Racing Development And Sustainability Plan - Frequestly Asked Questions

1. Why is Standardbred Canada leading this initiative?

Every major stakeholder in Ontario racing is a member of Standardbred Canada, and representation is democratically elected. From the perspective of access to data, human resources and communication vehicles, Standardbred Canada is well positioned to lead this process through inception to implementation. The organization has a history of fiscal responsibility, sound leadership and consensus building.

Despite limited funding, Standardbred Canada has been responsible for the vast majority of industry-wide development and marketing initiatives including the National Driving Championship, the Trot Canada National Handicapping Championship, Xtreme Horsepower, WannaBet, the O’Brien Awards, the National Wagering Conference, Canada One, the Adrenaline Festival, and the National Wagering Action Plan.

2. What body or organization will be responsible for administering and implementation of the program?

Standardbred Canada will be leading this initiative through an Ontario-based, Ontario focused program.

3. What makes this plan different from failures of the past?

Never before has the Ontario Standardbred industry planned, funded and executed a long-term strategy of wagering, product and customer development.

4. What is the strategy, who developed it and can I see it?

An outline of this Racing Development and Sustainability Plan is available online at standardbredcanada.ca, and available at public town hall meetings. It has been designed by Standardbred Canada, through extensive consultation with stakeholders and customers. As for specific strategies under the major headings of the plan, some of that groundwork has been done but the vast majority of it will be finalized once initial programs are selected and management is put in place to execute the plan.

5. What kind of results can we expect from the projects in the plan and how long will it take to implement them?

Once the program is approved, projects will be prioritized and milestones and measurements will be determined.

The Plan calls for funding to begin flowing in January, 2011. While some of the projects undertaken will be of a long-term nature, there is a clear recognition of the urgency to act and the need to implement actions and release programs that will have a demonstrable effect within the first 12 months of operation.

6. How long is the plan for and how long will money be needed for?

The need to reinvest money into the future of Ontario Standardbred Racing is an on-going process to how we build and sustain our business into the future. Thus a method to fund customer research, wagering development, marketing and branding should always exist. The goal of this reinvestment plan is to create new customers and grow the business, to reverse trends, increase wagering and ultimately raise purses back above current levels to the highest the province has ever seen.

7. How will this plan be communicated?

Information will be readily available and on-going. There will be town hall style information meetings across the province in August. There will be a special section on Standardbred Canada’s website, dedicated to interaction and dialogue and an on-line petition available for participants to sign. Updates will be published in TROT and will also be made available to other associations for their newsletters and web sites.

8. Why should I support the plan and how much support does it need from the industry?

By supporting this plan, you are supporting investment in the industry and believing in the future of harness racing in Ontario. You are also taking and sharing in the responsibility for racing’s future. If we don’t reinvest while we have the ability to do so, it will be very difficult to find the money for this structure three years from now if status quo remains.
We need to demonstrate widespread support of industry participants in support of this concept. Click here to sign the on-line petition.

9. I’m interested in doing whatever I can to help the industry. What can I do to support this program?

There will be many opportunities to get involved. Information will be available regularly at standardbredcanada.ca or by contacting 905-858-3060.

10. Will Racetracks be contributing to this plan?

The plan is a reinvestment strategy for horse people and thus the initial funding will come directly from the purse account. Racetracks could be asked to contribute on a project by project basis.

Why should racetracks benefit if they aren’t funding the plan?
Those racetracks most interested in deriving the greatest benefits from the plan will make the largest contribution.

11. The Slots at Racetrack Program was designed so that half the industry revenue flowed to purses and churned economic impact. Doesn’t this program fly in the face of that model?

The Slots at Racetrack Program has allocated 10% of the slots revenue to the host track for operations and marketing and 10% to horsemen for purses. The main objectives of the program are to “promote and improve the quality of live horse racing in Ontario and to benefit the agricultural and rural economy.” This model hasn’t addressed research, development and technology. Wagering on Ontario product has decreased by 26% while the industry’s supply and demand model continues to weaken.

12. Does the government or ORC have a plan?

The ORC believes that change is required and has offered the industry the opportunity for input. The program will be developed in consultation with the ORC to ensure the program benefits all parties.

13. I’m not making money now. How do you expect me to give money I don’t have?

This industry, like many others, remains a difficult one in which to make money. That said, failure to invest in the future of the sport will invariably lead to lower purses, fewer racing opportunities and ultimately an industry where very few can hope to make a living. Through investment, the sport has a real chance to become bigger and stronger thus benefiting those who need it the most.

14. Do you really believe that harness racing can be saved?

Yes. Many sectors and industries have struggled to make gains, only to realize that their failures are more a function of poor vision and execution than a result of market forces. The global gaming market is a multi-billion dollar one. While a concrete plan is required, harness racing remains an agriculturally based sport and entertainment product with legal wagering. Its assets are numerable if properly harnessed. We must act now to maximize opportunity for success.

15. Will Ontario money be used to fund national programs and will other provinces benefit from the program?

While the rest of Canada may benefit, this money is for Ontario. We need to start somewhere and the Ontario model may be one that can be replicated in other provinces.

16. Is this plan for the Standardbred industry, or is it for the thoroughbred and quarter horse industries as well?

This plan is for the Standardbred industry but we do feel that if we have a strong Standardbred industry, the entire racing industry in Ontario and in Canada also benefits.

17. If the ORC approves the plan, what do you need to do next?

Project priorities will be determined, business plans will be developed for these projects, and there will be recruitment and hiring of a team to drive this initiative.