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Murray On Proposed Pilot Program

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Published: January 6, 2011 3:29 pm ET

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The Ontario Racing Commission has yet to respond to the Woodbine Entertainment Group in regard to a proposed pilot program which would see a 'guaranteed starter bonus' given to each horse that starts in a race, according to WEG Vice President Bruce Murray.

In an article by Dave Briggs in the Guelph Mercury, Murray was quoted as saying that with no stabling for standardbreds at Woodbine Racetrack, all horses have to ship in, thus horsepeople face a significant cost in shipping to the track.

The proposed pilot program would see the connections of every horse which races at Woodbine Racetrack guaranteed $300 every time it performs at the suburban Toronto track no matter where it finishes in the race until May 17.

Murray was quoted as saying, "We (WEG) believe it would be an incentive for people to enter." He was also quoted as saying, “This is the time of year to do it during the inclement weather when [there are] challenges to get to Woodbine.”

Murray also took the time to comment on the fact that some people have said that, in some cases, trainers will just end up entering his/her horse at Woodbine just to collect the $300 payment.

“There’s a perception that people just enter to earn $300, but I really don’t believe that, although I’ve heard that feedback,” Murray was quoted as saying. “It costs a lot of money to race a horse. I don’t believe somebody’s going to ship from London just because they know they’re going to get $300 to race at Woodbine. It just offsets the costs incurred of racing a horse and we certainly hope it helps fill our entry box.”

In the article, Murray explained that current purse levels will not have to be adjusted for the pilot program due to money left over in the purse pool from 2010.

“We had some horse supply issues in the fall when we were racing five days a week," he said. "We had a number of weeks where we weren’t able to fill 11-plus races. We were often going with 10 races a night. As a result, there was purse money that wasn’t paid out. It was budgeted for, but wasn’t paid out because we didn’t actually run the races we had budgeted for. There’s money there to do this kind of project.”

(With files from the Guelph Mercury)

(Note - In a effort to consolidate comments on topics, if you wish to comment on the proposed pilot program, please do so here.)


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