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Flamboro Race Date Request Approved

Published: April 30, 2013 4:34 pm ET

Last Comment: May 2, 2013 7:46 am ET | 15 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

The Director of the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) has considered and approved an application for variance from Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (GCGC) to cancel the 2013 race dates approved for Flamboro Downs in the month of May.

GCGC’s application for variance included requests to deal with the schedules at Georgian Downs and Flamboro Downs, but the Director is limiting this decision to the application surrounding the dates in May at Flamboro given the urgency related to that request. The other matters in GCGC’s application for variance will be addressed in a separate decision to follow.

Through a Notice to the Industry issued April 12, 2013, followed by Reasons for Decision issued April 29, the Director approved the 2013 Ontario Race Dates, based on the needs of the Ontario Racing Program while recognizing the racetracks negotiations with Government.

When setting the 2013 program of racing in the Province of Ontario, the principles of the Ontario Racing Program were applied to balance the interests of the various components, but primarily to ensure there is a product available that is consistent and of interest to the customer.

In the decision rendered on April 12, 2013, the Director approved a schedule of dates reflective of the interest of the customer and needs of the horse supply. Those schedules included changes to the May calendar to assign race dates to Flamboro and increase the dates for Western Fair. Without those changes, Ontario would have seen a decline in Signature level racing in the central region from 11 race dates per week in May 2012 to two race dates per week in May 2013. This occurs at a time when demand for racing opportunities for younger horses is growing, a condition necessary to sustain a racing product for the year.

In its application to vary, GCGC advised that its agreement with Government was insufficient to support a change in the distribution of the race dates over the year from a concentrated Winter meet, to one where the distribution is more coordinated with the schedules of other race tracks. The Implementation and Monitoring Group, in developing its recommendation to the Director, asked GCGC to provide further information that addressed the six factors required under Policy Directive 3-2007 and other information that was relevant to the application for variance.

GCGC is primarily relying on the fact that a number of their employees have been terminated effective April 30, 2013, and therefore staffing for May 2013 race dates is not possible.

While removing dates at Flamboro in May is contrary to certain tenets of the Ontario Racing Program, the Director recognizes the inability of the track operator to deliver on the dates (Policy Directive 3-2007 – Fact #4 Financial condition of the racetrack association to deliver), and hereby cancels the 13 race dates in May for Flamboro Downs. The Director gives notice that this approval is limited to 2013 and may be econsidered for future years as the Ontario Racing Program evolves.

The change in dates will be reflected in the licence issued to GCGC operating as Flamboro Downs Limited.

Please be advised that any aggrieved party has the right to appeal the Director’s decision to the Commission.

Steve Lehman
Executive Director
Ontario Racing Commission

May 2, 2013 - 7:46 amAM 800 in Windsor had a talk

dave lewis SAID...

AM 800 in Windsor had a talk show on wensday morning where you could voice your opinion about the government and what they have done to Ontario and who you would vote for and why.Not one person who talked mentioned what they have done to the horse racing industry everybody talked about the gas plants, ornge and ect but not one mentioned the race industry,WHY!!!!!

May 1, 2013 - 4:28 pmMr Blackburn, I am not making

Jim Singer SAID...

Mr Blackburn,

I am not making excuses for GCGC, being an informed investor of their company, I can tell you they lose money after they pay their mortgage.They wrote down the Ontario properties for something like 50 million (or more)...they lost a pile on the books.

I was merely stating the the deal they received from the government is, what it is. The had a deal with one arm of the government while the other branch of the governemnt didn't understand.

How can you compare anything to 10-12 years ago...different world then what we live in now.? The horseman made the track owners rich....that is the problem with the industry today...everyone blaming each other. I'm sure many owners/drivers did quite well also.

I don't understand your comments on severance, they have to pay it as WEG did with no hope of getting it back in the new model. 0 chance. It's a valid point.

If GCGC didn't want racing, they would have just walked away now. They actually should be thanked as should all the others..all of the tracks cannot make a solid dime on any revenue, they are trying to run the most cost efficent model necessary. Doing what they have to do.

The fact that the ORC can't get their act together is not the operators problem.

Racing has to shrink to meet demand, no surprise to anyone.

May 1, 2013 - 2:07 pmI really only agree with one

Will Yamakva SAID...

I really only agree with one thing so far, and that is the dates could have gone to nearby facilities that were willing to take them.

May 1, 2013 - 12:21 pmI don't have a clue, nice

I don't have a clue, nice comment Jack.

Maybe this will clue you in.

In any business there are operating costs. Whether they be $2,500 or $25,000 a day thats not the point. The point is you enter into a business and you are obligated to run it, then you run it. You take monies that you make elsewhere in your business (slots) and you get it done. You do not take the high road and come up with a story about how you cannot hire enough staff, thats a joke. There are people who would work tomorrow if they were called today. Your excuses about severance pay is rediculous.

Your comments seem to show a lack of respect for the people who have made all the track owners rich people, the horse people. You seem to forget that if they didn't have the horses racing they would not have had the slots that have filled GCGC'S bank accounts with millions of dollars and GCGC continue to make them money today while horsepeople are wondering how they are going to feed their families and make payments on trucks, farms etc.

You also seem to forget that the backstretch is in shambles, the barns are empty. There has been hardly any promotion done to try and lure customers to come watch the races.

Turn back the clocks and what was the place like when Juravinski was running it. Barns were full, grandstands were busy, handle was good, marketing was done. Whats that tell you Jack? Does it tell you that GCGC do not want harness racing? Does it tell you that they only wanted slots, found a way to only have slots and now have gotten rid of the harness racing? Do you actually think they are going to open in November again? You need to grip reality.

