May 23, 2017

Mohawk’s Family Night This Saturday

May 17, 2017 – Mohawk Racetrack’s annual Fireworks and Family Fun Night is set for this Saturday (May 20).

A fun-filled night of live racing and entertainment for all ages will rock the Campbellville, Ont. oval. Doors to the Mohawk Grandstand will open at 5 p.m. and live racing will get underway at 6:45 p.m.

A strong 10-race card has been put together for the special evening, which will be highlighted by a pair of $130,000 SBOA Stakes Finals for three-year-old fillies. Saturday’s card will also feature a loaded $34,000 Preferred Pace and the regular $40,000 Pick-5 and $50,000 Early Pick-4.

Fans on-track will have a variety of entertainment options, including live racing, to explore throughout the evening

A brand new Kidsfest Zone will be introduced this year, where kids will be able to take part in carnival games, crafts, face painting, an animal show and more. Entry to the Kidsfest Zone costs $5.

Parents will also want to take advantage of a special Kids’ Combo Meal. The $5.99 special includes the choice of a pizza slice or hot dog, juice box, chips and a glow in the dark wristband.

A special $5 collectible horse cup will also be for sale at the concession stands and comes with free refills of fountain drinks all night.

Musician Brian MacIntyre will be entertaining fans throughout the evening inside the main concourse of the grandstand.

A special Pepsi North America Cup ticket offer will be available on Saturday evening, as fans can take advantage of a ‘Me + 3’ offer to grab their tickets for the $1 million race on Saturday, June 17.

Live racing is expected to conclude around 10 p.m. and the spectacular fireworks show is scheduled to begin at 10:30 p.m.

Racing fans also looking to catch the Preakness Stakes on Saturday will be able to watch and wager on the second leg of Thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown at Mohawk. The big race will be shown on the infield screen.

For more information on Fireworks and Family Fun Night, visit mohawkracetrack.com.

To view the harness racing entries for Saturday at Mohawk, click the following link: Saturday Entries – Mohawk Racetrack.

(WEG)

WEG Stakes Payments Due Today

May 13, 2015 – Sustaining payments and nominations for numerous Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) and Alliance stakes/series are due this Monday (May 15).

The May 15 payment is the final round of sustaining payments for all major WEG stakes, including the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup. A total of 53 three-year-old pacers are eligible to make the final sustaining payment for Canada’s richest harness race.

The full list of WEG stakes requiring a May 15 sustaining payment is available below.

Pepsi North America Cup (Pace: Three-Year-Olds)
Canadian Pacing Derby (Pace: Three-Year-Olds and Up)
Canadian Trotting Classic (Trot: Three-Year-Olds)
Maple Leaf Trot (Trot: Three-Year-Olds and Up)
Fan Hanover (Pace: Three-Year-Old Fillies)
Elegantimage (Trot: Three-Year-Old Fillies)
Casual Breeze (Trot: Three-Year-Old Fillies)
Goodtimes (Trot: Three-Year-Olds)
Somebeachsomewhere (Pace: Three-Year-Olds)
Metro Pace (Pace: Two-Year-Olds)
Shes A Great Lady (Pace: Two-Year-Old Fillies)
William Wellwood Memorial (Trot: Two-Year-Olds)
Peaceful Way (Trot: Two-Year-Old Fillies)
Nassagaweya (Pace: Two-Year-Olds)
Eternal Camnation (Pace: Two-Year-Old Fillies)
Roses Are Red (Pace: Mares)
Milton (Pace: Mares)
Armbro Flight (Trot: Mares)

Nominations are also due May 15 for the annual two-year-old summer series at Mohawk.

The Dream Maker, Whenuwishuponastar, Define The World and Pure Ivory are signature events in the summer months at Mohawk and have been the learning ground for many top two-year-olds.

The May 15 payment also includes yearling nominations for the 2018 Champlain Stakes, 2019 Simcoe Stakes and 2019 S.B.O.A. Stakes. For more information, click here.

A sustaining payment is also due May 15 for the following Alliance events to be raced at Grand River Raceway:

Battle of Waterloo (Pace: Two-Year-Olds)
Battle of the Belles (Pace: Two-Year-Old Fillies)

To view full information regarding each stakes event and payments, click here.

To make sustaining payments online, click here.

If sending payments by mail, envelopes must be clearly post-marked no later than May 15, 2017 or payment will not be accepted. Registered mail is recommended.

