May 29, 2017

Tickets Available for RCMP Musical Ride at Mohawk on Aug. 1st & 2nd

May 26, 2017 – Come out to Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville on August 1st, 2017 and witness the historic Musical Ride and an evening of live Standardbred racing (doors open at 5pm).  Or join us on August 2nd (noon-4:00pm) for our Family Day Musical Ride event.

Make Canada’s 150th special.  Join in the heritage and traditions of the RCMP and celebrate Campbellville’s rich equestrian history.

For information and tickets visit:  www.campbellville.net/musical-ride or www.DCCAtickets.ca

Brought to you by the Campbellville Community Association and Woodbine Entertainment Group.

(With Files from DCCA)

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)

Woodbine Master Plan Unveiled

April 25, 2017 – On Tuesday, April 25, the Woodbine Entertainment Group unveiled the completed master plan for the Woodbine Racetrack lands.

Woodbine’s privately owned 684-acre site will be transformed in the years to come into “a city within a within a city” and seek to be a future urban heart of northwest Toronto.

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.

The ‘city within a city’ concept is strategically 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.

“At the core of the project is the beauty of the horse,” said Jim Lawson, CEO, WEG. “With over 2,000 Thoroughbred horses stabled on site, approximately 200 acres will continue be devoted to horse racing operations at the centre of this unique development. The master plan sets out a detailed roadmap that will create thousands of new local jobs in the community, introduce new fans to the sport of horse racing and be a transformative project for the City of Toronto in the years to come.”

The catalyst for the first phase of development is an expanded gaming district complete with integrated entertainment, hospitality and related amenities. The first phase will attract approximately 12 to 15 million people per year; more than double the current number of visitors. Additionally, this transformation will create significant jobs and economic development in the northwest corner of Toronto.


An artist’s rendition of one of the aspects of the redevelopment that is being planned for Woodbine Racetrack in suburban Toronto, Ont. (Image courtesy WEG)

Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) is currently seeking a private sector service provider to operate the Slots at Woodbine Racetrack site and to propose an expanded entertainment development, consistent with the City of Toronto’s conditions. OLG expects to name a private sector provider in late summer 2017.

The master plan and development strategy was developed with LiveWorkLearnPlay (LWLP), WEG’s lead real estate development advisor. LWLP have led the planning and master development of towns, cities and large-scale mixed-use projects across North America and beyond. The master planning design process incorporated a dynamic group of industry-leading professionals, led by SWA Group, an international master planning, landscape architecture, and urban design firm, in collaboration with BCV Architects and Nelson Nygaard. A team of local experts lead by IBI Group and Walker Nott Dragicevic additionally supported the process.

“The Woodbine Racetrack site represents a unique legacy opportunity to develop a place that can offer enduring social and economic value to the city and region, while ensuring the sustainability of the horse racing industry,” said Richard Martz, Partner & Principal of LWLP. “WEG’s ambitious planning and development strategy has been designed to effectively respond to that context and opportunity.”

This dynamic, large-scale, city-building project will be comprised of multiple seamlessly integrated districts.

Garth Essery, Vice President, Property Development, WEG, presented the plan Tuesday while speaking on a panel about Transformative Placemaking at the Urban Land Institute’s Toronto Symposium.

“After almost two years of strategizing, researching, planning and designing, we are excited to share our exciting master plan for Woodbine’s unique 684-acre property – a site larger than Toronto’s downtown business district and with enormous potential given its history and location,” said Essery.

Also on the panel were representatives from prominent northwest Toronto landmarks Humber College and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), which operates Toronto Pearson International Airport.

The discussion centred on the plans and approach each group is employing as they work to urbanize their lands to create community vibrancy.

(WEG)

Lawson On Partnering With OLG

April 16, 2017 – “We just have to work with OLG and the regulator to make sure these new products are ones that are thought through, and we’re working on them. I mentioned parlay betting and also lottery-style products on horse racing, those types of things, I think those are coming.‎”

Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment, is “cautiously optimistic” about the push to integrate horse racing with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., with hopes that the changes will generate revenue for racing and excite customers.

In a Toronto Sun article, Lawson also describes the possibility of single-game sports betting legislation being passed as being “a real game-changer” and notes that Woodbine has the technology in place via its HPI betting system to be a player.

