ORC Statement On Mohawk Race

Published: September 4, 2014 02:54 pm EDT

Trot Insider has received a statement from the Ontario Racing Commission pertaining to its decision regarding Race 9 from Mohawk Racetrack on Monday, Sept. 1.

A downpour of rain midway through Monday's card rapidly degraded the track conditions at Mohawk. After the ninth race, in which a group of horses were refunded due to impedance caused by the starting car, the remaining three races were cancelled.

The statement, from the ORC's Manager of Racing Brent Stone, appears below. Please note that a revision to the statement was provided at 4:00 p.m.

Thank you for your inquiry regarding the 9th race at Mohawk, September 1, 2014.

Please reference the Rules of Standardbred Racing 2012 – Sections 22.32, 22.32.01 and 22.33

Here is a link on the ORC web site. Rules of Standardbred Racing 2012

In their opinion, the ORC Judges at Mohawk determined that the outside horses (4, 5, 7, 8) were prevented from having a fair chance (to quote the rule: “...prevented from having a fair chance to contest a race due to exceptional circumstances, and it is deemed in the public interest to do so, such horse shall be declared a non-contestant...”)

However, the Judges also determined that horses 1, 2, 3 were not affected and were able to properly contest this race. That is the lynchpin of their decision – these horses were entitled to contest.

Mohawk Racetrack is required to refund bets made on horses that have been declared by ORC officials to be “non-contestants”, as per the Pari-Mutuel Betting Supervision Regulations made pursuant to the Criminal Code. These regulations are administered by the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA), the federal agency responsible for the supervision of betting.

As ORC Racing Officials, the Judges are called upon to apply their considerable experience and knowledge of the Rules of Racing to make decisions that adhere to those Rules. From time to time, some members of the public may disagree with some calls. The public can be assured that the mandate of the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) is to protect the public interest, maintain the fairness of horse racing and officiate races according to the Rules of Racing.



I am not criticizing the driver of the starting gate as he did a good job of avoiding the horses and drivers plus as he says he could not signal a recall because they were past the start pole but that does not excuse the judges who had time to make a proper decision. The judges are so inconsistent in their rulings that is what upsets the public. You never know what they are going to do and for that matter it seems neither do they.

The latest posters congratulated the starting gate driver, the horsemen and and horses for getting through 'unscathed' a very difficult start to a race...no kidding...a great effort by all mentioned.

No one is questioning the talents of those listed above.

BUT This has everything to do with the horrible decision from the judges stand. and the massive disrespect for bettors in that event....the integrity of the race was lost from the outset when the obvious front running heavy choice #8 never had a chance to break cleanly because of the unfair start ....and when the others around also did not get fair starts..., well....this is just way too easy a decision.

The race is null and void....and sorry horsemen...you will have to find your purse money the next time.....that's the way it goes...

When I first watched this video my initial reaction was 'good job starter, good job drivers' and after viewing several comments and again watching video I think 'good job starter, good job drivers'. Sorry, but I have a hard time listening to people whining about losing a few bucks (hundreds, thousands I could care less) when the lives of horses or people involved are at stake. Be thankful that no one was hurt injured or killed and no horses were injured or killed. Mr. Roselle said it correctly that the interference happened after the start when the race was already released. The driver did a great job and I for one am thankful he did because as Mr. Roselle stated had they done different and not closed the wings it would have been carnage. To those that are complaining I ask, 'have you ever looked a horse you truly care about in the eye and watched a tear running out of it's eye and down it's cheek as it's being put down?'... well, I have and I can tell you that no money on earth is worth having to witness something like that.

In reply to by seosamh

To mister Macdaibheid,
Sorry to hear about your horse, but the state of racing relies on money and as a business, the fans or the betting public should come first. Sadly if there was no betting public, there would unlikely be any racing unless the owners and trainers would like to race for ribbons and trophies. It would not hurt my feelings at all. In all the years of going to races, the best thrill I've ever gotten from my experience was an opportunity to go for a ride in the starting gate. So you are right, money does not mean everything. At the age of 10, during a horse show at the Royal Winter fair, my father was clipping a mare and getting her ready to show. The next day, he was having problems with the clippers, so he went to the tac room for oil. When he left, all I could remember was standing alone when the mare reared up and came down on her side onto the cement floor. 'That was it, she was gone', my father said. Leaving us with her fold that was supposed to be shown along side her the next day. This at the time was hard for me to accept as a young boy. We stayed in the tac room for three nights as we had other ponies to show, which for me was difficult to sleep listening to the young colt all day and all night calling for its mother.

