Public Input Sought On Applications To Vary 2013 Race Dates

Published: December 5, 2012 04:53 pm EST

On Wednesday, December 5, the Ontario Racing Commission released a notice to the industry stating that applications to vary the 1st quarter of the 2013 race date schedule have been received by the ORC and are currently being reviewed by the Implementation and Monitoring (IM) Group of the Ontario Racing Program (ORP).

The contents of the ORC release appear below. To view copies of the complete applications from various racetracks to drop race dates, please click here.

Notice to the Industry – Public Input sought on applications to vary 1st QTR 2013 Race Dates

Deadline for submitting comments is December 9, 2012

Applications to vary the 1st quarter of the 2013 race date schedule have been received by the Ontario Racing Commission and are currently being reviewed by the Implementation and Monitoring (IM) Group of the Ontario Racing Program (ORP). The IM Group will form its recommendation to the Director guided by the principles of the ORP.

On December 4th, the IM Group invited the applicants and any respective horsepeople’s associations to its meeting to discuss the submissions. The exchange of ideas was very informative and all parties participated in an open and frank manner about the rationale for their position or concerns, given the current circumstances.

To help formulate its recommendations to the Director, the IM Group is seeking public input on the proposed variances. Unfortunately due to the time constraints, the period for public input will be very short. To be considered, public comment on the applications must be received by December 9, 2012. Submissions can be faxed to (416) 213-7827 or emailed [email protected].

In summary, the applications are as follows:

January 1 through March 31, 2013

Woodbine Racetrack
• Drop Thursdays
• (4 days a week to 3 days a week)

Western Fair District
• Drop Wednesdays
• (4 days a week to 3 days a week)

Flamboro Downs
• Drop Wednesdays and Thursdays
• (5 days a week to 3 days a week)

Georgian Downs
• Drop all five days in the 1st Quarter

Rideau Carleton Raceway
• Drop 3 Fridays in March

(With files from the ORC)



It would be easy to reiterate the other earlier postings,however as an owner of standardbred horses I am a member of the horseracing industry first and foremost. In my world this includes every racehorse breed in Ontario, all those involved in other vocations to do with horses i.e. feed mills, hay, farriers , veterinarians and yes the race tracks where we race these 4 legged athletes. To cut racing opportunities to this degree is going to put a lot of our people out of work which I am sure is not the intent? I implore the racetrack operators to revisit these dates and do what they can to increase the race dates so most of us can survive in the short term and hopefully the long? It was not my intent to ignore the breeders as they have already paid a terrible price at the sales! Please let*s work together for the welfare of all, if not most of us!

Karry Howard has hit the nail on the head, the tracks are doing exactly what the OMAFRA panel has suggested they do, reduce race dates.

I view their submission as very insightful, the got together and figured it out and told the horseman what they were doing. What is clear many of the tracks don't have enough purse money to get them through the Q1 race dates as given by the ORC. Flamboro racing 65 times in Q1 during the slowest patron time of year, makes no sense. According to their books, the horseman get 1 million a month for purses plus any pari-mutuel, that comes to 12 million, while they are racing for 75K/day x 65 dates = 4.9 million. Have a 2 million purse shortfall in Q 1.
They race 188 times with no chance of having a few months to stock purses like the summer tracks do (Grand River for example). What about the tracks are closed, they are reaping all of the slot money and putting it their pocket with no racing costs..???

What is more alarming, is that they should start the slow wind down now, not April 1 st and start to get the supply and demand to a managable level. Their is simply too much racing, too many horses for the Signature tracks with little concern from the general customer.

What is crystal clear, I still don't see how the tracks will give up their OLG lease money for the gaming space and willingfully hand it over to fund racing and hope that some of itor all is compensated by the Transition fund.

Who is funding the purses on April 1 ? The pari-mutuel ?...there isn't one !

Great Canadian has I think 200 million invested in their properties, under this scheme, are they not entittled to make a profit ? I trust we will see these properties wind down or close come April. No one is in the business to lose one.

Not good folks, I see this whole thing collapsing and the ORC has done nothing to regulate or step in to slow the demise.

Michel Strasbourg SAID...

"If you reduce the number of days by 50% you take the owners out of the game. The only owners you will have are the trainer/owner (which i believe represent already a high percentage in B Tracks). Forget about the new blood or new money. What owner can afford to have his horse run twice a month. Remember that owners bring fans, friends, partnership, younger crowds...more people in the game.

If you reduce the number of days by 50% the B track owners, in one year, will be 80-90% trainer/owner and by the same token lose fans. This is a more complex decision then just saving money with the number of days. It should be status quo until a new government is voted".

With the greatest of respect to those commenting, I believe that one must first identify what the governments initial motivation is premised on.

