ORC Offers Details On Major Fines

Published: August 31, 2009 08:23 pm EDT

The Ontario Racing Commission has released details pertaining to the penalties doled out to Kerry and Shirley House, the owners of this year’s Gold Cup & Saucer winner, All The Weapons


As outlined earlier today, each of the owners were fined $17,343.50 for violating ORC rule 15:09a, which stipulates:

15.09. A claimed horse, regard less of ownership:

(a) shall race only at a track or tracks in the Province of Ontario for the next 60 days, except where such a horse had been nominated to participate in an added money event before it was claimed, or unless the track where the horse was claimed is closing for more than 30 days. If the track where the horse was claimed closes for more than 30 days, the horse is released from the requirements of 15.09 (a).

Ontario Racing Commission Judges Rick Rier, Pat Webb, Doug Hopkins have offered the following background information which led to the fines that were handed out earlier today:



The Horse “ALL THE WEAPONS” was claimed at Mohawk Racetrack on July 3, 2009 for $20,000 by owners Kerry and Shirley House of St Jacobs, Ont.

The above horse started in the Gold Cup & Saucer at Charlottetown Driving Park in Prince Edward Island on August 17, 2009 in the Cup trial, finishing first in a dead-heat. Following that, he started in the Gold Cup & Saucer final on August 22, which he also won.

“ALL THE WEAPONS” was still owned by Kerry and Shirley House at the time of the above races in question.

O. R. C. rule 15.09 states; “a claimed horse, regardless of ownership; (a) shall only race at a track or tracks in the Province of Ontario for the next 60 days, except where such a horse had been nominated to participate in an added money event before it was claimed, or unless the track where the horse was claimed is closing for more than 30 days.”

The last paragraph under rule 15.09 states; “For purposes of this rule, racetracks operated by Woodbine Entertainment Group shall be considered one track…

In dissecting rule 15.09 as it relates to “ALL THE WEAPONS”; 1) the horse had not been nominated to the Gold Cup & Saucer prior to being claimed, 2) as he was claimed at Mohawk (Woodbine Entertainment Group) the track was not closing for more than 30 days, and 3) sixty (60) days from after July 3 would be September 2, the earliest date in which ALL THE WEAPONS could race outside of Ontario.

The policy relating to penalty for a violation of rule 15.09 was revised in December of 2002, following a breach of this rule involving the horse “London Mews M.” The policy up until then had been a fine of 10% of the claiming price. The connections of London Mews N raced the horse twice out of province earning substantially more purse money than what the “10% of the claiming price” policy allowed for.

On the basis that violating rule 15.09 (or any rule) should not generate a profit, the policy relating to penalty was then revised.

The new policy in place has been that the fine for a violation of rule 15.09 will be the greater of 10% of the claiming price per start or, the total purse money earned per start.

The ALL THE WEAPONS incident

We were made aware on August 17, 2009 that the horse All The Weapons was in to race in P.E.I.

On August 17, 2009 at approximately 6 p.m., prior to the horse making his first start in the Gold Cup & Saucer trial, the trainer of ALL THE WEAPONS Ken Oliver, contacted the Judges at Mohawk Racetrack at their request. Rule 15.09 was explained to him at that time. Furthermore, he was also informed of what the policy relating to penalty currently is.

On August 17, 2009 at approximately 7 p.m., trainer of ALL THE WEAPONS Ken Oliver called back to the Mohawk Judges and asked that rule 15.09 be read to him for clarification. Also, the policy relating to penalty was again relayed to him.

The decision was made by the trainer and owners to still race ALL THE WEAPONS in the trial, which he won in a dead-heat earning $4,687 in purse money.

Having seen “ALL THE WEAPONS” in-to-go in the Gold Cup & Saucer final set for August 22, the Judges at Mohawk attempted to contact Ken Oliver on Thursday August 20 by calling his cell phone, his home phone, and we even spoke with Roger, a Charlottetown Judge, and asked him to have Ken Oliver call. No call back was received by us from Ken Oliver and nor did the owners make an effort to contact us for clarification. We did receive a call from Ken Oliver's wife as she wondered about our number coming up on her call display.

