March 27, 2015

Ontario Breeders Win Document Access

The group of Ontario’s Standardbred breeders currently engaged in legal proceedings against the Government of Ontario and the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corp. (OLG) recently received a decision in their favour from the province’s Superior Court.

On February 9, 2015, Ontario Superior Court Justice Michael Emery released his decision in a motion brought by Standardbred breeders seeking broad production of internal documents from Ontario and OLG about 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. As described in paragraph 154 of Justice Emery’s decision, 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.

Justice Emery ordered Ontario and OLG to make broad productions of un-redacted internal documents relating to the government and OLG decision to cancel SARP without notice in March 2012. These include documents referring to Dalton McGuinty, Kathleen Wynne, Dwight Duncan and Paul Godfrey, their involvement in the cancellation of SARP and the decision to compensate racetracks owners but not breeders.

The Court noted, at paragraph 118, that Ontario and OLG are “significant defendants with significant resources” who “have collected substantial net profits from the slots program at 15 of the 17 racetracks in Ontario after the SARP program was terminated.” The Court determined, at paragraph 135, that “[i]n a case of this magnitude, the law should favour a generous interpretation of disclosure requirements” and that standardbred breeders “are entitled to proper disclosure by each defendant.”

In the words of the Court, at paragraph 135, “[t]his case involves too much money, and too many people whose livelihoods depend on a fair and transparent discovery process.” This decision clears the way for standardbred breeders to finally receive internal documents that will allow them to understand the reasons and motivations behind Ontario and OLG’s decision to terminate SARP in 2012.

The full decision is available in PDF format by clicking here .

(Standardbred Canada)

Recipe For Creating A Modern Legend

1. Take one small Camluck mare, named Ruby Cam, that is blind in one eye and has two broken sesamoids.

2. Breed her to a stallion named Modern Art.

3. Send the resulting offspring to a Management Consultant to be trained.

Yes, you read the recipe right.

This is exactly how Dave Drew, of Dave Drew Associates Incorporated management consulting, bred, raised and trained Modern Legend into the champion race horse he is today.

Dave has spent most of his life managing six different plants for General Motors. He is secretary-treasurer of COSA (Central Ontario Standardbred Association) and is Past Chair of the Audit Committee for Standardbred Canada.  Dave has always had a love for racehorses, but until retirement no time for training.  He owned horses with his brother Greg Drew, from Merlin, Ontario.

Dave purchased a lovely little mare named Ruby Cam as a yearling at the Forest City Sale in 2000. His brother, Greg, trained the filly and both of them drove her in 11 starts as a four year old with 6 wins, 3 seconds and a third including winning the Middlesex County Filly Pacing Series Final.  “She had a real nice gait,” says Dave,” but sesamoid trouble kept her from racing more than one season.”  “I decided to retire her into the broodmare ranks.”  “I gave Greg her first foal and he raced her for several years. When I retired from GM I decided to train the mare’s remaining offspring.”

“I had the experience of amateur driving in the Billings Series with the opportunity to participate at 60 different tracks in North America. This included winning the Delvin Miller Silver Cup at the Meadowlands in 2007. I also drove my own horses some of the time winning with Stonebridge Wish in two legs and the final of the Middlesex Pacing Series,” smiles Dave.

Web Cam, Modern Legend’s older brother, kept Dave busy for the next few years, with earnings of over $200,000 dollars in less than 100 starts and a mark of 1.51.4. Dave sold Web Cam this past March to concentrate all his efforts on Modern Legend.

Modern Legend, and what a legend he has been. Dave drove him in his first four starts but realized that this horse’s talents should be in the hands of professional drivers. He won eight stake races in a row in 2011-2012 at Mohawk and Woodbine sweeping the Autumn, Snowshoe and Cam Fella series.

In 2013 he was second by a neck to Foiled Again in a world record performance in the Ben Franklin Series and finished third in the Breeders Crown Final. Now in 2014 he made the best of the best take a second seat in the Canadian Pacing Derby in 1.47.2 equaling the Canadian racing record.

Dave, the humble fellow he is, gives a lot of credit for Modern Legend’s success to his consultants at the training centre.  He explains that “I am at the Dr. John Hayes Stable. John Hayes and Carmen Hie have given me many tips on training that have helped a great deal in getting horses to the track and as importantly keeping them racing.”

So there we have it the recipe for creating a Modern Legend.

