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Ontario Enters Provincewide Lockdown

Published: April 1, 2021 1:59 pm ET

Last Comment: April 7, 2021 8:38 am ET | 10 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

As a result of the province-wide lockdown announced on Thursday (April 1) by the Government of Ontario, harness racing will be suspended at Rideau Carleton Raceway, The Raceway at the Western Fair District and Woodbine Mohawk Park effective Saturday, April 3.

Live racing was previously suspended at Flamboro Downs when the City of Hamilton was placed in lockdown as of March 29.

The lockdown, announced by Premier Doug Ford in an implementation of the government's emergency brake, is the second such measure that has impacted the 2021 harness racing season, as the province's Standardbred industry was shuttered for roughly seven weeks with the last lockdown announced before Christmas in 2020. Racing resumed at four racetracks without incident in mid-February.

“Although we are disappointed that we must temporarily cease live racing in Ontario, we continue to be supportive of the Government’s efforts to manage the COVID-19 pandemic,” said John Hayes, Independent Chair, Ontario Racing. “The welfare of our horsepeople and horses continues to be our top priority. We look forward to the day when we can safely resume live racing, which supports thousands of hardworking people and their families.”

As with the previous shutdowns, Ontario Racing will assess the situation internally, as well as with industry partners, health officials, and racetrack operators, and share any pertinent information with the horse racing community.

UPDATE: In a statement issued on Thursday afternoon Woodbine Entertainment CEO Jim Lawson indicated that while horse racing will pause on Saturday per provincial guidelines, local health authorities can give the green light for horse racing to resume in their region. Lawson's statement and statements from Rideau Carleton Raceway and Woodbine Mohawk Park follow.


Statement from Rideau Carleton Raceway

Rideau Carleton Raceway is profoundly disappointed with today's announcement from the province effectively suspending our live race program. Working in conjunction with the NCRHHA, our commitment and record of safely managing operations during the pandemic has been unequivocally established. Together, we will work with Government of Ontario, Ottawa Public Health, Ontario Racing and the AGCO in an effort to safely resume our schedule of races and secure financial relief for those impacted. On-track facilities for training will continue to be available to our racing community; while respecting current COVID Protocols. Updates will be provided when available.


Live racing to be temporarily suspended at Woodbine Mohawk Park

Woodbine Entertainment Thursday (April 1) announced live Standardbred racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park will be temporarily suspended following this Friday’s (April 2) card due to the Government of Ontario imposing a province-wide "emergency brake", effective Saturday (April 3) at 12:01 a.m. (EDT).

Live horse racing, without spectators, is not currently permitted during the Government of Ontario’s emergency brake shutdown, which will be in place in for a minimum of four weeks.

Woodbine Entertainment continues to engage in discussions with the Provincial Government and Halton Region regarding the request to continue safely operating live racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park during this shutdown or a lockdown situation.

As part of these discussions, Woodbine continues to demonstrate its commitment to safety through its industry-leading COVID-19 Prevention Protocols and a safety record that includes not a single case of on-site transmission of the virus at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Live racing is schedule to be conducted Thursday (April 1) and Friday (April 2) prior to the shutdown. Post time is 7:00 p.m. (EDT).


Update to Woodbine Mohawk Park Horsepeople

Woodbine Mohawk Park Horsepeople,

The Government of Ontario announced today that it is activating a Province-wide ‘emergency brake’ shutdown as a result of an alarming surge in case numbers and COVID-19 hospitalizations across the province. Currently, the measures included in the shutdown allow for training, but not live racing without spectators.

In advance of today’s news of a Province-wide ‘emergency brake’ shutdown, I had a conversation with the Province this morning regarding our request to be permitted to safely operate live racing during the shutdown. The Province indicated its support for this request so long as the local health authority also approves.