“We could run single-game sports betting off the backbone of that,” Lawson told the Toronto Sun. “Our tote systems, our whole information technology systems are sophisticated enough to do that. We’re hoping and thinking that there is a role for single-game sports betting and the importance to horse racing is we be part of it rather than be cannibalized.

“We’ve been engaged in a number of conversations. We’ve been proactive to show that our technology can do it. We’d like racing to even be a part of a pro-line type bet today where the parlay betting is allowed. Is it imminent? I’m not sure.”

Lawson also discussed the competitive entertainment landscape in Toronto, the challenge of introducing new people to racing and potential development plans for the 683-acre Woodbine site, which includes a 5,000-seat music venue.

“You can envision the day where it’s a huge, very vibrant community, with the catalyst for all of it being the gaming and entertainment expansion, which we’re hoping to start as early as the end of this year,” said Lawson.

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

(With files from Toronto Sun)

WEG Honours McNair & Moreau

April 15, 2017 – Driver Doug McNair and trainer Richard Moreau were recognized on Saturday evening (April 15) at Mohawk Racetrack for their outstanding performances during the 2016-17 Woodbine winter meet.

The Woodbine winter meet, which concluded on Monday, was contested from November 10 to April 10.

Doug McNair, 27, led all drivers in victories and earnings. The Guelph, Ont. resident won 126 races during the five-month meet and drove the winners of more than $1.7 million.

The Woodbine driving title is McNair’s first driving title on the Woodbine Entertainment circuit.

While McNair took home his first title, Richard Moreau, 52, added another Woodbine training title to his long list of accomplishments.

Moreau, who is the four-time reigning Trainer of the Year in Canada, led all conditioners with 62 wins and earnings of over $1.2 million.

Moreau’s barn has been led this year by older pacer American Virgin, who’s won the Preferred at WEG seven-times and banked $140,080 this season. McNair has been the driver behind the Preferred star all season.

McNair and Moreau also teamed up on Friday night to win the $30,000 Mares Preferred with Sandbetweenurtoes.

The 2017 Mohawk meet is now in full swing and McNair and Moreau are both off to solid starts.

Live racing is held at the Campbellville oval every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Photo: Jamie Martin, Vice-President of Racing, presents Richard Moreau with a sign, while Bill McLinchey, Senior Manager of Racing, presents Doug McNair with a sign recognizing their performances during the Woodbine meet. (New Image Media)

To view Saturday’s harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results – Mohawk Racetrack.

(WEG)

(SC)

WEG’s Jamie Martin To Retire

April 7, 2017 – After 17 years of dedication, innovation and leadership, Executive Vice President of Racing Jamie Martin has announced that he will retire from Woodbine Entertainment Group at the conclusion of the 2017 Thoroughbred meet in December.

Jamie came to Woodbine in 2000 from Western Fair to serve as WEG’s Vice-President of Standardbred Racing. Six years later, he began to define racing policy and strategy for both breeds in his current role.

Jamie’s accomplishments are too long to list in their entirety, however a few highlights include substantially improving the quality of WEG’s racing products and becoming the first Chairman of the Board for the Standardbred Alliance, which help to stabilize Ontario’s harness racing industry.

“I am proud to be part of a team that achieved so much during my 17 years at Woodbine and Mohawk,” said Martin. “I want to acknowledge my WEG colleagues and our horsepeople and thank them for their enthusiasm and passion in making our racing among the best in the world. I will continue to focus on developing our racing and wagering products for the next eight months and ensure a smooth transition to the new racing management team that will take Ontario racing to another level.”

Jamie’s leadership has helped position Mohawk and Woodbine Racetracks as premium destinations for world-class horse racing and are viewed as top echelon courses across North America and beyond.

“Jamie has provided WEG and Ontario’s horse racing industry overall with tremendous vision, a steady hand and tireless work ethic in the pursuit of greatness,” said WEG CEO, Jim Lawson. “His stamp on the company will be felt for years to come and his relationships with colleagues and industry stakeholders will last a lifetime. We will continue to rely on his guidance to help set a course for the sport’s future in the province.”

Martin’s final day will be December 10, 2017.