Subsequent to those calls being attempted, the Judges at Mohawk called the only number listed under Standardbred Canada for owners Kerry and Shirley House. A message was left on an answering machine also on Thursday August 20.

Further, a call was placed to Ken Oliver’s cell phone on Friday August 21 with no one answering.

On Saturday August 22, the horse ALL THE WEAPONS participated in the Gold Cup & Saucer final, in which he finished first earning $30,000 in purse money. This was his second start outside of Ontario within 60 days.

On Tuesday August 25, the Judges from Mohawk spoke with Shirley House and set up a hearing for Friday August 28 at Mohawk Racetrack. At that time she was advised that her and her husband could bring representation along if they wished.

At 5 p.m. on August 28, Judges Rick Rier, Pat Webb and Doug Hopkins met at Mohawk with owners Kerry and Shirley House, trainer Ken Oliver, and O.H.H.A. representatives Brian Tropea and Darryl MacArthur.

From that hearing it was determined that trainer Ken Oliver did inform the owners, Kerry and Shirley House, of his conversations with the Judges prior to ALL THE WEAPONS making his first start in the trial. They stated that they did not fully understand the policy relating to penalty, but they made no attempt to contact the Judges for clarification. Note again that trainer Ken Oliver did call the Judges back a second time for the exact purpose of clarification.

When asked why the decision was made to still race ALL THE WEAPONS after they had been advised of the rule, and the policy relating to penalty, Shirley House indicated that “ALL THE WEAPONS was just along to keep their other horse Pacific Oak, company. Pacific Oak was to be the better of the two and they believed him to have the best chance. Also, they felt they had committed to the race and that rule 15.09 does not mention penalty.


Racing ALL THE WEAPONS in both the trial on August 17 and the final on August 22 was an informed and willful violation of the rules of racing in specific to rule 15.09(a). Licensees are obliged to abide by all the rules or, be prepared to accept the consequences. We as Judges find the fact that the decision was made to race the horse after being informed of the rule and policy to be somewhat self-serving and in open defiance of the rule. Further, O.R.C. rule 1.04 states, “Ignorance of the rules will not be accepted as an excuse for their violation.”

We as Judges did not have the power to scratch the horse as he was racing in another jurisdiction however; the information was relayed to Ken Oliver prior to the horse ever racing. By their own admission, they did not expect ALL THE WEAPONS to be a winner in both the trial and the Gold Cup & Saucer final.

There is a need for a specific deterrence when a rule is so openly violated. As in the case with London Mews N, there cannot be a positive cash flow resulting from violating the rules of racing. Notwithstanding that ALL THE WEAPONS won both his starts, earning a total of $34,687 in purse money, the policy in place today is specific to 10% of the claiming price per start or, the total purse money earned, whichever is greater.

Further, by racing ALL THE WEAPONS and knowingly violating rule 15.09(a), they deprived another owner of their entitlement to participate in the Gold Cup & Saucer.


We find these to be limited to perhaps not having a clear understanding of the policy for penalty. That alone however is no excuse for such an open violation. The rule and penalty should not be different just because of where ALL THE WEAPONS finished in his two starts out-of-province. The decision was made to race the horse even after calling the Judges back for clarification.

The policy relating to penalty for violating rule 15.09(a) is not listed in the rule book and perhaps it should be. Still, it was explained twice to the individual with care and control of ALL THE WEAPONS.

Ontario Racing Commission Judges:
Rick Rier, Pat Webb and Doug Hopkins

Related Stories

Big Fine For Gold Cup & Saucer Winners
Gold Cup & Saucer Win Controversy
All The Weapons In Gold Cup & Saucer



As a non industry participant (bettor only) I find the penalty in this case fits the crime. The owners and trainer knew they were breaking the rules but chose to ignore the rule probaly thinking "Oh well we will get fined if we win but they will let us off easy".

