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ORC Reasons For Race-Date Decision

Published: April 29, 2013 5:39 pm ET

Last Comment: April 30, 2013 2:18 pm ET | 2 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

On Friday, April 12, the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) released the Director’s Notice of Decision regarding May to December 2013 Race Dates, with reasons to follow. These are the reasons.

The Director of the ORC received applications to vary the 2013 Ontario Racing Program Race Date Schedule for:

- Ajax Downs
- Clinton Raceway
- Dresden Raceway
- Flamboro Downs
- Fort Erie Racetrack
- Georgian Downs
- Grand River Raceway
- Hanover Raceway
- Kawartha Downs
- Mohawk Racetrack
- Rideau Carleton Raceway
- Sudbury Downs
- Woodbine Racetrack (Standardbred)
- Woodbine Racetrack (Thoroughbred)

Each of the applications for variance has been reviewed and considered through an application of the principles of the Ontario Racing Program.

As has been acknowledged in previous race date decisions, the 2013 racing season continues to be an extraordinary year, affected by the cancellation of the Slots At-Racetracks Program (SARP) that ended on March 31, 2013 and the introduction of government-funded transfer payments for racetrack operations, as well as the lease arrangements between the racetrack operators and Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG). All of these changes have impacted the scheduling of live horse racing in the province and the timing by which race dates could be approved.

Chronology of Approved Race Date Calendars

For 2013, live race date calendars were released as information became available. On December 14, 2012, the ORC released race date calendars for the period covering January 1, 2013 to March 31, 2013, based on ORC Policy Directive 3-2007. To ensure the continuation of pari-mutuel wagering in the province, each racetrack was assigned approved dates and had its ORC licence issued for calendar 2013. The ORC only released those race date calendars covering the period of January through March 2013 for any racetrack that operated during that three month period. It was expected that the balance of the live race date calendars would be released once the racetrack operators had confirmed their intentions with greater certainty in this post-SARP economic model.

On March 28, 2013, the ORC further released approved race date calendars for the month of April 2013. At that time, the Notice explained that some of the negotiations between racetrack operators and Government had not concluded or had been announced only days before, making consideration of a coordinated 2013 calendar within the framework of the Ontario Racing Program not possible. The decision was therefore made to release only the decisions regarding dates for April 2013 that were necessary to ensure the continuation of live racing.

Since that time, most negotiations between Government and the racetrack operators have concluded or reached greater definition. It was therefore possible to apply the coordinated scheduling approach of the Ontario Racing Program to the live race date schedule for the balance of the calendar year. The Notice of Decision dated April 12, 2013 therefore released race date schedules for all tracks seeking variances for the period May to December 2013.

Considerations relating to the new economics of Ontario horse racing

The race date calendars are the result of application of the Ontario Racing Program principles and implementation criteria to the new economics of the industry. Those new economics have been defined through Government negotiations with the industry; rental agreements between track operators and the OLG as well as the transfer payment agreements between tracks and Government have defined the financial circumstances for both the tracks and the purses.

The ORC notes that the current definition of the annual racing season may need to be reconsidered. The termination of SARP, the introduction of slot parlour rental agreements, and transfer payment funding has significantly changed the economics of Ontario horse racing. Those agreements are based on the Government’s fiscal year of April 1 to March 31.

Some track operators have already indentified a desire to align certain events with Government’s fiscal year, and this should lead to the re-examination of race date schedules and other regulatory time frames (such as annual licensing) that has historically been based on the calendar year.

Steve Lehman
Executive Director

The full reasons for decision for each track follow in embedded PDF or at this link.

April 30, 2013 - 2:18 pmI look at the 2013 calendar

brian hancox SAID...

I look at the 2013 calendar and ?i can't help but wonder what has taken place with the Ontario program. It is definitely a program that has gone from being number one in North America to the bottom of the hill. Such a drastic reduction in race dates. I wonder how much the loss is from reduced taxes on new truck and trailer sales? This massive reduction affects so many people the Liberals have not even given a thought to. I would love to know how big the reduction is for 2013 in horse feed costs and hay alone? The real sin that time will prove, is that the casino's will not bring the Province anything close to what racing did but they will fund a new election though. Imagine being two hundred and forty billion in the hole, nearly one hundred billion more than California, paying over ten billion in interest payments every year along and still they decide to put so many people out of work?

April 29, 2013 - 11:53 pmAll this GREAT work to tell

Dave Snowden SAID...

All this GREAT work to tell us when and where we should race is welcome news, great idea to have Flamboro racing in May, OH- who forgot to tell Flamboro ??? There are no draws or condition sheets out for racing in 2 days...oops !!!

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