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Feedback On Proposed 2011 Ontario Racing Program Due Monday

Published: November 29, 2010 4:28 pm ET

Last Comment: December 7, 2010 5:03 am ET | 14 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

The Ontario Racing Commission is circulating proposals for the 2011 Ontario Racing Program for public comment. All interested stakeholders are encouraged to review these proposals and provide their comments to the attention of the director by Monday, December 6, 2010.

The process of determining racing in Ontario has evolved significantly from that of prior years. Previously, applications received from racetracks, along with their business cases where appropriate, were distributed for comment. The process focused solely on racing at each racetrack.

This year – after considerable dialogue and input from industry working groups – an Ontario-focused standardbred racing program is also being circulated. This introduces an approach that goes beyond the single interests of one racetrack or horsepeople association. The proposed program introduces a true ‘provincial approach’ to racing which also accommodates regional considerations.

Based on an ORC Board-approved framework which was developed through the year-long industry consultation process, the public is also invited to comment on these calendars.

To view the complete Notice to the Industry, the racetrack submissions and other documents related to this issue, click here.


December 7, 2010 - 5:03 am....if you want to help

jim cauchon SAID...

....if you want to help yourselves and better focus monies into bigger harness pools, then disconnect some of the shows and strictly allow them on HPI.......first on that list would be Northfield park followed by Maywood/Bal;moral....that way, you offer more help to the lacking pools of your B tracks.

*let me add, in a protectionist way, that on top of these types of tracks being reserved strictly for HPI, please toss in even WORSE OFFENDERS, at least from my Champions experiences,,,,that would include removing tracks like Penn National. Charlestown, Beulah etc...'B, or even C throughbreds that take from your B Ontario harness pools......


December 6, 2010 - 4:06 pm92 fewer dates next year.

Ron Berry SAID...

92 fewer dates next year. How many fewer dates in 2012... 92 / 150 / 200 .. no one knows.

• Eventually tracks will close it's just a matter of time.
I guess 2012 is as good a time as any to close some down.

• Pool the slot purse money (from the closed tracks) and beef up the remaining track purses.
It would be nice to adjust the owners pay out % and/or perhaps pay down to 6th place
or have a trucking allowance for the 7 owners that lose money on every race.

• The internet is definitely the way to go to hopefully attract some of the sports betting dollars.
The HPI "Play to Win" seems like a good idea. It's not only a wager but a fun competition between bettors.
and can be played from the comfort of your own home.

How you attract today's generation is way beyond me... perhaps you can hook up with OLG and
and run a program similar to Pro-Line ?? Whatever it is.. it has to be internet / tv friendly.

December 6, 2010 - 1:39 pmThis is the letter that I

Lynne Magee SAID...

This is the letter that I sent to the ORC today. I hope that it isn't too much "ranting", Morag, but I'm very disturbed by what is being proposed at our local tracks and how it is being done.

To whom it may concern:

I spent over four disturbing hours of my valuable time yesterday wading through the more than 100 pages of information on your site regarding the "Framework to Support Live Horse Racing in Ontario" plan. It is obvious from this document that you don't have a clue about the racing communities outside of the parameters of the GTA.

As small, rural owners, trainers, grooms, farmers (yes, we do it all), we will be destroyed by this new plan to downgrade our level of racing and to decrease our purses. I suspect that the money being pulled will be distributed to WEG and its cousins. Take a look at the number of people and horses that will be out of business with this new plan. The rural (ie "grassroots") people and horses of Ontario are the foundation of racing and have been since its inception. You are about to destroy that root structure which will, in turn, destroy the entire industry. Remember the old adage "No foot--no horse"? The same goes for the foundation of anything be it living things, buildings or businesses.

The very least that you can do is to make sure that every stakeholder in the province of Ontario has a copy of this document and the opportunity to digest it and make comments and/ or suggestions. By releasing it on the internet only you have kept it hidden from a large number of stakeholders whose livelihoods are going to be drastically changed when this plan comes into being. They should at least have a heads up so that they can start selling off their investments now rather than wait until they loose everything to the vultures.

You should have taken a trip out to our local tracks to witness the enthusiasm that the local folk have for local horses and trainers. They are non-profit organizations that are run by the Agricultural Societies in the area. Do you really think that downgrading the quality of racing is good for business and good for these venues? In my opinion, it's a sure way to close down some top quality racetracks such as Clinton and Hanover that have invested millions in upgrading the venues and the product. The slot money comes predominantly out of the pockets of local folk and goes back into local projects and purses. Why should that money go to other tracks for distribution? Rural folk don't like to see their hard-earned money heading to the city, believe me.