Well guess what, you were wrong and you are going to pay a stiff penalty (over $30,000) for a blatant attempt to disregard the rules.
What I do find interesting is the penalties handed out to horse people who get caught using prohibited substances seems to be a slap on the wrist in comparison. They too have blatantly broke the rules but often times they are given short sentences. What about the bettor? If there was a mechanism for the bettor to regain lost amounts wagered and the owner/trainer were responsible for compensation to those losers then I would have a little more respect. The other trainers and horse owners have been cheated but the customers who support the sport and are a big part of the industry are left holding the bag.

In reply to by mikey

what about the horse that finished 2nd and 6th if this horse was in fact breaking the rules the people who bet the horse that finished 2nd should be placed 1st,call the fraud squad how does the commission keep all the money???

This exact same violation has happened 3 times now, yet the rule remains the same. And all 3 times, purse money earned in P.E.I. ends up in the ORC's bank account. As some people have recommended, the easiest thing to do would be to change it so the horse could not leave Canada for 60 days. I don't think Ontario has to worry too much about P.E.I., Quebec, and Alberta raiding their horses right now. But as the rule reads now, the owners violated the rule and the ORC is $34,000 richer. One problem that I have with the rule is, "for the purposes of this rule, racetracks operated by WEG shall be considered one track". Why is WEG exempt from the 30-day closing rule? Is this an ONTARIO Racing Commission rule, or an Ontario/WEG rule? Shouldn't Great Canadian's Georgian Downs and Flamboro, and Winrac's Windsor/Dresden/Woodstock also be considered one track? Why only WEG? I think the rule is biased and prejudiced as it is applied differently depending on which track that you claim a horse from, whereas it should be the same for ALL Ontario tracks. But as the rule reads now, the owners are guilty, and the judges are doing their job.

On August 3, I attended the Dresden races. In race #12, a horse had a last race date of June 6, which is 58 days between starts. I even had the horse scratched in my program. Of course, he raced and finished 3rd. I checked out the ORC rule book when I got home and the 45-day rule is still in effect. What happened in Dresden? Why was this horse not scratched? Could all 3 judges miss such a thing? There is only 3 possible explanations:
1. They bent the rules and allowed the horse to race.
2. They did not know of such a rule, but as I read above, "ignorance of the
rules will not be accepted as an excuse for a violation".
3. They did not do their job and missed it, thus "they deprived another owner
of their entitlement to race in the 12th race at Dresden".

Sound familiar? In this case, the judges did not do their job.Since they should not profit from violating a rule, the judges should each be fined a day's pay. Plus approximately $2000 was bet on the 12th race, which means $500 profit from pari-mutuel takeout, so an additional fine of $166.66 each which shall be returned to Dresden bettors because losing triactor tickets were beat out by a horse that was ineligble to race. It's only fair.

Why am I so hard on the ORC? A couple of years ago, I bet a fairly substantial amount on a Pick-7 at WEG, with a key horse in the first leg, and keying on an American owned trotter in a later leg. After my first leg came in, my other key was a judges scratch because the owner didn't have a valid Ontario liscense. Therefore, I was allowed to wager a substantial amount on a horse that the judges knew beforehand was ineligible to race, and I had NO chance for a refund because it was a multi-leg wager. After 4 phone calls to the ORC, the only consistent answer I got was "at least you got the favorite in the scratched horse's race". They just don't get it, the effect their decisions have on bettors.

Their blatant disregard for the rules didn't help their cause. End of story...

What I find interesting is if you read the appeal of the Match Bayama gang from the previous year, they had contended that the race secretary in PEI should have told them this when accepting their entry. PEI certainly gladly accepted the entry fee from both these horses.

As well, unlike this instance (guess the ORC learned a lesson from the appeal), the Match Bayama owners were not aware of the rule in advance and the ORC didnt do anything until after the horse had raced in the eliminations.

Its funny that SC can have any data available to a race secretary so they can determine eligibility and "date" when they are writing overnights, yet there is no system that indicates to a race secretary that a potential entry into a race involves a horse claimed within the last 60 days and from another province? The ORC says its not the responsibility of the race secretary to determine this, yet if I put a horse that has won $20,000 in their last 6 starts in a nonwinner $5,000 last 6 event, I know the race secretary will reject my entry.

The part that I really disagree with is the part about - not entering a stake race unless nominated - well you cant nominate for this particular race until one week prior. I agree with fining them to race in overnights elsewhere, but not in stakes races or added money events like these.

