February 21, 2017

SBOA Stallion Auction A Success

February 17, 2017 – The Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association reports that its 2017 Stallion Breeding Auction was a huge success.

Total bidding was up substantially from the 2016 edition. There was $67,875 in bids on the 2017 breedings offered, up $15,000 from the 2016 auction. The auction site had more than 3,300 views and bids were received from across Canada.

“We would like to thank all the stallion breeding donors, and all the bidders for their generous support,” the SBOA stated in a Friday morning release, noting the funds will “further [the organization’s] leadership role as an advocate of breeders’ priorities and interests with government, regulators and other industry participants.”

(with files from SBOA)

AGCO Releases Finding Report

February 16, 2017 – In the spring of 2016, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) launched its ‘Moving Ahead: Horse Racing Regulation in Ontario’ project, directed at modernizing the regulatory rules that govern horse racing in Ontario. The AGCO is committed to ensuring integrity, safety and public interest in horse racing, while also taking steps to reduce the administrative burden on industry participants, and contribute to the government’s ongoing effort to support the commercial sustainability of horse racing.

The AGCO release states the organization is “actively consulting with the horse racing industry as part of this initiative, and we are committed to keeping industry informed on the status of the project.” Updates and information related to the ACGO Racing Reform Project will be posted to the AGCO’s Moving Ahead page.




(with files from AGCO)

EHV-1 Confirmed In Ontario

February 16, 2017 – The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has been notified of two confirmed cases of Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy (EHM), caused by equine herpes virus 1 (EHV-1).

The horses from Durham Region were referred to the Ontario Veterinary College with neurological signs and are receiving treatment. Three other horses on the farm have tested positive for the mutated (neuropathogenic) strain of EHV-1 on nasal swabs but are not demonstrating neurological signs at this time. The farm owner has voluntarily placed the premises under a self-imposed quarantine to reduce the risk of viral spread.

These are the first cases of EHM diagnosed in Ontario this year; however, cases of EHM have been diagnosed in California, Kentucky, Louisiana and Michigan since the beginning of the year. In 2015, there were three laboratory-confirmed cases of EHM in Ontario

EHV-1 infection in horses can cause respiratory disease, abortion, neonatal foal death, and/or neurological disease. EHV-1 is not a federally reportable disease but is immediately notifiable by laboratories under the reporting regulation of the provincial Animal Health Act. Attending veterinarians suspicious of EHM should contact OMAFRA as soon as possible.

Because infected horses may show no clinical signs, but still shed the virus, the temperature of suspect animals should be monitored twice daily for 14 – 21 days and any abnormalities discussed with a veterinarian. Neurological signs, if they develop, may include loss or balance, hind-limb weakness, recumbency, difficulty urinating, decreased tail tone and depression. It is important that a veterinarian assess suspect cases of EHM since it can be difficult to distinguish this from other serious neurological diseases, such as rabies.

EHV-1 is easily spread by nose-to-nose or close contact with an infectious horse, by sharing contaminated equipment (bits, buckets, towels, etc.) or by the clothing, hands or equipment of people who recently had contact with an infectious horse. This highlights the need for routine biosecurity measures (including hand hygiene and basic cleaning and disinfection practices) to be in place at all times to prevent a disease outbreak. Special attention should be given to cleaning and disinfecting trailers.

Current EHV-1 vaccines may reduce viral shedding but are not protective against the neurological form of the disease. Implementing routine biosecurity practices is the best way to minimize viral spread. The best method of disease control is disease prevention.

Ontario cases of EHM and other equine neurological disease are listed on the OMAFRA website.










Equine Security Best Practices Guide

(with files from OMAFRA)


Stay Mindful Of EHV-1 Signs

February 15, 2017 – It’s that time of year again when horses are returning home from racing, training and competition grounds south of the border.

Equine Herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) has caused outbreaks of neurological disease in at least four states over the last few months. It is important for you, as an industry participant, to be aware of the signs of disease caused by this virus and to discuss, with your veterinarian, methods of limiting entry and spread of this virus in your barn.

Please read this factsheet courtesy the Ontario Animal Health Network as a step towards increasing your awareness about EHV-1. The factsheet is presented below, or available here.



Ontario Racing’s Strategic Direction

February 15, 2017 – Ontario Racing is pleased to share its board-approved strategic directional statements.

