AGCO Racehorse Welfare Initiatives Now In Effect

Horses behing the starting gate under the lights at Woodbine Mohawk Park
Published: June 5, 2023 06:15 pm EDT

As part of its continued commitment to protect Ontario’s racehorses and enhance the integrity of racing, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has made the following changes within the Rules of Racing to promote the welfare of equine athletes.  

The  AGCO engaged with industry stakeholders including horsepersons’ associations, licensed and official veterinarians, and racetrack management to seek input on these welfare initiatives. 

The changes are effective June 5, 2023.   

For more details about the changes and breeds they will apply to, please see the following Information Bulletins: 

Information Bulletin No. 88 – New Starting Gate Rule
Applies to Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse

A new rule and a revision to the Thoroughbred Rules of Racing (Rule 17.03) to ensure safe and acceptable loading practices in the starting gate, for both horses and starting gate personnel.

Information Bulletin No. 89 – New Trainer Requirement to Report all Current Stabling Location(s)
Applies to all breeds

A new rule will be introduced to both the Thoroughbred Rules of Racing and the Standardbred Rules of Racing that will require licensed trainers to report all stabling locations they operate under their licence, including any location changes to the Registrar within five days.

Information Bulletin No. 90 – Restricting the Use of Certain Medications for Horses Participating in Workouts or Qualifiers
Applies to all breeds

New rules and revisions will be introduced to both the Thoroughbred Rules of Racing and the Standardbred Rules of Racing for certain medications and substances that will now be regulated in horses participating in an Official Workout (Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse) or in a Qualifying Race (Standardbred).

*Please note the following update: While the effective date for this new requirement is June 5, 2023, there will be a transition period until July 4, 2023 where the AGCO will limit out of competition testing activities to only those horses requiring a Workout or Qualifier to come off the Veterinarian’s List. During this time, the AGCO will conduct additional engagement and provide further communication to horse racing licensees to ensure greater clarity regarding the new rules.

Information Bulletin No. 91 – Update to the Penalties for a Violation to Standardbred Rule 22.19
Applies to Standardbred

A revision to the Standardbred Rules of Racing (Rule 22.19) will update language and the penalty structure that prohibits a driver’s foot from making contact with the horse in any manner, aligning it more closely with the urging provisions.

The AGCO will provide horse racing licensees with additional information to assist them with meeting their requirements to come into compliance, before the revisions come into effect on June 5, 2023. The Thoroughbred and Standardbred Rules of Racing will also be updated on the AGCO website to reflect the changes.


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