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Mohawk, Sarnia, Kawartha All Cancel


Published: July 21, 2011 1:08 pm ET

Last Comment: July 25, 2011 5:40 pm ET | 18 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Trot Insider has learned that the Woodbine Entertainment Group has cancelled Mohawk Racetrack's card of live harness racing for Thursday, July 21 due to extreme heat conditions in the region of Halton.

A subsequent release from WEG has explained that the Canadian racing giant made the decision after consultation with the Central Ontario Standardbred Association. Temperatures in Halton region are expected to reach 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) into the early evening. A Humidex reading of 47 degrees Celsius (116 degrees Fahrenheit) is also forecast.

"Woodbine Entertainment Group believes in the best interest and safety of the horses and participants, so with the extreme heat, it was safest to cancel Thursday's card," WEG Vice President of Standardbred Racing Bruce Murray was quoted as saying.

The release also stated that the Ontario Sires Stakes events scheduled for Mohawk's Thursday program will be rescheduled for August, pending approval from the Ontario Racing Commission. Also, eliminations for the Whenuwishuponastar Stakes will now take place next Thursday (July 28).

Mohawk's next card of live harness racing is scheduled to take place Friday, July 22. To view the entries, click here.

WEG also cancelled its Thursday, July 21 program of live thoroughbred racing from Woodbine Racetrack due to the same reasons.

WEG Vice President of Thoroughbred Racing Steve Koch commented on the decision to cancel the thoroughbred card here.

Live thoroughbred racing is expected to resume at Woodbine on Friday, July 22, with a first-race post time of 2:00 p.m.

Woodbine and Mohawk are not the only racetracks impacted by the extreme weather conditions. Details of other raceway cancellations are listed below.


  • Colonial Downs, near Richmond, Virginia, has cancelled its live Thursday program.
  • Finger Lakes Racetrack, located near Rochester, New York, has cancelled its live Thursday program.
  • Presque Isle Downs, in Erie, Pennsylvania, has cancelled its live Thursday program.
  • Monmouth Park Racetrack in New Jersey has already decided to reschedule its Friday afternoon program to Monday, July 25 because of the heat.
  • Plainridge Racecourse, located in suburban Boston, Massachusetts, has announced that it has pre-emptively cancelled its card of live thoroughbred racing for Friday, July 22 due to the sweltering conditions.


  • Hiawatha Horse Park, in Sarnia, Ontario, has cancelled its Thursday qualifying session and its live pari-mutuel program.
  • Kawartha Downs, in Fraserville, Ontario, has cancelled its live Thursday program.

The 1 1/4 Mile Trot-A-Thon Final which was scheduled to be raced on Thursday, July 21 at Kawartha Downs will be raced on Thursday, July 28. All horses will have the same post positions.

(with files from WEG)

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July 25, 2011 - 5:40 pmGet Molson to sponsor with a

Get Molson to sponsor with a year of free brew and I'll be across the Peace Bridge faster than a 6 legged rabbit

July 25, 2011 - 1:14 pmI propose a MATCH RACE

Dan Fisher SAID...

I propose a MATCH RACE between Murray Brethour and Mark Spangler !

July 25, 2011 - 11:19 amImpressive Murray ! I drank

Impressive Murray ! I drank 1689 oz. of Molson and ran in 8:54

Best of racing luck to you

July 24, 2011 - 10:12 pmTo Mr.Spangler: 1688 bales

To Mr.Spangler: 1688 bales of straw. Plus I ran your mile in 8.55 after. When I was 16 I could do it in 5.30. Not as good as I used to be.

July 24, 2011 - 1:38 amAs a fan, bettor -- I was

As a fan, bettor -- I was extremely happy to see that the welfare of the equine athlete was taken into account and there was no racing at some of the tracks in Ontario. I appalled to see Meadowlands & Rideau actually had racing -- to not consider the weather was in my humble opinion -- cruel & unusual punishment. I had no desire to be out in that humid weather -- why would an animal want to be in it & exert themselves for someone's gain.

Marie Stoyles-Moura

July 23, 2011 - 11:33 pmOn the same note as Mr.

Doug Good SAID...

