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OHHA: Horsemen To Withhold Entries At Woodbine In New Year

Published: December 24, 2008 12:11 pm ET

Last Comment: January 1, 2009 8:09 pm ET | 61 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

According to a release from the Ontario Harness Horse Association, at an OHHA member meeting Tuesday, December 23, members voted to not enter horses to race at Woodbine Racetrack starting with the January 1, 2009 race card, and continuing until a contract acceptable to them is signed with OHHA.

Without the agreement of horsemen who provide live racing at the tracks the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency can not issue a betting permit allowing betting on horse races.

The OHHA release also states that the racing contract governing standardbred racing at Woodbine Entertainment Group’s two racetracks (Woodbine and Mohawk Racetrack) expires on December 31, 2008. In the aforementioned OHHA meeting, members met to review and discuss the progress in the negotiations for the new racing contract for Woodbine and Mohawk.

The release states that a large crowd of prominent owners, trainers and drivers attended the meeting and that discussions focused on two main issues.

The release outlines that the first issue was Woodbine Entertainment Group’s (WEG) demand that standardbred horsemen allow thoroughbred horsemen to determine the amount of revenue from the winter thoroughbred simulcasts that flows to purses. Currently, that amount is defined by the standardbred racing contract with OHHA and represents more that five per cent of total standardbred purses at the two tracks. OHHA members voted to reject that demand.

The OHHA statement says that second issue involves WEG’s demand that OHHA give up its right to represent or intervene with the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) or Ontario’s courts when a racing participant, duly licensed by the ORC, has been banned from racing at the two tracks by WEG management. Members voted to reject that demand. OHHA has steadfastly held and intervened to ensure that participants are dealt with fairly through the Ontario Racing Commission, the provincial government body charged with regulating horse racing. Discussions also dealt with the number of live race days at the two WEG tracks and a great deal of frustration was expressed with the recent reductions in live days in 2008 and 2009 at Woodbine.

OHHA has called a meeting for 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 30, 2008, at the Milton Best Western for horsemen to be updated on the situation. Information on the negotiations can be found at on the OHHA website.

(With files from OHHA)

January 1, 2009 - 8:09 pmFrom the OHHA, Dec 26 Press

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

From the OHHA, Dec 26 Press Release:

"The ORC has been given the authority to regulate horse racing in Ontario by the provincial government. That ORC can immediately suspend any licensee for an alleged serious performance enhancing drug violation, can impose severe, long-term penalties for violations proven through a hearing and can impose licensing conditions on any individual coming back from the suspension. There is no need for WEG or any other racetrack operator to impose another regulatory process. "

The last sentence is where the OHHA has blundered.
WEG is NOT imposing another regulatory process, they merely want to exercise their private property rights, which are constitutionally enshrined.

No one, not the OHHA, not the ORC, not the Premier of Ontario, not the Prime Minister of Canada can overturn WEG's property rights without changing the constitution. Presumably the OHHA believes the (faulty) Sudbury Downs lower court decision sets a precedent. I can assure the OHHA that that is not so. Perhaps the OHHA should get a proper legal opinion from a qualified legal counsel before it leaps to erroneous conclusions and calls for a boycott.

If OHHA is determined to pursue this, OHHA and its executives will be laughed out of the court.
Embarrassing or disturbing?

December 31, 2008 - 11:43 pmPeter Kyte I am not sure if

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Peter Kyte

I am not sure if you were around then but just so you know Quebec racing industry was great until they had a strike back in 1993, has been going down since.

December 31, 2008 - 3:00 pmWhile the debate on unions

Murray B (not verified) SAID...

While the debate on unions out living their purpose would be a great discussion over a few pints, your points while possibly valid are unrelated to the issue at hand.

The comment regarding fear mongering implies that I am exaggerating the subject of discussion. While I am sure we will agree to disagree about this issue, I am just stating what can happen and nothing that has happened to this point has convinced me otherwise.

For example, if unions have out lived their purpose then why does WEG still bargain using the same tactics that have been used since the creation of unions. Which mean, ask for a whole bunch and eventually drop a few issues to make the other side feel like they are making some ground. This is not bargaining in good faith!!! It sure doesn't seem like WEG is taking the high road to have a better relationship with OHHA either. But why is WEG doing this? Because they are a FOR PROFIT organization.

Before I get to off topic I will keep it real simple for you. Give WEG's prosposed ideas of change to any lawyer in North America biased or unbiased for them to look over. Ask one question, "Should OHHA allow WEG to do this?" Any lawyer worth his or her salt will tell you never to give up your rights. Yes that is exactly what WEG is asking for from everyone not just the cheaters.

While the pro WEG points that are made are entertaining they are only a feable attempt to manufacture consent. Which is another way of saying GREED! Happy New Year

December 31, 2008 - 1:19 pmThis is too much ... OHHA

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

This is too much ... OHHA informs its membership one thing and WEG turns around (again)and claims OHHA misrepresented the facts.

Last week, immediately after OHHA notified horsemen of the unresolved issues on the WEG racing contract, WEG (Sat), removed one of the issues off the negotiations table.

I for one, am confused and request WEG clarify their position regarding paragraph 21b:
WEG's demand: "the Senior Vice-President Racing will IN HIS SOLE DISCRETION, determine whether to permit the ORC licensee entry to the Company's Woodbine and Mohawk premises for purposes of participating in Standardbred raing"
21c: "The Association agrees that the decision of the Senior Vice-President Racing is final and binding on it and agrees that it will not take any steps to intervene or participate in any proceedings commenced by an individual before the ORC or the Courts."

Does WEG's demand infringe and/or deny our rights and freedoms as guarantee by the Charter?? If OHHA agreed to WEG's demand does it mean WEG has ABSOLUTE authority and power ... even over the Constitution Act??

As I understand it, every citizen of Canada has the right to legal counsel and the guarantee of habeas corpus and also the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.

I applaud WEG for standing up and banning the guilty cheaters (harness and thoroughbred) from racing at their tracks, however I'm confused with the significance of paragraph 21 considering WEG is already implementing private property rights to ensure INTEGRITY in horse racing is upheld??

December 31, 2008 - 1:04 pmWould you pay your union

Diane Collins (not verified) SAID...

Would you pay your union dues if they were not able to help you when an issue comes up with an employer this is the same thing as far as I'm concerned and should be a big issue for all involved with OHHA you pay your dues you want something out of it or why pay these people are there to get your back or try to help when you are being treated unfairly so why wouldn't you support it. As far as TB trying to get money for SB winter racing come on be reasonable here why should they it's not like SB is stopping them from racing at their track it's that they don't race in the winter why is that SB's fault or problem we are not stopping them.

