May 29, 2017

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.

Ontario Racing Webinar Info Posted

October 19, 2016 – The information presented by Ontario Racing in its webinar regarding the proposed long-term funding framework for horse racing in the province is now available.

The slides from the webinar are presented below, or available here.

This framework, subject to government approval, will be presented to the industry for feedback. If approved, this framework will provide the industry as a whole – from owners, trainers and breeders to racetrack operators – with the certainty they need to make investments in their businesses.

OR’s primary objective, to this point, has been to engage directly with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and the government to provide input to the development of a roadmap to sustainable funding for the industry. Now, OR’s focus will shift towards engagement with the industry as a whole to garner feedback on this proposed framework.

This proposed framework is based on key principles including:

  • A new racetrack alliance: all Ontario racetracks that conduct live racing will be invited to create a new alliance. It is proposed that Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) will serve as the administrator of this new alliance.
  • Longer-term, predictable funding: Ontario’s horseracing industry can invest in their businesses beyond 2021.
  • Ongoing accountability and transparency: decision-making based on evidence and agreed upon success indicators.
  • Industry leadership: racetrack business plans, race dates, purse levels will be aligned across racetracks for a coordinated approach. Ontario Racing will play a key industry leadership role in the future.

Next steps include widespread ‘in person’ conversations with the industry about these principles, across Ontario. Sessions will take place in every region of the province that has horse racing, starting next week and taking place throughout the month of November. (dates subject to change)

  • Monday, October 31 – 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Toronto (Holiday Inn – Toronto International Airport)
  • Tuesday, November 1 – 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Hamilton (Flamboro Downs)
  • Wednesday, November 9 – 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. – (Hiawatha Horse Park)
  • Sunday, November 13 – 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – London (Western Fair Raceway)
  • Wednesday, November 16 – 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. – Ottawa (Rideau Carleton Raceway)
  • Saturday, November 19 – 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Port Perry (Location TBD)
  • Tuesday, November 22 – 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Milton (Gambrel Barn, Country Heritage Park)

Industry participants can also provide feedback by answering consultation questions online on the Ontario Racing website.

Ontario Racing will collate feedback from the industry, and this perspective will inform recommendations to government.

(with files from Ontario Racing)

(Standardbred Canada)

OHRIA Calls for Aggression Should Government Negotiations Fail To Provide A Better Plan For Sustainability

With only one month remaining before the industry’s share of revenue from the Slots at Racetracks Program ends, OHRIA is asking all industry participants to remain united in our strategy and messaging with Government.

With only weeks remaining, it is more important than ever for the industry to remain strong together and to remain united.  This is not the time, yet, for radical thinking.

OHRIA is cautiously optimistic that Premier Kathleen Wynne is reviewing the current plan with the intention to provide the horse racing and breeding industry with a better, more sustainable plan for the future.

However, OHRIA is asking the industry to be on the ready should we need you to stand up for our industry if these current negotiations fail to bring the results our industry needs to survive.

The OHRIA Board of Directors, in a meeting last week, approved an aggressive campaign and agreed that funds must be raised to implement it. These funds have been received and continue to flow in.

OHRIA continues to fight for the entire horse racing and breeding industry and we need the industry ready to stand up should our latest negotiations with government not yield results.


$10 Millon In Purses For Non-WEG Tracks Will Eliminate Racing Elsewhere, Burgess Tells Liberal Government

Canadian Hall of Fame member Robert Burgess has written to the Ontario Liberal Government pointing out that the OMAFRA Transition Panel’s projections of only $10 Million in purses for  racetracks beyond WEG  facilities is virtually a death sentence for racing elsewhere  in Ontario.

Burgess’ letter also states that gaming at racetrack slots facilities is traditionally up 10 to 20 percent on race days, so the government is setting itself up for a $50 Million hit to its own coffers by eliminating so many race dates.

The complete letter is available by clicking here.

OHRIA Challenges Ontario Liberal Leadership Candidates To Stand Up For Horse Racing

The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association is calling on all Liberal Leadership candidates to take a stand now in support of Ontario’s horse racing and breeding industry. A new Premier is in the position to take immediate action to stop the needless loss of jobs that is already happening across the province.

The horse racing industry is about to enter the second horse breeding season with the uncertainty that the cancellation of the Slots at Racetracks Program brings, without any solution that ensures a meaningful opportunity for horse racing to continue in Ontario.   This leaves the province’s superior bloodstock, which is the backbone of Ontario’s horse breeding industry, at risk as breeders are dispersing their horses to other jurisdictions. If this continues, Ontario’s horse racing industry will be left without a supply of new horses that are necessary for the industry’s continued growth.

In recent days, the PCs and NDP have offered meaningful solutions to protect the 55,000 jobs related to horse racing and breeding and the more than $2 billion dollars in economic activity this industry generates in our province.

A number of leadership candidates have also spoken out in support of Ontario’s horse racing industry including Eric Hoskins, who has provided a specific commitment to review the industry within 60 days of forming government.