Perhaps changing the rule to not racing outside of Canada should be implemented as someone suggested, but when the rule was put in place, a $30,000 claimer cost a US owner about $18,000 U.S. (due to the dollar at that time). If I could get a $30k claimer for $18k and then race him in for $30k assuming he is competitive, I would do so. For that purpose the rule being in place makes sense - but not for stakes races.

Thank Goodness the ORC is enforcing it's rules!
Between this and the new whipping rule I'm finally beginning to have some respect for the sport again.
Cheaters should be heavily punished. The rules are written and clear - if you don't like it don't play

In reply to by sarahG

The problem Sarah--is that rules are enforced when it suits them or their perceived best interests. Can anyone say "Southwind Allaire"????

In reply to by dancespell

Hmm well I seem to recall in the the Southwind Allaire issue the assistant trainer was fined $10,000 and suspended for several days (although this was probably not heavy enough) and the horses in question were tested before and after they raced so it's not like NOTHING was done.

These people openily and knowingly broke the rules (they had WARNING!!)

The rule exists to protect Ontario horsemen - it wasn't written to cause problems but to PROTECT our industry. I realize the horse is racing back in Ontario now but if we start bending the rules over this what's next?

The ORC isn't perfect - no policing agency is. How loudly do you think people would be howling if the ORC did nothing in this case after being openily defied? If the ORC didn't come down hard here then why would anyone bothering following ANY of the rules?

This rule is the biggest pain for everyone! CHANGE THE THING! Why watch more amazing owners walk away from this sport because the ORC has there pantys in a bunch because a reply wasn't heard. How about change the rule and say can not race outta country instead of province and while your at it change the people sitting at that table saying they are helping this sport, when we all know they are the reason its dying.

While I agree the fine was on the crazy side & would have been much less if the horse did not win, but they knew what the penalty was going in & decided to take their chances by breaking the rules anyway. No way do I feel sorry for them! Where the money goes is not great but there's nothing we can do about that.

There is no question that the rule book needs some editting, but unfortunately the rules are the rules. If All the Weapons had tested positive that night would we expect there to be consequences? Yes, so why should this case be treated any diferently?

The ORC needs to do a better job of enforcing all of the rules and ensuring that the consequences for those that are broken are consistent and fair. The fact that this has not been the case in the past is the reasoning behind such outrage! I think we are on the right track! (no pun intended)

the rule was made to stop american to come claimed horses at a cheaper price but dont u think this province or any other one need new blood for better races to bet on?this rule should only apply for out of country kiinda thing the claiming game is no linger exist here because of it and as for the treatment of certain participant to another well buddy it does exist just open your eyes that matter is for what happen last wek because we could go all night and day about other one like i said fine thoe owners fairly because we are not in a position to lose anymore good owners...

Yes this stupid rule was broke and yes there should be a fine but $35,000.00 Come on people give your heads a collective shake. All you rule's people are also going on about losing horses to other jurisdictions. Where is this horse now??? The horse is back in Ontario. That's where these People race on a regular Basis. Except for a two week vacation They never intended to take the horse anywhere else.
I still feel the ORC has no Common Sense , over reacted (AGAIN) and were to heavy handed.

Ok we all agree the rule got broken. But we don't all agree with the fines. My idea would be fine the owners 10% of the purse but instad of that money going to the ORC why not put it back to the race itself for next year. That would make it to almost 100G and maybe attract even more horses!

I just dont know why that money should go in the ORC bank account for what happened in another province. Yes the horse was claimed here so give them a fair fine and give the money back to PEI so next year will be an awesome event even though it's already great as it is.

I don't understand why the big outcry of people defending someone who blatantly broke the racing rules in Ontario? The rule was put in place to protect the horse population in the province & keep people from claiming horses & immediately taking them elsewhere to race. I can understand not liking the rule & trying to get it changed or amended.

I don't buy this that if it was someone else etc. BS that they would be treated differently either! The House's KNOWINGLY broke the rules & now have to pay the penalty, it just happens that this horse won the race & the price was steep!

