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Anthony MacDonald's Blog


The exodus has begun

Published: September 24, 2013 9:00 am ET

Last Comment: October 2, 2013 1:58 pm ET | 71 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Over the last year we have watched as the "transitional panel" explained how awful we have been to our patrons while what was supposed to be our life blood and oxygen to a business built on wagering was neglected.

I for one agree.

I went to a panel meeting with a group of gamblers. I have received emails from patrons of our sport across North America both agreeing, disagreeing, some happy to talk and others angry because "I didn't agree with them".

For the most part, a metamorphosis was inevitable, is inevitable, and I optimistically invite it. But, do I believe we can transform to any vision of what the panel has in their mind in a few months?


Let's not be ridiculous.

Tearing down walls and putting in windows, creating transparency and truly having accountability where none has existed.......this is easy to say and difficult to achieve.

I believe it will happen but we have to want it to as much as we need it.

As some point this will turn into a case of "do as I say not as I do." People have asked for transparency in government since government you see any yet?

We have to start showing instead of being shown. We have to start fixing our own issues now, not because someone showed us how or told us where to stand.

We have many issues to address. I think we may have missed a huge, yet very fixable problem right in front of us. We have an unprecedented exodus of our own breed happening and if we can't slow it or curb it, we may be in a worse place than any of our industry pessimists could have predicted.

If we don't find a way to keep our three-year-olds graduating from what was a horrible 2013 Grassroots program in Ontario, we will be labelled as nothing more than a toilet for North America’s unwanted and/or unproductive horses.

I thought implementing a three-tiered system for the OSS with the bottom level being a claiming level so there may be some sort of churn might be the way to go.

A good question could have been where would the money come from?

The $800,000 under payment of this year's OSS program from the ORC may have been a good place to start?

But maybe that isn't possible?

We have spoke about addressing issues with the customer and making our business more fan friendly, but what about our side?

We still have yet to index a pool of horses for Ontario racing so we still have the same watered down product we always had. Maybe worse.

By building a Fall and Winter Ontario program, with full, competitive fields and racing focused on getting our Ontario horses raced on a regular rotation, the need to "dump them" as soon as the program is over may diminish.

The bad taste from the Grassroots program has to be addressed but if a chance to get money back from within this province exists, the likelihood of our horses staying put is greater.

I have spoke to the panel and also to Ian Fleming and WEG about getting a system in place where we can build full competitive fields across Ontario.

It's about time we help each other fill in the cracks.

We shouldn't need a government appointed panel or the commission to tell us how to race?

We don't need the commission to tell a race secretary how to fill fields.

I am asking the ORC to step back away from a system they have proven for two years now DOES NOT WORK.

Implement an ABC system that has proven to work, index our Ontario horses, actually communicate with our trainers and start putting on the best product we can.

Stop waiting for someone to hold our hand and do what we know is the right thing to do. It's very affordable, and the upside is substantial. The government may worry about timing announcements right for impending elections and continue to drag their feet but we don't have to.

This is still our industry.

To say "Time is of the essence" is an understatement.

The views presented in Trot Blogs are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Standardbred Canada.

October 2, 2013 - 1:58 pmYou can make the horses the

John Carter SAID...

You can make the horses the stars, you can try and make the drivers and trainers the stars, you can have all the barbeques you want and pass out all the free hotdogs and hamburgers that you want. You can have autograph sessions, you can have guaranteed pick 4 pools and any other gimmick you can think of but this will not attract gamblers. What will attract gamblers is the race game getting competitive with other forms of gambling by reduced takeout and to get innovative by introducing new ways of betting such as exchange wagering and fixed odds. The longer the industry waits to do this, the tougher it is going to be to make it work.
At least if they do this now they have a few tracks such as weg and the big m that have a some what respectable handle to build on. If they wait 10 to 20 years to start trying some of this stuff it may be to little to late because the race track crowd is not getting any younger and the handle may fall to a point where it will be next to impossible to re-build it. The time to act is now, it won't get any easier as time goes on.

October 2, 2013 - 8:33 amPay attention to Terry

Dave Webber SAID...

Pay attention to Terry Hunter's comments
When I was young attending Greenwood Racetrack it was all about the horses. They were the stars. I do believe the biggest mistake horseracing ever did was sell Greenwood Racetrack. How about building a track at the Exhibition site in Toronto. People could come again by Streetcar. Anyways I repeat start making the horses the story.

October 1, 2013 - 10:51 amMr.Blackburn,

John Carter SAID...


What you say about many of the higher ups in the industry needing to be replaced by younger, innovative minds is spot on. I have said on here for several years this industry is sadly lacking when it comes to real leadership. You need people with courage and vision to be the industry leaders. You need people who understand the status quo no longer works and will never work again. The industry needs people who understand today's competitive market place. It needs people who understands what the lowering of takeout can accomplish, if done right. It needs people who will embrace new ideas such as exchange wagering and fixed odds wagering. This is a new time and a new era, the higher ups need to embrace change and act on it or they need to be shown the door. Without it the industry cannot survive.

October 1, 2013 - 12:41 amMr. Leber Its not an easy

Mr. Leber

Its not an easy business, the best of times. I hope that when you liquidate your stock, whatever you decide to keep, you do well in the USA.

To me, its the only option right now to make that move if you are an owner. If you are in the business of making money and do not have WEG horses that can do, the B track type horses that you have to pay bills on make it very hard to come out ahead these days.

The industry has been hurt badly and my idea of starting fees is only the beginning of a partnership with everyone involved in the industry to become one and build a new vibrant industry together. Many of the higher ups in this industry need to be replaced for newer, brighter, innovative minds that can see a future vision, that they cannot. They need to look at the presentation of their product, the facilities of their product and the gamblers who bet on their product. Once horsepeople figure that out then maybe something will actually get done.

I will take some flack for this but tracks must close. Tracks that cannot handle enough to pay purses should be closed. If the industry ended up with 2 or 3 tracks then so be it. There still would be enough racing for every class of horse if it is done right.

I would love to see a group of horsepeople buy a racetrack like Flamboro and make it a mile track that races B track horses 7 days a week. There would be 10 horse fields, a HIGH-DEF broadcast, a handicapping show with driver, trainer or owner interviews before every race. There would be a strict drug policy in place where the operators would have the right to refuse anyone from racing. They would have their own ADW and attractive rebates would be offered. A take-out rate suitable for gamblers would be implemented. With the implementation of starting fees the track could be promoted like no other track in history. They have plenty of stabling available also which currently sits empty.

October 1, 2013 - 12:45 amGuys we can argue about

Guys we can argue about horses and fans all you want.

We all know what is going on and the George lebers of this industry are needed and are leaving also.
We know the government "as is" has made it clear that things are going to change.
The article on Saturday and again today make it very clear at least what played a large role in the SARP programs demise.
Holes in the program could not continue to go unchecked.
Should we have listened to sadinski?? I would say..... yes.
Most would agree but never the less here we are.

I would say that we will continue to "restructure" and hopefully rebuild.
But as the government looks to re-connect with gamblers and attempting to unify the horsemen we need to pay attention to what is happening in our industry now so it doesn't get worse.
That's what this blog is about.
Until George Leber can have any confidence he can reinvest in this industry he needs to know:

1) there will be an industry
2)there will be purses worth racing for.
3)there will be ample opportunity to race.
4) There will be a long term agreement in place so he can formulate a business plan.

Not one of the 4 are in place now.
As we all know what things have to be done to begin to transform this industry back to any sort of the Sporting spectacle I believe it can be,
We also have to keep improving what "we" have the ability to improve.
Full competitive fields is number one.
If George can race, he can attempt to recoup his loses and it has to be against horse he has a chance to beat not watered down one sided fields.
We have to do everything better and everything correct from here on out. One without the other won't cut it any more.


September 30, 2013 - 10:09 pmMr.Leber,

John Carter SAID...


Although i do feel for you and your situation no one is making you stay in the race game, it is your choice, if you are losing to much money get out. I will share a little story with you, back in 1996 myself and all my co-workers lost our jobs. The company we were working for contracted out the work leaving us out in the cold. I knew all kinds of horse people, the exact number of them that come up to me and said to bad or i am sorry this happened was exactly zero. I didn't take it personally that is just the way life is. It wasn't happening to them so they didn't care but i can't help but notice there is lots of horse people that expect the general public to cry buckets of tears for them because of there situation.

The government didn't step up and help me and my co-workers out by throwing a bunch of money at us. They gave us nothing and our jobs and feeding our families was just as important to us as any horse persons family is to them, no more but no less important. We had to move on and land on our own two feet. Whet i find really frustrating about the racing industry is, the industry as a whole does not even want to try. They don't want to compete with other forms of gambling and they are doing little to even try to re-build there customer base. I have seen next to no horsemen express any concern about the gamblers/customers and they especially didn't care when the slot money was rolling in but don't feel bad, many race tracks themselves didn't care. I have never seen an industry in my life that cares as little about there customer as this industry does. It is not much wonder it is where it is at today.

September 30, 2013 - 8:53 pmMr. Blackburn, I do have a

Georg Leber SAID...

Mr. Blackburn, I do have a problem forking out $300 to race for $12,000. I have a problem when the athlete (horse) has to pay to entertain.

The better idea came and went. SARP is and was the only solution to save racing. For all the fans of racing (me included) I am sorry to say that no matter how many posts we all put up here, racing in Ontario is going the same way as in Quebec. Wynne said it will be smaller-she just has no idea what it will do to the economy.

I apologize to all of you and the people who work for me, but I am trying to sell some of my horses and what I have left I am going to move to the USA over the next 6 months. I have no wish to be a Martyr.

I just watched my two best horses make breaks today and I got zero for my investment. It cost me $42,000 this month to make $13,000. How many of you making posts, lost $27,000 this month or for that matter over $200,000 in the last 2 years. Until you do, you have no idea what we are going through.