Unlike the bigger tracks, we have good competition with a friendly atmosphere, lots of fun for everyone in the family, a connection between the competitors and the customers, a good relationship with the track staff and operators and the list goes on.
This lengthy document is a difficult read and one that deserves more exposure and time for all stakeholders to comprehend what is being proposed and how they will be affected. By ramming it through in such short order, the people of ALL of Ontario are once again being short-changed.

I ask you to please consider the timeline of this proposal and to ensure that ALL stakeholders are aware of its existence and have a chance to respond.

Lynne Magee, Wingham, Ont.

December 4, 2010 - 11:41 pmMr. Barnsdale wrote:

jim cauchon SAID...

Mr. Barnsdale wrote:
'Explore a bigger variety of bets - starting with dime supers, etc. Pass legislation so that anyone betting into a U.S. pool can bet their minimum, i.e dime supers, 50 cent tris, pick 4s and pick 5s. We are at a disadvantage betting against those who can bet lower minimums and use more horses.

I get the feeling some Canadians are keeping many US tracks going...and are very surprised that OUR parimutuel fathers havent started the 10 cent/50 cent parade on action both sides of the border by now...whats taking them so long????....(afraid of payoffs that appear tiny,,instead of posting those non-sensical, $2 tri and super payoffs........We're all big boys and girls here,,,We need the betting relief and GD'it its time to cut us a betting break....All of us these days would love to get a little bit of something than a whole lot of nothing...

Im guessing it has'nt happened yet because at least for that kind of betting north of border, many of us everyday joes would cut into larger payoffs, usually 'reserved' for horsemen 'in the know'....Come on boys, times are tough for all of us,,,Its time to share your fiefdom, just a little bit anyways.

Its time to let us play the game too......50 cent tris should be the rule on both sides of the border, along with the 10 cent supers,,and the 50 cent pick 5.

*I relay to you all a recent 'sorry display' from HPI telling me I couldnt play in the guaranteed 10,000 sat night win 4's, either of them at Cal Expo, and its been that way for weeks,,,Without telling me as much, I guess it was a desperate attempt to keep our money here to continue to 'prop up' some exotic pool hope for windsor, western fair and georgian....Got news for them,,,,dont push your product on my back!! I want 100% product from 100% of the operations....Get out of my way and let me bet.

AND ON TOP OF THAT, two friday nights ago, Cal Expo's 50 cent pick 5 had grown to approx 35,000 gross.....I went to play it, knowing full well I wasnt getting to play for 50 cents, but a buck, thus 48 dollars to try it...BUT AMAZINGLY, HPI/WEG/CHAMPIONS whoever, had the minimum bet up to $2 on the computers, again trying to shakedown the Canadian player and therefore discourage us from playing there. Whats the problem?...Is it my fault, Saturday night action in the above mentioned Ontario tracks are limping along handle-wise.
((saw graphic tonight on Western Fair screen telling us all that there had now been 19 winners from their dreaded 7 post so far this season...that in itself is remarkable.....but boys, here's a clue,,,figure a way to get a passing lane in.
...and speaking of that I see Fraser slowpokes are about to do that too......they must have tired of watching other 5/8ths having a good time. (like the Meadows)...*Hey Windsor,,time to join the club....we're all tired of another boxed in favorite sitting in the garden spot at the top of the lane.

GET WITH THE PROGRAM ALL OF YOU......IF YOU OFFER THE PRODUCT, WE NEED TO BE ALLOWED TO ENJOY ALL OF IT....if you want to help yourselves and better focus monies into bigger harness pools, then disconnect some of the shows and strictly allow them on HPI.......first on that list would be Northfield park followed by Maywood/Bal;moral....that way, you offer more help to the lacking pools of your B tracks.
**ps,,anybody know how Sudbury is still considered a parimutuel offering?..really...when there's 200 bucks total bet on exactors and 100 total on tris on many of the races,,,isnt it time to give one to the government, pull the plug on this gang, and re-didstribute that slot revenue to other more realisitic racetracks...Its not Sudbury's fault..its just time to be realistic, right?

10 cent supers, 50 cent tris and pick 5's....and we want them NOW!!!


December 4, 2010 - 4:57 pmHere is my husband's (Jim

Morag Watt SAID...