I agree with OHHA's stance sometimes when you give a little in a contract you end up losing a lot. Your bargaining committee is doing what they feel is in the best interest of the organization if the members aren't happy maybe you (the complainers) can do a better job try it and see how easy it is or not. I have negotiated 3 contracts for harness racing over the last couple of years and not once did I look at what was best for a couple of horsemen but for all horsemen paid memberships or not after all we are all one and we need everyone and as far as a one or two year contract that is only a band-aid approach you need a long term contract so everyone feels safe and you will get more people involved in all aspects because there is a felling of security we did a 5 year deal and got not only new memberships but new owners, trainers and our bet increased because people felt secure and had a feeling of longevity in our sport. You can't back down or be dictated to next thing you know they will be telling you how to race your horses. As far as the drivers issue a liscened driver is just that as long as they are in good standing and the owner and trainer have faith in them who is WEG to say they are not permitted to drive. It's like a car the owner determines who drives it not the lease company or next door neighbor.

Keep up the good work OHHA and stand your ground like someone stated earlier no one is going to starve for a couple of races what if your horse had the virus or other illness would you starve or not pay your trainer for that come on be serious crap happens eventually you get through it and sometimes it's even better than before. Remember that OHHA has everyones best interest in hand and are not acting on what is best for them but what is best for everyone let them make their decisions and stand behind them you never know maybe the decision they make today will impact you tomorrow then maybe some will agree that what they did at this time was for the best and you will appreciate their efforts.

Contract negotiations are not easy and it takes two sides to sit and talk maybe WEG had a reason for waiting until the end of Dec to make their claims do you really think that your association wants to stop racing if they did they wouldn't be doing what they are doing trying to protect all involved. I bet that if WEG was trying to drop the purse percentage a strike wouldn't have this much discussion everyone would be out of the box and in a hurry. Think about it.

December 31, 2008 - 12:14 pmAll Bettors should support

Angry Bettor (not verified) SAID...

All Bettors should support the Boycott

Yes, all of us should support the boycott and then jump in by not wagering on what I consider to be the worst product available. They line up like kindergarten kids, holes open up like the red sea, no movement until the head of the stretch, inconsistent drivers and many of them cheat or have cheated in the past. So why should we care, don't bet the damn product. We all lose our shirts as WEG knows, not sure OHHA is smart enough to understand that , but nonetheless it has been proven that more than %99 of regular bettors lose. Bottom line is, I know I will lose so at least entertain me, trained sheep racing isn't entertainment, WEG, OHHA and the ORC are all responsible for the worst product in the province of Ontario. So please, please, please, continue the boycott so I don't have to be exposed to your garbage. Come on bettors, we should unite and truly show this industry who's boss. Slot players are #1 horse players are #2. Without us drivers will have to race 3k claimers and make 4k per yr rather than 400k. Keep it up boys, the group your fighting against has provided a wonderful opportunity for you. Your too dumb to understand that.

December 30, 2008 - 10:35 pmI guessing it is section 21

Greg Parke (not verified) SAID...

I guessing it is section 21 paragraph C that has everyone in an uproar. If WEG deems after the appeal people still may not race and can't use OHHA or the courts to get back into WEG, or something like that. I am not sure why WEG feels it needs to take this stance but there truly is something not working. Has the ORC or the OHHA challenged this in the courts yet?, is it truly a legal document in the eyes of the court? I am sure there have been many discussions but is OHHA and the ORC really listening carefully to what is being said about integrity? Is it really that bad? It would truly be sad to see this all fall apart due to inflated and deflated ego's. If there is a strike, do the slots and simulcast stay open? If they have to close (no racing no slots I think was the original deal if it hasn't changed)and simulcasts close then a strike would work. If the slots and simulcasts stay open, do you think a strike would be effective? If Georgian's current contract is the one they went on strike for, they lost race dates anyway didn't they?, what was the point? Will the same happen here? There is a strong argument for not being able to take appeals to the court level and not having WEG as judge, jury and executioner. In saying that, I don't know WEG's side of the story but it still seems wrong. There HAS to be a common ground somewhere without a strike.

December 30, 2008 - 7:51 pmTHEY'RE WINNING WE'RE

Frank Lester (not verified) SAID...

Just like they probably expected we can't even agree amongst ourselves to support the one association that might be some help to us.As Murray B says not only are the cheaters going to suffer but so are many others.When will we ever learn? They continue to keep us divided and in so doing they are controlling us.This is not the time to throw in the towel and capitulate to every whim that the track owners want,but rather make them stand up and be accountable for their actions.
Before slots came into existence and the betting handle was the main source of income for the track owners did we have problems like reduced race dates or no winter racing?In fact in those days the tracks would often call up and ask us to enter horses so they could fill their field and be able to have a race event.That was when the track owners needed us.Now they only need the slot revenue,races are becoming an unecessary overhead.So are we and if we don't stand up for ourselves you can bet nobody else ever will.
Unfortunately it seems that one of humanities worst features is rearing it's ugly head and controlling our very decision making in many of these problem areas,it's called greed. We're all guilty of it,wanting more,giving less and blaming everyone else for the problem,just fill the bank account.Is racing a sport anymore or just another business? If we can't fill the bank account tomorrow because we have a disagreement with a decision made by the organization we gave certain rights to.Then are we just not disagreeing with ourselves,after all OHHA is just you and me.
I keep saying this,if we don't unite and quit scrapping amongst ourselves,some up and coming politician is going to get himself elected on a platform of giving our 10% slot revenues to hospitals or schools.And guess who will still be operating the slot parlors and continuing to get their 10%,while they make a paved parking lot where the track used to be.
Let's bury our pride and unite in our efforts to sustain live racing in Ontario. A boycott might not be the best answer but supporting ourselves which is our association is a virtual must,lets just think about that.The longevity of racing for good purse money here at home lies equally with us.
I am surprised at the number of anonymous comments sent into this blog and the fear there seems to be in associating with your own thoughts.Is there something wrong in challenging those that don't always have our best interest in mind? Am I missing something?

Frank Lester

December 30, 2008 - 3:57 pm"Maybe it is time to listen

Darryl MacArthur (not verified) SAID...

"Maybe it is time to listen to those of us who remain anonymous"

This is by far one of the most unbelievable statements (and there have been many) I have read regarding this issue...but not the most unbelievable as that Honor in my estimation belongs to...

"Democracies work because people can remain anonymous"

Might I ask just how these "democracies" come to be? Do they spring up from the ground like a crop of winter wheat or perhaps they fall from the sky like a summer rain? The attitudes you have expressed carry a very clear message to me which is "Democracies work and I like them, just as long as I don't have to sacrifice or actually do anything to enjoy those freedoms". In closing I will offer this quote:

"The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment"
Robert M. Hutchins

We truly do reap what we sow.

Darryl MacArthur

December 30, 2008 - 3:47 pmRe: "Boycott Debate" You

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Re: "Boycott Debate"

You still actually believe this is a debate? The membership has spoken. It's called: 300+ entries in three days. It seems the horsemen have rolled over the executive in very public display of non-confidence.

The only debate I think is left is if members still want OHHA to represent them in these matters. If this gross miscalculation is ignored by members and they alllow OHHA to work for them in the future, I think OHHA should feel very, very lucky they are still employed by owners and trainers who race at WEG.

December 30, 2008 - 1:13 pmYoure making WEG sound like

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Youre making WEG sound like a crazy dictator. Up to this point IMO they have not barred anybody that didnt deserve it.Unions, of which Ohha is not, had there place 30 years ago when the employers took advantage of the workers. It is now the workers taking advantage of the employers (teachers, CAW, etc). WEG wants to assert private property rights and historically have been more than fair. To suggest in the future that they may not be is nothing more than fear mongering.