I watched Poker on TV when Hockey went on strike but I still wanted to see Hockey. It will take time until the current government is ousted and then we will be back racing in Ontario full force. Until then, who wants to buy one of my horses? Nobody? Yeah, I thought so.

Georg Leber-ICR Racing

September 30, 2013 - 5:47 pmI agree with you John. The

Sheldon Rose SAID...

I agree with you John. The bigger tracks need the gamblers. The smaller ones don't. The point I was addressing is that there is still a place and need for the smaller tracks, in spite of the handle. The smaller tracks keep the dream alive. If you dream of buying a Ferrari and you can't afford it, you start out with a Chevy. Maybe one day you'll own the Ferrari. All US tracks are not in the same position as us. Most do their utmost to attract people. The same can't be said for tracks here.

September 30, 2013 - 5:28 pmMr Rose... When a minor

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Rose...

When a minor league team runs a loss.... they close shop and move

Ask the fans of London Ontario that once had the London Tigers, the former double AA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, or Ottawa which had the Ottawa Lynx, which also moved when running a loss

Or how about the many OHL teams that had to up and leave because it cost more to run the team vs the money generated. Should the government have saved those teams too?

Proctor and Gamble, Hollywood and minor league baseball are not begging the government for money to sustain itself.

September 30, 2013 - 4:31 pmMr.Rose, I

John Carter SAID...


I agree with you there is a place for grassroots racing but what has always kept grassroots racing going or racing going at the B + C race tracks is people quite often bought horses with the dream of someday the horse being good enough to race at a major league track such as woodbine, mohawk, blue bonnets in it's day or the big m but answer me this. If this industry can't attract gamblers then how much longer are these major league tracks going to be around, another 10,20 perhaps 30 years if they are lucky. Like it or not the slot money is gone and not likely to come back anytime soon. In the states the tracks don't know it yet, they have blinders on the same way the tracks in ontario did but in all probability they are also on borrowed time with the slot revenue. So this industry is on borrowed time to get things right and attract gamblers but to do that they have to give gamblers a reason to play. Mid level to high level gamblers want a fair game that they feel they have a chance of beating and that can only happen if and when the issue of track takeout is addressed. Attracting gamblers is the only shot this industry has for long term survival and they can't do it with today's out dated pricing structure.

September 30, 2013 - 2:28 pmMr Leber You have no problem

Mr Leber

You have no problem forking out a $300 starting fee to race for $12,000 in an OSS Grassroot race, but you have a problem to fork out a $10 entry fee to try and bring this industry from the dinosaur age to the new age, thats laughable.

If you can come up with a better idea on how to try to raise capital to promote this industry I would love to hear it.

September 30, 2013 - 2:15 pmDoes P&G make money selling

Sheldon Rose SAID...

Does P&G make money selling Tide in Timmins? Does Hollywood make money making B movies? Do baseball teams make money with their minor league teams? The answer is NO. Harness racing is the same. The smaller tracks is where you get the grassroot support. Where new people get exposure to the sport and where newcomers get their basic training and experience. Not all tracks have to have their handle exceed their purses. Go tell P&G not to sell in small rural areas. Go tell the big movie studios to only produce blockbusters. Go tell major league baseball teams to get rid of their farm teams and you'll see how long baseball will survive.

September 30, 2013 - 1:39 pmNot taking a shot at

John Carter SAID...

Not taking a shot at Leamington here, i wish them well but $10 thousand paid out in purses and $20 thousand in handle is not the formula for success. If the place was packed what it tells me there was all kinds of casual fans there, not gamblers. This industry will never turn itself around until it attracts GAMBLERS. The way to do that is to modernize the way people play the races by reducing takeout and other methods such as fixed odds, nothing else will work or matter at the end of the day. There is a big, big difference between a casual fan and a gambler, there is a place at the track or where ever they choose to play for both of them but it is the ability to attract gamblers that will decide this industries fate one way or the other and that can't be done until takeouts are reduced to 10% or less in all pools.

September 30, 2013 - 12:37 pmTo Mr. Leber. I have not


To Mr. Leber.
I have not commented on here for a long time but I felt compelled to answer this one.
You are unhappy about the fans getting free parking and programs and maybe you have that right but the problem is you have very few fans.
Your wife is right - nobody cares about horse racing anymore especially the harness variety and your attitude will alienate the few of us that are left.
Racing had an opportunity to garner support when all this started by blocking highways and rallying en masse but only a few appeared. Sports fans and even non fans love an underdog and will rise up to help out whenever they percieve and injustice. Nobody took the trouble to make the public aware of the facts for which you should all be ashamed.
But now it's too late and when someone suggests you dig into your pockets to help revive your sport you get your back up.
SARP is over. You can't change that. You are persona non grata with both government and news media and the only solutions are to leave the sport you love or get out there and fight to keep it alive at whatever cost.
I found other things to interest me when baseball and hockey went out on strike and never regained my enthusiasm. I will do the same when horse racing disappears but will be very sorry to see it go.
Even before the SARP announcement bettors and fans were commenting on the site about how racing needed to be marketed to gain new fans. Many suggestions were offered but I saw no results. At that time owners, drivers, trainers were all doing well. I saw lots of new trucks and trailers and equipment and big prices being paid at the sales but nobody wanted to pay for marketing even though a blind and deaf person could see what was happening to your sport. Then, just as now, suggestions from the public were met with derision and sarcasm.
As I continue to follows the comments here I am increasingly disappointed and resentful that one my favorite passtimes is coming to a grinding halt while the participants stand by and complain about their bad luck.

September 30, 2013 - 10:15 am2 weeks in a

Will Yamakva SAID...

2 weeks in a row....Leamington took in more in bets than they gave away in purses.

For other tracks that NEVER have the handle exceed the purses, let this be a lesson. This is the business model that small tracks should try to attain.

September 29, 2013 - 9:25 pmMr Blackburn, you had me at

Georg Leber SAID...

Mr Blackburn, you had me at hello but you kept on talking.
I like your suggestions about improving the sport, that is until you tell me that as an owner I have to pay to start my horse. Its not bad enough that we already lose money racing? Can you imagine a driver saying, yes let me pay to drive a 40 to 1 shot from post 7 on a half mile track.

We already give away our sport for free. A fan can come out to the races and bring his whole family for a night of entertainment and not pay a nickel. He can even pack his own lunch and download a program off the net for free. What other sport does that?

Remember that we agreed to give free programs and free admission and parking as part of the deal for the SARP. Now that we have no SARP we don't ask any more from the fan. Oddly back when we charged, we had packed houses.

How about the government investing in the industry the way they should to sustain an ecomony. Just today, Ms. Wynne talked about raising taxes to pay for transit for Toronto. I don't live in Toronto.

I think most fans think owners only race horses and make millions doing it. Owners for the most part make their money in unrelated businesses and invest in racing with that money. Until last year it was a place where you could make a few bucks or break even and enjoy the sport. When you lose too much you get out.

Things have to change starting with the investment in racing by the government. Everyone knows that the cancellation of the SARP was just ridiculous except the Liberals and the OMAFRA Panel. In fact I remind people that 6 months before the panel was formed, Snobelen wrote an article condeming SARP so naturally he was hired to be on the panel. A modification over a few years would have been the correct procedure. The Liberals will be out in two years and then we can rebuild. My wife tells me that nobody cares about horse racing and she is mostly right. I remind her that when Ontario loses 40,000 more jobs everyone will feel the pinch and sadly they won't even know why it happenned.

Georg Leber-ICR Racing

September 29, 2013 - 3:53 pmPlease note that the starting

Please note that the starting fees should have been listed as follows:

Owners - $10.00 for every horse they race
Trainers - $5.00 for every horse they start (said owners meant trainers in first post)
Drivers - $5.00 for every horse they drive

This means that every person involved in this industry will be contributing to helping it move forward into the 21st century.

New York currently charges the owners $10.00 each horse.

$2 million + a year by implementing this right now, would go a very long way in promoting this industry.

September 29, 2013 - 12:25 pmThank you MR Blackburn. I

Will Yamakva SAID...

Thank you MR Blackburn.

I agree 1000000% about making this seem like a professional sport. Broadcasting to the masses, would increase wagering a billion times over. People could start enjoying it at home now, and have a decent show to watch, rather than the current manner it has been dealt with.

You are thinking big time, and its these kinds of things, that will make horse racing, like poker, and like curling and like show jumping for that matter.

People need to see what is out there. Working on all the details, can be done as you go. People that come, currently like the racing. Its the downtime and the nothing other than the races thing that has to lure people back. With that, comes wagering and manufacturing of the next gambler. The sport simply needs to re-invent the way it presents itself, and wagering will go up.

September 29, 2013 - 11:37 amHere is how a gambler in

Will Boggs SAID...

Here is how a gambler in Newfoundland is treated:

I can't bet PEI races, 'cause of local market rules. Hello!? I'm going to do what to get from NL to PEI so I can place a wager...sure Mack.

I receive how much in the way of rebates? ZERO, because I'm in NL. Thank-you for treating me like a 3rd class gambler. Makes me want to take my money off-shore, eh.

And, until they managed to get racing going again in NL I was unable to wager on any races anywhere via HPI...obviously I (an existing customer for 40+ years) will have to find other ways/places to spend my gambling $.

Anthony, I don't know you but imho You would be far better off spending your time and effort looking at new ventures/pastures...there is no $ in being a Martyr.

September 29, 2013 - 12:26 pmMr Ezra... If this is "about

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Ezra...

If this is "about gambling".... how many horse racing gamblers high stakes or low was first made at an off track or at a desk, watching a monitor? If the on track experience improves, and a lower take out at the track only....

The government would be more inclined to give a better slots deal because you will....

1) increase wagering
2) increase traffic to the slots
3) ensure the longevity of the sport with infusion of new fans.

Horse racing will not get new players with the current situation. Changing the rake alone will not bring new people. It will satisfy those that already play.