On the same note as Mr. Gilders it is my opinion that the ORC has also dropped the ball on their decision to declare "a new event" for the two year old gold trotters at Mohawk.

I believe the decision does not follow the rule as laid out on the OSS site which states:

"Should conditions beyond the control of the ORC prevent the racing of any event, the ORC reserves the right to declare the event off and to distribute the money to the current eligible horses or to transfer the event to another date, or to another track, or to do both.

The options are clear... 1. distribute the money to those eligible 2. Transfer the race to a different date or track or 3. do both.

Nowhere does it leave the option of declaring a new event. This is unfair to the 27 entrants of Thursday evening as it opens the door to entrants who may not have been up to speed at this time. The decision to not link this race to the Clinton grass root also gives those that raced in that race the possibility of an additional start, again unfair to last nights entrants some of who may not be around to even start in Augusts "new" event. Apparently the director who made this decision felt the need to compound the indefensible decision to re-open the box to horses that hadn't declared into this event. And additionally throw the attachment to the Clinton OSS out the window, quite a nice bonus for those horses but not within the rules.

Yes it was unfortunate and unforeseen that Thursday nights races be canceled and btw I do support that decision but in my opinion the decision of the director in this case is flawed and not in the spirit of the rule as written. To cloak the decision as in the best interest of harness racing and the OSS is at best an attempt to end discussion on the matter.

I feel the fairest decision and that which is truly in the best interests of harness racing and its participants is to move the race to the August date and redraw it amongst those of the 27 original entrants that are still interested in participating. This appears to be the intent and language of the original rule as written and posted and should be complied with.

As for the ability to appeal the decision, can we really expect impartiality when appealing a decision to the same agency that made the decision? With all due respect and common sense applied, I think not.

July 23, 2011 - 8:00 amMost of the horses in

Lynne Magee SAID...

Most of the horses in Pompano are local and are acclimatized to the extreme heat and humidity as are the people. When the Summer Olympics were held in Atlanta, Canadian horses were shipped down weeks before to get used to training and competing under those extreme conditions. Responsible horse owners do what's best for their horses' welfare so that they have a horse left for the next week. Thank goodness whomever made the call to cancel had some sense!

July 23, 2011 - 1:13 amUnfortunately, its the ORC

Unfortunately, its the ORC which runs this sport and they dictate everything about the B tracks including the purse limits that horsemen can race for which is a complete travesty given that purse accounts apparently have large ammounts of excess funds sitting which the horsemen should be racing for.

The horsemen should have been allowed to race like many other days in the past and given a judges scratch if they did not want to race. Where are the horsemen reps when this is going on, should they not be privy to this and be able to voice their opinions in support of their fellow horsemen.

Gary Blackburn

July 22, 2011 - 3:18 pmJust to note Kawartha downs

Norm Brunet SAID...

Just to note Kawartha downs does NOT have any on track stabling. So everybody is shipping in. If you are on Lasix you need to be in the paddock a minimum 4 hours before your race or you are scratched and fined $100. Post time on Thursdays is 4 P.M. so obviously some horsemen went through the time and expense of shipping in for nothing...I can see why Mr. Brethour would be sour about not racing. It's not everybody whom has a Grand Circuit horse in their stable to pay bills.

July 22, 2011 - 2:09 pmPompano Park is racing right

Pompano Park is racing right now !!!! Why can't we race in Canada???

July 22, 2011 - 2:42 pmLet me say that any opinion

Let me say that any opinion I offer here is my own and not necessarily those of the track at which I am currently employed, Kawartha Downs.

Anyone like myself who is concerned about the direction and continued mis-steps in the way the racing business is conducted have yet another example yesterday with the way in which the cancellation was handled. Firstly let me say for those who would pile on trainer/driver Murray Brethour one of the province's best, well knowing him, he can speak for himself but I will say as he expressed to me in his opinion it was hotter the day before when there were OSS Gold Eliminations at Flamboro and of course prepping horses and shipping them to track then have a cancellation is never a good thing which leads to a frustration he is expressing. Add to that the fact Rideau raced last night with similar conditions to this area.

