August 9, 2022

Ontario Racing On Hold|2 Weeks & Counting!

4 min read

Well here we are April 2nd and racing is still on hold with the recent developments of covid-19.
For those in the industry who rely greatly on a weekly paycheck the last 2 weeks without racing has to feel like an eternity with no end in sight.

Since racing was put on hold we have lost 9 live race cards at Woodbine,Mohawk Park. there have been 8 cancelled race nights at Western Fair Raceway, Flamboro downs has seen 7 cards cancelled and 4 at Rideau Carlton Raceway.

In Ontario a task force was created which includes Ontario Racing,Cosa and a panel of  horsemen across all breeds in the industry in hopes of coming up with a plan and some sort of  budget to aid the industry during this difficult period.

Last week it was reported, “financial support in the form of the COVID-19 aid package is being offered to those involved with Standardbred racehorses who were in-to-race at operational racetracks from March 19 to March 24.”

For horse people this is no different then having a program cancelled due to unsafe track conditions or poor weather where if you had shipped in already,you’d be receiving the $250 or $300 Travel Stipend

President, Central Ontario Standardbred Association Bill O’Donnell also said that there was a meeting scheduled for late last week with respect to the Ontario Sires Stakes and the HIP program. On Tuesday, the OSS announced that the payment deadline for yearlings was pushed from May 15 to June 15, 2020.

“Owners of yearlings eligible to be nominated to the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) are being given an extension.

Ontario Racing has extended the payment deadline from May 15 to June 15, 2020.

OSS Yearling Nomination forms will be mailed in mid-May to the owners of eligible foals of 2019. The forms will be mailed to the corresponding owner according to the information in the Standardbred Canada computer system at that time.

Owners are reminded that their yearlings must be registered at the time of nomination and Standardbred Canada requires that the DNA and microchipping be completed before the foal is registered.”

This past Wednesday  April 1st,2020 live on COSA TV Speaking on behalf of the racing situation in Ontario was President of Central Ontario Standardbred Association, Bill O’donnell. ( 1 minute clip)
Source: Cujo Entertainment

“Well as everyone knows there has been a task force assembled, which I am a part of and we have had multiple meetings throughout recent weeks. We have an ask in to the Government, nothing is definite but I hope it looks good and we are optimistic that we are going to get some help and relief for the Ontario horsemen. I know we have been saying it for the last few days but hopefully we do hear something in the next few days. We’re not asking for any money per say but we are asking for the money that’s been allotted from the Government. Hopefully we hear something positive in the next few days.”

As grooms,trainers,horse men and women wait in the wings we are all left wondering what’s next?

The provincial government has provided billions in funding to help those in need during these difficult times and this includes small business and people who’ve been laid off  from their current jobs.

For those in this industry the simple version would be easier to mull over because most have no idea how they can go about getting on any of those assistance programs and which ones actually pertain to them?

Woodbine Entertainments CEO,Jim Lawson has the difficult task of trying to secure some sort of relief funding from the Government because as he has said ,”we’re putting so many grooms and hot walkers and everyone else out of work”.
I for one don’t envy the difficult task at hand for Mr.Lawson but the longer this goes on, the bigger threat it is to our entire industry.

In a recent interview hosted by Greg Blanchard and Cojo Entertainment that was streamed over the internet on March 22,2020 Jim Lawson stated the following, , “I think that government will be supportive, especially with what is at stake.” Lawson said that he is confident that government will listen. “There has never been a greater time where people in this industry have needed them (the government)… They need to listen now, this is very critical to people and their livelihoods.”

Source: (Cujo Entertainment) Clip: 4 minutes 21 seconds = Listen in.

I believe when we return to racing we need to approach this in a way where those of us who’ve been sitting with “CASH” on hand aren’t provided with the ability to just swoop in like a hawk and gobble up horses from the claiming boxes where owners and trainers have had to sit on them for 30-120 days with the races on hold due to covid-19.

I think we really need to look at increasing the claiming prices for the next 60-90 days by 30-35%…( maybe less)
Example: My horse is listed to go in a 20-25 claimer  at Mohawk and I choose to list him for 20k to draw inside,my claiming price would actually be 26K if someone wants to take a shot at claiming him..

If I choose to drop him in for max 25,000 than he would actually be in for a tag price of $32,500.

I believe we should look at this across the board and protect those who’ve stuck around and fed the stock while we were on lock-down.

30,60 or 90 days you make the call.

Remain positive and let’s get through this together.

As a horse owner and fan of the sport I find myself doing what must do every few minutes of that day and that’s search for a positive update and some sort of news that gets the juices flowing and gives us hope moving into the first week  of April and  hopefully not to far into May.

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