More ideas need to be tossed out to get the next generation into gambling on horses. I think all of us made our first wager at the track. This needs to continue

September 28, 2013 - 5:28 pmFrom last Saturday to this

From last Saturday to this Saturday in Ontario there was approximately 2040 horses that raced. If the industry charged each horse that raced an entry fee like New York does of $10, the Ontario industry would have netted $20,400 in 7 days. Multiply that over a year period ($20,400 x 56 weeks) and you would have a rough estimate of $1,142,000. What could this industry do with $1,142,000 to try and improve itself.

If you wanted to go a step further and charge both the owners and the driver $5 each for every horse they raced then you could add another $1,142,000 to the total. Then everyone involved would be participating in helping this industry and not just the owners footing the bill. These fees could come directly off of owners, drivers and trainers cheques issued by tracks and go into a fund for the promotion and betterment of Ontario Harness Racing.

Heres a few ideas what to do with the money. I am sure that many of you could add to this.

Make it mandatory for all tracks in Ontario to upgrade all video feeds to High-Def - costs split between the track operators and the horsepeople

Have a nightly centralized panel with 4 highly knowledgeable horse personalities who will offer a nightly insight for all tracks racing that to the bettors. Much like what the NFL does on a set, but have it broadcast via a live webcast, to cut costs. Broadcast fees and salaries could be paid by the horsepeople and a corporate sponsor could be brought onboard to help offset costs. Nightly advertisement spots could be implemented to raise more capital.

Hire a Professional Ad Agency to promote Ontario Harness Racing, via TV and other venues. Launch a huge campaign, unlike any other that this industry has ever witnessed. The money will be there if the starting fees are implemented.

Launch an Ontario Racetrack only ADW and offer attractive rebates to try and attract the larger gamblers. Monies generated through an Ontario only ADW will benefit everyone involved in Ontario racing. Currently the only place that benefits from having an ADW in Ontario is WEG and thats wrong.

This idea would be one of many steps that this industry needs done. There are many others that need to be addressed such as ownership of racetracks, facilities needed to be upgraded, etc ect.

It is a very damaged industry folks and steps need to be taken and soon to try and keep it alive.

September 28, 2013 - 1:25 pmAll I know is it is a sad day

Sean DeMarco SAID...

All I know is it is a sad day today for the people that went out too many times to count to Hiawatha Horse Park over the years. I was there the first day it opened and I will be there tonight when this may be the last race date ever there. As for fixing harness racing well basically people see better ways to gamble that give bigger payoffs and/or a better chance to win. I really wish the province would ditch Pro Line and people would stop playing it cuz it is horrible. We should be able to bet like Vegas and bet single games and it would be nice to give money to the horse racing industry and our provincial and federal government in Canada instead of betting online and sending money elsewhere when we lose sometimes. I definitely would spend way more money on horse racing and sports betting if Pro Line Sports Select was done away with. I also would like the idea of having a classy joint to sit at and watch sports and horse racing. It would be awesome.

Oh and about Hiawatha ...

Why is there no Superfecta and other bets you can make at other tracks in place ?

More ways to bet giving the betting public options is a good thing.

I totally agree with Mr. Robinski in terms of the fair start pole rules as of now. They are ridiculous.

Totally agree with much of what was said by Maury Ezra.

September 28, 2013 - 12:45 pmBear with this post, its long

Georg Leber SAID...

Bear with this post, its long but there is a point.

I watch Hockey and Baseball on TV and cheer for Toronto in both sports. My teams are both currently very weak but I am still passionate. I also watch Football, Golf and Poker. Why???? The simple answer is that I watch because I understand and can identify with the sport or game. I've felt what its like to score a goal, touchdown, base hit, par a hole or take down a pot. I don't curl so I don't watch. Millions do however so the sport along with Tennis attract a crazy number of people. Even better I can watch several sports at one time by flipping channels.

Harness racing is one of those sports where only a small percentage of people have every sat behind a horse. Nascar is huge because we all drive cars and at one time or another have gone fast and imagined ourselves racers.

Complicating our sport even more is that our customers can't just make a single bet before the game and sit back for 2.5 hrs to see if they won. Our sport pretty much requires our customers to bet in the intermissions up to a dozen times a night.

Steps are being taken to reduce the number of tracks which will give limited options but really horse racing gamblers will bet there instead of not betting so it's an economy of scale. The real problem with that is we don't have much of a minor league so the gamblers and participants can learn or experience the thrills. The economy of scale will be a self fulfilling prophecy and reduce the sport further than 5 tracks to eventually become one track like Thoroughbreds. In the end only a few rich owners will survive and the number of jobs will shrink by over 40,000.

When an economy suffers a loss of 40,000 jobs and the population increases it affects all of us. Putting 300 million into a harness racing produces 2 billion into the economy. If you don't think I am right on this use another example. How many people work for the government at jobs paying over $60,000 per year (much higher than racing). If we eliminate half of those jobs, what will happen to the economy? The governments are the single biggest employer in the country, province or municipalities. If was given the power to eliminate all of the jobs that I think are unnecessary in the government I could reduce about 2 million jobs across the country. What would that do to the economy? Lots of industries would fail and we would have a recession or depression. Strangely, when we think about it, the government wastes tons of money that we need them to waste to provide an economy.

It was sexy to point at racing this time to eliminate a few hundred million that they claimed they needed for education but they spent billions on gas plants, health boondogles and various other scandals.

Our argument is not about fixing the game, its about lobbying for money like every other industry.

Georg Leber-ICR Racing

September 28, 2013 - 9:52 amMr MacDonald, I would like to

Mr MacDonald, I would like to post a comment, I have been in the horse racing business for over 40 years,born in Ont. but reside in QC, and I was involved in the Quebec Gouv's massacre of the horse racing industry in QC as an owner trainer driver,my experience in what your gouvmt is trying to do is the same as what the Qc gouv did in Qc.I feel sorry for you guys, but really no one is listening except a few, you cannot fight a war with just a few and that is why you are being massacred.There are to many things wrong with the greed and ADMINISTRATION of the people will trust will administer our taxes correctly, but they do not, none of them know what ADMINISTRATION MEANS except the very rich who run the Gouvernment. Hoping this will get posted. Have a good day, and see you in the welfare line.

September 28, 2013 - 8:51 amWill, those scratch tickets

Maury Ezra SAID...

Will, those scratch tickets have a higher churn. They are much like slots. Have you ever been behind someone playing these tickets at a store. Ticket goes in, noise is made by the machine, player many times wins $5 or a free ticket. Player plays again, machine makes noise....
As for Meadowlands. Gural attracted some major heavyweights to play the pools. I stated that pool size is important, and bigger pool sizes attract even more action.
If there are no perceived winners though, there is no reason for newbies to take up the game, at least in significant numbers. That is the difference between today and 40 years ago, when average takeout was lower and there was lots of churn because there were less types of bets available each race and of course, you could only bet on one track. There was also no competition, so the pools were full of money from unsophisticated players. In other words, the game back then was perceived as possibly beatable.
You keep saying market the game in a certain way and people will come. Sorry, but this is about gambling, and there are much better gambles out there. You might as well be marketing rotary phones.
And regarding single game wagers, you must be naive to believe that many Canadian gamblers aren't wagering on single games. It is illegal in the states too, but it is a billion dollar business.
So yeah, churn matters whether one realizes the takeout or not, and whether you want to believe it or not.

September 28, 2013 - 8:28 amWe all know what the gamblers

Sheldon Rose SAID...

We all know what the gamblers want and what needs to be done. What we need is the fans. Some turn into gamblers. Some just support the sport. Fans flock to the races for special events and promotions. What I see is that most tracks don't want horse racing. It's all smoke and mirrors. They just want slots. Whether it be free hot dogs, hats, or for the chance of getting free money (like scratch tickets), the tracks that do the promoting get the fans out. For fans, for value received, the price of the food at the tracks is ridiculously high. Use food as the loss leader. There is also nothing going on that will attract them to come. This summer, dining rooms and floors were closed in some grandstands. Not in the casinos. Will, your venues want bands; whether they be good or bad. Most of our tracks don't want us; whether our fields are good or bad. Will, if you are so annoyed, don't comment on the blog.

September 28, 2013 - 8:08 amCarlo, You are absolutely

You are absolutely correct.
Will took me up on my offer and called me yesterday.
I was happy to speak with him about what I believe needs to take place.
We have many problems, all need to be fixed at the same time.
You reference our game as being perceived as a game of thieves.
So what do we do??

We be open with the public, address problems they have, answer their questions and listen. Don't just nod your head.
I think by having full competitive fields you change the way people race. I saw it this year with the bigger fields.

And "buddy system" on the track looks bad.
The judges could start using common sense and actually distinguish between a favor and a tactical move.(assuming they have common sense).

Addressing positive tests.
This difficult because I believe it involves federal regulation, but an easy way to curb the use of elicit medications would be:

Fill fields with horses only compatible by likely money's wagered on them.if you take into consideration the form, class, and wouldnt be conducive to a stable to have them running off all the time if they would only be put in where they would look like an 8-10$ wager.

Anyone caught maliciously defrauding the public with medications that are not meant to be in a horse would have the file turned over to the police.
Criminal records makes it hard to bounce from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and very hard to cross the boarder.

We need to restore faith to the public that this is a betable product if we ever had any.

Just a couple of thoughts.

September 28, 2013 - 7:19 amMr.Yamakya,

John Carter SAID...


For you to say single game sports betting is not allowed in ontario so why keep bringing it up, shows just how out of touch you really are. I don't live in vegas and i bet single game sports betting year around and i never leave my home. There would be millions upon millions of dollars wagered by people who live in ontario on single game sports betting every year online.

As far as the big m goes i give Jeff Gural a lot of credit for what he has done but lets be realistic about it. The wager 20 to 30 years ago on a saturday night used to be around $5 million now it is about half that at best. What Mr. Gural has managed to do is to get more existing players who are already playing the harness to bet on the big m product. In other words he has taken money away from other tracks. How many new young people does he have playing that accounts for the increase in wager. My guess is next to none. So what does he do in 20 or 30 years time when people like us get to old to go to the track or we start dying off. The answer is simple not only is the big m in big trouble but so are all other race tracks.