Michel is bang on right, that appears to be the exit strategy; it's based on net proceeds. All monies that an owner gives to a Trainer to distribute to all parties; be it the cost of the actual horse and the initial cost to get him trained, grooms, training facilities, hay supplier, feed supplier, the trainer himself etc. Those parties are required to report the funds afforded them as income for tax purposes - however the owner is now able to write off the exact same amount resulting theoretically in not only zero proceeds to the government, the government is shelling out monies to prop up the purse structure. This results in the government funding an industry in which they will experience losses each year federally, which trickles down to the Provincial Government through a reduction of transfer payments.

However there is a remedy to the recent Supreme Court ruling; (which the complaintant recently annnouced publicly will cost the government approximately one billion dollars in retroactive refunds to owners), a remedy that will enhance the governments net proceeds.
By applying the monthly payments made by the owner (to the Trainer) as an ongoing capital addition to the base cost of the horse, (rather than allowing us to write off dollar for dollar investment each year), the remedy should be to amortize the horses cost over 14 years or thereabouts, that being the potential commercial life of the primary asset - the horse.

The government must heed their experiences with the absence or marginal increase in slot revenue at casino's in Windsor, Sarnia and Niagara Falls subsequent to the closure of slots at those racetracks. With the greatest respect to the Finance Minister, he has not factored that those using the slots at the racetracks are more frequently than not associated in some fashion with those involved in horse racing. They are not casino styled gamblers.

In my experience with government and the political language being relied upon, Michel is bang on right - no owner could financially justify racing twice a month, that is the exit stragy - the sad truth is there is a remedy that will allow for ongoing properity to the government.

The secondary motive is to be seen as being supportive of the horses; it is a political nightmare to be seen as the ultimate cause of the slaughter of approximately 10,000 horses; in my opinion it will result in the loss of approximately 9 seats in the legislature.

Mr. Hudak's position, although brilliant and well intended, is premised on it being "just one option". I noted that this site has removed a posting by a party who suggested that the racetracks would not possess the financial ability to bargain effectively for control of the Slots. That is untrue, a financier would take into consideration the revenue at each track when determining whether funding is appropriate. In my opinion the revenue would enable loan repayments.
However if this is the option chosen by Mr. Hudak, by the time that his and
Mr. MacDonald's white paper is executed might very well be a few years from now.

I apologize for the length of my views. As Michel said; this is so complex. I don't believe that the general public will accept the Americanization of our society with an additional 29 casino's ... there are more innovative methods to earning a buck other than through casino's, they are indeed nefarious! It is the beginning of a 'Pottersville'.

they shhould open mohawk at the same time as woodbine for cheaper horses on the big track u would bring betting up and everybody would get to race. They did it in montreal when trois rivieres was getting rebuilt and it brought a new life to cheap horses the public loved it

I was very surprise to see those dates.

1- Georgian Downs : No dates???? They are the only 5/8 B track in Southern Ontario and they don't want dates, well no dates no slots. They should get 4 days a week, if not no slots. It's not about them but the Industry.

2- Rideau Carleton wants the racing on Fridays to continue for January and February and the first week of March. They have handle of $40, on Fridays, are they kidding me. The Friday's races should be cancelled now!!!! And keep the number of races to 12.....why 15?????

3- Woodbine OK

4- WF OK

5- Flamboro from 5 to 4 would be enough

They have to work this hand in hand with the purses to be able to have those race days.

Purses: Something like,

1- Below $8K untouched
2- Purses from 10K to 12K reduced by 5%
3- Purses from 12 to 15K reduced by 10%
4- Purses from 16 to 20 reduced by 15%
5- No purses over 30K for open at woodbine.

If you reduce the number of days by 50% you take the owners out of the game. The only owners you will have are the trainer/owner (which i believe represent already a high percentage in B Tracks). Forget about the new blood or new money.
What owner can afford to have his horse run twice a month. Remember that owner bring fans, friends, partnership, younger crowds...more people in the game.

If you reduce the number of days by 50% the B track owners, in one year, will be 80-90% trainer/owner and by the same token loose fans. This is a more complex decision then just saving money with the number of days. It should be status quo until a new government is voted.

In reply to by Mike0708

Mr Strasbourg,

don't think you understood what Rideau was asking for,
Rideau never raced January February Fridays, they only started Friday in March and this request clearly says that they are not requesting the 3 Fridays in March they usually race,....

if Georgian drop all days in 2013 first qtr should be fit to close the slots as well during that same time. GCGC is more concerned on the gambling side of it so no racing no slots!!!

These requests are not unreasonable, given insecure and tenuous state of the industry. Would it not be wise in these uncertain times to stagger dates/post times of Canadian and Ontario tracks in particular, to ensure that there is one betting option available at all times or as many as possible during each day of the week. That is, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm (or approximate), Monday thru SUnday. The Western Fair Monday and Tuesday success could be extended to other tracks and would blend nicely into the WEG schedule.