December 30, 2008 - 1:12 pmThank you Murray B.! Yours

Peter Kyte (not verified) SAID...

Thank you Murray B.! Yours are the two best postings since this entire debate started. Many of us wish more people had your clairvoyance.

December 30, 2008 - 1:10 pmReminder to members of the

Boycott Debate (not verified) SAID...

Reminder to members of the OHHA meeting tonight at 7p.m. at the Best Western in Milton, Ontario. Regardless of which side of the debate you are on, you are invited and should attend. No excuses. Hear the facts, have your say, ask questions.

If you would rather keep your privacy, but have an opinion or question, you can also email [email protected].

December 30, 2008 - 12:43 pmJust because you did nothing

Murray B (not verified) SAID...

Just because you did nothing wrong does not exclude you. The thought is WEG will only ban the cheaters when it seems fit. The language used gives WEG veto power on anyone. Lets be clear, there are provisions in place now to prevent this from happening, waiving that right will eliminate that option leaving it strictly up to WEGs discretion. We all assume it is undesirables that will be eliminated. It seems simple to me. WEG provides racing, we provide horses to race and the ORC governs. WEGs beef is with the ORC not OHHA. In the end OHHA, drivers and trainers get attacked because our pockets aren't as deep. Please don't be so naive to think WEG wouldn't restrict clean drivers and trainers to maintain integrity as well.

December 30, 2008 - 12:33 pmMr. Kyte, I've attended

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Mr. Kyte,

I've attended most ORC hearings in the last 5 or 6 years,and the recurring issue OHHA is obsessed with and pushes, relentlessly,is to deprive WEG of their private property rights and install the ORC as the "sole" regulator. Somehow the OHHA stickhandles this issue into most of those hearings.

That's pathetic and that's the hidden reason for calling this boycott.

December 30, 2008 - 12:09 pmTeachers got better wages

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Teachers got better wages and benefits because they are essential for grooming our future world leaders. That is not a very good comparison.
As long as your driver has done nothing wrong, you can bring in whoever you want to drive your horse.

December 30, 2008 - 10:32 amMr Kyte: OHHA has A) a weak

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Mr Kyte: OHHA has A) a weak bargaining postion in that WEG can continue to run slots and not bother with racing like they would likely prefer. B) no big issue to boycott on. Im a big boy and will defend myself when the time comes in a court of law like every other person. If i have committed an offence so severe that WEG warrants a ban then i likely deserve what i get rather than come running to OHHA with my hand out. I choose continued racing like the majority i have talked to.

December 30, 2008 - 8:10 amFrank! You are a friend,

Peter Kyte (not verified) SAID...

Frank! You are a friend, but I have to disagree! OHHA's mandate is to represent Ontario harness horsemen/horsewomen in negotiations of purses, racing conditions, and all matters affecting the industry as a whole with the tracks, Standardbred Canada, the Ontario Racing Commission, and the Provincial and Federal governments. OHHA isn't responsible for lobbying for more betting incentives for customers, lower takeouts or nicer dining facilities! (The WEG that you all promote should be doing that, but anyway...) Cutting race dates and taking away a horseperson's right to due process...those are issues that OHHA defends. If you and the other Judases can't see that, then that's your prerogative. But don't go misinformed and then lay the blame on OHHA. This contract has been on the table since the Summer. You weren't notified until December 23? BS. Something closer to the truth is that you (and so many others) didn't pay any attention or even care until it was crisis time, then your lack of interest was OHHA's fault. Stop passing the buck to OHHA!!! Did you go to any meetings? Did you check the web site? Did you call your District Director? What do you expect OHHA to do...come to your house and drag you out so that you can be on top of the facts and maybe have a better opinion of the people that work day and night for no pay for YOU? Oh, and just so you Quebec, the greatest factor that caused the demise of racing there is that horsemen didn't stand their ground against management. Get those facts straight, too. Ask your trainer. He had to move from Quebec to Ontario so that he could make a living. People can do what they want, but I would have thought that if anyone had learned from the Quebec situation, it would've been him. Nope! In-to-go. Bill Companion learned from the Alberta circumstances. He voted not to race and didn't enter.

I will concede that you are correct in your point about anonymity in democracies. My point in my initial post was that if OHHA is to ever truly "gain your confidence", what good are you or any of the others doing by anonymously ranting on the Standardbred Canada blog? You are an owner, and YES, owners do a lot to keep the business going. Go to a meeting, be heard. Stand up and tell people your name and what your involvement is. If OHHA is so bad, do your part to help it improve and get stronger. There is a meeting tonight at 7pm at The Best Western in Milton. No one will ever tell you you aren't entitled to your own opinion, I just wish that you and others would take the time to get both sides of the story, then decide.

December 30, 2008 - 8:04 amDo you think everyone that

Murray B (not verified) SAID...

Do you think everyone that kept horses out of the box agrees with the decision? We as members have an obligation to OHHA for only one reason. What we have now is because of OHHA and the people way back in the day that thought being united as a group ensured rights for everyone. Do you think school teachers agree with all the union decisions that are made? But when they didn't have an entity that represents them as a group made than 5000 dollars a year, had no benefits, and had no pension to speak of. Now the top wage is over 80k a year and they have the best pension plan in Ontario. This only happened becuase they stayed together in the tough times. So be proud of your greed because the cheaters aren't the only ones that will be affected here. There is nothing to say that only WEG approved drivers will only be allowed to drive. Wait and see when you want a driver that only gets along with your horse to come to WEG and drive. They say sorry no thanks you have to choose from one of the regulars here it is not fair to the betting public to have a driver from Kawartha drive you horse. You will then look to OHHA for some help. Oops wait a minute we gave up that right. Take WEG to court. Six years later when you have re-mortgaged your house for lawyers fees because that one night that you entered back in Jan 09 you needed to be an independant business owner. Agree or disagree you couldn't give OHHA one day at one track. Greed is more the word i was thinking.

December 30, 2008 - 3:09 amMr. Kyte: Perhaps if OHHA

Proud to be Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Mr. Kyte: Perhaps if OHHA would have begun sending out press releases about the issues in Sept., Oct., Nov. & Dec., maybe we could have felt involved in the process enough to come to the same conclusion as you by December 29th.

I'm a private business person not a union member. I may be an OHHA member but it is OHHA's responsibility to gain my confidence. And a release sent out on Christmas Eve that we should boycott the box on the next business day (Monday)is totally out of line.

No betting license means no harness racing - not no revenue for WEG. I am sure that when Georgian, Woodbine and Meadowlands channels are turned over to Santa Anita, Penn National & Mountaineer that harness racing will take another death blow. That's not leverage.

If this move takes away OHHA's bargaining power then that is the only positive to come from all this. We must be united as a horse industry, not as horsepeople vs. management. In Quebec, the horseman vs. management battle has resulted in the likely death of the industry. Using the product as a bargaining chip is embarassing.