Here is my husband's (Jim Watt) comment:

People, people, people! You REALLY need to read the new proposal put forth by the ORC concerning Ontario Racing. As a participant of 40+ years, I have never seen such a radical proposal to change harness racing as we know it. If this document passes it will have serious consequences to all participants, especially having a negative effect on those horsemen who campaign their horses at tracks such as Dresden, Woodstock, Clinton & Hanover. Under the new proposal, with a standardized condition sheet, it will severely limit our ability to race horses in conditions at these local tracks. For example, only horses with earnings of less than $10,000 will be allowed to race here unless you are a cheap claimer, in which case $4,000 claimers will go for a purse of $2,600. There is some flexibility with N/W classes but with significant restrictions on purse money made in the year (eg. W/O $15,000 2010 not eligible). For me, there would be no class for Wish N Win (N/W $35,000 Life), Carlynda Hanover (N/W $50,000 Life), Watt a Day (N/W $20,000 Life). These three horses (of my four horses racing at the moment) would need to be trucked out to "Signature" tracks. It is unclear which tracks this will be but it would definately not be Hanover, Clinton, Dresden or Woodstock, and would be determined by the ORC. Under these conditions, I seriously question if I could survive economically with the reduced purse structure and available racing options. I love racing at the local tracks and do not understand why I would be forced to race elsewhere when I have been an active participant at these local tracks, like so many of you others, for so many years. The ORC document can be found on the Standardbred Canada Website but you have to look for it. It is very detailed (well over 100 pages) and the deadline for comments is this Monday - December 6. It appears to me that this is just another form of common purse pooling but is being disguised. It is impossible to digest all of this information and have meaningful input on such a short timeline. I would urge everyone to respond to the opportunity to comment on Monday, if only to ask that the deadline for comments be extended. Also, contact your local OHHA member, members of parliament and local municipal government and let them know that this will have profound impact on the rural agricultural economy. It was the intent of the Slots at Racetrack programs to support and stimulate rural, agricultural economies, not devestate them.

December 4, 2010 - 12:28 pmI have a suggestion for Mr.

I have a suggestion for Mr. Borg, when you cash a ticket, be promptly paid. I do most of my betting at Dresden simulcast. Two weeks ago I cashed for $910 on Friday night and was paid $300 cash and given a voucher for $610. I went back both Saturday and Sunday and still no cash. I finally got my $610 voucher cashed Monday night, 72 hours later. Earlier this year, Windsor/Dresden came out with a policy that if you cashed for more than $1000, you gave your name, address, phone number, and ticket identification number to the Dresden manager, who forwarded it to Windsor, who then issued a cheque at their convenience. Understand something here, this is policy, they want customers to bet with vouchers, and paid by cheque when possible. I have never made a bet with anything but cash, is it too much to expect to be paid cash, promptly? The slots pay cash immediately. I called the CPMA and ORC and was told the only rule on this is that the bettor MUST use cash or voucher, and the track must honor a winning ticket, but there is nothing about the timeframe or method of payment that the track must use. It is bad enough that track management operates like this, but when the industry regulators also agree, it just proves to me that customer service is not a top priority.

Concerning takeout, if a person had a choice of two banks to invest their money in, with one offering 10% interest or less, and the other 25%, the choice seems obvious. Doesn't a gambler have the same choice, and isn't the choice obvious?

I would also like to know if this respectable fact based comment is considered as meaningful input or a rant?

December 4, 2010 - 8:43 amIn my opinion, this is the

Morag Watt SAID...

In my opinion, this is the single most important document/proposal affecting racing in Ontario in the modern history of racing. It is imperative that everyone involved in racing be given the opportunity to review it; the implications to the racing industry as we know it are staggering. The unfortunate deadline of MONDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2010 will severely limit the level of meaningful input that can be realistically expected. I would encourage everyone to submit a response to the ORC on Monday if only to ask for an extension of the deadline for input. I would also encourage that responses be respectful and fact based. Ranting will only undermine your message.

December 3, 2010 - 10:44 pmAmen, Mr. Barnsdale, There

Amen, Mr. Barnsdale,

There have been so many well thought out suggestions to save racing by so many good people, all dealing with issues regarding simply giving the customer the respect he/she deserves, that it boggles the mind.

In my neck of the woods we have no HPI wagering, self-serve machines are ancient and frustrating to use, tellers could care less about serving you, if they are even competent enough to understand your bet, there are payouts at racetracks that make no sense and nobody seems to care (see Woodbine race 2 Nov.29), and integrity is still a joke.

I've had it!I have for the past twenty years bet at least $250k yearly with a churn factor that could only be achieved by a knowledgeable handicapper like myself. I've been defending the honour of harness racing to the detriment of my own sanity. YOU WOULD HAVE DIFFICULTY FINDING TWO PEOPLE IN THE GRANSTAND THAT BELIEVE THAT RACING IS HONEST.When an exactor that should pay $800 pays less than $300, and a triactor that should pay $5k pays less than $1,500 in the biggest pool that Canada has to offer, that is a sign that something is seriously wrong.