Having read each of the Applications For Variance, it's apparent that the tracks are simply responding to the OMAFRA Report. WEG is reducing race dates 25%, purses for claiming races 12% and purses for condition races by 23%. (Wonder if trainers will reduce their fees accordingly?) The four Signature tracks got together and collectively reduced race dates 25%. Since the OMAFRA Report suggested only 300 Signature race dates for the year, the tracks presently racing do not want to use greater than 50% of them in the first quarter. Clearly the tracks are not the enemy here.

Welcome to the new reality! As Sheldon pointed out, there are already nearly double the horses in most entry boxes. Hopefully the next election will be soon and we can do to the Liberal Party what they have done to our business.

Western Fair is doing great on Mon/Tue cards.They have been getting over 300 thousand a card on these days.Why would they give up a lucrative day like Wednesday for a Friday night!!If they are lucky they get 100 thousand handle on Fridays.

At the present time there are approximately double the number of entries for racing opportunities at Flamboro. How do you expect support for the industry if we can only race a horse once every three weeks? By allowing Woodbine to race "cheaper" claiming horses, there would be enough support for them to race six days a week. This would also give the horsemen a chance to race at the "big track" and at the same time relieve some of the overcrowding at Flamboro.

In reply to by [email protected]

If Flamboro drops Wed. are they also dropping post time on Fri.Sat.Sun to 1 pm. If not all tracks are competing at the same time and there are not enough drivers available now and it would be worse if all are going at 7pm. Right now we have a big mess, you can't keep a horse in shape racing twice a month, particularly those on farm tracks.

In reply to by teesh

This is a copy of an email I sent to the ORC regarding the race date reduction requests.

The racing date cutbacks that are being put forward have no merit There are no guarantees that they will operate after March 31 so that in iteself should be a concern to the racing community as well as to your office as to what exactly are their motives for asking for a reduction. I have excluded Rideau Carleton from this as their decision to cut a few Fridays seems to be a legitimate business move as that track wants to continue racing after March 31 and I applaud their efforts during these trying times. I will also refrain from commenting on Western Fair as I am not familiar enough with their operation.

Georgian Downs from what I understand does not want their 5 racedays allotted to them during Jan 1 - March 31. I believe that Georgian Downs has a surplus in the purse account. In their request for a variance to drop the 5 days they have been allotted, there is no viable explanation from them as to why they do not wish to race the 5 days as they are supposed to. Those 5 days of racing would help the horsemen and owners of this province earn some money. I urge you to deny this request.

Flamboro Downs wants to cut racedays to 3 days a week? This past Wednesday there were 80 horses entered that did not get in to race that entered. On Thursday there was 98 horses that did not get in to race that entered. On Saturday there were 87 horses that did not get in to race that were entered. On Sunday there were 68 horses that were entered that did not get in to race. This tells anybody that there are horsemen that want to race there and there is not a shortage of horses at Flamboro Downs. On December 15th Kawartha Downs closes until Jan 14 which will bring more horses that will want to race at Flamboro. On Dec 31 Georgian Downs closes which will also bring more horses to race at Flamboro Downs during the period from Jan 1 - March 31. If the ORC grantS their request to cut down to 3 days a week, who suffers in this ? The horsemen and the owners who support this business suffer. How can an owner pay bills if his horses cannot get raced? Owners of cheaper Flamboro type horses will be forced do get rid of many of these horses and some may have to be euthenized if the reduction is allowed. Please remember that the track operator is not the one losing money in this if this is approved, it is solely the horsemen. Great Canadian Gaming has done very well during the slot era and have not put any money back into their product in renovations nor advertising for many years. Just take a walk around the backstretch and have a look at the conditions.


Woodbine Racetrack also wishes to cut a day of racing by racing only 3 days a week. Just a few months ago they cut Tuesdays from Mohawk. Now they want to cut Thursdays from Jan 1 - March 31. Their Thursday night handles are more then enough to carry on and they also have plenty of horses to race here and fill the cards. How do you ask an owner of a horses that races there to pay his bills when his horses may be lucky to be able to get in twice a month if this is approved? Last year from Jan 5 to March 29 the average handle for Thursdays was $1,410,211 for 13 race days.

Last year they also raced the following stakes races in January, February, March totalling approximately $2,000,000 in purses.

Cam Fella
Don Mills
General Brock
Glorys Comet
Spring Pacing Championship
Youthful Series
Lifetime Dream

Why not drop these stakes and race overnights instead? With the 2 million in purses they would save by cutting the stakes they allow owners to be able to race overnight horses and claimers on Thursdays. Dropping these stakes would allow WEG to add $153,846.15 to the purse pool each Thursday for the 13 dates from Jan 1 - March 31.

A further idea could be to make Thursdays claiming night. Card only claiming races. With WEG wanting to drop purses, a mixture of claiming races, would only give away approximately $100,000 in purses instead of the usual $200,000 they give away most Thursdays That in itself would add up to a savings of 1.3 million for the 13 Thuirsdays that want to cancel.. Add that to the other 2 million from dropping the stakes and you have an extra 3.3 million in the purse account even before you add in your handle and slot profits for those 3 months.


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