Maybe it is time to listen to those of us who remain anonymous. Democracies work because people can remain anonymous. Dictatorships work by singling out and ostracizing those who oppose a view held by leadership.

If OHHA was fighting for the improvement of the game, more betting incentives for customers, lower takeout, nicer dining facilities OR anything that could actually grow harness racing, I'd be standing on the line with them. But they are fighting for the status quo. SHAME!

December 29, 2008 - 11:40 pmAnonymous Sir/Madam: I can

Peter Kyte (not verified) SAID...

Anonymous Sir/Madam: I can see that you didn't go to any meetings either, or call an OHHA Director for the proper information. YES...there is a 90-day grace period, but racing at the first of the New Year allows WEG to acquire their betting permit from the CPMA, which takes away much of OHHA's bargaining power. No racing means no betting permit, which means greatly reduced revenue for WEG. If such were allowed to happen, maybe WEG would have come off of their strong position and had a change of heart, just as some of OHHA's own members apparently have by entering their horses for Thursday. What a shame.

December 29, 2008 - 8:50 pmI would hope that OHHA and

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

I would hope that OHHA and its members that abided by the boycott also respect that some horsemen dont agree with the choice to boycott considering that the present contract had a 90 day grace period for continued negotiation. Intimidation on the point simply divides the horsemen more.

December 29, 2008 - 2:03 pmWhile I don't necessarily

jrich (not verified) SAID...

While I don't necessarily agree with a strike and I have horses that I could enter for the Thursday card of racing, I trust my trainer and the decision he makes in entering my horses to race. I am a small time owner and don't always have horses that I can enter for the money they go for at WEG. But its easy for me to sit back and be critical of both WEG and OHHA when I don't have to be in the trences everyday and have to deal with drivers or trainers and racetracks. We as owners have it pretty easy, we just pay the bills and sit back and watch our horses race. While I go out and help from time to time it is obviously not the same. In some ways I hope they have a race card so we can see all the people entered that will be OHHA members just so we can see the true greed of the sport.

December 29, 2008 - 12:11 amMy wife and I have bred and

Howard Nemovitz (not verified) SAID...

My wife and I have bred and raced standardbred horses for over 30 years. The owners once again are being treated as second class citizens. Where does the OHHA get off declaring a boycott without any notification, vote and/or approval from the owner(s)?
To add insult to injury, the OHHA has called for a meeting to discuss strategy on Tues, Dec 30 [one day after the boycott]. Apparently there was a meeting on Christmas Eve, albeit a driving snowstorm, that some trainers attended to discuss the situation and it was decided that the boycott of the entry box on Mon, Dec 29, would take place as originally proposed. Keep in mind that a boycott will have little effect on the trainers who will continue to get their per diem fees, the drivers who will get some time off without loosing any drives and the OHHA employees who will continue to be paid. Ironically, the biggest winner might be WEG for all the obvious reasons. Most definitely the owners, who totally financially drive the industry, will be the biggest loosers.

The OHHA, not WEG, has bungled this entire situation. Of course a new contract must be negotiated and the harness horsemen must stand up to WEG, otherwise WEG most certainly will take full advantage of the situation to meet their own needs. However, an unsanctioned, mid winter boycott can serve no purpose unless the owners decide it's the proper course of action. The time has come for the owners to get involved. We need to call a meeting and in the very least make specific recommendations to the OHHA.

In the meantime, on Monday I will be entering three(3) horses to race at Woodbine on Thurs, Jan 01, and I strongly urge my fellow owners to follow suit. Afterall, it is your horses we are talking about!

Yours truly,
Howard Nemovitz, owner

December 28, 2008 - 11:28 amWent to Woodbine last night

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Went to Woodbine last night to race for the first time this winter.
Was very delighted to see the paddock that has been built for our horses.
State of the art. Remember over 20 years ago racing at The Meadowlands and
feeling the same way seeing a state of the art 10 race paddock. Talked to the
VP of racing who was available and discussed some of today's issues.

What has changed since?

Revenue from betting down to $500M
Increased competition for the gaming dollar
WEG's facilty updated and includes slots
Trainer's such as Bill Robinson banned from the WEG grounds
Integrity of the game at an all time low
Very hard to bring new owners to the business and the new ones who have come
into the business in the past 20 years are very confused.
WEG's purses are higher than The Meadowlands.

What needs to change:

Increase the betting handle on an annual basis.
Improve the integrity of the game.
Address customers needs and unite as a industry.
Promote the good of the sport.
Come out with new betting products

These are just a few of my thoughts. I have visited the OHHA web site and read the
issues before sending out this email. I am committed as a breeder/owner to providing
the business with the best horse possible, looking after all our horses with the
greatest amount of care, growing the sport and being involved as much as I can.
From a business perspective and as an owner I do not support a boycott of the entry
box. Bad business. I ask that people in this industry look at the big picture.

December 28, 2008 - 11:15 amWEG already has a weapon of

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

WEG already has a weapon of last resort,it is called an access sticker. Correct me if I'm wrong but everybody who participates in racing [owners,trainers,drivers,grooms] signs a contract stating that at any time, you agree that WEG can ask you to vacate their property without any recourse toward them. This has been in place for the last few years and racing has gone on without any interruption. This has kept some individuals from participating at the WEG tracks and I believe that WEG has invoked it in a responsible way. Integrity has to be upheld even if one or two people are unfairly treated. That being said, this is why our judicial system is set up the way it is in Canada. It is totally unfair of WEG to ask OHHA not to support a member or anybody else who has fallen into this system in regards to racing. This is our association, set up to help the horsemen on many levels. Imagine if the NHL owners demanded the Players Reps not be able to represent their players regarding court matters! We sure wouldn't be torturing ourselves, watching the Leafs play tonight because there wouldn't be any NHL hockey being played anywhere!

WEG,OHHA get back to the table and get this resolved!

December 27, 2008 - 9:37 pmAs an owner, I do not agree

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

As an owner, I do not agree with a strike at this time. It will push owners, especially small owners, out of racing, and damage the product further.

A strike should be a last option, not a first. Bring in a mediator if necessary. Waiting until Dec 23rd to vote on a contract that expires Dec 31st? When exactly did any negotiations take place?

I'd also like to see something in the contract that actually helps to bring excitment and bettors back to the track .. for example a track that doesn't take a pair of binoculars to see the horses run. Perhaps use of the thoroughbred track (reworked with banking turns) should be put on the table.

December 27, 2008 - 9:09 pmThis is just standard

John George (not verified) SAID...

This is just standard practice/bargaining tactic that every company takes when times are tough. I have confidence in the O.H.H.A. bargaining commttee that this will pass and we will go forward and find new ways to enhance the racing experience, not just at the big tracks (Woodbine/Mohawk) but throughout Ontario. I agree very strongly that the second issue in dispute needs to be kept in place, everyone needs a fair and just representation when they are accused or found to be in violation of a rule. This is one owner/racefan who will continue to support the many hard working people that this industry has.

December 27, 2008 - 7:40 pmIt appears to me that the

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

It appears to me that the central issue is not whether or not OHHA directs that the membership vacate the box, but rather the rationale that OHHA is relying upon in directing that the box should remain empty.