“March 31st is looming large in our industry, because that is the day the Slots at Racetracks Program is scheduled to end and the province has yet to provide a clear solution to allow our industry to move forward,” said Sue Leslie, President of OHRIA.   With time running out, and the government expected to change in less than a month, OHRIA is calling on Liberal Leadership candidates to signal they will continue the current Slots at Racetracks Program, while a sustainable future for the industry can be negotiated.

“When Dalton McGuinty and Dwight Duncan announced the most significant changes to the history of gaming in Ontario in more than forty years, no one knew they were planning to leave politics before seeing it through. It isn’t fair to anyone to have the current OLG modernization strategy forced on communities, while the horse racing and breeding industry is devastated, before the next Premier even has a say in what is happening,” added Leslie.


PCs would Retain Slots At Racetracks Program, Says MPP Lisa McLeod In Ottawa Sun Interview

Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod has gone on record stating that her party is committed to keeping the Slots-At-Racetracks program if they win the next election, according to a report in the Ottawa Sun.

MacLeod, whose riding includes Rideau Carleton Raceway, said she will fight to make sure the program remains in tact. However, she refuses to speculate on what her party would do if the horse racing industry is dismantled before an election takes place in order to avoid broken promises.

“If we were to form the government next October, and that program is cancelled with existing tracks ripped out, I obviously can’t speculate,” MacLead was quoted as saying the article. “We don’t want to pull a McGuinty.”

MacLeod also stated that her party is guaranteeing municipal referendums for cities which will host new casinos.

“If there’s a change in the party, I suspect the Tories would put the whole modernization of the industry on hold,” commented Mayor Jim Watson, who opposes the need for referendums. “They’ve said publicly they want to continue supporting the horse racing industry and go back to square one. We would have to figure out where we go from there.”

To read the Ottawa Sun article in its entirety, click here.

(Standardbred Canada)

Breeders Feel The Pain As Canadian Yearling Sale Average Drops 43%

The current malaise surrounding harness racing’s future in Ontario cast a dark cloud over the Canadian Standardbred Yearling sale at Flamboro, Sept, 15-16.

Buyers were understandably reluctant to invest heavily and breeders definitely felt the impact of their pessimism. A total of 246 head went though the ring for $2,048,950. The average of $8329 represented a hefty 43 per cent decline from last year’s average of $14,621.

Topping the sale was Warrawee Phoenix at $90,000. Dave Menary , as agent took home the Camluck half-brother to Warrawee Needy.

Breeders are hopeful that a  concrete commitment to funding the Ontario Sires Stakes and to overall racing dates will be put forth by the Ontario Government   prior to the Forest City Sale  on Oct. 13-14 in London.

Complete Sales Results from the 2012 Canadian Yearling Sale are available here for Day One and Day Two.

University of Guelph Students Now Worried About Job Prospects In Equine Industry As Slots At Racetracks Program Closes

University of Guelph students pursuing an equine specialty are becoming increasingly concerned about job prospects as fallout from the Slots at Racetracks fiasco continues to trickle down.

Uncertainty in the horse racing sector will undoubtedly lead to drastic cuts in funding for research in 2013 and Equine Guelph head Gayle Ecker is concerned about the drop in enrolment in equine courses and certificates.

Read the full story by Dave Briggs writing in The Guelph Mercury here.

OEF Takes Issue With MPP Liz Sandals’ “Insensitive” Comments About Horse Racing

The Ontario Equestrian Federation (OEF) has taken issue with MPP Liz Sandals’ insensitive comments in the Guelph Tribune on August 9, 2012 regarding the horse racing industry and the termination of the Slots at Racetracks program.

OEF President Allan Ehrlick penned an articulate response in racing’s defense which ran in the Tribune of August 30th. Read the Letter To The Editor here.

OMAFRA Transition Panel’s Interim Report Released, McMeekin Comments

The Transition Panel engaged to consult with the  industry regarding sustainability of Ontario Horse Racing following the cancellation of the Slots At Racetracks program has released its interim report.

Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ted McMeekin released the Report today, August 24, along with the following media statement:


“On June 7th, I announced that three former cabinet ministers — Elmer Buchanan, John Snobelen and John Wilkinson — would lead consultations with the horse racing industry to help them transition from the Slots at Racetracks program to a more sustainable model.

I have received an interim report. The panel has concluded the government made the right decision to end the Slots at Racetracks program — a program that cost taxpayers $345 million a year. The panel said it would be a mistake to reinstate the program — going so far as to call it ‘poor public policy.’

The panel also advises that a viable horse racing industry requires ongoing funding to maintain attractive purses, sustain tracks, support breeding and grow a robust betting system.

Our government committed $50 million over the next three years to help transition the industry.  The panel believes that a greater investment is required.

Our government is focused on balancing its budget while protecting vital services that families rely on, like health care and education. That’s why any public transitional investment in the horse racing industry must include clear public-interest principles of fiscal accountability, transparency, a renewed focus on the consumer and a business case showing that each public dollar invested is returned to the province through tax revenues. This means the industry needs to display financial transparency.

The government has asked the panel to consult further with the industry to determine its willingness to work together in such a way that recognizes the public interest and the current fiscal climate.

I expect to receive a final report no later than the end of September.”

To read the interim report, click the following link: Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel Interim Report – August 17, 2012.