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Woodbine Continues Push To Race

Published: April 10, 2021 11:41 am ET

Last Comment: April 15, 2021 2:47 pm ET | 3 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Woodbine Entertainment continues its campaign to resume live horse racing in Ontario. Trot Insider recently obtained a letter and supporting document sent by Woodbine to the Mayor of Milton Gordon Krantz illustrating the need for horse racing to resume while highlighting the industry's impeccable record of operation under strict COVID-19 protocols.

"I appreciate this has been a difficult week for Ontario horse racing," said Woodbine CEO Jim Lawson in a Saturday morning social media post. "I remain highly optimistic that we are being heard & that there is light for us at the end of this stay-at-home order. Thank you for your patience & understanding - we will emerge from this stronger. Thank you."

The letter and supporting document appear below. Documents not loading? Please refresh your page or click the link to open in a new window.

Woodbine Mohawk Park - Operating Safely During Pandemic -- Open in new window

Woodbine Entertainment - Letter to Mayor of Milton -- Open in new window

Dear Mayor Krantz,

Re: Racing during a Lockdown/Shutdown Situation

On behalf of Woodbine Mohawk Park and the thousands of families in horse racing in the Halton Region, thank you for your ongoing support of our industry over the years.

At Woodbine Entertainment, we continue to be very supportive of the Government of Ontario’s efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 in our province. The health and safety and wellbeing of our employees, horse people and communities will always be of the highest priority for us.

Yesterday, in response to the Government of Ontario’s declaration of a Provincial State of Emergency and province-wide 28-day stay-at-home order, we made the decision to stop training at Woodbine Mohawk Park where live racing has been suspended since April 3, the first day of the ‘emergency brake’ shutdown. We also announced the postponement of our Thoroughbred season at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto.

This is now the third time that racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park has been suspended since the pandemic started in Ontario just over a year ago. As a result, we are seeing a significant number of trainers taking their horses to the United States where there are plenty of racing opportunities.

This is a very serious situation that has the potential to cause irreparable long-term damage to our business and the horse racing industry in the GTA which supports approximately 10,000 jobs and generates more than $650,000,000 in GDP and nearly $250,000,000 in tax revenue on an annual basis.

In addition to the economic importance of Woodbine Mohawk Park to the GTA and Halton Region, Woodbine Entertainment supports the entire horse racing industry in the province that supports more than 30,000 jobs, many of which are in rural Ontario. Further, Woodbine Mohawk Park is arguably the number one Standardbred racetrack in North America which is critical to the ecosystem of harness racing and Standardbred breeding across the continent.

This is why it is vitally important to our industry and the thousands of families in Ontario who rely on horse racing as a way of life to be permitted to safely operate live racing, even in a ‘Grey’ Lockdown situation, once the stay-at-home order is lifted.

Over the past several weeks, we have had very positive conversations with the Premier’s Office and last week we met with Halton Region about our request to be permitted to safely operate live racing during a lockdown situation. These discussions included a detailed explanation of our commitment to safety, stringent COVID-19 Prevention Protocols, and the success we have had in limiting any spread of the virus on our properties. Since we resumed racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park in June of 2020, we have safely operated more than 2,600 races without a single case of on-site transmission of the virus. (For your reference, I have attached the document we shared with Halton Region that includes an overview of our operations and protocols).

These discussions have led to receiving high-level support from the provincial government and local health authorities and it appears that there is an understanding of the severity of the situation, and most importantly, that horse racing is an outdoor sport that is proven safe. However, we are now at a critical time where we need to take action to ensure we are permitted to safely operate live horse racing (without spectators) as soon as the stay-at-home order is lifted.

We would be happy to further discuss this situation with you at your convenience. Any support you might be able to provide us would be greatly appreciated by Woodbine Mohawk Park and the thousands of people eager to get back to racing safely and earning a living for their families.


April 15, 2021 - 2:47 pmThe sad thing is watching

ron males SAID...

The sad thing is watching Yonkers, Meadowlands, and Ohio tracks you see the horses that have left Ontario to race and one can’t blame them but it is true the races could have continued... they let Curling continue, Hockey, etc. where there is far more close contact. Yes, Curling got a scare but they worked it out. We need to have kept racing - very responsible people and no covid the whole time they have been racing. Our Premier should have gone to bat with the Health Officials. Disappointing .

April 13, 2021 - 12:07 pmMaybe you should be showing

Diane Lord SAID...

Maybe you should be showing them the amount of money that HPI members are betting on horse racing in the USA, on a daily basis. I'm sure that the money that is being bet on US racetracks by Canadian bettors could've stayed in Canada, to help the Canadian and Ontario economies. I guess the Ontario gov't doesn't see what other people see.

April 11, 2021 - 2:30 pmSo, has there been any answer

So, has there been any answer from the Mayor of Milton? How about Health officials for Halton? Shouldn't have to wait till end of Lockdown. We need to be racing now!

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