We are in contact with officials from the Halton Region where Woodbine Mohawk Park is situated. Over the coming days we will continue to make our case with the region’s health authorities by demonstrating our commitment to safety, sharing our industry-leading COVID-19 Prevention Protocols, and reminding them that we have not had a single case of on-site transmission of the virus at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

As of Saturday, April 3, we will be required to suspend racing until we receive the necessary permission from local health authorities to safely operate live racing during this shutdown. Please prepare accordingly but also rest assured that we are doing everything we can do be able to resume racing as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, and in accordance with the measures of the shutdown, we will continue to offer training at Woodbine Mohawk Park. More details regarding this will be shared by the Race Office shortly.

While you are at Woodbine Mohawk Park this weekend for live racing, please continue to be safe and follow all COVID-19 Prevention Protocols as you have done so well over the past year.

Thanks,

Jim Lawson


April 7, 2021 - 8:38 amI have an interesting

Glen Lyons SAID...

I have an interesting perspective on covid and shutdowns. I work in an essential services warehouse and I own a horse.
Premier Ford .... thank you for taking care of our elderly and most vulnerable first.
Now think a little outside the box and instead of concentrating on age, concentrate on spreading environments.
My warehouse has a first aid room that we use each year to administer the flu vaccine.
Why isn't a government nurse on site using that room right now to administer the vaccine to 400 people in 24 hours. We have shifts around the clock and those associates could get the vaccine onsite, one after the other, socially distanced and done in a snap.

All the decent size distribution operations have to have a separate First Aid room by law. Lets use them efficiently and effectively with respect to the administration of vaccines.

Horsemen have proven they can make the race track a safe place for racing. They should be rewarded for that effort and the government should be focusing on the higher risk situations.
Common sense isn't very common.

April 5, 2021 - 1:07 pmDale: I think Buffalo is a

Don Patrick SAID...

Dale: I think Buffalo is a different situation. There is still racing in New York State.

Mohawk is closed despite the fact that they have shown the ability to keep everyone safe. So far this government doesn't seem to regard that as relevant.

April 5, 2021 - 10:58 amDiane Lord, there is no

Diane Lord, there is no hypocrisy with the NHL and horse racing, or any other business that can show a comprehensive testing plan like they have. They test EVERYONE almost daily, and not just the players, the on ice officials, the trainers, the team staff and more.

April 4, 2021 - 7:21 pmCan't believe the money horse

Tom Foley SAID...

Can't believe the money horse racing brings in for the gov't and they keep shutting it down. Hockey players hug, hit, spit - and NO Masks, but still allowed.

April 3, 2021 - 2:08 pmI noticed that Buffalo

Dale Leiska SAID...

I noticed that Buffalo Raceway had to close because of Covid. So we arent the only ones being affected by the virus.

April 3, 2021 - 12:39 amThousands affected here

Thousands affected here negatively when there has been no virus issues for a year.
It's proven things are kept safe the way the horse racing industry in Ontario is now operating.
No close contact, like at the isles of Costco and mainly outdoors, not like all indoor shopping which is still open.
Also, for the mental wellbeing of all those involved generating an income, this should still be up and running with protocols that are already in place.

April 2, 2021 - 4:17 amKeep on rolling out the red

Diane Lord SAID...

Keep on rolling out the red carpet for those NHL millionaires, it just goes to show the hypocrisy of decisions, that are made by government officials. And across the border, horse racing is alive and well.

April 1, 2021 - 10:26 pmCall me crazy, but should

Don Patrick SAID...

Call me crazy, but should there not have been a discussion with Public Health some weeks ago? Everything could have been in place by now.

April 1, 2021 - 6:24 pmI bet the Leafs home games in

I bet the Leafs home games in Toronto won't be suspended due to this Provincial Emergency "Brake"......

April 1, 2021 - 2:36 pmI guess the T- Bred season

Dave Aziz SAID...

I guess the T- Bred season will be impacted as well, despite the pleading letter from Mr. Lawson two weeks ago.
So sad that the politicians think that locking down the races will accomplish a single thing other than appease those who would be offended if something such as a "Gambling game" like racing would go on while simple things like barbers are shut.


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