I will leave you with this, do you know one person from GCGC who is a known figure in harness racing? If so, please name them for me.

May 1, 2013 - 9:28 amIf you all read all of

Jim Singer SAID...

If you all read all of orginal documents, Flamboro had a deal with the Ministry of Finance to race 6 months consecutive that orignally did not include April. They raced and most likely lost even more money to do it. Why the ORC left the May dates, they did what they thought was fine for the industry without little or no consulation with their own government. If they had known what the deal was for Flammy, they would not have scheduled them in. Flammy knew they were not going as did their staff. Flammy had a Customer Appreciation this past weekend, and said they were were not racing.

Their deal did not include May so they let go all of their staff go to move to the model that government mandated them to start. They must cut $ to move to a reduced model.

They have raced almost year round for ever and had more FT staff than most racetracks. One cannot make these staff all part time without severance costs and from what I understand they shelled close to a million in severance costs. As a business owner, If i am paying out severance to a person am I bringing them back a week later to lose even more money. Answer is simply no. They will replaced at a later date.

Stuart's angle makes the most sense, If Flamboro can't go, which they can't, move up GRR and all is fine.

Gary, your forgetting a ton of costs. Vet $500+ a day, Ambulance $400, TCO2, Testing, TV Productions, Operators, race patrol Cost, Mortgae, Heat, Light, Power
debt, more likely $30 K per day. If you think the government is giving them all of the finds to run a card, then you don't have a clue. Eveyone has said, all of the tracks are taking a hit...why they continue, is beyond me. Maybe in hopes of government change ?

May 1, 2013 - 7:13 amI hope everyone that has

Norah Parks SAID...

I hope everyone that has commented has called the ORC we have the right to appeal if everyone calls the ORC office maybe we will get some action out of them
Lets get their phone's ringing off the wall
Squeaky wheel gets the grease

April 30, 2013 - 11:21 pmMost large tracks cater to

Sheldon Rose SAID...

Most large tracks cater to the full spectrum of race horses. The ORC with their Signature and Grassroots classifications do not allow for WEG to fill the void created by this situation. The ORC should allow WEG to pick up these dates to let the lower class horses have a chance to race.

April 30, 2013 - 10:41 pmOn April 12th Flamboro is

On April 12th Flamboro is granted racedates for May.
The day they are granted race dates they know full well that they have given notices to their employees that their positions will be terminated on April 30. So on April 12 would they not think we need to hire staff to work for the month of May? I know if it were my business and I was mandated to race, I would make an effort to find workers. After all I had 3 weeks to find workers.

What exactly did GCGC do in those 3 weeks they had? Did they submit employment openings to the local employment center posting job openings for the month of May on April 12? Likely not

Did they contact a local staffing company on April 12 when they received notice they had race dates for the month of May? Likely not

Did they place an ad on Standardbredcanada seeking workers? Nope

Instead they sat there and never made any attempt to hire anyone.

So what exactly did they do? They drafted up a letter of variance to the ORC asking them to cancel their race dates for May which the ORC did.

Ask yourself, to run the race card what exactly is needed as far as employment goes?

A paddock judge - $100
Someone to check the tattoos - $50
Test Barn crew - $100
Black Box person - $100
The track photographer - $50
A guy to drive the starting gate - $100
A starter - $150
A video guy - $150
A track announcer - $150
A bartender to serve drinks in the grandstand - $40 +tips
A person to run the outdoor BBQ - $50
4 tellers - $75 each
25 Sam Machines - free
1 security guard at the backstretch entrance - $60
1 security guard at the paddock - $60
2 security guards in the grandstand - $120
Ambulance - $1,000

Total estimated wages around $2,500 to hire staff and run a race card. Worse part is they dont even have to pay for the workers, the Government is giving them the money to run the race card !!


April 30, 2013 - 8:31 pmThanks god for the foresight

Thanks god for the foresight and action of OHRIA.
Where would we be without them?

April 30, 2013 - 8:26 pmIs anyone fighting for

Is anyone fighting for racing???? I know the ORC does pretty much what they want, but come on ,didn't racing lose enough days already.. Nobody is lookin out for the horses and horse people.. If Flammy couldn't race, well put these cancelled days on Georgians schedule or divide them with Grand River Kawartha,whoever just use them... It never ends, but it will

April 30, 2013 - 8:11 pmwhat a joke

darryl laver SAID...

what a joke

April 30, 2013 - 8:02 pmAnother irrational decison at

chris bush SAID...

Another irrational decison at the absolute worst time of year. With this kind of logic I'm sure there is a future in politics for someone. There is no excuse for this decision without redirecting the dates to another track to pick up the slack. If its in their mandate to hasten racing's decline, consider it mission accomplished. How much more incompetence can this industry take?

April 30, 2013 - 7:38 pm"GCGC is primarily relying on

Dan Fisher SAID...

"GCGC is primarily relying on the fact that a number of their employees have been terminated effective April 30, 2013 (today), and therefore staffing for May 2013 race dates is not possible."

So if they are needed, why were they fired then? Hire them back through the month of May and race.

April 30, 2013 - 6:30 pmThe real fact of the matter

Norm Brunet SAID...

The real fact of the matter is that some track owners are no longer in the race industry but in the casino business. They would not care a bit if racing ceased at their premises.

April 30, 2013 - 4:59 pmI may be wrong about this,

Geoff Maltby SAID...

I may be wrong about this, but all a track has to do is lay off or fire it's employes and the ORC will will allow there dates to be cancelled. Where are we supposed to race these horses, London will be flooded!! And with Flamboro allowed to have all there intertrack they will be fine right. The Derby and such. Can someone tell me (OHRIA or "The Panel") how this is good for anybody??

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