Any questions or concerns regarding stakes payments can be directed to the Mohawk Race Office (905-854-7805).

(WEG)

Mohawk’s Double Draw Reminder

May 15, 2017 – Officials in the Mohawk Racetrack race office would like to remind all horsepeople of a change to the draw schedule.

Beginning tomorrow (Tuesday, May 16), the race office will be a conducting double draws each Tuesday for Friday and Saturday cards. The double draws on Tuesdays will be in effect for the remainder of the Mohawk meet.

The draw schedule is now as follows.

• Enter Monday for Thursday
• Enter Tuesday for Friday and Saturday
• Enter Thursday for Monday

The entry box closes the morning of each draw at 10:30 a.m.

When Tuesday racing is added to the Mohawk Racetrack schedule in June, the draw for Tuesdays will be conducted on Fridays.

(WEG)

Update On 250th Anniversary of Horse Racing In Canada

May 10, 2017 – The team managing the 250th Anniversary of Horse Racing in Canada (#cdnhorseracing250) has been busy working with racetracks, agricultural societies, industry associations and farms putting together activities and celebrations of this monumental milestone in Canada’s horse racing history.

The excitement is building as plans are finalized to host commemorative miles across the country throughout 2017. The first one on the calendar will take place as part of the Mother’s Day Open House at Mac Lilley Farms, located at 28322 Chalmers Line, Dutton, Ontario this Sunday, May 14. At 3:00 p.m., Il Sogno Dream and Alex Lilley will take to the track for a mile in recognition of Mac Lilley Farm’s 50 years of operation. The fastest trotter in North America in 2015 is currently doing double duty, as he is spending time in the Mac Lilley Farm breeding shed as well as beginning preparations for his 2017 race season.

The farm is open to guests from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. and will provide an opportunity to get up close and personal with Standardbred mares and foals, take a ride behind a racehorse, learn about the history of both Mac Lilley Farms and Canadian horse racing as well as many other activities.

The 250th anniversary of horse racing team will be on hand to answer questions, and provide 250th anniversary of horse racing colouring sheets and other giveaways for the kids. There will also be CHRHF and 250th anniversary merchandise available for purchase.

In the coming weeks, look for 250th anniversary displays and merchandise available at the following track events:

May 14 – Mac Lilley Farms Mother’s Day Open House, Dutton, ON
May 20 – Mohawk Racetrack Fireworks Night, Campbellville, ON
May 21 – Flamboro Downs – Confederation Cup, Flamboro, ON
May 28 – Grand River Raceway – Open House, Elora, ON

Thank you to industry partners Standardbred Canada, Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society, HBPA, COSA, OHHA, ASHA, and Harness Racing BC for their financial contributions to this year’s celebration.

New events and activities are being added to the calendar frequently. To stay up to date on all the latest 250th Anniversary of Horse Racing in Canada activities, or find out how you can get involved, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or visit the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame website. #cdnhorseracing250

(Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame)

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)

Summer Camp Deadline Approaching

May 9, 2017 – There is still time to sign up for a Harness Horse Youth Foundation summer camp near you, but the deadline is just one week away, so you’ll have to hurry.

Although several of the camps are approaching capacity, there is still room for a few more campers. Application information is at hhyf.org/schedule-applications and the deadline is May 15.

Five-day camps are for campers aged 12-14, while one day camps can accommodate students age 11 and up. The leadership camp is for teens who have attended a previous HHYF camp.

The 2017 HHYF summer camp schedule includes:

Harrington Raceway June 17 – 21 – Overnight Camp
Rosecroft Raceway June 27- One Day Camp
Ocean Downs June 29- One Day Camp
Leadership Program at Goshen Historic Track July 5 to 8 – Overnight Camp
Vernon Downs July 11 to 15 – Overnight Camp
The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono July 18 to 22 – Overnight Camp
Gaitway Farm July 29 to August 2 – Day camp

(HHYF)

AGCO Stakeholder Working Groups

May 4, 2017 – The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) announced its intent to establish the ‘Moving Ahead: Horse Racing Regulation in Ontario’ AGCO-Stakeholder Working Groups on February 21, 2017.

The announcement included an open call to the Horse Racing industry for membership in three Working Groups to review and make recommendations for policy reform in the following areas: Equine Drug Program, Officiating , Health and Safety (Equine & Human).