Which brings me to my main point,that here at the track we had a total of 14 weather related scratches with 2 of the also eligibles willing to go and in fact a majority of horsemen as well ready to race. Beginning Wednesday we at the track had concerns about the heat advisory that had been issued and sought advice from the ORC on how to proceed. Once again the policy was re-stated of it's up to the trainers of the horses to determine whether they should race or not and the suggestion was made to call some and get feedback on whether they would race or scratch etc. I personally made calls and the answers I got from 9 out of 10 trainers was race. That ended any thought we had that perhaps there might be a large number of scratches which would prompt cancellation.

Forward to race day as I earlier stated 14 early scratches and numerous calls from trainers just making sure we were still a go. Two calls were placed to the ORC vet for the track and he stated in his opinion it was ok to race as long as we had hoses to water them down, yes we had extra and extra fans in the paddock. So with the majority of horsepeople ready to race and the ORC vet's opinion that it was ok we tell everyone yes we are racing.

Now somewhere and probably after Mohawk cancelled the vet had a change of heart and after he spoke to Dr.Duncan at the ORC they concluded it was too hot to race. This was shortly after 2:30pm when most people were either here or on there way. Now with the vet giving his new opinion we are faced dilema how can you race if the ORC vet says it's not safe,the answer is you can't.

You also cannot defy direction like that from the ORC and my only question is why didn't they reach this conclusion 4-5 hours earlier and save the horsepeople and our customers the aggravation. Just another black eye for this sport especially when you make every effort to seek guidance on an issue and cannot get a direct answer.
Should we have raced? I am not a trainer or vet so I guess I can't make that call but believe me if I could make an up or down decision it would be in a timely manner and not what we have now.

July 22, 2011 - 11:34 amOur Ontario horses are not

Lynne Magee SAID...

Our Ontario horses are not acclimatized to this degree of heat and humidity. Even the ones that are would likely have been more stressed than usual. I can't even imagine racing a horse under yesterday's condition. Even more mind-boggling would be trailering them to and from the track unless, of course, one has the luxury of an air-conditioned trailer for the passengers. Just walking was taxing yesterday. Thank goodness some track officials had the sense to do what was best for the animals and handlers.

July 22, 2011 - 10:29 amAt least 5 tracks in the US

At least 5 tracks in the US cancelled Thursday. If you need to race that badly, put on your running shoes, go to any track and try to beat a 10 minute mile. Check back and let us know how that worked for you.

July 22, 2011 - 9:38 amI think its a great idea. If

alan guthrie SAID...

I think its a great idea. If you have to race a horse that bad and can't afford to miss a week, then you obviously can't afford to be in the business. These horses are no different than us as athletes. If anything, they have to exert themselves that much more. I applaud these tracks for cancelling. The well being of the horses and their drivers are top priority

July 22, 2011 - 2:57 amAs opposed to Mr Brethour, I

As opposed to Mr Brethour, I was very happy to read that these Canadian Racetracks decided to cancel races last night. Considering the intolerable temperatures, I think it was the best for all the horses involved and I think it speaks for the sport of Canadian Harness Racing that the tracks are looking out for the best interest of the horses. I'm pretty sure any veterinarian would agree that you are likely to do more damage than good, when racing in temperatures like that.

I can't answer your question, Mr Brethour, but I can't see it as a reasonable argument either, as to "because they do it, we should do it too". Not sure how much sense that makes, considering history. I understand that it is annoying having to change plans as far as when to race a horse, but I am sure it's do-able and absolutely appropriate, looking at the current circumstances.

July 22, 2011 - 1:42 amWow!!!!!!! Should the

Wow!!!!!!! Should the question not be why are they racing in the US???

July 22, 2011 - 12:11 amA true horsemen takes care

Karen Duck SAID...

A true horsemen takes care of their horse with Respect for the animal's welfare. It is evident this week that there's quite a number of Canadians who still believe in doing the right thing to show that Respect for our Racehorses, in both the Standardbred and Thoroughbred industries. In my opinion, God Bless those who made the decisons to put the horse ahead of monetary gain in this unbelievable heatwave. Just one Canadian's opinion. Eh?

July 21, 2011 - 5:39 pmMurray Brethour How come

Murray Brethour

How come they can race in the US today and we cant????

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