Why do you think that Jeff Gural has openly said to attract new gamblers the take out has to be lowered to 10% or less in all pools. He is unable to do this because of existing laws that would prevent it plus a host of other problems, such as i do believe he wanted to lower takeouts at vernon downs a few years ago and the horse people fought him on it. They did not want to take a bit less short term because they could not see the big picture. Jeff Gural understands that to attract new blood to the game it starts with competing with other forms of gambling thru reduced take out.

It is beyond obvious to anyone participating in this conversation that you are basically a smaller bettor. There is nothing a matter with that, there is a place for small betters and they should feel welcome. You are right most small betters don't care about takeout why should they, they don't bet enough that it really affects them. They are there to be entertained not gamble. How ever for the race game to turn it self around they need to attract the medium to large players and yes we care about take out and the race game will never attract them with their current pricing structure.

September 27, 2013 - 4:55 pmToday in the DRF Andy Beyer

Will Yamakva SAID...

Today in the DRF Andy Beyer made an article about how the business in NY is sad on track, but doing fine because of rebates on betting sites.

Someone there made a suggestion that addresses lowering the takeout, and getting people back to the track.


Now, this addresses the gamblers, it helps the province get people into the facility where the slots also are. It also gives horseman hope in that purses and attendance would increase.

Now, combine this with improving the experience.... with marketing being the center of all this so the fans and gamblers know of this opportunity to get a lower takeout, and harness in Ontario would be fine.

September 27, 2013 - 3:27 pmWith everyone mentioning

carlo renon SAID...

With everyone mentioning improving the product no-one here has mentioned the fact that in many peoples eyes racing has as much integrety as wrestling.
Here in lies the problem in attracting new people to the stands, it really does not matter wether you have it or not what is important is what the people you are trying to attract think! It would be a good thing to see 10 horses on the gate and all 10 trying for the winners share not just a few and the rest just happy to get a check! Let the horsemen get paid for a top three finish just like the fans..does anyone really care who was 4th or 5th other than the driver trainer and owner? Abolish the new whipping rules obviously the tree huggers have not helped the sport..have not heard one person say i am going back to the races because they use the whip less.In today's day and age the younger generation does not want to sit through 4.5 and 5 hour cards of racing...have they not figured it out yet?

September 27, 2013 - 3:06 pmIf our industry can't stand

If our industry can't stand on it's own two feet why should anyone care. All I hear is it's someone's fault (not mine) and someone else (not me) has to fix it.

I've worked in the industry for more than 15 years and have seen nothing that shows the public (our customers) that we deserve anything.

I've gone from a full time job to two days a week (I'm in BC.) I see Ontario going the way of BC where those of us behind the scenes grow poorer while casinos and horse owners still bring in the cash and complain about any cut to their share. They act like a union that is willing to have the industry fail before giving up anything to make it grow.

And remember, no matter what grand schemes are come up with, if no one is left to implement them good luck making it work. Those of us who have have taken great cuts already may not be here by the time all parties come up with a plan.

September 27, 2013 - 1:59 pmI agree that having autograph

Terry Hunter SAID...

I agree that having autograph sessions etc is never going to increase the betting. My son who is 18 and loves the sport,has brought his friends to the track numerous times and basically they could care less about the drivers etc. They want the action and lots of it. Trying to promote drivers would be like saying we should have autograph sessions for the poker dealers. The athletes in our sport are the horses, in the NHL nobody wants the autograph of the supporting staff and unfortunately our drivers, trainers, grooms etc, who without a question all work very hard, but utimately are the supporting staff of the athletes (the race horses) What the new young people want is excitement and the biggest thing I noticed when my son had his friends at the track was the total boredom they had waiting the 20 minutes between the races. They are a generation of A-D-D kids. They always exspect something to be happening and if it isn't, they are immediately on their cell phones surfing the internet or texting people to find something to do.

This is why I feel a marketing company can find some other ways to promote racing and make it exciting for the new generation of bettors.

Ultimately we need to take one step at a time. To me that first step is leadership. So here is my big question, and I wish somebody could give me an answer, "What is the first step that need to be taken to get rid of all the individual organizations fighting for control of the industry in Ontario and join under one banner with one leader"? To me, if we could somehow take that first step, it would be huge and the ball would at least be rolling in the right direction!

September 27, 2013 - 12:41 pmMr Carter.... I get your

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Carter....

I get your point. I countered that currently, slots, bingo, and lottery and proline, ARE where people have scattered to. This means they left horse racing REGARDLESS of take out.

If you think people do not come to horse racing because of take out, you REALLY do not see the problems. Horse racing has a much bigger problem than take out, when it comes to new bettors. That is education. How can you expect new bettors to join a sport, where the gambling is so VERY confusing to the newcomer? Again, part of my solution, is MUCH more than take out. Take out is maybe 1/10 of the problem here. One you seem fixated on. Bring young people that have never come to the track, hand em a racing program, and set them on the way. How many times have you seen newcomers to the track look at a program and have no clue what is going on? How many times have you tried to explain your superfecta ticket (which at a first glance to a new comer is as confusing at the program)

Im getting real annoyed with your bringing up hot dogs and autographs and acting as though that is the solution.

Its also clear the point about curling was missed. The point isnt they get rich, the point is they are no longer curling for purses of $4000. They are no longer paying their own way to get to and from these bonspiels. They have acheived sponsorship. They are name faces. Remember, at one point, only CBC covered curling, and there was 2 people that were names. Now, they are filling 18k arenas for a weeks worth of games. That is a sport that is started to pay for itself. I never suggested anyone was going to get rich. The point is, they have made the turn around, and rule changes, were not the reason this took place. The rule changes and the tinkering happened AFTER Curling Canada decided to re-market the game. They saw the changes, and made them gradually.

You say "sorry to burst my bubble....." The same could have been said for poker, and curling. 20 years ago.... neither was mainstream. Poker was not even on TV. Curling was stuck on CBC, now it dominates TSN in the winter at certain times. TSN pays to be there. You are not even mainstream anymore. You are NO STREAM.

As far Mr Ezra...

"On lotteries, the fix is the dream of never having to work again amongst other things. Takeout doesn't matter as much. "

Dollar scratch tickets, bingo, and them pull apart tickets are not people dreaming rich. People playing Poker (on the lottery terminals) are not dreaming of huge riches.... the prizes do not even exceed 6 figures. Why are they popular?

You bring up single game betting. Thing is... Ontario DOES NOT OFFER THIS. So why bring it up? Why not compare what we have, and explain why it is doing better than harness is WITHOUT THE TAKE OUT BEING ANNOUNCED? The DIRECT competition is NOT single game betting in Ontario, its Proline (for sports betting)

Like Mr Carter, the "what ifs" are pointless, when for the past 14 years, single game betting, is not an issue here?

Take note KEY things here..

"Total on-track wagering for live and simulcast races is up 4.7% through January and February 2012, with $38.7 million wagered verses $37 million wagered during the same time frame in 2011."

A million plus in 2 months.... oh and look, the attendance increased. I guess Gural has it right.

Notice again...

attendance down..... wagering down.

attendance up....... wagering up.

September 27, 2013 - 9:54 amOn the issue of takeout,

Maury Ezra SAID...

On the issue of takeout, gamblers don't have to know the takeout to decide if they want to keep playing a game. Gambling is mostly psychological, playing gives you a fix. The more one plays, the more one wants to play in the future. This is why takeout matters. The lower the takeout, the more they get to play on a certain bankroll.
On lotteries, the fix is the dream of never having to work again amongst other things. Takeout doesn't matter as much. On high volume games like slots, it does matter a lot. There is a reason why slots don't have 20% rakes.
Sports betting, with single game takeout of 4.6% is a great bang for the buck. Many games go down to the last few minutes when it comes to the spread, so for $20 or more wagered, you get a 3 hour fix, and lots of churn. Because of the low rake, it isn't a far stretch to think you are close to being capable of winning long term.
Blackjack, roulette are high volume games with 2% rakes.
Poker is a different story (rakes are estimated around 3-5%) but the game is perceived as beatable by at least a few long term (there are visible perceived winners who are identified by the public), and that draws in new players who think they have hope to win long term. Poker is very much like horse racing because you are playing against others who are putting their money in the same pool. However, horse racing has an average takeout of 20%, and is rightfully not perceived as beatable long term.
In other words, you might be able to get someone new to try horse racing, but they won't stick, and there is no incentive to learn the game (which is more complicated than other games).
When it comes to harness racing specifically, as a thoroughbred player, the game doesn't appeal to me because too many favourites win when they have good post positions. The chance of a big score is almost non existent (this is related to pool size as well). It has absolutely nothing to do with quality of the field, just like quality doesn't matter to me in thoroughbred racing.
I've floated the idea to some standardbred participants about penalizing the best horses on paper going into a race by having to draw for the worst post positions (but that was deemed DOA).
Until the industry understands what gamblers really want (especially big gamblers), and that the customers needs have to be number 1, I guess the only chance there is to survive is to get as much funding as you can.

September 26, 2013 - 4:50 pmMr.Yamakva,

John Carter SAID...


I used Aunt Martha to illustrate a point that pretty much anyone if takeout is explained to them would know which is a fairer game and that will be the game they are more likely to choose. There is competition like never before and you continue to believe that the race game can get away with excessive takeouts the way they could when they were the only game in town.

I never ever said that it was going to be easy to get the ones who are currently not playing the races to play or get the message to them but i do know this, if you get them there without addressing key issues such as take out you won't keep them there. All you will do is piss them off and lose them for life at some point. The race game needs to get there house in order and a large part of that is to make the game more competitive with other forms of gambling and then and only then try and attract new people to the track with a very aggressive marketing campaign.