The AGCO is pleased to announce the following representatives have been selected to participate in the Equine Drug Program and Officiating Working Groups:

Equine Drug Program:

– Bill O’Donnell
– Bob Broadstock
– Brett Anderson
– Brian Tropea
– Brian Van Arem
– Chris Huarte
– Gayle Sommer
– Greg Gangle
– Jack Darling
– Jamie Martin
– Mark Beaven
– Mike Chopowick
– Peter Berringer
– Rene Hunderup
– Sue Leslie

Officiating:

– Bill Manes
– Bill McLinchey
– Dan Gall
– Daniel Vella
– Emma Jayne Wilson
– Erik Lehtinen
– Eric Poteck
– Greg Blanchard
– Jessica Peatling
– Jody Jamieson
– Mark Horner
– Mike Chopowick
– Renee Kierans
– Rob Landry
– Robert King
– Steve Lym

These Working Groups are comprised of a broad range of industry positions, industry associations, licensees as well as AGCO representatives. Three to five meetings will be held approximately once a month from May to August, 2017. The Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA) will also be included in the discussions in the Equine Drug Program Working Group.

The membership list for the Health and Safety (Equine & Human) Working Group will be released in the late summer prior to the first meeting. As the Working Groups progress, key updates will be available through the AGCO website at www.agco.on.ca. The AGCO would once again like to extend its sincere appreciation to the many stakeholders and industry participants that have committed their time, effort, insights and energy to this project to date. We look forward to a series of interesting and productive discussions.

(with files from AGCO)

Mohawk Cancels Friday Qualifiers

May 4, 2017 – Officials from Mohawk Racetrack announced Friday morning’s qualifiers are cancelled due to poor weather.

The next qualifying session is scheduled for Monday, May 9 at 10 a.m. Horsemen are reminded to enter by 10:30 a.m. on Saturday morning for Monday’s qualifiers.

(WEG)

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)

Approved USTA Changes In Effect

May 1, 2017 – Changes to U.S. Trotting Association rules and bylaws that were approved at the annual meeting of the Board of Directors in February 2017, were enacted and went into effect on Monday (May 1).

The changes apply to venues in which the USTA is the sole regulatory authority. As specified in the USTA Rulebook’s preface, “the rules…are applicable only to those non-pari-mutuel meetings over which no State Racing Commission, or other State Regulatory Body asserts primary jurisdiction.” It is not uncommon, however, to see state racing commissions adopt USTA rules.

The bylaw pertaining to procedures and eligibility for election of directors representing racetracks was approved to specify a variety of issues, including timing and eligibility of individuals for election. It was discussed and debated in Las Vegas in February, then remanded to an ad hoc committee for further review and amendment before being ratified by the full board again in early April.

Track directors now will serve three-year terms, as opposed to the previous two-year standard. Districts 1 (Ohio) and 7 (Pennsylvania) each picked up one additional track director seat, with Dave Bianconi (Northfield Park) and Kevin Decker (The Meadows) both recently elected to fill those positions, while Districts 2 (Michigan) and 5 (Illinois) each lost one seat.

Among the regulations pertaining to racing and breeding, dead heats in races where a point system is in place for eligibility to subsequent events, the points and purses will now be divided and/or shared.

The components of an official chart are now expanded to include trainer’s name, reason for a scratch, removal of hopples from both trotters and pacers, and designation of a second tier starting position. The requirement for specifying monetary allowances for age and gender in claiming races has been eliminated; the overall claiming price remains in place.

Regulations regarding horses that go inside the pylons were amended to specify the number of pylons crossed to constitute a violation, placing of horses that do so, and delineation of escalating fines and suspensions for drivers who commit pylon violations. The new regulations largely mirror those employed at racing venues in Ontario, Canada.

Drivers who believe their horse’s performance in a race has been compromised by another driver and wish to appeal the matter to their USTA District Board are no longer required to lodge the initial complaint before they dismount the sulky. They must still appeal to the District Board within 10 days of the decision or ruling they wish to appeal.

For breeders, signature requirements for mare owners registering progeny have been simplified to remove the requirement when there is no change of ownership. Those seeking to register a horse as “Non-Standardbred” will no longer be required to spay or neuter their horse before such registration can be granted.

Rule book production is currently in progress, and a PDF reflecting all of the changes will be posted online at ustrotting.com by the end of May.

(USTA)