Blakney To Retire From ORC; Lehman Named Successor

Published: August 2, 2012 04:27 pm EDT

On Thursday, August 2, the Ontario Racing Commission announced that its CEO, John Blakney, will be stepping away from his role with the provincial racing regulator effective October 31, 2012.

The news has come via release, which also stated that Steve Lehman has been named the ORC's new executive director.

The contents of the ORC release appear below.

Lehman Appointed Blakney’s Successor

The governing Board of the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC), at a meeting today, moved quickly and decisively in naming Steve Lehman as its new Executive Director. The appointment is contingent on a contract agreement and will become effective on October 31, 2012 when current CEO John Blakney retires.

Commission Chair, Rod Seiling, in making the announcement on behalf of the Board stated “We remain optimistic that horse racing in Ontario, notwithstanding the announced conclusion of the slots program on March 31, 2013, will evolve into a sustainable and competitive business well into the foreseeable future. To help facilitate that transformation, the Board was of the view that it was incumbent that the Commission continues to provide the same type of quality leadership and knowledge that John Blakney has provided these past eight years.”

Given the ongoing uncertainty as to the future of the industry in the Province, the Board was of the view, that from a regulatory perspective, certainty was a requisite in the restructuring process and that there was no better candidate to be found than Mr. Lehman. Serving as the Commission's Chief Administrative Officer, Mr. Lehman has provided demonstrated exceptional insight into the workings of the industry. His proven leadership abilities will serve the Commission well as it will need to restructure itself to align with the service requirements of Ontario’s “new” horse racing industry come April 1, 2013.

“We are sorry to lose John” concluded Seiling, “but we understand his desire to take his life in another direction and we all wish him well and thank him for his professionalism and dedication to horse racing these past eight years.” Blakney has played a key role in the transformation of the Commission into a modern, transparent and fair regulator as it evolved into a recognized world leader in the regulation of horse racing.



Having had the opportunity to speak at length with Mr. Blakney ... I was impressed with his complete commitment to endeavoring to 'do his best' for the OHH industry. I believe he and his ORC Staff did what they could (Ontario Racing Plan) to save the Industry - within an environment (MPPs) that had already decided its intended direction.

Mr. Blakney was himself a 'small-time' trainer, and his love of horses and horseracing; his respect for honest horsepeople; his varied initiatives to improve the Industry etc. saw the ORC become the most highly regarded Racing Commission in North America.

Be proud of all your positive accomplishments in Ontario, Mr. Blakney. I hope you continue to assist Horse People in our struggle to survive. Damn the Torpedoes!! Sincerely, Ralph Sucee

Mr Blakney had perhaps the most difficult position in Ontario Horse Racing. Particularly when one considers the tools he was given to work with and the dysfunction within the industry. He did an awesome job in a mostly thankless position. He is a true professional. All the best in your next endeavours.
Eric P

Mr. Blakney did a good job and will be missed. Read a great many of his reports. Wish him all the luck in the future. Bruce T. Winning

Have something to say about this? Log in or create an account to post a comment.