February 8, 2016

Silent Auction To Fund Memorial

January 25, 2016 – This year’s O’Brien Awards will feature a silent auction with proceeds going towards an engraved memorial stone for the 43 horses lost in the barn fire at Classy Lane Training Centre.

This will be part of a larger project that will be coordinated by Greer Landscaping, owned by Standardbred industry participants Teri-Lynn Greer and Doug Bowins. Greer Landscaping has offered to install a memorial garden including a circular walkway, benches and rose bushes. In the middle of this area would be a large stone engraved with the names of the horses lost in the fire. The company is coordinating the donation of all materials, providing the labour for the project and Standardbred Canada will assist with the funding of the engraved stone.

The plan is to erect this memorial in the spring.

The permanent memorial garden will be a tribute to the lives of the horses and will be coordinated with Barb and Jamie Millier, owners of Classy Lane.

Below is a design of what the garden and memorial would look like.

The O’Brien Awards‘ silent auction annually features jewelry, rare sports memorabilia, original artwork, and more provided by The Silent Auction Company and kicks off at 6:00 p.m. during the cocktail reception in the Graydon Hall Foyer.

SC is seeking contributions for the auction. Contributions may be made to the auction by contacting Kathy Wade Vlaar at kwvlaar@standardbredcanada.ca and will be accepted until Friday, February 5.

Standardbred Canada is also making a $5,000 contribution to the Classy Lane Fire Fund.

(Standardbred Canada)

The Raceway Donates To Classy Lane

January 18, 2016 - The Raceway at Western Fair District has announced it will be making a $5,000 donation to aid the victims of the Classy Lane barn fire.

“The entire Standardbred industry has been devastated by the very tragic loss of horses who perished in the Classy Lane fire. Our thoughts are with all those directly affected and we are gratified to see the incredible outpouring to assist them. I’m so proud to be part of this great industry which always seems to rally around to help each other in times of hardship,” said Western Fair District C.E.O. Hugh Mitchell.

Many of the track’s regular drivers also got involved by graciously donating their driving fees from the Monday, January 11th program at The Raceway. The total raised was approximately $2,700.

The Raceway will also be hosting a fundraising raffle draw with all proceeds going towards Classy Lane. The Grand Prize will be a pair of tickets to the first ever Trackside Music Festival being held at The Raceway this July, featuring Florida Georgia Line, Randy Houser, Brett Kissel, Cole Swindell, Chris Young and Jess Moskaluke among others.

Other prizes include a 2016 Molson Pace VIP package and a ticket package for the 2016 All Equine Show at the Western Fair District. Tickets are $10 each or three for $25 and will go on sale beginning next week. They will be available in the race office and at Raceway customer service in the main lobby.

Anyone interested in donating to the Classy Lane fund please mail checks payable to:

“Classy Lane Barn Fire”
Central Ontario Standardbred Association
P.O. Box 297
Campbellville, ON L0P 1B0

(Standardbred Canada)

Woodbine’s 2016 Stakes Schedule

January 11, 2016 - The Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) today revealed its $14 million-plus 2016 Standardbred stakes schedule.

The 33rd edition of the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup for three-year-old pacers will highlight the stakes calendar. Canada’s richest harness race will be held on Saturday, June 18 at Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville, Ont.

The eliminations for the Pepsi North America Cup will take place a week prior on Saturday, June 11.

The Pepsi North America Cup card on June 18 features a stacked undercard.

The $480,000 Fan Hanover (three-year-old pacing fillies), $350,000 Roses Are Red (pacing mares), $275,000 Armbro Flight (trotting mares), $235,000 Goodtimes (three-year-old trotters) and $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup Invitational will all take place on ‘Cup’ night.

Total purses for the Pepsi North America Cup card are expected to exceed $2.5 million.

Over $2.2 million will be up for grabs on Labour Day weekend, as the Canadian Pacing Derby and Metro Pace take their usual end of summer spot on Saturday, September 3.

The $685,000 Canadian Pacing Derby is Canada’s oldest stakes race and will feature the very best pacers in harness racing, while the $685,000 Metro Pace is the premier event for two-year-old pacers.

The $455,000 Shes A Great Lady Stakes for two-year-old pacing fillies and $220,000-plus Simcoe Stakes for three-year-old trotters and filly pacers will make up the ‘Pacing Derby’ and Metro undercard.

Following the Labour Day weekend bash, the Canadian Trotting Classic and Maple Leaf Trot will take place on Saturday, September 17.