Insiders are attempting to repair "perceptions" by the public that races are rigged, drug abuse is rampant,etc.etc.etc.... Perceptions? Reality? Things are getting curiouser and curiouser......

Don't worry, all you believers in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, there will be no more negative comments from me, because this is my last post.Keep burying your heads into the proverbial rabbit hole.

Until something legitimate and drastic is done,goodbye harness racing,hello poker!

December 3, 2010 - 1:35 pm"Other suggestions?" Try

"Other suggestions?" Try these:

1) Racetracks should learn to treat their clientele as CUSTOMERS, not degenerates or inconveniences. The big tracks could learn from Grand River.
2) Teach the unionized mutuel clerks at Woodbine some manners and customer service. Most are rude, surly, inattentive and more worried about talking to co-workers than punching tickets.
3) Stiffer penalties for cheaters. 'Nuff said.
4) Better comping system - start by doubling the current points given out on a regular basis.
5) Take care of your facility; make it attractive - example, Woodbine: CLEAN THE SEAGULL CRAP OFF THE SEATS ALREADY! Put some HOT water in the sinks for hand washing. Fix toilet doors.
6) There is NO worse place to watch a live harness race than Woodbine (unless you have a telescope). Race year-round at Mohawk, except for maybe Dec-Jan-Feb where weather would cause shipping issues. Celebrate and promote Mohawk for the GREAT track that it is. Have a harness camp where anyone can learn how to drive and participate in a "race" like other tracks do. Have more "fun" events such as a miniature harness horse race.
7) Offer a better variety of food. The food at most tracks I have been to is cr**.
8) Explore a bigger variety of bets - starting with dime supers, etc. Pass legislation so that anyone betting into a U.S. pool can bet their minimum, i.e dime supers, 50 cent tris, pick 4s and pick 5s. We are at a disadvantage betting against those who can bet lower minimums and use more horses. Cosider "flex" betting like they have in Australia.

It's not all about takeout (although that is a HUGE issue). I believe people are staying away from live racing because they are not made to feel like valued CUSTOMERS.

November 30, 2010 - 11:14 amTo Mr.Borg, yes i agree

John Carter SAID...

To Mr.Borg, yes i agree there is many problems that plague the race game such as short uncompetitive fields but like it or not they can fix every other problem they have but continue to ignore the fact that they are not competitive with other forms of gambling and the industry is doomed to fail and that is a 100% certainty. There is no other outcome possible. The younger generation of gamblers will never accept the excessive take out rate in horse racing when other forms of gambling like sports and poker are available, where as a gambler you have at least a fighting chance.

The industry may have lulled itself into a false sense of security by fooling themselves into believing that no matter how much the wager drops that they will always have the slot revenue to fall back on to keep it alive. Well they won't, if the handle continues to plummet eventually they will be able to take this away from an industry that no one cares about or supports and there will be little to no public support behind the racing industry to keep it. What do they do then.

To Mr. Robinski i do realize at times that i sound like a broken record but i also believe that this industry far to often gets told what they want to hear and don't get told nearly enough what they need to hear. There are far to many major players in the race game that are simply out of touch.

November 30, 2010 - 10:54 amAlthough there are many

dan kearns SAID...

Although there are many problems, the WEG is doing MANY things right ! They are the leader of our industry, The ORC should maintain or INCREASE the # of race dates for 2011 ! With the problems at The Meadowlands there will be a huge opportunity to capture the M1 bettor by the WEG . There also will be horses and horsemen available to fill cards and make MORE races competitive ! ORC/ WEG seize this opportunity while it is available to you !

November 30, 2010 - 10:36 amSurely take out is not the

norm borg SAID...

Surely take out is not the only thing that is causing problems in our industry. Could we have some other suggestions please.

November 30, 2010 - 10:13 amSadly repetitive though he

Sadly repetitive though he is I must admit Mr.Carter is 100% correct. Countless others have stated the same thing but are ignored. Harness Racing and its "Stakeholders" deserve excatly what they are getting.They are the Authors Of Their Own Missfortune!!

November 29, 2010 - 6:29 pmThis document is a joke but

John Carter SAID...

This document is a joke but what else could be expected. It is nothing but a bunch of hot air with no real solutions. In the area of what customers want there is not a single mention of getting competitive with other forms of gambling by reducing the take out to a maximum of 10% in every pool. The truth is they are totally ignoring what gamblers(customers) really want and that is a fair game with a competitive take out rate. This document fails to meet the needs of the customer and as a result does a complete disservice to the race game as a whole.

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