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Racing Industry A Campaign Issue

Published: May 28, 2014 12:20 pm ET

Last Comment: June 2, 2014 10:40 am ET | 18 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

On the heels of Sudbury Downs announcing no live racing for 2014, all three of Ontario's provincial party leaders have offered comments on the state of the province's racing industry that indicate horse racing is a campaign issue heading into the June 12 election.

On Tuesday, May 27, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne commented on the cancellation of Sudbury Downs’ 2014 season of live racing during a campaign stop in Sudbury.

"I said that we needed to revamp the horse racing industry and make sure that we work with the industry to make it sustainable,” Wynne was quoted by the CBC as saying. “That's why there's $500 million on the table and that's why 16 of 17 tracks have got a deal."

Wynne went on to say, "I wish that Sudbury Downs had been able to work with us and that we'd been able to come to an agreement. That wasn't the case, but I also hope that it's not a permanent situation."

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath was in St. Thomas on Tuesday and told reporters that the NDP would restore the funding model cut by the Liberals.

"Sudbury Downs is dark now this season because of the Liberals wrong-handed decision," she said. "[The] Slots at Racetracks program will be brought back to life in Ontario under an NDP government and we’ll be partnering with all of the horse people and the tracks to make sure we reinvigorate the industry that for some reason the Liberals have decided to kill off."

While in Pickering, PC Leader Tim Hudak offered his take on the Liberal's plan for Ontario's thoroughbred, quarter-horse and harness racing industries.

"The Liberal policy is going to toss tens of thousands of people out of work," said Hudak. "Sudbury Downs, now not racing. Kawartha Downs, down to a few handful of days. Fort Erie racetrack on life support."

Hudak has also gone on record that the slots-at-racetracks model would be re-established by his government.

(With files from the CBC; QMI Agency file photos)

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June 2, 2014 - 10:40 amThe best case scenerio right

jarvis rich SAID...

The best case scenerio right now for the horse people is a PC minority. This will give Hudak to make good on his word especially with a little help from the NDP to make good on their word. Remember the platform laid out by the PC government regarding horse racing was not reinstate the program in its orginal glory. But he did say he would reinstate the program. Anthony also indicated on one of the blogs that more privatization is better for the racing model. The non-profit model for race track models is where a majority of the racing is occurring at this time. While Paul Godfrey has raised plenty of money for the PC campaign (over 2 million dollars indicated by Hudak) that money has come from the private sector and more specifically the people were pro privatization of the lottery gaming in Ontario. Paul Godfreys alligences is with the private sector that does not want horseracing to get a cut and has nothing to do with political parties. Work hard to get Anthony elected in his riding and then hold him accountable to the horseracing industry because he has alittle bit of Hudak's ear from time to time.

June 1, 2014 - 6:19 pmGary Blackburn is right.

Gary Blackburn is right. Hudak is too wishy-washy and if the PC's had a different leader, they probably would win this election hands down with a majority. ( I wrote the Pres. of the PC party long ago with this synopsis, to no avail) However having said that, we are at the mercy of these three political parties and have a choice of only picking the best of the worst. The Liberals have endeavoured to destroy horse racing and the rural economy.... so we can't trust them. The NDP had a chance to save the SARP but instead, chose to sit on their hands during the vote and propped up the Liberals.... no leadership here. So we're left with the PC's. We can only hope that Hudak will stay true to his word and that there will be enough pressure within the party to encourage the PC's to re-instate the SARP. Without some kind of revenue sharing agreement, horse racing can not survive or prosper. We gave away the farm when we allowed the gov't to cannibalize our customer base in favor of the slots back in the eighty's and we won't get it back. We definitely need a change.

May 30, 2014 - 12:17 pmThe answer is to bring back

The answer is to bring back the SAR program, but give the horsemen and track owners an incentive to grow the pools, and the punters a chance to bet even the smallest track. Do not give the 20% to the track owners and purses...use it to seed pools and just watch how every handle at every track, no matter how small grows exponentially. At the grotesque takeouts presently allowed, purses should still get very lucrative and track owners will still make big profits, and players will have a reason to bet the races again.