Ontario Racing’s vision, mission and objectives will guide its work as it continues to evolve to best represent and support the horse racing industry in Ontario.



(Ontario Racing)

McKee Making Positive Progress

February 13, 2017 – The family of Meadowlands Racetrack announcer Sam McKee has provided another update regarding the progress that the famed racecaller is making after having suffered a serious stroke earlier this month.

The progress report on McKee has come via the Go Fund Me page that has been set up to help deal with medical costs.

The entry states that McKee has reached another recovery milestone, as he was moved from the intensive care unit on Saturday (February 11) into a ‘step-down’ unit, meaning he is healing well and needs only intermediate care.

“Although he is still working on speech and mobility, we are encouraged that the doctors feel he’s close to heading off to rehab,” the family has said. “Sam smiles when we read him your notes and comments, and we know he can feel the love and support from you all.”

As of Monday morning (February 13), the Go Fund Me page has raised more than $144,000 in donations to aid McKee in his recovery.


Fundraiser For Tanya Mitchell

February 13, 2017 – An online fundraiser has been launched for Tanya Mitchell, a longtime harness racing industry participant who has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 38.

“Tanya has never been one to pass up work or call in sick, working through three knee surgeries and countless other injuries,” said horseman Ryan Maxwell, who started a GoFundMe page for Mitchell on Monday, “However, due to the marked size of the tumour and severe abdominal pain she is unable to work and has several months ahead of major surgery, and rehabilitation.”

The online fundraiser for Mitchell is available at the following link: SupportNLove4Tanya on GoFundMe.


No Woodbine Training This Saturday

February 10, 2017 – The Mohawk Racetrack race office would like to inform horsepeople of a change to the training schedule at Woodbine.

Due to poor weather conditions in the Greater Toronto Area, training has been cancelled for Saturday (February 11) at Woodbine Racetrack.

The next training day is scheduled for Saturday, February 18.


Jackpot Hi 5 Carryover Soars To $208K

February 9, 2017 – The Jackpot Hi 5 carryover has climbed to over $200,000 after the popular Casimir Overdrive came through with a front-stepping score in Thursday’s finale at Woodbine Racetrack.

Sent off as the 8-5 favourite, the Victory Puddy trainee and driver Trevor Henry staved off late pressure to win for the favourite players. Casimir Overdrive defeated Highpoint Chip (9-2), Sierra Madre (8-1), Two Of Clubs (11-1) and House Of Terror (5-1).

Multiple winning tickets were sold on the combination of 8-1-5-6-7, with the $1-based ticket returning $1,102.95. The exact carryover number going info Friday evening’s Jackpot Hi 5 wager is $208,464.85.

To view results for Thursday’s card of harness racing, click the following link: Thursday Results – Woodbine Racetrack.


2017 Standardbred Horse Improvement Program (HIP) Details

February 10, 2017 – As part of Ontario Racing’s (OR) vision to be the customer-focused leader and representative voice of a world class horse racing industry, OR has been tasked with directing breed improvement programs, including the Standardbred Improvement Program (SIP).

The 2017 Standardbred Improvement Program, in large part thanks to the recommendations of the Standardbred Advisory Group, has been approved by the Ontario Racing Board of Directors. The SIP program is one of the most successful of its kind in North America. Ontario sired and Ontario bred Standardbreds compete and win against the best in the world — with an increase in 2016 yearling sales as well as the number of mares bred to OSS stallions.

Due in part to higher than anticipated participation in the OSS program throughout 2016, the 2017 SIP program does not have the luxury of relying on the SIP Reserve. Higher than anticipated participation in both the Gold and Grassroots programs led to an increase in races and purses paid, and the full scope of the impact on the SIP Reserve was not clear until the close of the 2016 program season.

The 2017 HIP program will be fully funded at $30 million ($15 million for Standardbred). As such, the 2017 SIP was approved with a recognition of the necessity for prudent budgeting, given there is a limited SIP Reserve fund and recognizing the need to be aligned with projected revenues.

Ontario Racing benefits from the expertise of breed-focused advisory groups. The Standardbred Advisory Group is comprised of representatives of the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association, Central Ontario Standardbred Association, Ontario Harness Horse Association, Standardbred Canada, Woodbine Entertainment Group, Grand River Raceway, Clinton Raceway, as well as members-at-large.