Pretty much all young people know of people who wins at poker or sports betting but they couldn't find a long term winner at the races if their life depended on it. There is no positive word of mouth period because of it. People need to believe the race game is beatable, no one believes that now. You can't convince anyone with any knowledge of gambling that the race game with there current takeouts is beatable. This has to change and the only way it changes is there has to be more winners and that can only happen with the lowering of takeouts.

As far as selling anything to the government of ontario if people aren't supporting the product thru wager then government will eventually say no one is supporting the product and they will pull there support. Your best chance of showing the government that racing is still a product that people are interested in, is thru increased handle, that talks everything else walks and you can't increase wager if the young gamblers continue to reject the game because of excessive take out.

Sorry to burst your bubble but harness racing is never going to be in the mainstream and no amount of free hotdogs or autographs will change that but that doesn't mean they can't grow handle with the right approach and that starts with lower takeout and competing for business by going after gamblers not the casual fan like you want to do and not by sitting back saying we can't compete, waving the white flag of surrender like they are currently doing.

When it comes to the curlers, give me a break. You have to be kidding. In 2011/12 on the world curling tour there were only 3 rinks that make in excess of $100 thousand with the top rink making $149 thousand and the 10th place rink making a paltry $38 thousand. That money is divided 4 or 5 or 6 ways. All teams have an extra and most of them have coaches. The top teams could not afford toilet paper off there earnings after there expenses are factored in. They depend on sponsorships and without that they would starve. All these curlers have day jobs because there is no money in curling.

September 26, 2013 - 3:54 pmOh Mr.Carter and Mr.Gilders

Oh Mr.Carter and Mr.Gilders you are oh so right(at least in my book), but sadly you or myself won't be listened to! I have 385 employees and have taken most of them to the races and or Vegas. I pay everything plus give them "betting money". I have only had one group of 4 want to return to watch and wager on Harness Racing. Perhaps they like Mr Carter's Aunt Martha are good "value shoppers"!!

September 26, 2013 - 3:50 pmMr Carter.... Does Aunt

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Carter....

Does Aunt Martha currently know the take out on Bingo? No, its not advertised. Can you explain why, without knowing the take out..... she currently goes?

Im curious Mr Carter, lets say you lower the take out 10% across the board.... and we do that tomorrow...

1) please explain in detail how those that are not currently betting or even watching horse racing going to know about this lowering of take out?

2) please explain how you are going to sell that to the citizens of Ontario and/or the government, that this will better the lives of all ontarians? A key thing needed when negotiations with getting the slots back or a better deal with them happens.

3) please explain how lowering the take out will ever get harness racing into the mainstream so that TV revenue can be factored into purses? Remember.... at one point, poker and curling paid to be on major networks and now have huge purses and hundred thousand dollar tournaments weekly all over north America. Curling is played for 50k to 60k a week now...... because of tv exposure.

4) please explain how lowering take out, will regain the regular weekly/ few times a week the media will cover your sport so the casual sports fan will have a tiny clue you exist. Go to any sports bar and ask who Wayne Middaugh is and who Jody Jamieson is. I bet more will name Wayne than Jody..... which is strange... considering Jody makes 7 to 8 times what Wayne does.

I'm curious to hear what your presentation to the government would be to turn the sport around, offer the citizens, and ensure the future of the sport

September 26, 2013 - 1:14 pmThere is people on here that

John Carter SAID...

There is people on here that have said a horseman can't lead the charge referring to Anthony. I have never taken it that he is trying to lead the charge. All he has done is started a conversation with these blogs perhaps it will lead to something( i have my doubts) perhaps it won't but it sure as heck can't do any harm. If some good comes out of it great, if nothing changes so be it, then that just means it wasn't going to change anyway. So i say good to Anthony for at least trying and showing he cares about the plight of the industry. Hopefully some industry leaders reads some of this and a little dose of reality starts to sink in. The status quo is not working and will never work again. The market place has changed for ever. You either adapt or you disappear. True leadership takes courage and vision and i do not see any of that from the industry leaders with the exception of Jeff Gural.

September 26, 2013 - 12:34 pmDave we are far far away from

Dave we are far far away from anyone making a private investment or even making an argument for investment into this industry with any businesses plan at all.
First class amenities and low take out? Clear and defined rules?

First off our regulator is government run and steps far beyond what anyone would call a regulators "scope". Tell track what classes they can write and how to govern.
The rules are and have to be defined but as most sports "clear" is many times through a "grey" lens.

Most of all, without government investment at least at this point we are sunk.
So dave,
You said will or I will never be able to help. Your mostly right.
Depending on what happens in the next 6 months you may be wrong?
But you are correct about people and power. Bang on.

September 26, 2013 - 11:25 amTime for a small reality

Time for a small reality check that unfortunately, Will & Anthony, will prevent any change to the sport whether it be product presentation, wagering options, marketing, fan experience etc. etc. There are too many chiefs, groups, organizations, regulators and management types who will NEVER cede their power away to make change that might actually help. They know best, just ask them and don't challenge any decisions they've made or expect not to have any calls,letters or emails returned.
My thought was always racing should at least attempt to become a professional sport with clear and easily defined rules for all participants, first class amenities for the fans as well as low takeout rate. The industry has been losing ground for a very long time now and it's doubtful that any plan formulated presently will lead to sustainability let alone growth.

September 26, 2013 - 10:47 amAs a long time fan supporter

carlo renon SAID...

As a long time fan supporter and participant in harness racing I am deeply appalled at what has happened...yes the liberal's past and present should take much of the blame. However the horsemen and tracks have done very little to help themselves..If they all would have stuck together and took on the Liberal's and OLG instead of letting themselves fall to a divide and conquer strategy the landscape would be very different now. Your leader, Tim Hudak has dropped the ball on this issue and has not put forth a clear and decisive plan for this industry. I have many thoughts and ideas which i think could bring this sport back to it's glory days however no one really seems interested in listening or acting.


Carlo Renon

September 26, 2013 - 8:04 amMr.Yamakva,

John Carter SAID...


When it comes to takeout i just don't think you have a full appreciation on it's affects. My 90 year old Aunt Martha still enjoys playing bingo and if i asked her about takeout she would not really know what i mean but if i said to her lets go play bingo tonight and there is two places we can go to play. We can go to the pick your pocket bingo hall where they keep 50% of the money and pay back the remaining 50% to there customers but they have a special promotion on where they are giving out free hotdogs and you can also get a free autograph from the person calling out the bingo numbers or we can go across the street to the fair value bingo hall where they keep 10% of the money and payback 90% to there customers but there is no free hotdogs or autographs.

If i said to her i think we should go to the pick your pocket bingo hall and get our free hotdogs and autographs, she would say to me, son have you lost your mind. Lets go to the fair value bingo hall and with the extra 40% payback we can buy our own hotdogs and the hell with the autographs, who cares. Now my Aunt Martha because of her advanced age is not as sharp as she once was but she is still plenty sharp enough to understand this. Rest assured that the next generation of gamblers is much sharper then my Aunt Martha and they have this takeout thing all figured out on there own and they will not have there pockets picked when they gamble, hence they avoid the races and stick to low vig games such as single game sports betting and poker.

September 26, 2013 - 12:07 amMr Hill. If this and if that

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Hill.

If this and if that does not explain what we currently have. Currently proline crushes harness and does not explain the take out. I fully understand how it works with a better take out. Im comparing lottery in the sense the take out is not announced. .... when I say lottery, I include cheesy scratch tickets and those pop apart tickets. You cant win big in those. In many cases people see a scratch ticket with a 50k jackpot that has already been won. Naturally you assumed I meant lotto max or 649.

Proof you are missing the point is you keep bringing up Poker tables. Where do they rank in terms of gambling dollars spent by Ontarians. NOT EVEN TOP 5. bingo, horse racing, slots, lottery and sports betting all pull in more than poker tables. All have FAR more players than poker. So keep comparing horse racing to poker. I have bigger fish to fry than worry about poker. Notice.... you said "if they increase the take out" ( another if).... but horse racing has a lower take out now..... compared to the pre-slots era... and has been going down, but fans and gamblers still leave, why?

Slots stole the most from harness..... explain why and please include how the takeout was the reason. (Remember you dont know what the slot take out is)

Even blackjack pulls in more than poker.

If your idea of takeout being that important.... explain the success of Meadowlands, Del Mar, Churchill and Keeneland? They all went marketing first.... tinkered with take outs later. I guess they have it wrong.

September 25, 2013 - 10:50 pmMr macdaibheid, I'm happy to

Mr macdaibheid,
I'm happy to talk to everyone, will very much included.
My phone number is 5194004263
I'm on twitter @horseracingamac or @amacdonaldpc and on facebook.
You can also email me at [email protected]

Thanks for the input.


September 25, 2013 - 10:35 pmLet's deal with facts. In the

Let's deal with facts. In the 70,s I owned trained and was the driver of a 2 year old stake caliber horse entered in Yonkers. A typical Saturday night would see 45,000 plus fans at the track. The mutual clerks decided to strike, but the track had to let the stake races run. They also had to close the mutual windows. At that time you payed for parking and entry to the track. The track decided to let people park for free and enter for free. When we were scoring for our race I pulled up beside Herve Filion and said geez the grandstand is almost empty. He said"son if they can't bet they won't watch racing even if you pay them" But what does he know!!

September 25, 2013 - 9:16 pmWill, I wasn't going to

I wasn't going to respond, but I'm in Beyer races at Grand River, and I don't have any interest in the jays right now.

You have mention the toronto fc?
Soccer is big in toronto, they will never be the leafs or the jays.
And if they stay this bad they will be no more.

You have shown no interest in fixing the product and gambling holes and this shows no respect for the core issues.
The orc may be looking for someone who cares about only one thing? Tunnel vision won't help anyone sir.


