Archive for Press Release

Equine benefit payments to be available to Quarter Horse Horsepeople

TORONTO, May 19, 2021 – Ontario Racing is pleased to announce that Quarter Horse horsepeople will have the opportunity to access certain purse funds that remain available under the Long-Term Funding Agreement with Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) in the event that live racing at Ajax Downs is suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds made available in the form of equine support payments correlate directly to Long-Term Funding Agreement purse funds that have been foregone as a result of the lockdown measures from the cancelled May race days. If live racing is still prohibited under provincial orders related to COVID-19 at the end of May, a new round of funding may be available to Quarter Horse horsepeople (subject to approvals) with new requirements for eligibility. Information pertaining to a potential benefit payment beyond May will be provided in a subsequent communication.
The aforementioned funds were already committed to the industry through the Long Term-Funding Agreement for Live Horse Racing between Ontario Racing and OLG.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario Racing created a task force, as it did during the spring lockdown in 2020, to address the financial impacts to horse racing in Ontario.
“We are pleased to be in a position to offer these equine benefit payments to the Quarter Horse industry,” said John Hayes, Chair, Ontario Horse Racing. “From the onset of the pandemic last spring, Ontario Racing, along with OLG, and industry representatives, have worked diligently to assist horsepeople across the province whose livelihoods have been affected by COVID-19.”
Eligibility Requirements
  1. Horses are currently stabled in the province of Ontario; 3 YO and older horses are in active training for the upcoming 2021 Quarter Horse season at Ajax Downs as verified by the Quarter Horse Task Force. Horses must have made a start during the 2020 racing season as verified on Equibase.  3 and 4 YO horses that did not make a start during 2020 but were in training during 2020 may apply.  Approval is at the discretion of the Quarter Horse Task Force and supporting documentation may be required.   Horses meeting this criterion must apply for eligible equine welfare payments using the attached application form.
  2. Application form:
The Quarter Horse Equine Benefit application for this payment can be found here (Application Form). The deadline to submit your application to Ontario Racing is May 28, 2021. All mailed applications must be postmarked by May 28, 2021 in order to be deemed eligible. Please email or mail completed applications to:
Attn: Karen Allen –
Ontario Racing Management
555 Rexdale Boulevard
Toronto, ON
M9W 5L2
Important Notes:
  • All payments received must be used for the care and maintenance of Quarter Horse horses.
  • Any horse receiving assistance under this program must be in the province of Ontario. Horses that are trained by an AGCO licensed Trainer who predominantly races at Ajax Downs but are not stabled in Ontario may apply. Approval is at the discretion of the Quarter Horse Task Force. Horses approved under this criterion will be required to race at Ajax Downs for the entire 2021 meet, if approved to receive funding.
  • Once racing resumes in Ontario, horses who have received benefits under this program MUST make their first start at an Ontario Quarter Horse racetrack.
  • Ontario Racing reserves the right to request additional information to ensure all criteria has been met. Those receiving benefits under the program could be subject to an audit by Ontario Racing. Failure to meet the criteria will result in all amounts being repaid to Ontario Racing.
  • All decisions are at the discretion of Ontario Racing and are ABSOLUTE and FINAL.
  • Horses are currently under the care of an AGCO licensed trainer at the time the application is submitted.

Quarter Racing Owners of Ontario Announce Champions of 2020

Quarter Racing Owners of Ontario Announce Champions of 2020

March 5, 2021
Quarter Racing Owners of Ontario Announce Champions of 2020

Rick Crispi wins his first High Point Owner Award

by Jennifer Morrison

It was the final day of racing for the 2020 Quarter Horse season at Ajax Downs and owner Rick Crispi of Guelph, Ontario was in second place for the season’s High Point Owner Award. His horses had raced well all season under the guidance of trainer Tom Dunlap but it was going to take a victory by Crispi’s homebred Jess Carolinas Award in the final stakes race of the season, the Ontario Sired Stakes Derby, to get the title.

Jess Carolinas Award obliged, putting his head in front at the finish of the $54,000 Derby, lifting Crispi to his first ever Quarter Racing Owners of Ontario Award for top owner.
“I was watching the race on the computer with my wife Donna and we hugged and danced around the room,” said Crispi. “Great fun.”

Crispi had previously raced horses with friend Don Salzsauler as Ivy Lane Racing before going out on his own six years ago. In 2020, his 15 starters won 14 races from 80 starts and collected 159 QROOI points edging out last year’s top owner James Bogar.
Jess Carolinas Award, produced from Crispi’s mare Jess Carolina, was the year’s High Point 3-year-old colt or gelding.

