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'Stronger Together' Session On June 3

Published: May 29, 2020 9:15 am ET

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In his most recent industry update, Woodbine CEO Jim Lawson announced to Ontario's horse racing industry that he would be conducting another 'Stronger Together' virtual session next week.

The date of that session is Wednesday, June 3 at 2:00 p.m.

Lawson's full update, dated May 28, 2020, is posted below.


To all Ontario Horsepeople,

Next week horse racing returns throughout Ontario including the resumption of Standardbred racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park and the opening of the 2020 Thoroughbred season at Woodbine Racetrack. It was great to see horses back training at Mohawk Park yesterday. It was also an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come since live racing was suspended in late March. We have all worked very hard to get our industry to this point. I hope you find time next week to embrace the moment and let’s all be grateful we are in a position to continue doing what we all love.

For this week’s update here are a few key topics I’d like to highlight:

Movement of People Between Tracks: Earlier this week, Ontario Racing sent a notice to the industry asking all participants to minimize travel between tracks to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19. This is absolutely critical. Woodbine is strongly recommending that all personnel who live or work daily on the Woodbine Backstretch, including but not limited to jockeys, exercise riders, grooms and starting gate personnel, refrain from travelling between racetracks.

We must do everything we can to minimize all risks of COVID-19. If you do have to travel between tracks, please always exercise extreme caution by following physical distancing protocols including wearing a mask and washing your hands properly and frequently.

Qualifiers at Woodbine Mohawk Park: A very positive sign that racing is coming back as Standardbred qualifiers started this morning at Mohawk Park. We are live streaming the qualifiers from Mohawk Park on our YouTube channel and website.

HPItv customers that subscribe to the HPItv Canada channel will also be able to watch the qualifiers live. Woodbine Mohawk Park will also play host to qualifiers
on Friday (May 29), Monday (June 1) and Tuesday (June 2). Post Time each
morning is 9:30 a.m.

Updated Standardbred Stakes Schedule: Earlier this week we announced new dates for several Standardbred stakes to be held this season at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The stakes rescheduling only impacts events that were originally slated for May or June. All other races remain the same on the 2020 stakes calendar. Here is a summary of the changes.

EHV-1 on Woodbine Backstretch: As communicated by the AGCO, it appears our efforts to contain the spread of EHV-1 on the Woodbine backstretch are working.

Restrictions on most barns have been lifted and further testing of barns that had horses test positive for EHV-1 are taking place this week. Good job to everyone on following protocols and limiting the spread of this virus. Let’s keep our guard up and ensure it’s fully contained.

Ontario Racing Purse Allocation Program: Ontario Racing has confirmed that all April cheques have been sent out and those still waiting for payment should receive a cheque by the end of this week. They will now begin to compile the May payments to be sent out the first week of June. A list of eligible horses will be published on the Ontario Racing website shortly.

Many thanks to the Horsepersons’ Associations (HBPA, COSA and QROOI), who made difficult decisions on horse eligibility based on the criteria of the program. As per the application, these criteria include: (a) horses must be in the care of an Ontario-based trainer, and (b) horses must be either currently in residence in Ontario or be the subject of a stall application that was submitted for the 2020 race season prior to the date of the application or have other approved verification of participation in the Ontario 2020 race season, and (c) horses must be at least 3 years old, and (d) horses must either have not yet raced or have raced since January 1, 2019.

COVID-19 Racetrack Protocol Minimum Standards: Ontario Racing has posted COVID-19 Racetrack Protocol Minimum Standards which can be found here. I can’t stress enough how important it is for all horsepeople to familiarize themselves with these minimum standards. It’s important that we all do our part to be as safe as possible.

AGCO Approval to Commence Racing: Please also be reminded that all tracks must send their updated COVID-19 protocols to the AGCO for approval in order to obtain final AGCO approval to commence live racing.

Ontario Racing Updates: Ontario Racing also shared this week the updated AGCO Race Date Calendar and the Standardbred Qualifying Schedule.

Stronger Together: I look forward to connecting with everyone next Wednesday, June 3 at 2 p.m. for our next Stronger Together video conference.

It’s going to be an exciting week! Please continue to be safe.

Thank you,
Jim Lawson


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