It would appear that numerous complicated issues have been resolved. Remaining are three issues that neither side will concede, either in part or whole. The issues, as I understand them is that WEG does not want the OHHA to represent the membership in matters pertaining to fines, penalties and bans etc. With respect to this issue, the fact is that it is up to each individual member who (if anyone) represents them at the initial Hearing and subsequent Tribunal. If a member wants the OHHA to represent them, it is a matter of personal choice. WEG's rationale is unknown, however it is highly prejudicial to the members that WEG is attempting to control who represents them. This issue is a 'lost leader'.
The parties might consider reviewing the Charter for direction as to whether WEG is legally entitled to direct that the OHHA is not to represent its membership. It's actually a dumb issue that has no basis or foundation in fact.

The second issue is that WEG wants to reduce the number of live race days however the number of days has not been published. If the membership does avoid the box during the coming week I suspect that the issue of the reduction in live race days will have been achieved and the matter will be withdrawn as resolved. The final issue pertains to purse allocation between thoroughbred and standardbred racing. It would appear that 5% is allocated from TB to SB and is unilaterally decided upon by SB. Might I suggest a compromise in which members from both SB and TB address the allocation issue through a democratic vote. This issue represents a vast sum of money which is reflected in the purse structure.

In comparison to the numerous other issues (which have been resolved), these three issues do not warrant a quasi strike. My vote, which is much the same as most posters in this blog, directs the OHHA that it will be business as usual. Roll up your sleeves and hammer out a fair and equitable solution.

December 27, 2008 - 5:17 pmLike any good court room

Darryl MacArthur (not verified) SAID...

Like any good court room drama depending on who you listen to the case would seem cut and dry. WEG has its position as does OHHA and if you happen to catch one piece alone you might say "case closed". But then the defence attorney gets up and you say "hrm...I am not so sure now". You would expect both camps to provide their version of life and you MIGHT get it. As an OHHA director I have offered time and time again on many forums for people to call me regarding these issues and am sorry to say that only a handful of people have taken me up on the offer. Now for my OHHA hat.

WEG has once again asked for more while horse people have been trying to keep what they had. Please remember each and every race of 10 horses has 5 owners, driver and trainers go home with no purse money while the race track owners have guaranteed revenue day in and day out. Take a look around and you will notice that the places where there was no voice from horse people the industry is all but dead and some of those people are now here.
Greed for dollars, power and the share of voice in the province is at stake here. The tracks lobby the government and would prefer to be the ONLY voice heard.

Horse people have different needs that are not in the best interests of the bottom line of race tracks. OHHA is the strongest "horse" voice in Ontario and we do have the ear of politicians, they are starting to realize that the horse people create the jobs in rural Ontario that help our economy run. We are votes and we are revenue for the government. If horse people used the same governance model as WEG for business we would all quit this business tomorrow...but horse people do not quit...we are competitors by our very nature and when we are challenged we respond.

We have negotiated in good faith and have been met with requests from WEG that cannot be defended. The proposed clause 21 in not remotely reasonable and perhaps not legal in law. As for Standardbred horse people appointing the HBPA to negotiate for us on winter revenue splits...that would not be rational and in my opinion would in fact be gross negligence if agreed to by OHHA.

In closing OHHA is not in support of those who would cheat and take advantage of our game, we are in support of due process for all accused of the same and if found guilty the accused should receive strong and unbiased punishment.
Please call both parties with your questions WEG is 416-675-7223 and OHHA is 905-854-6442 but please call both parties.

Darryl MacArthur

December 27, 2008 - 2:14 pmI was a union man all my

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

I was a union man all my life, been on lots of strikes.. you never get back the money you lost on strike, same with the purses that will be lost.
Now I'm a owner trainer, its my job to stick with the wishes of HORSEMANS ASSOCIATIONS, even if I disagree.

December 27, 2008 - 12:47 pmIn response to my anonymous

Peter Kyte (not verified) SAID...

In response to my anonymous friend of 12/26/08 @ 12:37pm...

What part of my previous post didn't you understand? You might not agree with my opinion, but it seemed pretty clear to myself and others. Let me try again:

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but to come on this blog and attack an individual or group while hiding behind anonymity is despicable. You mention that it is because of intimidation and fear. I think it's because of cowardice. If you have something to say, say it! Such discussion, as Mr. Cirillo mentioned, is healthy and can only lead to progress. Furthermore, if people would provide their name and have some accountability, perhaps they could be reached out to and have some of their questions and concerns addressed by those that they indict on this blog. But based on one, horrible incident, and mostly because it suits you, you'll say that you prefer to remain anonymous because you're afraid of being murdered. Laughable. There is already one ridiculous web site related to harness racing that allows for plenty of anonymous propaganda to be publicized. Let's protect this blog from that foolishness.

My other point was that a lot of people who are posting comments are talking about issues that are completely separate from those that are the main reasons for the pending boycott. To be sure, horsemen ARE NOT striking because they encourage cheating! Get real. Among other reasons, they ARE taking a stand against WEG’s demand that OHHA give up its right to represent or intervene with the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) or Ontario’s courts when a racing participant, duly licensed by the ORC, has been banned from racing at the two tracks by WEG management. Why? Because, in some cases, people would lose their livelihoods without the proper due process being exhausted. Case in point, the Aminorex positive tests. WEG couldn't wait to get rid of all those "cheaters", when, in the end, it turns out they didn't cheat at all!

The misinformation that a lot of people are getting continues to be very frustrating. How one can have such strong feelings for something that s/he apparently doesn't know the whole story about is beyond me! Like those that wondered what Jody Jamieson's opinion was! He's a director at OHHA - what do you think his opinion is? Like those that questioned why it took until December 23 to have this issue come to the fore. IT DIDN'T! This issue has been on the table since the summer, but because of WEG brass giving harness horsemen the far-too-typical runaround, we are now dealing with it at Christmas and on the eve of a recession.

Listen, no one can tell you what to think, but, PLEASE: get ALL of the FACTS from a reliable source, then make your decision. For help with this, OHHA members can attend the upcoming OHHA meeting on December 30 @ 7PM @ The Best Western in Milton. Non-members can go to for more information.

Have a good day,

[email protected]

December 27, 2008 - 11:38 amFrom "Pace Advantage", a

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

From "Pace Advantage", a thorobred forum... discussing the most significant issue in racing:

The integrity issue is key to preserving the sport.
Yes sir. If you don't have that everyone walks.

My point: One reason the OHHA is calling for a boycott is that it wants one regulator, and thus wants to deny WEG from exercising its private property rights when WEG deems it necessary.

The current regulator (ORC) is not doing enough to restore integrity and when it actually does something, the transgressors apply for and get stays, appeals, etc. and thus continue their corrupt shenanigans.

WEG must have a weapon of last resort,(ie. barring individuals). If not. Harness Racing will suffer to the point of extinction, a point not too distant from its current status.

