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Expanded WEG Announcement Coverage

Published: January 24, 2013 1:51 pm ET

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At a press conference on Jan. 24 at Woodbine Racetrack, more details were revealed surrounding the future of horse racing at Woodbine and Mohawk, and the greater future for the sport in Ontario, and Trot Insider has quotes from Ted McMeekin, Jim Lawson and Nick Eaves.

"I went to bed last night secure in the knowledge that world-class horse racing will continue in Ontario," said Ted McMeekin, Ontario's Minister of Agriculture. "I think we're coming around the bend and into the sprint part.

"We hope this will send a message to breeders that the government is very serious about the industry."

McMeekin praised the work of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) panel, stating that it "worked tirelessly." McMeekin stated, "We made great progress together and we have charted a new path for a viable, sustainable long-term horse-racing industry in Ontario."

McMeekin also stated that he believes that the process between OMAFRA and "the other cluster of tracks that are currently engaged in discussions with us" will "find an easier path moving forward."

While dollar figures were not released, McMeekin did indicate that his ministry is serious about the next steps of working with other racetracks.

"You won't see any money figures until we go a little further along the way," McMeekin stated. "There are at least eight more racetracks to work with, maybe more. The funding will be significantly more than the $50 million originally earmarked, but we don't have any numbers we can release at this time."

"Yesterday we announced that we entered into an agreement for the next couple of years," WEG Chair Jim Lawson stated. "It's been a long haul. It's been a spirit of cooperation and this is a very big first step here."

Lawson went on to say, "We can now move forward, which will bring much needed stability to this industry," adding that while the transitional funding is important, "We've got a lot of work ahead of us."

Noting that the announcement of the agreement in principle "is just the beginning" and that he is "optimistic," Lawson praised Minister McMeekin, stating that without his contribution "We wouldn't be where we are today," adding that his dedication to the process has "been invaluable."

Nick Eaves offered his perspective on the process and the future, stating, "The real conclusion that the panel came to that we embraced is that it required a partnership," adding that "it's important to understand that because the agreement is transitional in nature, our organization will have to look at how we deliver."

Coinciding with the Woodbine Entertainment Group's Thursday, January 24 press conference regarding its agreement in principle with the Ontario Government's Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs that ensures the continuation of live horse racing at Mohawk Racetrack and Woodbine Racetrack for the next two years, WEG has issued a release with some details for its planned racing activities for the near future.

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