The $700,000 Canadian Trotting Classic for three-year-olds is Canada’s richest trotting event, while the $680,000 Maple Leaf Trot has annually attracted the best trotters from around the world.

The All-Star trotting card will also feature the $410,000 Peaceful Way for two-year-old filly trotters, $400,000 Elegantimage for three-year-old filly trotters and the $370,000 William Wellwood Memorial for two-year-old trotters.

Once again in 2016, WEG will continue to distribute purse money to all finishers in major stakes events.

The winner of the finals will receive the traditional 50% of the total purse, while those finishing sixth through last will take home 1% of the purse. The horses finishing second through fifth will receive 50%-24%-16%-10% of the remaining purse.

Returning to the stakes calendar in 2016 is the Fall Four Stakes for two-year-olds on Saturday, November 19 at Woodbine Racetrack.

Last held at Woodbine in 2014, the Fall Four consists of the $565,000 Governor’s Cup (pacers), $525,000 Valley Victory (trotters), $465,000 Goldsmith Maid (filly trotters) and $425,000 Three Diamonds (filly pacers).

The entire 2016 stakes schedule can be viewed by clicking here.

Once again in 2016, WEG will continue to handle administrative duties for all Standardbred Alliance stakes events.

Payments to all WEG and Alliance stakes are payable and should be mailed to the Woodbine Entertainment Group. Stakes payments can also be made online.

Stakes payments to these stakes can also be made through SC Stakes Online. Click here for more info on how to get started.

(With files from WEG)

(Standardbred Canada)

No Training At Woodbine Tuesday

January 11, 2016 - Race office officials with the Woodbine Entertainment Group would like to advise horsepeople of a change to the Woodbine Racetrack training schedule this week.

The Standardbred track at Woodbine will not be available for training on Tuesday (January 12). The track will instead be open for training on Wednesday (January 13) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Woodbine training day will return to its regular spot on Tuesdays next week.


COSA Sets Up Classy Lane Barn Fire Fund

January 5, 2016 - People wishing to make donations to the victims of last night’s tragic barn fire at Classy Lane Training Centre are being asked to do so through COSA’s official GoFundMe page.

COSA has set up the official GoFundMe page, which can be accessed by clicking here. COSA has asked that all funds be donated via the page.

If you prefer to make a donation by cheque or money order, you can send the donation to:

PO Box 297
Campbellville, ON
L0P 1B0

Cheques or money orders must be made out to “Classy Lane Barn Fire”

For further details, please contact COSA by calling 905-854-2672

OLG, SC Partner On Groom Award

January 9, 2016 – They are the unsung heroes of harness racing. They receive little recognition but are critical to the success of any horse in any stable. We entrust our prized animals with them and sometimes forget to let them know how much we appreciate everything they do for us.

They are the grooms. The relationship between the horse and groom is by far the closest. Grooms provide the daily care and attention to our equine athletes. They keep our horses physically healthy and mentally happy.

Grooms are the behind-the-scenes people who help keep the show running. They will work seven days a week, and sacrifice their holiday and family time to make sure the horses are properly cared for.

Standardbred Canada in partnership with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation would like to recognize one outstanding groom at the 2015 O’Brien Awards.

Do you know someone who has worked in the industry for over five years, someone who treats their horses with kindness and outstanding care, regardless of the horse or its ability? The candidate should have a strong work ethic, be dependable, a good sportsman and be based in Canada. Candidates must be over the age of 19.

If this sounds like someone you know, please submit a letter of nomination (maximum 400 words) describing the candidate. Please include how long they have worked in the industry, where he/she has worked, names of some of the horses he/she has groomed. Tell us what makes this groom outstanding and unique. Please supply the names and contact information for two additional supporters.

A selection committee will determine the winner and he/she will be recognized at the O’Brien Awards on Saturday, February 13, 2016.

Deadline for submissions is Monday, January 25, 2016.

Please email your submissions to: kwvlaar@standardbredcanada.ca.

Mayotte: On Classy Lane Barn Fire

January 10, 2016 – Horse people are horse lovers. We care for and work with these beautiful animals seven days a week. They are always on our minds.

I lost some of my best friends on Monday night as did some of my fellow horse people. These friends cannot be replaced. The way they perished will never be erased from our minds. Only time can help distance it.

I am overwhelmed by the support, both within and outside the industry, above and below the border. I am very fortunate to have family and many friends in this industry to help me get through it. I hope I can personally thank them all.

