NOVEMBER 22, 2016 – Members of the Ontario Quarter Horse industry were out with great force at the Nov. 19 consultation meeting hosted by Ontario Racing to discuss future proposals for long-term funding for horse racing in the province.
Ontario Racing (OR), the new industry association for horse racing in Ontario, has held several consultation meetings throughout Ontario to engage with industry members and obtain feedback from a funding framework. This plan will then be presented to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and the Ontario government to provide input to the development of a roadmap to sustainable funding for the industry.
This proposed framework is based on key principles including:
-A new racetrack alliance: all Ontario racetracks that conduct live racing will be invited to create a new alliance. It is proposed that Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) will serve as the administrator of this new alliance.
-Long-term, predictable funding: Ontario’s horse-racing industry can invest in their businesses beyond 2021.
-Ongoing accountability and transparency: decision-making based on evidence and agreed upon success indicators.
-Industry leadership: racetrack business plans, race dates, purse levels will be aligned across racetracks for a coordinated approach. Ontario Racing will play a key industry leadership role in the future.
“It was a good meeting and great to see so many Quarter Horse people there,” said Bob Broadstock, president of the Quarter Racing Owners of Ontario Inc. “There were no real answers yet but a lot of discussion and from that can come solutions.”
Quarter Horse racing is held at Ajax Downs which has been maintaining its racing and purses through its savings since the slots-at-racetracks revenue sharing program was cancelled four years ago. These funds are expected to run out after the 2018 season.
The track can apply for an extension of its TPA (Transfer Payment Agreement), which was granted to all tracks by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming, or hope the proposed Racetrack Alliance begins by 2019 in order to have the funds required to make up for the savings depletion.
“It’s difficult to try getting people to breed horses when there may be no funding after two years,” said Broadstock. “But we are asking our members to breed with faith; we are going to need horses.
“We had some horsepeople spend some money at recent sales and that’s good news. Myself, I will be breeding all the horses I can.”
Ontario Racing, which represents all three breeds of racehorses in the province, will present the industry’s ideas and concerns to the government in January. Many issues with horsepeople include representation and how much control WEG will have as administrator of the Alliance.
“I have some confidence that if we can make it through the next few years we can grow,” said Broadstock. “And if that happens, I think we will look pretty good in 10 years.”