“To be successful in racing you need really good horses and just as importantly, a great trainer,” said Crispi, “Tom Dunlap is not only gifted with talent and experience, he is a very positive throwback to a time when people could be counted on to support and help one another.   Tom did a truly wonderful job in 2020 as he has every year.”

Dunlap, runner-up to Jason Pascoe for High Point Trainer, was assisted on race day by Ontario horseman Greg Watson as Dunlap, who trains the horses in Michigan, was unable to come to Canada due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Hats off to James Bogar and all the other committed and talented owners, trainers and jockeys at Ajax Downs,” said Crispi. “It was my time in 2020 and I recognize clearly, that with the talent at the track the last few years, while I will be competing hard with Tom, any one of many others could also win High Point Owner in 2021.  That’s what makes it all so exciting.”

The board of directors of the QROOI announced the champions of 2020 on March 5 and is presenting trophies to winners and runners-up on a personal basis as the annual awards ceremony and dinner could not take place this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Points are awarded to horses owned by QROOI members based on top four placings in all categories of races.

On Feb. 26 Fiesty Icon, owned and trained by Rick Kennedy, was named the 2020 Horse of the Year. The Ontario sired and bred gelding, who turned nine-years-old in 2021 was also the High Point Aged Male with 39 QROOI points.

Ed Walton won his first High Point Jockey title in 2020, collecting 356 points with 35 victories in just 20 Ajax racing dates. Walton has been among the top riders in Quarter Horse racing for over 30 years, although he was away from riding for 14 years prior to 2009.

In 2020, Walton partnered up with stakes stars such as champion Country Boy 123, Ecs Greys Anatomy, Twixt of Fate, Fiesty Icon and Hanover Hill Chalsee. He also entered the AQHA the record books as the rider of Carneros, who set a world record for 110 yards on June 16 of 6.770.

The horse with the most QROOI points of the 2020 season was the Ontario-bred 3-year-old filly One Kool Dynasty. Owned by Belinda Taggart and bred by William Taggart, One Kool Dynasty had a superb season with four wins from 10 races including the Princess Derby and 44 QROOI points.

One Kool Dynasty’s trainer Jason Pascoe won his second consecutive High Point Trainer title with 279 points from a meet-leading 23 wins. Pascoe’s runners earned $380,932 and also included the 2020 High Point 2-year-old filly Streakinlilwagon, whom he also owns and bred with partner Byranne Langford, Sprint Series champion Carneros and Distance Series winner Spy for the Senate.

The 2020 racing season was a big one for Norm Picov’s Picov Cattle Company, the High Point Leading Breeder (143 points) which bred Horse of the Year Fiesty Icon and bred and raced stakes winners Hanover Hill Chalsee and Hanover Hill Theresa. The 58 Picov-bred starters earned $212,948 and finished in the top three 31 times.
Chantelle Bourgeois won High Point Owner/Trainer with 64 points and her homebred Shake It Twice from the Ontario Sires Stakes Maturity.

Carol and Jaime Robertson’s Ontario-bred Had to Be Relentless was the year’s High Point 2-year-old colt or gelding with 27 points and owner/trainer Craig Spada’s Jess a Sweet Surprize led all aged mares with 20 points.
The 2021 racing season at Ajax Downs is set to begin Mother’s Day, May 9, the first of 25scheduled  dates.

List of QROOI Award Winners 2020

Horse of the Year        Fiesty Icon
Bruce Lawrence -Hi Point Trainer      Jason Pascoe
Runner-Up Trainer     Tom Dunlap
High Point Owner/Trainer      Chantelle Bourgeois
Runner-Up Owner/Trainer     Ruth Barbour
High-Point Jockey      Ed Walton
Runner-up Jockey      Cory Spataro

High Point 2 Yr Old    Had to Be Relentless  Carol and Jaime Robertson
High Point 2 Yr Old Colt/Gelding (27)           Had to Be Relentless  Carol and Jaime Robertson
Runner-up 2 yr old Gelding/Colt (18)            Twixt of Fate  Richard Wincikaby
High Point 2 yr Old Filly (25)            Streakinlilwagon          GFR Equine Services
Runner-Up 2 yr old Filly (14)            Jess Raven      Raven Racing Syndicate
Runner-Up 2 yr old Filly (14)            Ah Candyland Richard Wincikaby

