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Hanover Raceway Drops Appeal Against ORC Race Model

Published: May 26, 2011 12:42 pm ET

Last Comment: May 26, 2011 4:11 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Despite its concerns that the new racing model will result in a purse surplus and less investment in its local agricultural sector, Hanover Raceway has announced that it has dropped its appeal of the Implementation Committee rulings.

The committee informed Hanover Raceway on March 16, 2011 that it would not allow Hanover to operate live racing for more than $50,000 per race card. In November 2010, Hanover applied for a combination of Grassroots and Signature Race cards, or a special designation as a Grassroots plus track.

The committee then asked Hanover to provide them with a variance request if they wished to race for more than $50,000.

On April 20, 2011, Hanover provided the committee with a request for $60,000 on Saturday race cards, plus extra purse monies for its special promotional and stakes event days, as well as a list of new stakes programs including a maiden series, memorial series and two new series for claimers.

Hanover Raceway General Manager Gord Dougan has said that the request for a base of $60,000 was denied because the Ontario Racing Commission felt that racing for $1,000 more per race on Saturdays would jeopardize horse racing at other tracks --- specifically, Clinton Raceway, Grand River Raceway and Flamboro Downs. The committee approved an increase of about $11,000 on five promotional and stakes days, and $22,000 on four other events, including the Dream of Glory finals on July 30. Dougan has said with those special days, and the current and extra stakes programs, Hanover will be able to provide its horsemen with another $400,000 to $500,000 on top of the approximately $1.5 million overnight purse cap. In 2010, Hanover generated close to $2.1 million in its purse account.

The contents of the Hanover response letter appears below.

(Hanover Raceway)

May 20, 2011

Via Fax 416-213-7827
Ontario Racing Commission
Suite 400
10 Carlson Court
Toronto, Ontario
M9W 6L2

Attention: Implementation Group

Dear Sir:

Re: Notice of Decision – Ontario Racing Program

This is to acknowledge receipt of the Notices of Decision dated May 10, 2011 and May 18, 2011, respectively. Although I am disappointed in the Decision of the Implementation Group, and in particular the Decision dated May 10, 2011, which is a figurative slap in the face to all of us who have worked hard over the years to enhance the racing experience at Hanover for the fans and horsepeople, I am writing to advise you that Hanover Raceway is withdrawing its appeal with respect to the Decisions of the IM Group.

The decision to withdraw the appeal was only reached after much deliberation and is based on the following representations and considerations:

  1. The representation made by the IM representatives at our meeting that surplus purse monies would not be re-allocated but would remain in the Hanover purse pool to ensure purse stability and increased stakes opportunities;
  2. To allow an opportunity for the framework to be tested for one year with the understanding that the framework will be reviewed and adjustments made as required;
  3. That members of the ORC and/or IM Group attend at Hanover Raceway and meet with our fans and horsepeople and explain to them the rational behind the decision to reduce the purse monies to be paid out and the quality of horses racing at Hanover.

In the many years that I have sat on the Board of Directors at Hanover our overarching goal has always been to increase the purses available at our raceway to better serve our local horsepeople, fans and breeders. To that end we have invested millions of dollars in our facility including the construction of slot facility, barns, new track lighting and state of the art tote board. An additional ten million dollar expansion to our facility is slated to break ground this fall. Hanover has also been proactive in simulcasting all our cards via video stream with wagering through HPI as well as operating a teletheatre at Sulky Sam’s in Tara. Although some of these initiatives are at a net cost to us, we have believed that the resulting addition to the purse pool is worth the cost. Given the decision of the IM Group to arbitrarily limit our purses to $50,000 per card, 2010 average card was $67,000, we will obviously have to review the viability of continuing some of these initiatives as the primary purpose was to increase the purses paid to our horsepeople.

I find it somewhat ironic that rather than encouraging the racetracks and horsepeople to improve their product the ORC is, at least in our local area, sending the message that we should regress and not be proactive in increasing purses or providing a better product.
Similarly it is contradictory to state that patrons at the smaller 'community' tracks are primarily fans, as opposed to bettors, but then deny them the opportunity to see the 'better' horses.

Although I applaud the ORC for attempting to improve breeding and racing programs in Ontario I hope that the ORC will be open minded in reviewing the criteria utilized and flexible in implementing the resulting framework. The criteria set forth appears to be almost exclusively monetary oriented and does not appear to take into consideration non-monetary factors such as racing conditions, track surfaces, local preferences, etc. which affect decisions on where to race.

I would also like to clarify a statement made in the Notice of Decision dated May 18 which refers to an application made by Hanover dated April 29 presumably with respect to a number of new added-money events. The application for new added money events was included with the application for variance allowing an increase on Saturday nights from $50,000 to $60,000 and for Special Event Cards as submitted on April 20, 2011.

Yours sincerely,

Dean R. Leifso
Chair, Hanover Raceway

May 26, 2011 - 4:11 pmI would like to thank Gord

I would like to thank Gord and Dean from Hanover Raceway plus Ken and Dennis the district 9 OHHA Directors for all of their efforts in this matter. I echo Dean's sentiments and am equally frustrated. Make some calls to the ORC and your OHHA, COSA, NCRHA or NHA representative...ask some questions and express your feelings on these issues.

Darryl MacArthur

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