our province that we have this level of horse racing here and I think the industry puts out an amazing product so I really hope that’s what the ad demonstrates.”

OR Application Deadline Friday

April 17, 2017 – The deadline for letters of interest and resumes for the two Ontario Racing Director positions is April 21, 2017, leaving time for interested individuals to participate.

Inquiries and responses to date have been impressive, but if you have a unique experience, skill or represent a specific interest in the horse racing sector such as equine, welfare, horseplayer or customer, we would like to hear from you.

The original announcement, with detailed information, can be accessed by clicking here.

Individuals who are interested in being considered for a Director-at-Large position should forward a cover letter and resume or summary of skills and experience by April 21, 2017. Please note these are volunteer positions. If you have any questions regarding the Director-at-Large position or the selection process, please do not hesitate to contact Mike Chopowick, Director of Policy, at mikechopowick@ontarioracing.com.

Serving on the OR Board of Directors represents an exciting opportunity for qualified and interested individuals to contribute directly to the development of a sustainable future for Ontario’s horse-racing industry.

(Ontario Racing)

MacKay Roberts Joins OR Board

April 3, 2017 – Ontario Racing (OR) is pleased to announce that Heather MacKay Roberts, marketing director at Kawartha Downs, is the successful candidate to represent the regional racetrack perspective on the OR Board of Directors.

Heather’s appointment to the Board of Directors further enhances OR’s representation of the horse racing sector and expands the skill set and knowledge base of the Board of Directors in several important areas. In addition to a small racetrack perspective, Heather will bring a wealth of experience in marketing and promotion and a solid background in journalism and communications.

Heather is a founding director of, and continues to serve as director of the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society. Her love of race horses and passion for the industry began through her association with MacKay Farms – a Standardbred breeding operation. She currently oversees the harness racing operations at Kawartha Downs while continuing to write about the industry on a freelance basis for a number of racetracks, publications and websites.

The addition of Ms. MacKay Roberts expands the OR Board of Directors to 10 dedicated individuals leading the development of a sustainable future for the horse racing sector. A further expansion of the Board of Directors by two new Director-at-Large positions was announced last week and provides the opportunity for qualified and interested individuals to put their name forward and represent the best interests of the horse racing sector.

(Ontario Racing)

Ontario Racing Director Positions Open

March 31, 2017 – Ontario Racing (OR) is pleased to extend an invitation to interested individuals in the horse racing sector to submit expressions of Interest in joining OR’s Board of Directors. There are currently two new director positions (Director-at-Large) open to individuals.

Ontario Racing is a not-for-profit corporation with the objective of promoting horse racing in Ontario. The OR Board of Director’s mandate is to represent the best interests of the horse racing sector and the Board brings qualified and knowledgeable individuals to the forefront in contributing to the development of a sustainable future for the horse racing sector.

The OR Board of Directors represents a group of dedicated individuals that operate within a governance framework that is established jointly by the Corporations Act (not-for-profit association) and Ontario Racing’s bylaws which addresses issues such as fiduciary duties to OR, conflict of interest, confidentiality, and requirements related to participation and meeting attendance. Potential Director candidates should note that Directors must attend meetings and contribute; must have the best interests of the industry and OR in mind (fiduciary) when making decisions and that information provided to Directors is confidential – not to be used or distributed outside the Board. The successful candidates will be required to sign and comply with the Code of Conduct.

A selection process to identify nominees for the two directorships has been established under the guidance of the OR Executive committee. This selection process will involve expressions of Interest from interested individuals, reference checks and interviews. The Executive committee has been tasked with preparing a recommendation and the final decision for appointment will be made by the OR Board of Directors. That recommendation will be based upon criteria including but not limited to, the following:

  • Does the nominee have skills, experience or knowledge that may prove important to understanding and managing the current and future strategic direction of OR.
  • Does the nominee offer a diversity of experience and viewpoints on issues important to the association and horse racing sector.
  • Does the nominee possess the capability and willingness to participate and contribute in a full and constructive manner to the Board’s governance and oversight duties and responsibilities.

Individuals that are interested in being considered for a Director-at-Large position should forward a cover letter and resume or summary of skills and experience prior to April 21, 2017. If you have any questions regarding the Director-at-Large position or the selection process, please do not hesitate to contact Mike Chopowick, Director of Policy, at mikechopowick@ontarioracing.com.

Serving on the OR Board of Directors represents an exciting opportunity for qualified and interested individuals to contribute directly to the development of a sustainable future for Ontario’s horse-racing industry.

(with files from OR)

Ontario Racing Releases Final Long-Term Funding Consultation Report

March 17, 2017 – After extensive industry consultations, Ontario Racing is pleased to release the Final Long-Term Funding Consultation Report. This report reflects the perspectives heard from industry stakeholders regarding a proposed long term funding framework for a sustainable future for horseracing in Ontario. This report also includes Ontario Racing’s recommendations for how the proposed funding framework can be modified and augmented, based on feedback from industry participants. The report can be viewed here.

Ontario Racing conducted consultations over a period of five months, and provided opportunities for interested parties to offer their thoughts through a variety of channels and at several different points throughout the process. A draft version of this report was also released, to ensure that industry participants had ample opportunity to participate in the consultation process.

Recommendations made by Ontario Racing reflect and evolved from key issues raised by consultation participants. These recommendations will be used to inform negotiations for a final long term funding agreement.

Ontario Racing thanks those who have participated in these consultations, and appreciates the support of the provincial government and OLG as we work to deliver a sustainable path forward for the industry.

Key facts:

  • Over 800 horse racing industry participants engaged in Ontario Racing’s consultations including all major horse person organizations and racetracks.
  • Ontario Racing offered opportunities to engage in seven in-person sessions, conducted across the province, facilitated two webinars, two leadership sessions and provided on-going opportunities for written and online feedback.
  • A long-term funding agreement will provide the horse racing industry in Ontario with the certainty they need to invest in their businesses.

Media Inquiries:
Mike Chopowick
Ontario Racing – Director of Policy, Research and Analysis
mikechopowick@ontarioracing.com