High Point 3 Yr Old    One Kool Dynasty     Belinda Taggart
High Point 3 Yr Old Gelding/Stallion (30)      Jess Carolinas Award Rick Crispi
Runner-up 3 yr old Gelding/Stallion (27)       Eazy Street     Carol and Jaime Robertson
High Point 3 Yr Old Mare (44)          One Kool Dynasty     Belinda Taggart
Runner-Up 3 yr old Mare (33)           Hanover Hill Chalsee  Picov Cattle Co

High Point Aged Horse           Fiesty Icon      Richard Kennedy
Hi Point Aged Gelding/Stallion (39)   Fiesty Icon      Richard Kennedy
Runner-up Aged Gelding/Stallion (38)            Spy for the Senate      Milena Kwiecien

High Point Aged Mare (20)    Jess A Sweet Suprize  Craig Spada
Runner Up Aged Mare (19)    One of My Favorites  Rick Crispi

High Point Point Owner         Rick Crispi
Runner Up Owner      James Bogar

High Point Ontario Breeder    Picov Cattle Company
Runner Up Breeder     Christine Tavares

Rick Crispi (left) with Greg Watson, who assists trainer Tom Dunlap (Laurie Overton photo)

PRESS RELEASE – QROOI’s Ontario Stallion Season Auction for 2021 a Success, Prospective Quarter Horse Breeders Enthusiastic

By: Jennifer Morrison
The second year of the Quarter Racing Owners of Ontario’s Stallion Season Auction was another success as Quarter Horse owners, breeders and stallion owners, experienced and new, are excited to help grow the industry.
Total bids on Ontario stallion seasons for this year increased almost 20% from the 2020 auction.
Proceeds from the on-line auction, which still has several stallion seasons available for bidding, will include a 2024 Stallion Auction Futurity Stakes race at Ajax Downs.. All offspring by stallions that donated a breeding through this program will be eligible. Proceeds from the auction will be divided as follows: 30% to the stallion owner whose foals win the race, 30% to the owner who won the race if that owner purchased a breeding to the sire of the winner and 40% will go to fund the purse. Those purchasing a season will receive a free nomination and sustaining payments into this stakes race.
The 2020 Stallion Season Auction’s proceeds are earmarked for a 2023 Stallion Auction Futurity Stakes race.
“It’s a great opportunity for someone just getting into breeding to reach some great stallions at a discounted price,” said young horsewoman Brooke Sisson. “It’s always nice to have a chance to save some money and to top it off, you get the opportunity to race your foal in a stakes race.”
Sisson purchased two seasons; one to Fire Finder for $600 for her own mare and the other, for Look at Magics Form, for “a friend of mine and her mare.”
A season to one of the newest stallions in Ontario, Peighnt Your Fate, a son of successful North American stallion PYC Paint Your Wagon, topped the auction at $1,300. Sean Slater purchased the season to the talented horse from owner Richard Wincikaby.
Patricia Ball bought a season Spy for the Senate, one of the top older horses at Ajax Downs in recent years, for $1,000 from owner Milena Kwiecien.  “I bought the season to him for my mare This Cartels Girl and last year bought one to Maryland Magic for my other mare Rose Rage. I am ready to get back into breeding again.”
For more information and to see the stallion seasons still available, visit to see the list of stallions being offered in 2021 and their current bid price. Contact the QROOI head office in order to place a bid at 905-426-7050 or

Horse of the Year FIESTY ICON

Fiesty Icon Horse of the Year 2020AJAX DOWNS, FEBRUARY 26, 2021 – Rick Kennedy’s exceptional gelding FIESTY ICON was voted the 2020 Horse of the Year at Ajax Downs by the Quarter Racing Owners of Ontario it was announced Friday. Feisty Icon was 8-years-old last year but had arguably the best season of his remarkable career that included a Horse of the Year title in 2015 when he was a 3-year-old.

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TRAINERS MEETING May 14, 2020 1:00 PM

We are looking forward to our first virtual trainers meeting to be held this Thursday.  We will be using Microsoft Teams for the meeting, please click the link below to join our team and install the software.
We will be available to test everyone’s connection to the meeting starting at 11 am on Thursday morning.  Please advise the office that you intend to join the meeting and setup the software so that we can ensure a prompt start time at 1pm.
We intend to discuss the COVID 19 protocols that will be in place when we start training/racing in 2020.  We believe that these protocols and your support/adherence to them are critical to ensure that we have a safe environment for all participants.
The meeting will provide a detailed slide presentation and there will be time for Questions and Answers, we look forward to hearing from you all on Thursday.