I attended certain ORC hearings for trainer,Bill Robinson. At one of those hearings Mr. D. Willmott, the chief executive of WEG, testified and stated that any attempt to deprive WEG of its ultimate orivate property rights would be challenged in "a New York minute", (notwithstanding the erroneous Sudbury Downs decision of a "lower" court).

Please, please Mr. Willmott, DO NOT retreat from that position.

December 27, 2008 - 1:31 amTheres got to be a solution

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Theres got to be a solution thats fair to both sides.Without the bettors there would be no racing and bettors are sick of all the bull going on between OHHA and WEG.With the purse money at Woodbine and Mohawk many people are making a darn good living racing their horses maybe they should think about that and stop all the whining.

December 26, 2008 - 8:37 pmWHY SHOULD THOROBRED PEOPLE

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...


December 26, 2008 - 3:15 pmThis boycott is ridiculous.I

SD (not verified) SAID...

This boycott is ridiculous.I do not support this at this time and hopefully neither does my trainer.If my trainer does I may look for one who does not and will enter into the box.The trainers should be working for the owner,as thats who pays them and not always agree on strikes and boycotts.


As far as what JJ opinion is I do not care.If WEG does not have racing he can drive at many tracks(Flam, Western,Windsor KD and the list goes on)and still have an income with no expenses.As an owner I still will have training bills to pay and even if I move to another track the boxes will be so full or the conditions will not be written it will guarantee a loss.

OHHA has made good points but should try and negotiate their position without the idea of threatening as their first course of action.To wait until the eleventh hour and pull this is not in the best interest of this industry as there are enough problems.WEG would be more then happy to shut it down as the standardbreds have alway been looked upon as the second class and they really rather not race in the winter.I agree with the comment that if you need to take this action do it in the warm weather when they will feel pressure as well if OHHA can work it out.

Then I would ask JJ if he felt the same way when the yearlings he purchased for next season will not race in all the schedule events held at WEG and/or he will not have the huge purse money on the horses he drives and gets his 5% cut.

December 26, 2008 - 12:37 pmWith reference to Peter

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

With reference to Peter Kyte's comments:

1) Will Mr. Kyte please explain how identifying oneself on this blog will lead to greater integrity in Harness Racing.

2) Has Mr. Kyte forgotten about the murder of a "Harness Racing" blogger in Ottawa several years ago, and does Mr. Kyte actually believe that that murder had no link at all to the material that victim was posting.

Furthermore,in the past, due to pressure, my own comments have been censored and not posted, (not on this website, by the way) So clearly Mr. Kyte, intimidation and censorship in the harness industry does exist and some of us are fearful.

In closing, I just want to say, Mr. Kyte, I've read and re-read your post, and I still don't understand what you're trying to say.

December 26, 2008 - 12:23 pmOne simple comment, Wake up

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

One simple comment, Wake up horseman before its too late. The economy is in a slide and people like me who wager on your product can only take so much. If you chose to boycott it could be the beginning of the end. The patron base is declining and what if one smart politician said "the hell with slot revenue for horseman, that revenue is required else where". If an entity can't survive on its own then it shall fail. Horseman are lucky in this province and there are few that seem to understand that. Simply speak to our friends from Quebec, Armageddon has hit that province, it could be just around the corner in Ontario.

Think before you stick it to the general public again. You cheat and we still wager, ORC can't get it right so WEG has stepped up to try and protect us and the integrity of racing. Bill Robinson has had several positive tests and he still races in this province, well done ORC. WEG has banned him and others, well done WEG..... at least you try to make it better.

December 26, 2008 - 11:20 amPersonally I don't care if

jrich (not verified) SAID...

Personally I don't care if Mr. Jamieson doesn't give his opinion because he is truly in a position where it is a conflict of interest (yes I know there are many in his position). Furthermore, his position could sway people in making an educated opinion on the issue. There are at least two sides to every issue and you can see he would like people to educate themselves before they spout off.

For what it is worth (probably very little) my opinion is that boycotting the box is a waste of time. Lets not enter our horses so Woodbine does not have to realease purse monies. This does not make sense. You lose potential money you can never get back. WEG will eventually have to hammer out a deal with OHHA. Forcing someones hand never really amounts to much more than hurt feelings. I do question if either side has been bargaining in good faith since these contracts always seem to be come down to the 11th hour for deals to get done.

I have an idea. Maybe the trainers and drivers could stop working with WEG to promote the product. How about no interviews or special features with trainers or drivers until the issue is resolved. At least it would be a start.

December 26, 2008 - 9:40 amIt was not all that long ago

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

It was not all that long ago that blue bonnets was a major player in the industry. In the seventies and the early eighties this track was a major player with live handles being a million plus on a regular basis. They were a first class operation with great racing. At that time if anyone would have suggested they would be where they are today some 20 years later, you would have been laughed at as being a fool or a fear monger. Then slowly there wager started to dip beneath the million dollar handle and when that happened it quickly spiraled out of control to where it is today.

WEG is getting dangerously close to being the next blue bonnets, a steady decline in wager and it won't be long before cards on monday and thursday dip beneath the million dollar handle, they are on borrowed time, this will happen and when it does it just may snowball out of control if the big players (gamblers) feel the pools are no longer large enough to wager into. Both sides of this dispute are to blame and both sides along with other factors are to blame for a declining wager, any type of lock out will just drive more people away from WEG to the Big M or out of the game altogether, can either WEG or the horseman afford for this to happen. If they do then anything they get they will deserve for there stubborn stupidity.

December 26, 2008 - 8:20 amOver the years I have had a

Frank Lester (not verified) SAID...

Over the years I have had a lot of respect for WEG as I allways felt they promoted live racing with their state of the art facility and the top notch race card they produced. However now I am beginning to wonder if bottom line isn't the most important aspect to their plans and winter racing for those Standardbred guys isn't just an unnecessary overhead. After all WEG has great plans to change the very face of Woodbine with high priced condo's and such and maybe the lower class Standardbred's really aren't in their long term plans.
We need to be very careful that we are not playing right into their hands as we did a couple of years back at Georgian Downs when most of the winter racing didn't happen because of our boycott action.Maybe we should wait and boycott in the summer when more other racing venues are available. Let's continue to negotiate and continue to race and review our options at a later date.
It's becoming quite apparent since slot revenues have become such a great partner for the track owners and that the overhead of live racing with the continaul demise of the live betting factor are a much less needed partner that the latter is being shoved right out the door.
Bottom line seems to be the key measuring tool for most of these tracks and seemingly for the ORC also. After all reduction in race dates reduces the ORC's over head the only thing they lose is fine money from things like the "new" whipping rule. This continual reduction in race dates is surely pointing to summer racing only just like the Thoroughbreds.
Horse people we need to get our heads together and stand united. We need one strong organization not a bunch of autonumous splinter groups that are often formed to serve the needs of a few. After all the old adage that "united we stand divided we fall" is the very strength that enables these tracks to get whatever they want and the ORC seems to want to jump right in bed with them.
Not all of us will ever totally agree with OHHA or any other organization that is needed to stand in for us as a united front, but the other option is for each of us to get our own way and have no amount of strength to fight the Corporate battles that are sure to continue.
Oh for the good old days when tracks were owned and operated by people truly interested in horse racing not corporate "Bottom Lines".