After following this thread for a week, I feel I need to make a couple short comments. First off, I am so thankful that no horses or drivers were hurt in this situation. To that point, I would like to thank my partner/driver George McDonnell. George has been driving starting gates and starting races for over 40 years. George did a great job ensuring the safety of myself and the field of horses and drivers. Thanks partner.

In regards to the comments "this should have been a recall"....A recall can not be called after the start of a race. This incident happened at the start as I was releasing the horses. Sounding a recall in this situation, and leaving the wings open could have been a massacre as it would have been much more difficult for George to control the vehicle as the wings are heavy and sway back and forth. It was our opinion that we only gained control of the truck because we got the wings in. In a case like this safety was and is our only consideration. This was an unfortunate incident that we dealt with the best we could.

Thank you all for your comments and support. I appreciate all of the passion and support that you bring as fans. Without you we would not survive.

James Roselle
Woodbine Entertainment Group

First and for most, I was glad to see no drivers or horses were injured.

What's next? Maybe the starting gate will go left instead of right? Then will give the fair start to the outside horses? Thank god the starting gate didn't go to the left. This would of created a lot less space for the horses and drivers to maneuver around it. This situation is making it harder for me to say 'I'll have another' 'Ontario needs racing'. For the integrity of the fans, no question this should of been a refunded race or at least an attempt at a recall. Without fans, there would be no racing.

brutal call


The industry just saying to hell with the gamblers... how is that working out for them?

After reading the comments I think the decision was wrong. Just admit your mistake and look into correcting the problem.The whole idea of giving a pick 4 bettor the post time favorite on a late scratch reeks of pool manipulation as a smart bettor can alter the win pool odds with a shrewd bet before post time. Or how about your trailer getting ruled to be interfered with and refunded only to give the bettor the post time favorite who actually did the interference and cant win the race? Gee, thanks for giving me the horse u just tossed.

YOU CAN'T FIGHT CITY HALL - "this is the rule"...

Our governing body has been most consistent with this since their inception. I also believe this is a contributing factor to our Sport and Business' present situation.

Hard to disagree with the comment by Mr. Cauchon. If this was the only "anti customer/fan/bettor" policy perhaps it would be easier to "move on". Sadly however the list of "anti customer/fan/bettor" policies is far too long!!

since i first posted, two remarkable posts have followed...

one... driver saying 'forget it, move on' (like Hazel Mccallion's power plant billion dollar excuse 'water under the bridge' comment)

two... 'no contest means no purse money for horsemen'....I almost fell off the chair with that, if it's indeed true.

shameful and rather shocking, but not surprising comments in each case.


In my humble opinion, this race should have either been a recall by the starter or at best, declared a "no contest" in fairness to everyone.

I personally spoke with Mr Brent Stone regarding this issue and further I discussed this in great detail with Mike Wilson of the ORC. The reason given for not declaring this a no contest is disturbing. They cited that a no contest means no purse money for the horsemen.

I personally am tired of the governing bodies and track operators putting the horsemen in front of the customers.

This needs to end.

Once again, ZERO thought given to bettors. I know of at least one long-time gambler that is giving up harness racing after this ruling. Can anyone blame him?

Okay, get over it, it is finished. Time to have a starting gate that opens automatically at the start. Auto pilot, to control the speed of the gate until it opens automatically at the start. Problem solved, why do people complain and never look for the remedy?

In reply to by mike wassilyn

Mike, most of the contributers were bettors. You can't just tell them to forget it, we need them. Protocols have to be in place safety for all involved as well. I agree we need a solution and I am sure the ORC knows it is squarely on them to make the rules. They have had lots of time to put these protocols in place but are very slow to make changes. Harness racing has been around too long not to have better rules. Automatically opening arms probably wouldnt have saved this situation as the car itself was weaving. The driver is not to blame, he did a good job to not lose control. The track was really bad in a hurry because of the weather.