(WEG)

(SC)

Qualifiers Moved to Friday

CAMPBELLVILLE, April 5 – The Mohawk race office would like to inform all horsepeople of a change to this week’s qualifiers.

Due to poor weather conditions forecasted for Campbellville, this week’s qualifiers at Mohawk Racetrack have been moved from Thursday morning to Friday morning (April 7).

Qualifiers will begin Friday at 10 a.m.

(WEG

Hamilton Returning To The WEG Fold

April 3, 2017 – June 21, 2014 was the last time that followers of Woodbine Entertainment Group circuit saw analyst Mike Hamilton on air. In what was a well-earned break, the industry veteran left racing behind to tour the world. Now, Hamilton has revealed that his services will soon be returning to the Canadian racing giant.

Instead of attempting to explain where Hamilton has been for the past few years, it is easier to say that he has been, for the lack of a better term, ‘everywhere.’ He has chronicled his travels on his 100saturdays.com blog (for more on Hamilton’s travels and the idea behind his blog, click here).

It was on his blog that Hamilton divulged that he will be re-introduced back into the fray at WEG when live Standardbred racing returns to Mohawk on Thursday, April 13. Although, Hamilton also explained that his services will not be in the same capacity as before.

In an excerpt from his Saturday, March 26 entry entitled ‘Saturday #143: What’s In A Number?’ Hamilton stated that he is not interested in being back on-air, but that he will be authoring the Mohawk and Woodbine Journal. The duty will allow Hamilton to give his racing analysis remotely.

“Last month I exchanged a few emails with my former employer, Woodbine Entertainment Group,” Hamilton wrote. He went on to state that “…we exchanged a few more emails and before the day was out I had accepted a job offer. Starting with the opening night at Mohawk Racetrack on April 13, I will author the Mohawk and Woodbine Journal.”

(SC)

Mohawk Stop For RCMP Musical Ride

March 19, 2017 – It has been announced that the 2017 RCMP Musical Ride will be making a stop at Mohawk Racetrack this summer.

The RCMP Musical Ride is performed by a full troop of 32 riders and their horses. Their performance consists of intricate figures and drills choreographed to music. These movements demand the utmost control, timing and coordination.

The Destination Campbellville Community Association recently announced that it, along with the Woodbine Entertainment Group, has been successfully chosen for a musical ride stop on Tuesday, August 1 at Mohawk.

Shania Twain Promoting The RCMP Musical Ride

The Musical Ride provides the opportunity to experience the heritage and traditions of the RCMP. The riders act as ambassadors of goodwill who promote the RCMP’s image throughout Canada and all over the world.

The Musical Ride performs in up to 50 communities across Canada between the months of May and October. They help raise thousands of dollars for local charities and non-profit organizations.

(With files from the RCMP and campbellville.net)

Pinsonneault Leaving Woodbine

March 1, 2017 – Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) announced on Wednesday, March 1 that Sean Pinsonneault, the company’s Executive Vice-President, Strategy and Wagering, will be leaving the organization on March 7, 2017.

Pinsonneault, 47, came to Woodbine in 2000 as the Director of Wagering, then in 2010, became Executive Vice-President & Chief Operating Officer. He has represented the company through his position as secretary director of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations (TRA), Chairman and President of Racetracks of Canada, and through his active involvement in other international organizations and committees.

Pinsonneault led growth efforts in several aspects of the company’s business through a transformational era in the horse racing industry. Key among those is the strategic development of the company’s wagering concepts and its HPIbet digital platform, and stewardship of WEG’s Innovation division.

“I’m very proud to have been able to contribute to the many accomplishments of the WEG team during my tenure at the company,” said Pinsonneault. “I leave confident that this great group of people will continue to develop and improve to drive this business forward. I want to thank all of my WEG colleagues and industry stakeholders for their collaborations and support over the years and with whom I look forward to crossing paths in future opportunities.”

“Woodbine Entertainment Group has benefitted from Sean’s valuable insights and knowledge for the last 16 years and his contributions to the horse racing industry in Canada are far-reaching. He will surely be missed by many,” said WEG’s CEO Jim Lawson. “We respect his decision to move on to new professional challenges and wish him the very best.”​

(WEG)

(SC)