Everybody needs to step back and take a look at this situation. The claiming rule is not archaic, it is in place for a purpose, to keep out of province and out of country trainers from decimating our horse population.

When the rule was 30 days, the claiming game was mad towards the fall of the year with people poaching horses for the Friday and Saturday night cards at the Meadowlands, especially when the Canadian dollar was at 65 cents compared to our southern neighbors. They couldn't fill a card there without them, not to speak of our own trainers claiming horses to send down there to race for great money AND pick up the exchange on the money when the horse was inevitably claimed.

The problem here is the intent of the rule. The Houses and Ken Oliver were made fully aware of the situation they had placed themselves in and CHOSE to disregard the claiming rule, and for that they should be penalized. This does not make them bad people or bad owners.

Their intent was always to bring the horse back to Ontario to race but the treatment they have recieved from the ORC is uncalled for. The fine is outrageous and will probably chase another potentially great owner from the game. It's time to revamp a few of the rules and keep in the spirit of friendly competition and offer congratulations to the horse and his connections and not demonize them as is being done now. Did they do wrong, yes, admittedly so, but reality has to set in here sooner or later guys. My humble opinion.

Ps. Congratulations on your victory, but next time, be a little more mindful of the rules and why they are in place...

First of all i dont agree with Mr SHANTZ comments once they come with a new rule u have to deal with it no matter if u like it or not! As for the fines it's ridiculous. I never saw anything like it. My question to the nice commission we have is what if the horse haven't made any money what the fine would've been???? And if it was a prominent owner's horse it would been different - that's a fact cuz we see it happen all the time with the orc - it all depends who you are etc...

A perfect example on may 1st a couple horsemens got caught with injectables at flamboro one got 5 days and 500$ fine the other 45 days and 1000$ fines. Mr MARTY ADLER said it best a few months ago who will regulate the regulator??? its time for a big change like the goverment did with OLG its time for new people with new idea on board.


The ORC has released a fair account of what happened and why the owners of this horse were fined. We complain endlessly about poor decisions by the Commission yet when they make the right decision (based on the written rules) and explain the reasons for their decision, we still complain.

It is not the ORC that is ruining racing, it is all the participants who ask constantly for the rules to be enforced and when they are - complain and point to "corruption".

The ORC annually asks the public for rule change requests. At that time, make your voice heard if you think a change is required.

I applaud the Commission and their judges for providing a clear explanation of what happened in this case.

In reply to by michaelshantz

Yes but it is easy to enforce rules when they are black and white, as in this particular case, no thinking or judgement necessary. But good judgement is necessary to consider the ambiguities in a situation and apply an appropriate decision. When a rule is enforced in situations that the law was not designed for - that is a corruption of the law!

It is easy to make a rule black and white (you break it, here's the penalty) - cover all claims, but it doesn't make it right. In this application the deterrance is applied for a situation for which the rule was never intended to cover. And yes the judges did a fine job of following the black and white instructions that went along with applying this rule and explaining their decision. But it is amazing that a rule such as this can be applied in this case that it is clear it was never designed to cover.

Sure the judges followed the book, but I can't feel anything but compassion for the cat that was caught in the rabbit trap, even if he was warned. Lazy justice is what it is. I will be interested to see what an Ontario court says about the ORC process.

Here we go again - the ontario racing is selective on whom to penalize and to what degree. so be it,however by what authority do they selectively publish some integrity issues,and who decides,on these. now i say let those who have never lied or cheated,,,,,,,,,, cast the first stone,,,,,,looking forward to the next stone.

I sympathize with Shirley and Kerry House in their predicament. This is just another example of an archaic rule.

The ORC is killing this industry with their over-regulation of the claiming rules and now with the new whipping rule. The people that are making these rules for the most part have never driven a horse in a race or maybe haven't even trained one, have not run a successful racing stable but are now trying to tell everyone how to run theirs.

I think its time for an orderly exit from this business. Until we have a self-regulating body composed of competant horse people with pristine reputations, things are not going to get any better.

