2017 Standardbred Horse Improvement Program (HIP) Details

Published: February 10, 2017 09:19 am EST

As part of Ontario Racing’s (OR) vision to be the customer-focused leader and representative voice of a world class horse racing industry, OR has been tasked with directing breed improvement programs, including the Standardbred Improvement Program (SIP).

The 2017 Standardbred Improvement Program, in large part thanks to the recommendations of the Standardbred Advisory Group, has been approved by the Ontario Racing Board of Directors. The SIP program is one of the most successful of its kind in North America. Ontario sired and Ontario bred Standardbreds compete and win against the best in the world -- with an increase in 2016 yearling sales as well as the number of mares bred to OSS stallions.

Due in part to higher than anticipated participation in the OSS program throughout 2016, the 2017 SIP program does not have the luxury of relying on the SIP Reserve. Higher than anticipated participation in both the Gold and Grassroots programs led to an increase in races and purses paid, and the full scope of the impact on the SIP Reserve was not clear until the close of the 2016 program season.

The 2017 HIP program will be fully funded at $30 million ($15 million for Standardbred). As such, the 2017 SIP was approved with a recognition of the necessity for prudent budgeting, given there is a limited SIP Reserve fund and recognizing the need to be aligned with projected revenues.

Ontario Racing benefits from the expertise of breed-focused advisory groups. The Standardbred Advisory Group is comprised of representatives of the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association, Central Ontario Standardbred Association, Ontario Harness Horse Association, Standardbred Canada, Woodbine Entertainment Group, Grand River Raceway, Clinton Raceway, as well as members-at-large.

With the help and advice of the Standardbred Advisory Group, OR has approved a 2017 SIP budget and race schedule. The 2017 program is projected to be $16.7 million, with projected OSS purses of $12.8 million, the inclusion of the new $2 million Owners Bonus, a $1 million Ontario Bred Rewards based on OSS earnings, and $130,000 Ontario Bred Rewards based on Open Stakes Earnings.

OR would like to thank the Standardbred Advisory Group for their hard work and careful consideration in developing a 2017 plan for the continued success of the Ontario Program.

Ontario Racing is also pleased to confirm that the association will be commissioning a full, third party HIP Review in the months to follow. The purpose of the HIP Review is to measure the HIP successes against current objectives, to identify value for money, to recommend new objectives (if needed) and to establish a secure and sustainable funding framework for the Program going forward. Ontario Racing is committed to supporting world class harness racing in this province, and we are committed to continuing to advocate on your behalf to industry partners.

2017 SIP Program Details

The new $2 million Owners’ Bonus will be in place for 2017. This bonus will be calculated based on the overnight earnings in Ontario for all two- and three-year-old Ontario Sired and Ontario Bred horses. A double bonus will be paid if the horse is both Ontario Sired and Ontario Bred.

In 2017, to provide increased budget certainty, the OSS Program will switch to being an Added Money Program as far as Starting Fees are concerned. Starting Fees for a Gold event will remain at $800 and HIP will contribute $180,000 to each of the five events for age, sex and gait. This amount will be divided between the number of divisions required and the starting fees will be added to the appropriate divisions. For example, if there are two divisions, the purse for a field with 10 starters will be $98,000. The purse will fluctuate depending on the number of divisions and starters. If only one division is required, the HIP contribution will be $117,000 making the purse for a field of 10 starters $125,000.

As in previous years, no Starting Fee will be required for the Gold Super Final. The purse will be $225,000.

The Grassroots Program will continue to have six legs for each age, sex and gait. Grassroots purses will also have the Starting Fees added to the HIP contribution. Grassroots starting fees will remain at $350. For example, a field of 10 horses will compete for $19,500. The HIP portion for Grassroots divisions will be $16,000 per division, up to a maximum of $64,000 per event (four divisions) for all age, sex and gaits except for two-year-old pacers. Taking into account the breakdown of yearling nominations from 2016, the two-year-old pacers are expected to require more divisions than the trotters so the maximum HIP contribution for two-year-old pacing colts and two-year-old pacing fillies will be $80,000 (five divisions).

As usual, no starting fee will be required for the Grassroots Finals and the purse remains at $50,000.

The Semi-Finals have been eliminated for 2017.

The Ontario Sired Rewards, have been eliminated from the Program, which allows the Ontario Bred Rewards on OSS earnings to be raised to a maximum of $1 million. For budget certainty, Ontario Bred Rewards will no longer be paid as a percentage of earnings but on a pro-rata basis and based on projected purses, it is anticipated that participants will receive a percentage that is higher than that of prior years. Ontario Bred Rewards for Open Stakes have been capped at $130,000, to be paid on a pro-rata basis, with an individual cap of 20 percent of Open Stakes earnings per horse in 2017.

You can find the updated OSS race schedule here.

2017 Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Program


  • Gold Leg with multiple divisions - $180,000 divided by number of divisions + Starting Fees ($800) added directly to purses

  • Gold Leg (One Division) - $117,000 + Starting Fees ($800) addeddirectly to purse

  • Gold Super Final - $225,000

  • Grassroots Division (six legs for each age/sex/gait) - $16,000 + Starting Fees ($350) added directly to purses.

  • Maximum HIP contribution per event - $64,000 ($80,000 for two-year-old pacers)

  • Grassroots Final - $50,000


  • Ontario Bred Rewards for OSS earnings - $1 million, paid on a pro-rata basis in January of following year

  • Ontario Bred Rewards for Open Stakes - $130,000, paid on a pro-rata basis in January of following year (individual cap of 20% per horse)

  • Owners’ Bonus - $2 million; two- and three-year-old horses that are Ontario Sired or Ontario Bred are eligible for the bonus based on their overnight earnings in Ontario. Horses that are both Ontario Sired and Ontario Bred will receive double the bonus. Paid on a pro-rata basis in January of following year

(with files from Ontario Racing)



I understand there is a limit on the total money available, but other options should have been explored... IE. host track adds maiden purse to OSS, or raise the starting fees for Grassroots to cull some of the non-competitive horses. I have two, 3-year-old fillies in training, and Grassroots races could go for as little as $10,400 + the $3,500 in starting fees, for a total purse of $13,900. That's less than maidens at Mohawk (if there are 6 OSS div). That will be a little embarrassing don't you think?

I may not bother making the OSS payments.

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