BTW the pick 4 rule has never sat well with me, giving you the race time favourite. I believe there should be a consolation prize if you get the other 3 and there was a scratch (after the start of the bet). Don't give me the favourite because they don't win nearly enough for my liking (only 38%). Actually the favourite finishes 4th-12th 30% of the time.

Georg Leber-ICR Racing

Why not even a recall? Starter and judges blew this one. Bettors once again screwed over.

Those folks at the ORC and the judges who made this decision should be obligated to read all the comments below. Not a single person who responded felt that they did anything resembling the the right thing. It's their responsibility to make sure that everyone including the participating horsemen and perhaps more importantly the wagering public get a fair shake. The ORC response is a bunch of PR fluff.

The swing of the arm of the gate was on target, the speed of the car was not, thereby hindering a fair start. The MAJORITY of the field had to protect themselves as well as their horses. Should've be declared a "No contest". Bad call. The 8 hole even checked his horse up anticipating a spin or slide from the starting gate. Again, no contest. #JMO

i have been a horse owner , breeder, and fan for over 40 years . This race I found as self serving and very selfish for the Judges not to call it a no contest. It was quite clear that there was interference at the start of the race this should have been an automatic recall.

is it the worst decision they've ever made.

couldnt be much worse.

was there...i won on something on it ...and im still bitching about it.....

had a $3 super 1-2-3-4 didnt even get a consolation payoff on that...

To not have the very fast 8 in that race totally changed the dynamic of the race....there is no way that event should have been allowed to stand.......and the win 4 decision and awarding tix onto runner-up racetime favorite??, god that stinks....it really is minor league shocking stuff.

really, one of the worst decisions I've ever seen in this game.

and I won money.


The ORC is supposed to make rulings that are in the best interest of the betting public and the integrity of the game. I had $800 worth of winfour wagers all keyed onto #8 in the 9th race... My race 9 key was wiped out by the starting gate before the start and the judges decided that it was in my best interest to give 25% of my money to WEG and the other 75% to players who's horse was not wiped out!
Thank you mister ORC for protecting me!
How about this idea as a rule of thumb... when more than half the field is interfered with before the start, hit the recall button or rule the race a no-contest!
Somebody owes me $800... and an apology wouldn't be out of order.

How about holding 1400$ worth of Pick four tickets on Romance In Camalot and the starting gate nearly knocks her down and the ORC kindly give you the 2nd post time favorite who finishes 2nd. What a complete debacle. Race should have been completely refunded. How do you have a race run with over 50 percent of the field wiped out. What a farce.

So what the ORC is saying here is that handicapping a race means nothing. Any good handicapper takes into consideration how a race will unfold according to the individual horses in a race. Once much of the field is eliminated, the strategy is completely changed. What happens to those poor schmuks who had the triactor with the horse who finished third but was refunded? Too bad for them?

This is showing disrespect to the wagering public. They seem to think that bettors are just a bunch of simpletons throwing their money away. After all...they are just betting numbers, aren't they?

This is another example of the misguided thinking of the powers that be if this is what the judges have to come up with as a ruling. The race should have been stopped and declared a no contest, or re-raced if possible.

Try making some rules to protect the bettors instead of just the horsemen's purses, and the track's handles will grow exponentially.


no recall,the starting gate arms where still engaged, fine the starter and give out free programs or betting vouchers as a goodwill gesture, as more bettors head to the slot machines where no human factor is involved just random luck

I think the whole thing should have been declared a non-contest, as soon as the car spun. At least by the first turn and the announcer should have a signal to call it. I was saying this earlier this year that a protocol has to be in place. This was a dangerous situation. I hope it doesnt take a human fatality to correct this. Really what would it take to get it done?

Drivers, what do you think?

Georg Leber-ICR Racing

That race should have been completely refunded and declared a no contest. Terrible decision. This is the sort of stuff that turns off horse players. We can't afford to chase away any more players.

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