Frank Lester

December 26, 2008 - 1:32 amI agree with Mr Parke's

FRANK CIRILLO (not verified) SAID...

I agree with Mr Parke's comments. Some people are generally concerned about attaching their name because they do fear punishment or possible backlash from trainers, drivers or other OHHA members. Forcing or asking people to include their names plays right into the fear of these people, as it sounds like OHHA or its members are out to make a list and get these guys.

Personally, I think its irrelevant if a blog is anonymous or authored, the only thing that should matter is whether or not the claim, statement or concern has any merit.
What people say is more important than who said it! I believe everyone, no matter what title, experience or position they have, is entitled to their opinion and have the right to express themselves. We should embrace different views and encourage discussion, not discourage it and dismiss opposing views as childish or insignificant because the blog is anonymous. We need the help of all parties to find solutions to many problems and intimidating people will not accomplish this goal.

Is anyone else curious as to why it took until DEC 23, 2008 to vote on a contract that expires on DEC 31, 2008?

I also agree with Mr Rankin when he states that we cannot allow a strike. He is correct in saying the fans and bettors will not sympathize with horse people who decided to strike. There is a genuine negative attitude toward unions and associations at the moment and a strike now could cost us more than a few race dates and some purse money.

Lastly, lets not forget that we are in a global recession and Canadians are unfortunately being laid off by the thousands. Ontario will set a record this month for new unemployment insurance claims, it would be a shame if our industry contributed to those numbers because we could not find a solution.

December 25, 2008 - 6:56 pmWell Mr. Jamieson, I have to

Greg Parke (not verified) SAID...

Well Mr. Jamieson, I have to agree. I don't really think people want to go the anonymous route, I think they feel safer. It is a small industry and I don't think some people want to be chastised in anyway. Personally I have not raced a horse in over twenty years but I still watch and still love horses and racing. It is very tough the times the industry is in, shortened race dates, integrity issues, breeders not making back stud fees and owners not having enough say in contract talks like this.

Bargaining will be tough for all tracks in the next couple years and I suggest YOU ALL get this one right without a strike. Race dates can't be lost, that is a given. Thoroughbred horsepeople can't direct purse revenues, it should be done by both associations, together. One thing I think that is being lost is that thoroughbreds have the same integrity issues but have more fans and higher purses, maybe you should ask why? Why don't owners have more say or try to get more say in these contract talks? I have to stand by WEG and their decision as it comes to integrity and banning for certain issues, I think all tracks should. This would not have to happen this way, and I am sorry to say it, if the ORC was a little tougher on issues of integrity. Maybe race tracks and the ORC could also work together on these issues so there is a show of solidarity instead of controversy.

Both sides have to work very hard here, each wants and has to make money. I know there has to be a give and take as with all negotiations but I strongly suggest you all resolve this one quickly and fairly and move on to the bigger issues of integrity and getting fans back.

Maybe given the financial climate we are in the length of the contract should be one to two years for now. This will give the industry time to really address integrity issues, get some good happy publicity and see if the fans do come back when you all prove you are in it for them. You will then know if the fans are buying back into the product and then you can have some decent negotiations and work on the boom in standardbred racing from all the great publicity you will get from the fans seeing all associations working like a well oiled machine to give them a thrilling, enjoyable and great HONEST night out at the races. That's what the public wants, that's what they should get. More fans more betting revenues more money for all easier contract talks in the future.

Good luck to all involved, think for the future, not for the now.

December 25, 2008 - 5:06 pmThe incognito priveleges

Peter Kyte (not verified) SAID...

The incognito priveleges that this blog affords so many of you is preposterous! All the while, many of you beat the "integrity" drum! Do everyone a favour and be as anxious to provide your names as your opinions, regardless of how asinine many of them are. That aside, it is quite clear that the majority of you are very uninformed on the subject matter for which you seem to have such a strong opinion for. Most of you are talking about an apple when the focus of attention is really an orange. Protecting the bettor and improving perception by ensuring integrity are all very important issues that require attention, and horseman DO NOT argue that. Such issues are not, however, the bones of contention in this matter. Go to and get the REAL facts and hear about the REAL issues being disputed, and how they collectively effect the present and future livelihoods of REAL horsepeople. Most of you likely won't be as quick to find the time to make it to that site as you are to sound off on this blog, but at least you were invited to. As for the comment from yet another "Anonymous Expert" about Japanese ritual suicide (Harakiri) - not standing their ground at this point WOULD BE as fatal to horsemen as plunging a sword into their own abdomens! The present state of racing in the provinces and Alberta and Quebec should be adequate proof of that.

Happy Holidays to everyone,

[email protected]

December 25, 2008 - 4:54 pmI do not like the approach

Tom Rankin (not verified) SAID...

I do not like the approach continually taken by OHHA.It is analgous to the CAW tactics.And now the taxpayers must bail out the big three automakers. But no one is going to bail out the horse industry.Betting is dwindling . We can not permit a boycoat.Give your heads a shake.Get back to the bargaining table.

Frankly it behooves me that us owners have such little say. We buy or raise the horses Feed them, truck them ,pay the training bills, stake payments and vet bills and individuals who are well paid trainers and drivers are dictating to us .Talk about the tail wagging the horse.I think this issue should be resolved with a lot more input from owners.Without us you have no industry.I am a business man.Over the past 35 year I have negotiated at least 30 agreements with various Canadian and American Unions.I have had one work stoppage and it was a result of a dictate of the central union office.The economic reality is that it would be insane to strike.You will get no sympathy from the public and you will just damage this indusrty further.

December 25, 2008 - 2:21 pmUmmm with regards to having

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Ummm with regards to having the thoroughbred people decide on the 5% sharing does not make sense. Why do the thoroughbreds want to control this aspect of the purses???????? The live racing in the winter is only Standardbreds not thoroughbreds. Thoroughbreds only run in warm weather the standardbreds race all year long. Which is the most durable breed???? It appears from this aspect of the negotiation that the thoroughbreds are trying to take over and be the only game in town same as out west. How come the WEG does not relate to the integrity of the thoroughbred industry and hone in only on the Standardbred Industry. There has been cheating with both breeds that have caused the customer to not trust each and each had better get their act together. Baffled and confused.

December 25, 2008 - 10:41 amThe issue in question does

dp (not verified) SAID...

The issue in question does not preclude the OHHA from securing a lawyer on behalf of a member, this again would require a substantial outlay of funds by the OHHA.

Accordingly there is no merit to WEG's demands that the OHHA's right to "represent" members be removed. In short, there is no significant impact by the OHHA, so what difference does it make? It would appear that the issue is a bargaining chip that WEG included knowing full well that by law no party can prevent a person from securing whomever they wish to represent them in the quasi legal system. Further, in the judiciary the OHHA would have no standing as a representative. The issue in question does not appear to preclude the OHHA from delving into its accounts and paying for lawyers to represent banned members nor of paying the cost of securing evidence.