It seems absurd that an ORC rule which was originally designed to discourage horse poaching from neighboring jurisdictions works best when dealing with horses shipping east for the Gold Cup. The penalty was revised in 2002 to deal with the case of London Mews N, another Gold Cup and Saucer winner. So the three most high profiles cases of this particular rule have involved horses shipping in for the Gold Cup and Saucer. I believe the rule has overstepped its original intent and should be amended. The ORC caught a cat in a rabbit trap and pleased with themselves, cooked and ate the cat. Shame!

I think Barbara Chu asked the right question and had that question been answered in the posted ruling a lot of the "heat" might well be taken out the comments on this story. What is the purpose of the rule? Rules aren't usually dreamed up just for the sake of having a rule. If we all knew why this rule is in place, it would help us better understand the actions taken

This is nothing but highway robbery. It's no wonder we are struggling in this sport. These good people claim the horse for $20,000, ship to PEI and win the biggest race we have and this is how they are rewarded. Yes they should be fined for breaking a rule but this amount is simply unacceptable. Just another harness racing organization linning their pockets on the backs of the horse people. If the system was working right the horse should not be allowed to enter in the first place. Someone indicated that they can't stop the horse from being entered. That, if it is true, is ridiculous. That's like telling a criminal he is ok to enter a bank and rob it, and by the way, the police will be waiting outside when you come out.

Why does this rule exist in the first place? Stupid rule. If I spend money on a horse, I want to see that horse race where I can recoup the investment, and the public benefits by having a good horse on the track. No loss to Ontario. Its money spent here when he is claimed, and good advertising for Ontario horses when he wins elsewhere.

Congratulations ORC,and WEG, once again enforcing a rule, one that shouldn't even exist, for the purpose of monopolizing harness racing in Ontario and the WEG in particular. This farce is just another nail in the coffin of Harness Racing in the rest of Canada. Anyone involved in making such a rule or enforcing it should be ashamed of themselves. Horse owners, would be horse owners and Standardbred Canada should stand united to rid the sport of such a ludicrous rule.

This is by far the most Over the Top , Heavy Handed Fine I ever heard of . Sounds to me that because the Trainer and Owners would not reply to the Judges phone calls that the ORC got their noses out of joint and said Boys lets make an example of these People.
These people claimed this horse to Race in Ontario and Plan to continue to race in Ontario . They take the Horse (that they own) to P.E.I. for a two week vacation and this is the Thanks they get.
It is hard enough to find good owners these days. When you do get good owners this is how the ORC treats them.
Not much wonder why the game is dying.
Personally I would just like to thank Kerry and Shirley House for bringing their horses to P.E.I. for the big race. Please come back again.
For the ORC I think it is time the Ontario Government deals with them the same way they dealt with the Ontario Lotto Corp.

After word spread that the owners of All The Weapons, the 2009 Gold Cup & Saucer champion had been fined over $ 37,000 after allowing the horse to race sooner than ORC rules permit out of province.

Either two things should happen here, the ORC needs to adopt a rule where such entries in a paid in event are permitted to race in such events barring any further controversy.

On the P.E.I side of things, maybe a rule in the regulations of the prestigious race should ban any horse that has been claimed according to ORC rules.

This would save controversy on each side of the country. This looks bad on both the ORC who are adamant in enforcing such heavy fines for this, and the Maritime racing commission for allowing the horse to race in the first place.

To avoid further issues, write in next year’s conditions that horses under the ORC rule of claiming are simply not eligible to the big show. Problem solved.

What a crock! I can see the archaic rule that a horse has to move up the claiming ladder for the next 30 or even 60 days if the horse remains in a claimer. Unless the judges are paying the bills on these horses (and this horse in particular) they should have no say in where they are allowed to race. Kudos to Mr Oliver for spotting the raw talent All The Weapons possessed to bring him from the level of a $20,000 claimer to the winner of one of Canada's biggest and most storied stake events in a short period of time. Penalizing people for being successful! Is it any wonder harness racing is a dying sport??? Last one out turn off the lights....

Why didnt the judges at Charlottetown scratch the horse when contacted by the Ontario judges? We have reciprecal ruleings from province to province, it seems they should be called on, and asked why they didnt scratch the horse race in the first place.

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