As we watch Dave Drew in the Mohawk winners’ circle after his big win in the Canadian Pacing Derby, accompanied by his wife, two daughters, sister and grandson we see with the right recipe even the little guy can make it big in this business.

Asked how he felt at that moment Dave declares, ”Pure exhilaration. I felt so lucky to be associated with this horse who has raced beyond anything I could have dreamed of.”

Ontario Horse Breeders Prepare to Launch $65M Lawsuit Against OLG, Province

A group of Ontario standardbred horse breeders has filed a Statement of Claim against the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) and the province for $65 million.

Read more:


(CTV News London)




Concerns For Ontario’s Breeders

On Thursday, September 26, the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association sent out a release which stated that even though Standardbred Canada’s recent 2013 Canadian Yearling Sale showed an average increase of nearly 22 per cent over the 2012 sale, participants in all facets of the industry still face more questions than answers regarding the future of the provincial industry.

The release states that until the Horse Racing Transition Panel’s final plan is unveiled sometime this October, participants in all facets of the Ontario industry still face more questions than answers.

The release states that ‘Only once the final plan is released will breeders have the ability to make informed decisions about the future of their operations.’

The contents of the SBOA release appear below in their entirety.

SBOA Voices Concerns For Ontario’s Standardbred Breeders

The uncertainty that Ontario’s Standardbred breeding industry faces is substantial. Ontario’s once strong breeding sector has been devastated due to the provincial government’s ill-planned decision to end the mutually beneficial partnership that the Slots-at-Racetracks Program created between the Province of Ontario and the horse racing and breeding industry.

For the second consecutive year, Ontario’s standardbred breeders have had to weather tremendous losses. Although Standardbred Canada’s 2013 Canadian Yearling Sale showed an average increase of nearly 22 per cent over the 2012 sale, it is important to realize that the 2013 sale average remained almost 31 per cent below that of the 2011 sale. Much like 2012, Ontario’s standardbred breeders have once again taken another drastic financial hit.

In her recent letter to the Horse Racing Transition Panel, Premier and Agriculture Minister Kathleen Wynne requests a comprehensive five-year plan for Ontario’s horse racing and breeding industry. This plan is vital in order for long-term sustainability and growth to occur within the industry. However, for sustainability and growth to be achieved through a five-year plan, the government must be willing to invest sufficiently in Ontario’s horse racing and breeding industry, as well as promote and encourage integration amongst gaming and horse racing within the province. Unfortunately, for many breeders the financial losses that they have incurred over the past 18 months have been so substantial that it is difficult, if not impossible, for them to survive to a point where the industry can see its way through to a five-year plan.

Until the final plan is released sometime this October, participants in all facets of the industry face more questions than answers. Only once the final plan is released will breeders have the ability to make informed decisions about the future of their operations.


(Standardbred Canada)

Mother’s Day Breeding Farm Open Houses Successful Again Despite Weather Conditions

For the second consecutive year, the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association and Standardbred Canada’s ‘I Love Canadian Harness Racing’ Fan Club partnered to coordinate the Mother’s Day Open House.

Two Ontario breeding farms, High Stakes Farm in Moffat and Oak Knoll Stables in Campbellcroft, opened their farms to the general public from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 12).

Despite inclement weather that included everything from snow, hail and sleet, over 300 people ventured out to the two farms.

The horses were the stars of the event, but in addition to meeting the resident mares, foals, yearlings and stallions at the farms, the guests were able to interact with the breeders, their families and staff to learn about the province’s standardbred breeding and racing industry and a typical day in their lives.

“This is an excellent event that should be done each year,” said Joanne Colville of High Stakes. “From my personal experience yesterday, the event was a stepping stone for me to now take several interested parties to Mohawk to see live racing.”

Caroline Thornton of Oak Knoll stated that the tours were very well received. “Most of the people who came had never seen a breeding environment and were quite fascinated by the facility and the information,” she said. “We had detailed posters up at every paddock describing the mares and foals and yearlings, people seemed to like the fact they knew which horse was which and also had a volunteer there to answer any questions.”

“The SBOA is extremely pleased with the response received at the Mother’s Day Open House promotion,” said Walter Parkinson, president of the SBOA. “From talking to our hosts at the farms, the people who made the trek in less than ideal weather conditions were sincerely interested in learning more about the breeding industry. For many, it was an opportunity to see a mare and foal close up for the first time. We feel that this type of educational opportunity is important as it exposes people to the sport and helps them understand the importance of the breeding industry to the rural economy. Many of the guests said they would be making a trip to the racetrack for the first time in the next few weeks as a follow up.