September 25, 2013 - 9:06 pmI've read comments concerning

I've read comments concerning the plight of harness racing for some time now and have read the many commentaries of Mr. Yamakva and although I don't agree with some (no one ever agrees totally with anyone) of them I feel he has brought forth some very thoughtful and well intentioned ideas. I am commenting here now because I feel the onslaught that Mr. Yamakva has been under is unfair. Mr. Yamakva I am a horseperson and though a number of horse people seem to take issue with what they see as an attack on their person by some of your comments I personally haven't felt attacked or insulted in any way. Maybe all parties need to refrain from taking commentary personal that in actuality isn't. Dredging up earlier commentary and using it out of context to WIN at debate is at best poor bedside manner.
I feel that Mr. Yamakva makes a very valid argument when he states that a very important issue is bringing in new people(new fans)and providing them with an entertaining evening. I agree that horse people need to be less aloof and more fan friendly. We raced a couple of horses at Leamington this past Sunday and it was a delightful day.. why? Because we were made to feel welcome. No one and I mean no one wants to be anywhere where they are made to feel unwelcome. Harness racing for whatever reasons has long been for 'exclusive club' members only. Daddy, granddaddy and his granddaddy before him were all involved in harness racing, if not then you had better have some power(money)behind you or you are out of luck. I'm not saying all harness people are like this, but far too many of them. One might be able to cite this lad or that lad had no connections and had no money, but that in fact is a rarity.

Anthony, you're a politician now and you obviously want what's best for harness racing. I've a proposition. Take some time, come speak to me, I'm a nobody in harness racing, but I might surprise. Just for the record, I for one predicted that we'd be where we are now before the slots came into place. Not only that my time line was quite accurate. In reading some of your posts I believe you've eluded to knowing some of the reasons our sport has failed which I don't wish to go into on this forum. Ask Hugh Mitchell what I told him many, many years ago in the test stall at Western Fair (he was raceway manager at time) after winning a mile and half race there with a horse called Distinguished Gent. It was about losing fans and the reasons why.
This ship can be righted, but only by RIGHT thinking people.
If interested let me know.

September 25, 2013 - 8:44 pmMr.Yamakva,

John Carter SAID...


Pro line is played only because single game sports betting is not allowed, if single game sports betting was allowed pro line would disappear over night because it like the races would no longer be competitive. There are people out there who will bet 10 to 20 thousand or more on a single game against the spread but there is no one going in and spending 20 thousand on a 3 team pro line ticket. Do not compare lotteries to any other form of gambling period. People can walk in and buy a ticket for a dollar or two and perhaps win millions. People know they are probably not going to win but they are willing to spend a few dollars chasing the dream.

All i have heard on here from you in the various discussions is a bunch of ideas that may or may not attract non gamblers to the track but nothing that will help the industry solve the issue of handle. How many times do you have to be told that gamblers who pound the money thru don't care about free hotdogs, free balloons or autographs or hearing a driver say a few words after the race. We couldn't care less and neither does the next generation of gamblers. They want a fair game with fair rules. A game that they at least believe they have a fighting chance of beating.

You continue to say that take out is not important. Let the pokers tables increase the takeout by 3 or 4 times the current rake and see what that does to poker, increase the takeout on single games sports betting from 5% to 20% and see what happens to single game sports betting. They would lose there customers over night, why because take out and a fair game matters and it matters a lot.

September 25, 2013 - 8:01 pmMr Hill.... If you have been

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Hill....

If you have been reading all along, im not just blaming horseman. I blame the government and the track owners, in fact Mr MacDonald agrees with this. Horseman seem to want no part of the blame. Take note the stuff I point out that has zero to fo with government regulations.

1) retiring stars so young fans get a single season to enjoy.
2) limited information when your stars are running.
3) post parades being so informal with drivers whipping by
4) drivers ignoring fans
5) trainers and drivers being unrecognized by the general public
6) very few meet and greets with drivers and trainers.
7) little publicity about the people that make up this sport.
8) zero tv, weekly or daily press coverage on the drivers or horses.

None governed by the government.
You say I cant compare apples and oranges but I can compare professional sports.

Take note.... Mr Robinski is talking about vegas take outs......and called that competition. Hardly competition when more dollars are spent by ONTARIO residents on slots in Ontario and proline and lottery... than in vegas. VEGAS IS NOT YOUR MAIN COMPETITOR. I bring up your main competition and the fact no take out is mentioned and again you ignore that and reply with poker and Vegas.

I have NEVER said what kind of bettor I am.... why assume I bet small?

Mr Hill.... I never claimed not to know the industry... I claimed not to know the specifics of horse care. I dont know how to play a single instrument but I know how to pack a venue for those that do know how to play instruments.

Mr Hunter....

Your comments are EXACTLY my sentiments. I just change the order of them from 1 2 3 4 to 2 3 4 1.

When NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB, curling and poker all had to fight to get fans back, not one of them, or the players organization that went with them felt rule changes were a priority. They all made changes evwntually, but right away the first change all made was addressing and dealing with the fans.

Dealing with the takeout and acting as though that is the cure is like a league specifically catering to the needs of season ticket holders. They are an important component to rebuilding but not the priority. Take out is a minor part. Just as rule changes are also minor.

Harness racing in general has a massive image problem now, take out is not the focal point of this.

Your point about a commissioner that has a track record. As you can see here.... some support the line of thinking. Others insult me for it.

September 25, 2013 - 6:44 pmMr MacDonald: In fairness I

Mr MacDonald: In fairness I must tip my cap to you. In spite of the fact I "tore" some bark off you" with my remarks you were big enough to say that I
"am bang on" with my comments.

I, like Mr. Carter, have the experience Mr. Yamakava does not. That is as a "Big Bettor" from the point of view of gambling on Horse ownership or gambling in the Mutual Pools. Mr Carters statements about Mr. Yamkava's comments being a "joke" at best is sadly accurate. I take employees and their families to weekend excursions to Las Vegas where a single bet proposition can be found for 4% or 5% in Football, Basketball, Baseball etc. There are places where the slot machine takeout is 2% and the max is 6% by State Law. There are Casinos off the Main Strip that have poker machines where perfect play means you will lose at most 1% and may make 2% after several 1000 hands, plus the perks that are given to volume bettors. Many of the locals use that gambling venue. Like it or not that is what racing is competing with.

As Mr. Carter noted only Mr Gural both appreciates this and has adapted to it. As for any Government Liberal or Conservative changing what has been done you will be sadly disappointed. The answer is not there!! Oh and MS Martin, of course you can't do anything as long as you refuse to!! Refuse to enter horses, insist on at least 1 seat on the board of every track.Get rid of the top heavy administration, and several other measures. If horseman think only of themselves of course "nothing can be done"!!

September 25, 2013 - 4:52 pmI have seen some very good

Terry Hunter SAID...

I have seen some very good comments here from several people but utimately I feel we need 4 simple things

a) a good competative product - race classes that have very similar quality horses. Gambles dont want to see 8-5 favorites, it isn't worth their while betting . Jeff Gural has done a great job of this at the Meadowlands.

b )A leader/commissioner to have full control and have the ability to make decisions without having to waste time trying to get a complete concenses from the entire industry, because that will never happen.

c) A very large Marketing Fund- this is necassary to be able to market our sport at an extremely high level. I'm talking a budget of several million dollars. A couple years ago Standardbred Canada had suggested taking an extra couple percent from the purse winnings and putting it into a marketing or promotional fund. The only people that this would have cost anything was the owners and as an owner I was totally in favour of this idea. Almost every owner I spoke to didn't mind the extra one or two percent being withheld in order to better the sport. If this would have happened we would already have a marketing fund of several million dollars to hire a top notch world class marketing firm to come up with ideas and programs to promote our sport. Im not going to suggest I know what that magic idea is, but that's what big marketing companies do every day. So leave it to the professionals. Remember that Texas Hold Em has been around forever but suddenly became huge when somebody came up with the very simple idea of putting a camera under the table to see the players hands then then put it on TV and suddenly it was a whole new ballgame. Unfortunately do to our fragmented industry, it is my understanding that the various horseman's associations encouraged their membership to vote down the marketing fund idea because they wanted specific details of how it would be spent. There was no way to know how it would exactly be used ahead of time because without the actual funding actually in place you can't hire firms to plan how to use it. The unfortunate part is the idea died when voted down. Once again a businessperson running the industry would have realisedthis. In my opinion the horseman's associations should have encouraged this plan rather than vote against it since its members made up of drivers, trainers, grooms etc where not being asked to contribute to the fund but instead would have benefited the most by being able to promote and support horseracing and therefore ensure their jobs. In fact they should have encouraged the drivers and trainers to even offer to apply a small part of their percentage to build the fund as well.

d) A more Concentrated Product- I know many people won't be happy to hear this, but we definately had too many racetracks in Ontario. I believe there were 17 tracks. A smaller number of tracks with quality horses and a concentrated effort to make sure those facilities are excellent quality. I think there has already been somewhat of an adjustment, as many horses have already been pushed out of the industry and I assume the majority of those are the cheaper claiming class horses.

At this point we all realize the Liberal government has forced a change in the industry. Good, Bad, or whatever, we need a new plan and new people that will implement the plan. This plan has to be simple yet effective and we need management that will be able to operate no matter what political party happens to be in power at the time. I don' t have all the answers but what I do know it that we need changes and we need to understand that we dont have the right people within our industry to implement those changes. We need to look outside and bring in people with the skills and knowledge and proven track records of success in other business models.

September 25, 2013 - 4:31 pmI think Mr Yamakva is clearly

John Hill SAID...

I think Mr Yamakva is clearly enjoying the attention given to him by his inflamatory comments blaming horsemen for everything but the weather. In one post he claims to understand the product and in another he says he knows nothing about the industry except for being a gambler. This industry is like no other and you can't compare apples to oranges. His industry has nowhere near the government(the competion, OLG) regulation we have so he really has no idea of the obstacles we face.

September 25, 2013 - 3:48 pmAs a long time owner in this

Dave Nicol SAID...