Roger Mayotte

(Standardbred Canada)

Maritime Support For Fire Victims

January 10, 2016 – The barn fire that tragically claimed the lives of more than 40 horses last Monday has affected more than just Ontario’s harness racing community, with the latest wave of support coming from Eastern Canada.

New Brunswick horsemen gathered on the weekend at Exhibition Park Raceway as a united group to hold a vigil in honour of the horses lost tragically in a fire in Ontario this past week.

More than 40 horses were lost in a fire in Ontario this past week and horsemen in New Brunswick united to show their support for their colleagues in Ontario. Debbie Mahar, a horse owner and organizer was extremely pleased with the support.

“The horseman wanted to show in some small way that we here in Saint John are thinking of everyone at this time. It is a very heavy load for everyone to have to carry in their hearts now; we here are praying for everyone with hopes that our fellow horseman can carry on.”

As always the horse racing fraternity came together as a united front in show of support for the lives lost and those affected by the tragedy. Saint John horsemen would like to thank all who took part in this weekend’s vigil.

A fundraiser in support of those affected by the Classy Lane Training Centre has been kicked off by the PEI Harness Racing Industry Association, Red Shores and the Prince County Horsemens Association.

Prizes include a 2016 Gold Cup & Saucer signature event package and a 2016 Governor’s Plate signature event package.

Tickets are available for $10 at the Rewards Desk at both the Red Shores Charlottetown and Summerside locations.

(Standardbred Canada)

Fire Horrifies Fellow Horseman

January 7, 2016 – When I saw the smoke pouring out of very crack from the West end of Barn 1 at Classy Lane, I knew something horrific was occurring right before my very eyes. As I rushed to open the doors, thick black smoke filled the barn. I can’t even begin to describe the cries from the horses; having nothing you can do to save them, feeling so helpless, knowing their lives were over. The lives of thirteen friends and their families changed forever.

Every one of the thirteen people affected I have seen on a daily basis over the years while I have been stabled at Classy Lane. In the summer months of this past year, I had three horses stabled beside the Triple Crown-winning training outfit of Ben Wallace, the very respected Driver and Trainer, Roger Mayotte and well as the accomplished trainers Dan Lagace, Chantal Mitchell, Kris DiCenzo and Floyd Amos. I can’t imagine waking up and not having a barn filled with loving horses to care for and train, because at 10:57 p.m. on January 4th, 2016 when I called 911 everything changed.

I am going to do everything I can to help put their lives back together. I would like to raise every dollar I can and donate what I can. Horsepeople are hard working people and those impacted deserve nothing less than our best efforts. Without question, we all know they would do the same for any of us. I don’t think anyone knows what it is going to take to rebuild the lives from this tragedy, but we have to do everything we can to get them back on their feet. We as an industry have and will continue to come together to do what we can to help everyone that was affected by this deadly fire at Barn 1 of Classy Lane Stable.

With Love and a heavy heart,
Nick Gallucci

(Standardbred Canada)

Gallucci: January 4, 2016, 11 p.m.



Rebuilding And Carrying On

January 5, 2016 - Heartbreak, sadness, shock and disbelief are just some of the words best used to describe the emotions of those involved in the racing industry following a Monday evening blaze that claimed the lives of more than 40 horses at Classy Lane Stables in Puslinch, Ontario.

“We’ll just have to rebuild and carry on. There (were) no human lives taken, which we can be thankful for,” said Jamie Millier, who co-owns the training centre with his wife, Barb. “It’s just very unfortunate that we couldn’t get the horses out.”

“It’s devastating,” added Barb Millier. “We have top trainers there, this is their livelihood. This is not just a business to them, they live and breathe the horses.”

Among the trainers dealing with the aftermath of Monday’s tragedy was Cambridge, Ontario resident Dan Lagace who claimed the monetary impact of the fire paled in comparison to the pain of losing so many horses.

“As trainers, you lost everything. You lose all your equipment, so it’s hard to know what you’re going to do next,” said Lagace who had seven horses in his care. “The financial loss, you can build to get over. But knowing that they’re lying there, it’s heartbreaking.”

Kris Di Cenzo echoed Lagace’s sentiments.

“I don’t really have a clear head right now,” he said. “Just a bad day, bad night. I don’t know what to say.”

He and his girlfriend, Chantal Mitchell, had 12 horses housed at the training centre.

Everybody in the horse racing industry is encouraged to donate funds to the affected horsepeople via an official GoFundMe page that has been set up by the Central Ontario Standardbred Association. For more on the COSA initiative, or to contact COSA, click here.

(With files from the Toronto Star)