“A very special thanks goes out to Joanne Colville and her staff and family at High Stakes Farm, and Caroline Thornton, Ken Morden and their staff and volunteers at Oak Knoll Stables for all of their hard work and effort in ensuring the continuance of this successful promotion.”

Colville is actively involved with the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society. Anyone interested in owning a horse of their own can contact Colville through the OSAS website.

(Standardbred Canada)

Mother’s Day Open House at High Stakes, Oak Knoll On May 12

For the second consecutive year, the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association and Standardbred Canada’s ‘I Love Canadian Harness Racing’ Fan Club are partnering to present a special Mother’s Day Open House event.

On Sunday, May 12, High Stakes Farm in Moffat and Oak Knoll Stables in Campbellcroft will open their gates and farms to the general public from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. to showcase their mares, foals and facilities.

The Open House will give the general public an opportunity to get up close and personal with the mares and foals, take a behind the scenes tour of the farm, and talk with the owners about a day in the life of a standardbred breeder.

“Although we have fewer farms taking part, we felt it was important to continue the event after such great results and feedback from last year’s program,” commented Walter Parkinson, the recently elected President of the SBOA. “Many of our breeders are trying to cope with challenges as a result of the end of the Slots-at-Racetracks program, which has had a devastating impact on the breeding industry. We want this to continue as an annual event and are hopeful that more farms will take part in future years.”

The goal of the program is to educate the general public on the standardbred breeding and racing industry as well as demonstrate the importance of the industry to the rural community and Ontario’s economy.

This is a great opportunity for people who wouldn’t normally have a chance to visit a horse farm to connect with the horses and the people in the standardbred industry.

High Stakes Farm in Moffat, Seelster Farms in Lucan, St. Lads Farm in Ruscom and Twinbrook Farms in Embro took part in the inaugural edition of the Open House last year.  More than 1,000 people visited and toured the four farms.

Maintain Current OSS Purse Levels, Says OMAFRA Panel

The three member OMAFRA panel, charged with the transition of horse racing in Ontario, today issued a statement revealing their expectations regarding the purse structure of the Ontario Sires Stakes program.

The full statement, issued today (Nov. 6) in response to a request for clarification from the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario, is as follows:

“With the implementation of the recommendations by our panel, and with fine tuning of the funding in the weeks ahead, it is our expectation and intent that the current purse structure for the highly successful OSS program could be maintained for 2013 and beyond.”

Anna Meyers, President of the SBOA, sees the written statement as an important step in restoring confidence in Ontario’s world renowned breeding sector.

“The SBOA has asked the panel for clarity and they’ve provided this written response,” said Meyers. “At Harrisburg this week, we’re hearing a lot of questions from breeders that are selling Ontario-sired horses. We believe it is extremely important that buyers understand that this vital program will continue in its entirety and we hope this will give them confidence as they make buying decisions this week.”

While Meyers is pleased with the statement, she cautions that there is still work to be done. “We feel there is a lot of discussion that needs to take place on a number of issues, and we’re very hopeful that we’re able to to make meaningful progress on behalf of the many standardbred breeders in Ontario.”

The panel, which consists of Elmer Buchanen, John Snobelen and John Wilkinson, last month issued their panel report on the future of horse racing in Ontario.

(Standardbred Canada)

Halton Farm Tour Underlines Plight Of the Horse Industry To Politicians And Media

The 32nd Annual Halton Region Farm Tour on September 20th centred on the theme of “Horsepower in Halton”. More specifically, the event emphasized what the loss of the Slots at Racetracks Program will mean, and has already meant, to local members of the horse racing industry.

The Tour involved a busload of politicians and media seeing local farms and facilities firsthand, plus a visit to Mohawk Racetrack’s backstretch guided by Stable Area Superintendent Dana Keyes.

Dr. Bob Wright provided some convincing specifics when he delivered a presentation entitled, “The Economic Impact of Ontario’s Horse Racing Industry”

Another highlight of the afternoon included a panel moderated by Peter Lambrick, “Understanding the Economic Importance of a Thriving Equine Industry to Halton and the Province.”