As a long time owner in this industry I have posted my share of comments so everybody should accept my belief that there is no political solution to our problems! A case in point would be the payment to the transition panel and others to the tune of $ 500,000.00 plus and rising! This amount could have put a big dent in the OSS shortfall of $800,000. Where would the necessary information concerning standardbred racing come from? It wouldn*t take long to give anyone a long list of knowledgable horse people who would probably volunteer their expertise for little or no cost! So far the fallout from this panel is a loss of 9000 taxpayers jobs! The exodus is beginning? Hardly, it*s a literal stampede! Wish my optimism was as strong as it used to be,hardly.

September 25, 2013 - 3:45 pm"I don't care if you sell

Will Yamakva SAID...

"I don't care if you sell bands, soap or ice to eskimos.
If you don't care about selling the best product it will always catch up to you."

You see, this is where someone with a marketing background, could lead the way. Its clear you want to put words in my mouth. Its clear that I have a fully mapped out plan, that puts emphasis on the people and my plan would work REGARDLESS THE INDUSTRY. The plan that I have suggested, is why NHL, Poker, curling and many other things, have surpassed horse racing.

Proof, you are not getting it... "The best sports teams win and put on a good show."

The Leafs, raptors, TFC have been total losers for decades. They do not win, but they are popular. Why? MARKETING !!!!!!!!

You totally proved my point about not getting this. It is not about your taste, or my taste in music. It is about getting the bar full and generating revenue. While you might not like the music, the packed bar indicates that SOMEONE likes the music. What you are not getting, is that taste is subjective. What one harness fan might not like, another might love. You need to cater to all the fans to get them in the door. Again, ask anyone that was at Hanover on Match Race day..... or watched the races at Leamington, if they are coming back, or they are peeved the races were not close? Most are happy to have just been there.

Go to Little Brown Jug and ask the majority of people if they are there for the atmosphere or the high caliber of racing. ASK THE PEOPLE IN THE GRANDSTANDS... the people that only come once or twice a year to the races. Go to the dining rooms and ask the 70 year old lady that is there with her girls, if she was upset that the races were not that close that night. It just is not that important.

You get me wrong when you think I do not those things are not important. They are.... but there no where near as important in getting people back to the races. Hell, you guys claim slots took lots of gambling revenue... and not a single person that entered the slots parlour, knew the take out. So explain that?

The difference with the UFC and harness, is the competitors are HUGE into the marketing of the product. They are as much the face of the game as you are. They are also a great light show, they are great sound, they are amazing announcers, they are great TV presence. Take note, they offer this, as well as SUPER expensive PPV, and incredible ticket prices. They generate revenue. They are not getting a single handout or split from anyone. They also have a massive marketing campaign with the general public. Does harness have any of this? No.

Also.... UFC doesnt accept a lackluster product, but it sure puts on many forgettable fights. That usually does not matter as people are just happy to have came or been to the fights.

You have people that own your horses, that comment here about how they cant watch your own product, not because the races are not competitive, but because it is a BORING time aside from the races.

But hey, let's argue about take out.

Simple question Mr MacDonald, if you repair the races, and fix the takeout, what is your next step? Telling people about it?

September 25, 2013 - 3:31 pmLet it be a joke. I gave you

Will Yamakva SAID...

Let it be a joke.

I gave you examples of gambling which are FAR more popular than horse racing, and poker, where the take out, is NOT ANNOUNCED. What do you reply to that? Nothing, You simply ignore, that the most popular gambling avenues DO NOT ANNOUNCE TAKE OUT. Simply explain how come the most popular avenues of gambling, DO NOT DISCUSS TAKE OUT?

Im not saying they are not important, but they are not going to save your game.

Simply put Mr MacDonald and Mr Carter....

can you explain why Pro-line, slots, and lottery do better than harness racing and do not offer a hint of what the take out is to the players?

Simple question. Please address this.

September 25, 2013 - 2:53 pmWill, I never said a horseman

I never said a horseman should lead the way at all.
But a man saying product doesn't matter and not focusing on big bettors isn't going to lead the way either.

I don't care if you sell bands, soap or ice to eskimos.
If you don't care about selling the best product it will always catch up to you.
I'm not telling you what's important to you, but I've met with many big gamblers, breeders and horseman, patrons and businessman and I have nor should anyone else have any interest in putting on, participating in or settling for "garbage".

Look at what sells.......the ufc doesn't accept a lack luster product.
The best sports teams win and put on a good show.
If your only interested in filling Joes crappy bar with substandard music on a Friday you will always count me and people like me out.
The ones you get won't come back and that isn't the message or image this industry should be looking for.

So as I'm truly happy to disagree with you, I do appreciate your comments.


September 25, 2013 - 1:13 pmMr.Yamakya,

John Carter SAID...


To say you understand the issues is one thing but to actually understand them is another and you clearly don't. To say that you can attract gamblers to the tracks without addressing first the issues of takeout and the many other issues such as competitive fields and so on and you could sell the product as it is, is a joke at best.

September 25, 2013 - 12:16 pmMr MacDonald... your last

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr MacDonald...

your last comment to me, shows CLEARLY why a person that is NOT a horseman needs to lead the charge. I totally understand the product. I also care about the product, hence me replying to you. The difference is.... I can sell soap to THOUSANDS of people, regardless of quality of the soap. Trust me, many of the bands that play the venues that I work at, are GARBAGE. That does not change that my job is to make sure people see these bands as well. This being the case, the product is only part of the issue. With no marketing strategy, it does not matter how great a band is. You could have the "best kept" secret playing for a room full of no one if you do not gear your marketing towards people that might appreciate this.

You say "gamblers" need a bettable product. Well, there is your first downfall. Your focus is on your current customer base, and those that recently left. If that is the case, then you should automatically close any track that doesnt average $50k a night in wagering. Simply put, you cant bet at Sudbury, Kawartha, Dresdon, Hanover, Sarnia. But since you seem destined to save these places so horseman can be happy, a better situation needs to arise. Look at Leamington. They had triple the handle compared to money given away. After the winning gamblers took home the loot, the horseman did not require nearly the amount from slots that say, "kawartha or Sudbury does". Did you ask those fans that lined the race track, "was the races competitive?" "were you disappointed in the finishes", "did you have a good time", "did your kids enjoy this"?

You seem to think I do not get that the product needs to be fixed. Again, like I have said a million times, I could sell your product as is, with ZERO changes, including the take out (Im not discussing the lowering or raising of the take out, because it is not as big of a deal as people around here make it, hence no one replied to my point that proline, slots, and lottery do not reveal take out and have more money made than poker and harness). Take out, fixing classes, go ahead...... waste your time fixing stuff that is like 6th to 7th on the list of things that is going to bring people out.

To make a comparison, you fixing the take out, and the classes, is like me fixing the sound system or making a better dressing room for the acts. If people do not come, or people do not know about the talent that is playing, your fixes will not be noticed by anyone other than those already at the bar. NOT THE WAY A BUSINESS GROWS.

September 25, 2013 - 12:07 pmJoe, Yes i did. I have the

Yes i did.
I have the distinct impression there is a shift coming.

People have to remember the liberals crushed us but then laid down such negative literature about us it made it very difficult to come out strong.

I have asked the party to be straight with us all and simply say:
"The liberals have made this industry look like a leach to ontario tax payers with catch phrases like " horse racing or health care".
We all know nothing could be further from the truth.

Slot revenue is down, unemployment is rising again.
Holes in this industry were found, albeit at a huge cost again to the taxpayers.
We have the reports from an expensive panel revue.
The restructuring of this industry will be vital to it reinstatement to actual "world class level." We all know who ruined this industry in favor of casino expansion.
Much has been broken and a Tim Hudak government would be committed to helping this industry regain world class status again.

1)obviously these are my words and at this point my alone.
2)We K ow who ruined our industry, we know how well the liberals crafted their attack so to make it hard for defense from us or any party.

As a horsemen, father and husband I know we need a change.
As a pc candidate I believe it's a Tim Hudak government.


September 25, 2013 - 12:03 pmHey fellas.... give me the

Will Yamakva SAID...

Hey fellas.... give me the credit for the commissioner's idea (lol, just kidding, its not about who gets the credit, its about the idea working)

Thank you for the compliment MS Martin.... but hiring me, would actually be like the hiring the other men are talking about. Other than gambling on races, I do not have and never had, any other connection to the sport. I know nothing about the care of horses, or breeding.

That being said, I do not know a thing about 90% of the entertainers that fill the venues that I work for. I do not even see or meet them. My job is to bring the people that like that music, to the venue, and what not. Of course that changes depending on the band. In many cases, the bands or groups have their own promotions team, and marketing team. Horseman need the same. The gentleman that made reference to an external hiring, are talking about Gary Bettman (business man) Roger Modell (Business man) David Stern (businessman) Donald Fehr (Leader of the NHLPA, a business man) and many others.... that were not previously in the sport, leading the sport and making it profitable. Purists can say these men ruined the game, but every player in the game (all sports) owes those men for making the changes needed so they can get a bigger pay check. Horseman need that leader.

Mr MacDonald seems focused on the racing aspect, as though that is the fix here. That couldnt be closer to the truth. Many of the gamblers, want the take outs as the fix.... that couldnt be the answer as well, as I continually post, slots and lottery do NOT advertise the take out, but make a billion times more than harness (or poker, the argument that gamblers make about what they need to be fixed. Despite poker being the 7th biggest form of gambling. Its not really competition)

Like the men said, horseman need to unite, and bring one guy, that is going to irritate MANY horseman (since so many have vastly different ways to fix this problem)

As far as "transparency" goes, Ms Martin... let me ask you a few questions.

If you are a fan of a certain horse, you have to look daily at the entries to see if he is running. Chances are, he might be running some where else. How does that benefit the local fan? It does not. I get how that does not help you, but the casual fan, cant follow a horse that it does not know where it races. Like I always say, "I am a Jody Jameson fan", but ask me how I can see or meet my favorite driver? Ask me where his facebook fan page is? Ask me what his website is...... None exist. Tough to be the guy's fan. My favorite horse, was "Duke" a few year back, that races in Ottawa and won a billion in a row. Could not tell you where he is these days. No website or news that shows me this stuff.