May 30, 2014 - 10:53 amIf the SARP is re-instated, I

ron francis SAID...

If the SARP is re-instated, I would hope it is with some strings attached. No more rolling along merrily while betting handles at B tracks slip, slip, the B track owners (for most part) take the 10%, and let their facility decline, with no attempt to market the product. I would hope the OLG and horsemen put pressure on operators to do a better job. It would not be a complicated process, having purse$$/operator$$ be linked to track handle. Handle up, percentage up. Handle down, percentage down. The former status quo would be another Band-Aid on the body wound.

May 29, 2014 - 3:38 pmWow!!Ms.Wynne wishes that

john smith SAID...

Wow!!Ms.Wynne wishes that Sudbury would have worked with them.
What the heck was the offer made by them.There sure is a lot
of lip service being offered up.
Restore SARP, does this mean helping to restore
tracks like Windsor and now Sudbury.Restore racing dates as
they were at Dresden,Kawartha,Hiawatha and Flamboro for example.
I guess we´ll know in 2 weeks.

May 29, 2014 - 3:21 pmFor the past 2 years I have

For the past 2 years I have sat and read the comments on this forum. Comments of we should do this and we should do that. Its now 2 years later what exactly has been done? The answer "NOTHING".

Tracks are closed, purses at the b tracks suck. Many stables are long gone to the USA and won't be coming back. People have lost their farms, houses jobs etc. Slots are still open, track owners are making boatloads of cash while the horsemen suffer.

We know the Liberals havent a clue and are the most corrupt party ever to grace this Province. Its been scandal after scandal with them.The 2 main culprits have both left the party and should be in jail. They sure as hell aren't the answer.

We know the NDP is not the answer because they can't even manage to vote. Horvaths claims she will reinstate SARP. Her word means nothing as she has zero credibility.

We know the PC'S want to creat a million jobs but also want to cut 100,000 public service jobs. (I dont make this up) They are all over the map. They also claim that they will reinstate the SARP program which you can bank on, will likely not happen if they get in. They will do what other parties before them have done and say well we thought it would be ok but now we changed our minds. Seriously folks, Tim Hudak is the guy you want running this Province?

So where does that leave us as Ontarians? It leaves us between a rock and a hard place. None of these 3 parties will do anything for this Province. The quality of living here will continue to decline and many will move to other provinces or go south to the USA. Its a very sad state we are in when this is the only alternative.

If the leadership in this Province continues the path they are on, we may end up like Detroit and become bankrupt in the future.

May 29, 2014 - 2:41 pmHow will any of this bring

Will Yamakva SAID...

How will any of this bring the fans back and make the pools at Clinton, Sudbury, kawartha, sarnia and a few others bettable? The citizens of Ontario. .. not just the horseman are part of the equation.

so far, not a single comment as to how this will benefit anyone other than horseman.
Us fans are as important as the horseman but so far it does not appear anyone wants new fans, just the slots.

if as much effort went into tossing ideas about returning the bodies to the stands and betting dollars to the pools, the government would be forced to help. Right now, the citizens see you racing for big money but empty stands most nights. If you want help from the citizens, the show has to improve.

I know you all don't want to hear that, but as a fan and gambler, seeing the problem from a neutral perspective, you gotta help your own cause as much as you think the government needs to help you.

best of luck horseman,
racing fan, Yamakva

May 29, 2014 - 8:32 amIt has been that way from day

It has been that way from day 1 but there are unfortunately some that can't see it. Love NDP but not enough candidates running i GTA so leaves us only one choice and it's NOT WYNNE.