Panel members included: Dr. Natalie Cote, Cofounder, Milton Equine Hospital, Milton, ON Jamie Martin, Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) Executive Vice-President of Racing Anna Meyers, President of Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association (SBOA) Bill O’Donnell, President of Central Ontario Standardbred Association (COSA) Joe Stutzman, Owner/Manager of First Line Training Centre, Milton, ON

Anna Meyers spoke with CHCH-TV during the tour and characterized the frustrating position of individuals and breeders as, “waiting and waiting and waiting for answers.” See that interview which took place at Sam-Son Farms by clicking here.


SBOA and Standardbred Canada Promoting Breeding Farm Open Houses On Mother’s Day, May 13

The Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association and Standardbred Canada’s I Love Canadian Harness Racing Fan Club are partnering to present a special Mother’s Day Open House Program at five Standardbred breeding establishments in the province.

On Sunday, May 13, these breeding farms will open their gates and farms to the general public from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. to showcase their mares, foals and facilities:

Casimir Stables, Hagar
High Stakes Farm, Moffat
Seelster Farms, Lucan
St Lads Farm, Ruscom
Twinbrook Farms, Embro

The Open House will give the general public an opportunity to get up close and personal with the mares and foals, pet a foal, get a behind the scenes tour of the farm, and talk with the owners about a day in the life of a Standardbred breeder.

“Our goal is to give our neighbours, and the residents in our communities a snapshot of Standardbred breeding and demonstrate the importance of our industry to the rural community and Ontario’s economy,” said Anna Meyers, president of the SBOA.

“We’ve designed an event that’s both fun and educational,” said Meyers. “This is a great opportunity for people who wouldn’t normally have a chance to visit a horse farm to connect with the horses and the people in our industry.”

All guests who visit the farms will be given an I Love Canadian Harness Racing package which will include a brochure on the Ontario Standardbred Breeding Industry, some swag items and coupons / discounts for the local racetrack.

The mission of the SBOA is to continue to encourage and support the growth of a financially viable and sustainable breeding industry while representing and clearly defining the breeders’ position on major issues to  industry partners, government and regulators.  It also aims to provide breeders with improved communications and education resources.

SBOA New Owners Program in Ontario Sires Spotlight


The Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association (SBOA) has added some promotional punch to its long-time New Owner Mentoring Program. It’s contributing a share in this year’s group as Grand Prize for the recently-launched OSS “Win the Thrill” Contest.

Following qualifying rounds at Grassroots and Gold final events at Clinton, Flamboro, Georgian, Grand River, Hanover and Hiawatha, the Ownership Share Winner will be determined at Mohawk on Grassroots Finals night, October 1st.

The SBOA has been shepherding newcomers through the intricacies of harness horse ownership since 2005, in the hopes that many of them will get hooked on the sport. And don’t think it hasn’t worked.

Just ask Jamie Trott of Orangeville who has parlayed his initial SBOA foray into ownership heights still only dreamt of by most– having a contender in the Little Brown Jug. Piece of the Rock, owned by Trott and partners and trained by Bob Young, is now honing in on $400,000 in career earnings.

“And there’s so much more than just the horse side of it,” says Trott. “I’ve made a lot of really good friends through the program, some of them I own horses with today.”

Anthony Wagner is another of the program’s biggest boosters. He was in on a 2005 SBOA group with Lemon Drop, a trotter who banked well over $100,000 for his partnership. Today the Mississauga, ON resident owns parts of eight horses.

“I would truly say that I’m addicted to owning horses,” he says, “and everything to do with the horse industry.”

Wingham, ON residents Betty Ross and husband Jim are retired farmers who also entered the business through the Mentoring Program. Betty is a current partner in the program’s poster boy, Grin for Money, trained by John Kopas to current earnings of over $278,000.

“It’s been a real hoot,” she says. “When the race goes, we all get together in the grandstand. One guy is our cheerleader and we all yell for him.”

“We obviously love it, she adds, “We now have 11 horses including broodmares, foals and horses in training. ”
SBOA Director Liz Waples is this year taking over the role of Mentoring Program Co-ordinator from Tammy McNiven. She sees the interaction in the program as having a twofold benefit.

” It has not only been a success in terms of bringing new owners to the sport,” she says, “but also, I think, also from the perspective of the participating mentors and trainers who get to see the sport through new eyes.”

Each partnership consists of 9 new owners and a Mentor, who each contribute $4500, while SBOA provides a “forgivable loan” of $15,000.

Tony O’Sullivan will be the Trainer for this year’s partnership, and the group will be drawing on the long-time experience and expertise of Brian Webster as Mentor.

Further details and applications for the 2011 program are available now on the SBOA website.