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Sue Leslie Speaks Out

Published: January 5, 2010 11:15 am ET

Last Comment: January 5, 2010 6:37 pm ET | 2 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Sue Leslie, the chair and president of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association, has penned an open letter in response to Ontario Racing Commission chair Rod Seiling's letter regarding track stalemates.

Seiling's letter can be read by clicking here.

Leslie's letter appears below in its entirety.

It is my belief that Mr. Seiling’s letter captures the essence of the current dilemma facing our horse racing industry in Ontario.

The confrontational, territorial ways of dealing with the situations such as this latest imbroglio between horsepeople and racetracks at Hiawatha Horse Park and Sudbury Downs must cease. We desperately need a more focused, co-operative approach to disagreements arising within our industry.

We should be encouraging people to participate in our sport instead of discouraging them by doing things like shutting down simulcast operations.

Confidence and enthusiasm are the greatest sales producers in any economy. How can we expect our customers (bettors) to have confidence and enthusiasm in our industry if we are continually squabbling with one another?

Ultimately, all of us want our industry to prosper. The best way to accomplish this is to remember that civility is not a sign of weakness and we in the horse racing industry must look at the industry to unite us instead of bemoaning the problems that divide us.

Partners can and will on occasion disagree but it is how we manage our disagreements that will benefit or harm our industry.

In order to achieve benefits for everyone a spirit of compromise and trust must prevail.

Please, let all of us work together to make our great sport of horse racing even greater!

Sue Leslie,

Chair & President, OHRIA

January 5, 2010 - 6:37 pmIn response to your call

In response to your call Mrs./ Ms Leslie's,for the industry to unite, I am left unclear of whom you are referring to. Do you mean that horseman and track ownership should unite?
You also use the word "partners". I'm sure you know of all that I am talking about but I'll continue anyway for anyone else who doesnt.
The current lack of care for the horseman side of most racetrack properties is in no way and indication that a partnership is close to coming to fruition. Tracks have a much different agenda than horseman and this is understandable (they want to make money too). $7000 bet a night at Sudbury is not making the track money. After the splits and the payout to the public, paying employees and keeping the lights on, etc., there probably isnt a whole lot of the $7000 left for the racetrack owner to enjoy. I wouldnt want an anchor out the side of my boat when I'm cruising either. We(horsepeople)are the anchor to most racetracks and there are no localized "special" problems based on geographic location in Ontario's standardbred industry. Mark my words, "Until horsepeople unite, living racing, as we know it today in ON, is doomed"; shove all you petty differences and special circumstances and attempt to save your livelihood. There is one glaring problem whether you race at KD, SUD, RCR or WEG; handle on live ON standardbred racing is in severe decline. If we allow the decline to continue it will accelerate out of control and live racing will stop. The one card we have to throw at the govt when asking for support (or begging to allow slots to run only if live racing is in place), is not as powerful as it once was. Jobs in ON directly or indirectly related to horse racing are in decline as well. If we are no longer a significant contributor to the economy, we will lose govt support for sure. All it takes is a new govt to pass legislation that allows slots to ring regardless of the status of live racing and we are racing for $900 again at B tracks. Racetrack ownership has outwitted horseman since the dawn of time all over NA. They are currently using the oldest trick in the book to keep us at bay (which isnt a difficult task); "Divide and Conquer"

Gavin Christie

January 5, 2010 - 12:28 pmI think sue has a valid

I think sue has a valid point here and its about time people in this industry woke up and reliazed that positive thoughts and encouragement are key in getting the industry back in a thriving state again. Ive been going to the horse races since I was 5yrs old trained horses for 10yrs have been part of the industry for 40yr in one form or another and i cant tell you how hard it is to watch us push people out the door we are walking a fine line here there is no one watching the actual horse races or very few if it wasnt for the casinos we would be in terrible shape dont you agree? How many young people do you see at the horse races im there all the time i dont see many how do we promote are sport not very well in my opinion im not saying I have all the answers but we must find ways to get people interested in the horse races and positive thoughts are a step in the right direction . This new whipping rule is another confrontational aspect to change that in my opinion only leaves horse players doubting if they got a fair shake we dont need that doubt in peoples minds some of our top drivers in the sport have spoken up and voiced there concerns with this new rule and nobody listens I here people all the time when im at the track expressing that certain individual wasnt trying to hard we dont need that uncertainty in our sport we get enough bad press as it is. Lets face it the customer is our first concern this is a business if we have no customers we have nothing and we are loseing people all the time and how many new people do we get we need to show people we are a united strong co-operative group that wants to move forward to bring our industry to respectable levels again so sue my hand reaches out to you for trying to unite our industry once again!!

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