May 28, 2014 - 10:37 pmIt seems that far North and

It seems that far North and South don't exist in the world of racing. Sudbury has fallen just as Windor Raceway before it. Everyone is holding onto the bandaid the gov't has put out for the next 5 years then what? Hiawatha and Dresden are both on life support as is Kawartha. Anyone who thinks 20 race dates or 12 race dates is going to sustain this business is in for a rude awakening. Most important though, what people are forgetting is a NO vote for the budget by the NDP when the Liberals proposed to end the SARP would have squashed the idea. Horvath didn't have the guts to save the SARP and now she promises to bring it back. I wish I had the answers but I don't. All I know is I dearly miss watching live racing from Windsor and owning a few horses to race. On a positive note I am making the trek to London for the Molson race to watch Foiled Again. My heart feels for all the people who have been negatively affected by this travesty of justice. God Bless

May 28, 2014 - 6:22 pm"RACING CAN'T WYNNE WITH

"RACING CAN'T WYNNE WITH LIBERALS" should be plastered anywhere and everywhere. Money spent on this type of public notice is the best money we as horsemen or association can do to help our cause.
The point made that the public believes this to be a subsidy is well taken. Somehow the truth needs to come out to the voters before election day. Unfortunetly I am on life support like so many horsemen in the industry today so my comments are just loud barks but hopefully somehow someone can figure out how we can disrupt and dismantle the Liberals from any future power in politics.

May 28, 2014 - 5:56 pmWe finally have something

We finally have something that we as horsemen might be able to agree on. We know we have to eliminate the Liberal party from government. Now who do we vote for ?
The facts that i see in front of us are as follows.
NDP.......Who is running for the NDP that is involved with our industry?
How far are they behind the liberals .
Awnsers ; I don:t know of anyone that is a campaigning from our industry
I know that the NDP is to far away to take them down,i hope they can take a few seats.
As i hope we know that the PC party has a Vet, and a Driver that are running from our industry. I know that these horsemen' will talk strong.
The PC party is the party that will and can take them down.
Now lets start telling everyone' what the LIBERALS have done to kill our industry.
Talk loud and clear.
Horsemen; Liberals must not be put back in power.

May 28, 2014 - 5:00 pmAgree totally! Well said.

reg higgs SAID...

Agree totally! Well said.

May 28, 2014 - 4:25 pmI agree - With Wynne it's all

I agree - With Wynne it's all talk and no action. Notice how she's PROMISING to spend billions of my tax dollars? But don't worry it'll never happen 'cause they're it's all just more promises for the Fiberals to break! Course I don't know if I can trust either of the other two any better!

May 28, 2014 - 4:14 pmUnfortunately, many

Norm Brunet SAID...

Unfortunately, many Ontarian's have the impression that we are subsidized and should not be allowed to survive if we can't stand on our own 2 feet. All this thanks to a Liberal propaganda machine that rich people should not be able to profit from subsidy's. In reality rich horse people is an oxymoron.
Kudo's to the PC's and NDP that see the revenue sharing agreement for what it really is and putting sanity ahead of their own agenda, unlike the Liberals .
I think that it would be money well spent if the horse industry started an advertising campaign outlining the benefits and downfalls of the SARP, along with it's history of how it came about, after the referendums in Toronto and Hamilton back in the late 90's were against casinos.
We are well past the time of sitting on our hands and doing nothing.

May 28, 2014 - 3:49 pmIs it me, or does anyone else

Is it me, or does anyone else notice how Ms. Wynne talks a lot and says nothing!

May 28, 2014 - 3:49 pmI think Mr. Hudak talks out

john dossey SAID...

I think Mr. Hudak talks out of both sides of his mouth. He is on record to slash 100,000 public service jobs, so why would he restore jobs in this industry? Be careful what u wish for. If he was so concerned about Sudbury, where was he earlier this week when the other two parties debated northern issues? It would lead one to b believe he knows, he cannot win the North so why waste efforts?

May 28, 2014 - 2:22 pmFinally, our industry is an

Peggy Powell SAID...

Finally, our industry is an issue important enough to be a campaign issue. I wonder why the Liberals didn't care when they handed out a death sentence to thousands of jobs in the racing industry, But, now that Hudak says thousands of public sector jobs must go, they cry blue murder? I don't know about teachers, firemen, or police but I do think we are over governed with little to no say in our own futures. We need a change.

May 28, 2014 - 1:55 pma minority government does

terry gudz SAID...

a minority government does not guarantee a extra dollar for the horsemen, no racing no slots for my home town sudbury,without live racing the slots should be turned off to take a stand against the liberal mismanagement.

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