With the help and advice of the Standardbred Advisory Group, OR has approved a 2017 SIP budget and race schedule. The 2017 program is projected to be $16.7 million, with projected OSS purses of $12.8 million, the inclusion of the new $2 million Owners Bonus, a $1 million Ontario Bred Rewards based on OSS earnings, and $130,000 Ontario Bred Rewards based on Open Stakes Earnings.

OR would like to thank the Standardbred Advisory Group for their hard work and careful consideration in developing a 2017 plan for the continued success of the Ontario Program.

Ontario Racing is also pleased to confirm that the association will be commissioning a full, third party HIP Review in the months to follow. The purpose of the HIP Review is to measure the HIP successes against current objectives, to identify value for money, to recommend new objectives (if needed) and to establish a secure and sustainable funding framework for the Program going forward. Ontario Racing is committed to supporting world class harness racing in this province, and we are committed to continuing to advocate on your behalf to industry partners.

2017 SIP Program Details

The new $2 million Owners’ Bonus will be in place for 2017. This bonus will be calculated based on the overnight earnings in Ontario for all two- and three-year-old Ontario Sired and Ontario Bred horses. A double bonus will be paid if the horse is both Ontario Sired and Ontario Bred.

In 2017, to provide increased budget certainty, the OSS Program will switch to being an Added Money Program as far as Starting Fees are concerned. Starting Fees for a Gold event will remain at $800 and HIP will contribute $180,000 to each of the five events for age, sex and gait. This amount will be divided between the number of divisions required and the starting fees will be added to the appropriate divisions. For example, if there are two divisions, the purse for a field with 10 starters will be $98,000. The purse will fluctuate depending on the number of divisions and starters. If only one division is required, the HIP contribution will be $117,000 making the purse for a field of 10 starters $125,000.

As in previous years, no Starting Fee will be required for the Gold Super Final. The purse will be $225,000.

The Grassroots Program will continue to have six legs for each age, sex and gait. Grassroots purses will also have the Starting Fees added to the HIP contribution. Grassroots starting fees will remain at $350. For example, a field of 10 horses will compete for $19,500. The HIP portion for Grassroots divisions will be $16,000 per division, up to a maximum of $64,000 per event (four divisions) for all age, sex and gaits except for two-year-old pacers. Taking into account the breakdown of yearling nominations from 2016, the two-year-old pacers are expected to require more divisions than the trotters so the maximum HIP contribution for two-year-old pacing colts and two-year-old pacing fillies will be $80,000 (five divisions).

As usual, no starting fee will be required for the Grassroots Finals and the purse remains at $50,000.

The Semi-Finals have been eliminated for 2017.

The Ontario Sired Rewards, have been eliminated from the Program, which allows the Ontario Bred Rewards on OSS earnings to be raised to a maximum of $1 million. For budget certainty, Ontario Bred Rewards will no longer be paid as a percentage of earnings but on a pro-rata basis and based on projected purses, it is anticipated that participants will receive a percentage that is higher than that of prior years. Ontario Bred Rewards for Open Stakes have been capped at $130,000, to be paid on a pro-rata basis, with an individual cap of 20 percent of Open Stakes earnings per horse in 2017.

You can find the updated OSS race schedule here.

2017 Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Program


  • Gold Leg with multiple divisions – $180,000 divided by number of divisions + Starting Fees ($800) added directly to purses
  • Gold Leg (One Division) – $117,000 + Starting Fees ($800) addeddirectly to purse
  • Gold Super Final – $225,000
  • Grassroots Division (six legs for each age/sex/gait) – $16,000 + Starting Fees ($350) added directly to purses.
  • Maximum HIP contribution per event – $64,000 ($80,000 for two-year-old pacers)
  • Grassroots Final – $50,000


  • Ontario Bred Rewards for OSS earnings – $1 million, paid on a pro-rata basis in January of following year
  • Ontario Bred Rewards for Open Stakes – $130,000, paid on a pro-rata basis in January of following year (individual cap of 20% per horse)
  • Owners’ Bonus – $2 million; two- and three-year-old horses that are Ontario Sired or Ontario Bred are eligible for the bonus based on their overnight earnings in Ontario. Horses that are both Ontario Sired and Ontario Bred will receive double the bonus. Paid on a pro-rata basis in January of following year

(with files from Ontario Racing)