While bettors are going to say "gamblers dont care about that"... all gamblers started out as fans. That is where you need to gear this, CREATING the gamblers of tomorrow. Focusing on the people that left, and lowering the take out, only really matters to the hardcore gamblers.

September 25, 2013 - 9:25 amWill, We have gone back and

We have gone back and fourth about this and I'm trying to understand the facets of this game that have eluded horsemen

You would have a more effective argument if you did the same from your side.
You simply either don't understand or don't care about the product?
I can sell you sh*t and tell you it's soap? Only until you go to use it will you know you have been duped.
That's how the gamblers will feel without a highly competitive and betable product.
I for the life of me can't understand why you don't get that?
It isn't a case of "chicken and the egg"? It's step 1.

Obviously you understand where I come from and the need for a proper governance system and revamp of the oss.
I agree.

Mr. Robinski.
You also are bang on.
Although I would say 4-5 length recalls pr refunds.
I have a stance on positive tests.
I will write a blog in the coming weeks on them.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention I had a positive test in 2007.
So i will speak clearly and avoid any "hypocritical" references at all costs.

Again everyone,
Thanks for commenting.
These open forums are very important and I appreciate you taking the time to respond.


September 25, 2013 - 8:19 amMr. Robinski if you have been

Mr. Robinski if you have been involved with every aspect of harness racing personally then you know everything you have mentioned is not within the grasp of owners, trainers. All I hear is accountability, transparency etc.etc. What the heck is everyone talking about. When I race I take care of my horse, enter in the class available, go to the track, go to a paddock with several other racers, race, go home. Tell me someone an example of accountabilty and transparency.

Right Terry. Many have been saying this for a long time but still no one has taken the lead to get something started. We don't need a "hero" just someone with industry knowledge and good common sense.

I think Mr. Yamakva should be the voice for the Horse Industry. He seems so passionate about it. Talk is cheap, can you actually do better than all of the people who have been fighting hard for the industry? Just sayin....

Right now, at the B tracks you can't have more than one owner per horse (and that owner has to be the trainer)to meet expenses and hope for a little profit. No one in the industry has lowered expenses for the horse owners. This is making it near impossible to stay in the business.

September 25, 2013 - 7:10 amThe industry does need a

John Carter SAID...

The industry does need a single voice, a commissioner as Terry Hunter pointed out and it needs to be somebody from outside the industry. It needs to be a businessman, someone who understands today's competitive market place and can address the issues such as the industry being uncompetitive with other forms of gambling, the fair start pole, full competitive fields and so on. The reality is, this is unlikely to happen. In this industry it seems that everybody, the racetracks, the horseman all have there own agendas and it is the gamblers/ fans that get forgotten about, which at some point will be the final nail in the coffin for the industry.

I have said on here for years now, that the people in positions of power within the industry are the wrong people in charge. Like it or not that's a fact. These are the people that have led to the demise of the industry, do you really think these people are the ones to produce a different result. They have watched for years, the wager fall, empty grandstands, and they know that young gamblers are not supporting the product. What is their solution, the truth of the matter is they have none other then the same old tired promotions such as guaranteed pic-4 pools and so on. I have not seen a single person running a racetrack with the exception of Jeff Gural who shows any signs what so ever that they have a grasp of why the industry is dying out. If you don't understand the issues you can't possibly fix them.

September 25, 2013 - 5:42 amDear Anthony; I would like to

jim rigg SAID...

Dear Anthony; I would like to know if you were able to get an audience with Tim Hudak? and did you receive support from any of the MPPs'? Thank you.

September 25, 2013 - 2:48 amPlease please please Mr.

Please please please Mr. Macdonald have you made this list public. 1 Remove the "fair start pole" and return to a refund unless the horse is within 2 lengths of the starting gate(a rule that applied and worked well from the 40's to the 70's. Have you listed a mandatory reduction in the parimutuel takeout to less than 10% so that the cost to the "fans"(bettors) is only 100% more than other betting propositions. Have you listed and advocated pre race testing and lifetime bans for violators.Have you listed and asked for a fairer(non subsidy)deal for the slots players so that racing stands as a business model on it's own as mine and all others I know do? I have been involved in every aspect of Harness Racing in the past(I could see the writing in the wall and got out).I have been involved with both the Provincial and Federal Liberals financially and with my time. You have not, you have nearly been a tout for the owners trainers and drivers!!

September 24, 2013 - 4:50 pmThis OSS season is finished

Terry Hunter SAID...

This OSS season is finished and done. It ended up being better than we anticipated at this time last year, however, we need to make changes and start looking to the future and figuring how to improve from this point. I absolutely agree with Anthony that the Grassroot program was a bust and would suggest that most owners lost money racing in the Grassroot system in 2013.

I understand that there are excess funds from the OSS program that are currently being considered utilized in a set of concillation races for OSS horses that didnt qualify for the Grassroot Finals or Gold SuperFinals. I believe these funds should be held and used for the 2014 season to increase the Grassroot purses or create a series for OSS eligable horses that are non winners of a certain income level (perhaps nw $20,000 lifetime for example) to be raced this year still.

I feel we need to find ways to distrube the money around the industry. The OSS Gold program took a hit this year but was still half decent. The Grassroots program took a much harder hit and needs to be revamped for the 2014 season. By having strong and viable Gold as well as Grassroot programs it gives the owners confidence in buying yearlings with the knowledge that even if their investment doesn't pan out to be a high quality Gold prospect that there is still a reasonable opportunity to see some decent return on investment in Grassroot racing. In other words find ways o get the money back into the hands of multiple owners/trainers, etc. Sure its nice to see one horse be able to make a $1 million (especially if you own that horse) but its better for the industry to spread that money out and create ways of having 10 horses win $100,000 each instead.

I feel we will just spin our wheels and get nothing accoplished as long as we continue being such a fragmented industry. We have the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA), Ontario Harness Horse Association (OHHA), Central Ontario Standardbred Associatio (COSA),National Capital Region Harness Horse Association (NCRHHA), Northern Horseman's Association (NHA) as well as Standardbred Canada. With so many differant groups, it's no wonder we can't seem to act as a unified front and lay out a direction to proceed.

We need one person to act as a Standardbred "Commissioner" that has the ability to make decisions and lead our industry forward into the future. TA commissioner governed system as been in place in the NHL, NBA and NLB for years and years and has been sucessful. Our Commissioner needs to be a person with experience in the business world and perhaps Political/Labour and Law background. Somebody that can communicate and act effectively on our behalf and also have the ability to make decisions and get things done once and for all. The more people you have involved, such as we currently do, the more difficult it is to get anything acomplished. Just way too many opionions and voices. This Commissioner needs to be totally unbiased and respresent all types of horse owners/trainers equally (Gold & Grassroot). This person doesn't even necessarily need to come from within our industry already. Perhaps a totally new outside person can come in without already having a tainted thought process and have a fresh new outlook without any blinders on. I believe it is our opportunity as an industry to select that person to lead us rather than have people appointed by the politicians or ORC.

We have many challenges ahead but I still truly believe we will come out the other side of this as an economically stronger and viable sport ready to meet the future. But we need to make these changes soon and under our terms before its forced on us like the end of slots program was.

September 24, 2013 - 4:40 pmAgain? Mr MacDonald, you want

Will Yamakva SAID...


Mr MacDonald, you want a product world class and hope fans are gonna come? Never going to happen with the steps you want to go thru. Never going to happen with a government person or horse man leading the charge.

You talk about an exodus starting?

Have horseman got together and got one voice fighting for you? No. Have you got a solid plan which the tracks, the horse folk and gamblers agree on? Or voted on? Do you even have a rough marketing strategy set forth to show any government folks? Nothing horseman voted on.

Unity among yourself hasn't taken place yet.

Like other big league sports the growth of the game should be entrusted in a leader than can speak for you, that knows how to sell your game to both the fans and tge players and teams/tracks.

Its been a year.... and you are still running for office here, instead of finding that person.

The one thing I have yet to hear, is a horseman admit there is far too much supply compared to demand and accepting there has to be losses

September 24, 2013 - 1:23 pmAll do respect Mr

All do respect Mr Robinski.
This problem affects all facets of this game.
For instance,
I have spoke about bettors and gamblers, I have spoke about marketing, attempting to grow a fan base but without fixing the internal horse racing issues from a horse perspective we can't put on a product worth wagering on,let alone touting as world class.
That's the point.
We can and should fix the problems we can. We know which way the panel is pointed and now we have to be proactive.

Also, you have no idea who I'm lobbying and what I've been trying to accomplish.
These are conversational blogs not diary entries sir.
I can assure you I'm doing all I can and attempting what I cant.
We all need to look at what we can accomplish positively and try to do more or all of this will be for nothing.


September 24, 2013 - 12:19 pmWell spoken, hear hear

gord young SAID...

Well spoken, hear hear

September 24, 2013 - 10:22 amYou and others in racing have

You and others in racing have not and are still not advocating and pressuring the race tracks and the government to as you say "do the right thing" for what you call "fans" but actually means bettors. The list of top priorities has been made and made clear by many!

September 24, 2013 - 10:07 amAs usual some interesting

As usual some interesting ideas to ponder Anthony. There are up and down sides to some of your proposals but they shouldn't be rejected by anyone still in the industry.
It beats the fair racing model currently being used in Leamington. How much investment in racing from the remaining owners would continue if they knew in advance that their costs and expenses would be ten times or greater the income from such a purse structure . Net effects of people moving or selling their breeding stock would continue and the horse population would continue to diminish let alone having the desired effect of new participation and investment. Grass roots racing and fair racing is not the answer to growing customer and wagering dollars they are like a lot about racing something of the history and the past a new a bold vision is required. Keep up the discussion Anthony at least till you start your campaign.

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