Undoubtedly WEG will 'begrudgingly' remove this issue in return for concessions specific to live race dates and the matter of allowing thoroughbred people determine the financial structure of monies that flow from thoroughbred simulcasted winter racing as opposed to the standardbred people. It would appear that 5% of that revenue goes towards standardbred purses at WEG's tracks. Obviously if the thoroughbred people are permitted to decide revenue sharing, the standardbred people can kiss the 5% goodbye, purses would be reduced accordingly. Insofar as the OHHA represents horsemen and not the betting public (who couldn't care less) this is a significant issue involving a vast sum which would impact on drivers, trainers and owners. Unfortunately I am not aware of the argument that WEG has put forth in support of altering the present make-up of the existing agreement

I would suggest that the reduction in live racing is for the purpose of decreasing expenses or increasing profits ..same difference. During flourishing times there was no suggestion by WEG that live racing should be curtailed, accordingly this issue appears to have been created as a result of economic downturn. Might I suggest that WEG lower its profit expectations rather than making efforts to cut into the livlihood of others.

Mr. Jamieson, apparently in the world of harness racing you are a public figure and as a responsible person you have duly identified your comments through your own name. Other individuals who prefer not to identify who they are is of no consequence insofar as their posting is or is not relevant. I do note that as a public figure in harness racing that your views would sway many, however you have elected not to reveal your position and the rationale behind that position. In short, your position in these issues remain unknown ..or anonymous.

It would be most advantegous if WEG would identify there rationale in creating these contentious issues. Perhaps reducing live race dates will be accomplished through the OHHA's direction to boycott the box.

December 25, 2008 - 7:55 amYes WEG has to worry about

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Yes WEG has to worry about their bottom line, they have to stay solvent to give us the top facilities in NA to race bar none. I have been fortunate to be able to have a horse to race at WEG and I can tell you that it is a good feeling to know that they are doing everything in their power to clean up the unwanted horse people who have no concern about integrity or concern about our horses well being.

Keep up the good work WEG and if the horsemen that don't like the rules you set down go some where else to race and good luck dealing with the horsemen that are giving our industry the bad name. Stick to your guns WEG and if no deal is possible with OHHA then maybe its time to start talking to the owners association, at least they are owners who care about integrity and the well being of horse and the best for our Industry to keep it solvent.

December 24, 2008 - 11:03 pmI have been in this industry

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

I have been in this industry for approx 30 years and am no longer involved for a lot of the same reasons people have been posting and have not and will never renew my licence.

I was an owner when the strike was on in the 80's. Never again was an OHHA member. these are bad times and if purses were only by the handle, purses would be 1200 again on the B's. Good luck!

December 24, 2008 - 7:38 pmPersonally I hope the OHHA

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Personally I hope the OHHA boycotts Woodbine/Mohawk for all of 2009.

Given that Harness Racing suffers from an apparent lack of integtrity, and the lack of enforcement of the existing rules, (eg. not closing the hole, talking on the racetrack, failing to contest the pace, etc.), who really cares about harness racing anymore.

I used to bet about $1000/day. Now I bet the odd race only at about $60/day.
How many more are like me.

Go ahead and kill off whatever bettors remain.
Preferably, maybe the OHHA executives should study the Japanese "hara-kiri" phenomenon, and employ some of those methods.

December 24, 2008 - 6:58 pmOn one hand you show a

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

On one hand you show a concern re the reduction in the number of race dates and the affect it will have on the income of the horsemen.
But on the other hand you want to strike? what affect will this have on the number of race dates and affects on the horse owners who still have to pick up the cost of training and NOT racing.
What affect will this have on all the other support people who work at the tracks who rely on WEG for their daily bread.
Whats the old say "Never strike the hand that feeds you"

December 24, 2008 - 6:07 pmAt this time with the state

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

At this time with the state that our industry is in it does not make any sense what so ever to boycot. Here we are trying to attract new people into our sport not drive them away. Its time that all involved in our industry work together to promote and clean up the bad perceptions with our industry. If you think that change and new ideas are not necessary just look at the state of the auto industry today, we seem to be heading for the same fate. Its time for change so lets get started.

December 24, 2008 - 5:47 pmThe horseman that want to

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

The horseman that want to boycott must be related to the Auto workers from the states.
Open your eyes, Look around things are not good right now.
Take a small cut NOW so that you can still get a cut for years to come.

December 24, 2008 - 5:32 pmI would ask all those who

Jody Jamieson (not verified) SAID...

I would ask all those who truely care about our industry to get the facts of this dispute and to withhold childish remarks from this site under "anonymous" headings. For details go to and make an educated comment that you wont be afraid to stand behind. REGARDS

December 24, 2008 - 4:51 pmI can't understand why OHHA

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

I can't understand why OHHA constantly fights with track management. They don't understand that this is a partnership and both side should be working together to make things work. Unfortunately this is a dying industry and OHHA is not helping themselves. All problems have solutions. Work with management to solve them for the betterment of the sport.

A current and longtime horseman.

December 24, 2008 - 3:27 pmDo not fall into WEGS trap

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Do not fall into WEGS trap people. This is exactly what WEG wants!!! They do not want to race in the winter and are upset about the Sundays the ORC forced them into. OHHA is playing right into their hands by not entering. There are other ways for OHHA to negotiate with these valid points. To not race though cuts down huge expenses they have which hits their bottom line,so ultimately we are helping them.
As well, this will kill the industry even more by chasing away fans,small owners and the good horses. Note how they have chased out the better claiming horses to the US.Soon this will be rated as a B track.

December 24, 2008 - 2:34 pmWho does WEG and the ORC

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Who does WEG and the ORC think they are? I've been involved in the game long enough now to know that its the ORC and management like WEG that are scaring off the bettors and owners. Its not the horsemen. So before you put a comment on here know what you are talking about. Good luck to the horsemen up there.

December 24, 2008 - 2:33 pmcase in fact ,georgian downs

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

case in fact ,georgian downs ,how many people will they lose because of there decision to not race in jan &feb what are they thinking ,oh ya there thinking we have slots who needs racing,just means that we will wait three weeks to get our horses raced,which im sure that any owner that is paying a training bill will be overwelmed with joy .GET WITH IT PEOPLE ,NO OWNERS ,NO HORSES ,NO HORSES NO SLOTS ,YOU FIGURE IT OUT!!!!!!!

December 24, 2008 - 1:41 pmBah hum bug.

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Bah hum bug.

December 24, 2008 - 1:29 pmNot to worry! Over the last

Anne (not verified) SAID...

Not to worry! Over the last 40 years or so, I've seen many Horsemen's Associations call for boycotting the entry box for various reasons. They are almost always unsuccessful--just one more instance where horsemen would rather shoot themselves in the foot than stick together. There are always those "horsemen" who are sure they will starve to death if their horses don't get in for a week or two. They don't seem to realize that the Government loses money when racing is not conducted, and they will step in to mediate. And probably long before any one misses any meals, let alone starves.

December 24, 2008 - 12:51 pmThose in the industry

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Those in the industry haven't done enough already to chase race fans away in droves, makes you wonder what they are thinking now. Taking races away from people can only result in one thing and that is more lost fans, something this dying sport can ill afford.

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