OHRIA Plan Approved, Released

Published: July 24, 2012 06:18 pm EDT

On Tuesday, the result of weeks of hard work by the OHRIA Task Force will be evident with the release of the Plan For The Future of the Ontario Horse Racing and Breeding Industry.

To prepare the Plan, OHRIA created a Task Force and retained the highly respected, Stanley Sadinsky. The attached Plan has been approved unanimously by the OHRIA Board of Directors and is in the hands of the OMAFRA Panel for review.

OHRIA asked government to work with the industry to find a sustainable solution for Ontario horse racing moving forward in 2013 with the cancellation of the Slots at Racetracks Program. The government responded with the creation of the OMAFRA panel. This panel has met with and received submissions from hundreds of individuals in the industry and is aware that, although there are many voices, we are all singing the same tune. We are all in agreement that:

  • Horse racing supports full-time employment for thousands of Ontarians
  • Ontario horse breeders produce a product that has a local and international market
  • The horse racing industry has grown and flourished in this province and it is worth preserving.

OHRIA has taken the lead to speak with one voice on behalf of the industry, not only because this is an expectation of the government, but also because OHRIA is representative of all facets of the industry. Standardbred, Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse breeders, owners, trainers, industry employees and racetracks all have representation on OHRIA’s Board of Directors.

The OHRIA Task Force has given in-depth consideration to the needs of all stakeholders, but the Plan is not the final picture for Ontario. The Plan is the road map to how, in partnership with government, the industry will chart its own course into the future -- building a strong racing product supported by a breeding industry that produces horses with world-wide appeal.

The Plan had to be based on some assumptions as the task force did not know where the OLG will land with future gaming. The Plan should be viewed as a frame work that does NOT try to decide who will participate and who will not.

The strength of OHRIA’s ability to work with government and the success of the Plan will hinge on a cohesive review process and the industry’s willingness to speak with one voice. OHRIA is the voice for the industry and welcomes your feedback on the Plan via email at [email protected]. OHRIA will continue to work on your behalf to ensure a sustainable future for horse racing in the province of Ontario.

The plan is available here as a PDF.




Both proposals are good, but I prefer the Burgess one. What I do believe is missing from both plans is input from Mr. Runciman. Please, would someone (OHRIA) call him up and see what he can offer? There seems to be some dissention in the Liberal ranks, could we not actively take advantage of that?

BTW, to all of you claiming that the QH & TB's are getting the best deal- they had a lot less to start with re: dates and tracks. I just don't see the proposal actually favoring them all that much.

I find it distressing that any of you in the standardbred industry are willing to accept a 50% cut across the board. Is the OHRIA plan a good one? Yes - as a plan B, but plan A must be the Burgess proposal! Tim Hudak is also willing to support a slots at racetrack program in a modified form under private operators, which should be our goal. The political climate could change very quickly with the two upcoming by elections. I hope the industry is fluid enough to change with the political climate.


Please take note. The OHRIA plan is a "band aid" solution only. IT'S A TRAP. How long do you think this gov't is going to "subsidize" horse racing?? We can NOT be construed by the public as being SUBSIDIZED. We will fall into immediate disfavour with the general public and also be a natural target with this gov't and future gov'ts for funding cuts in the future especially when there are dramatic cuts in other areas such as hospitals, health care and education, etc. This puts horse racing on WELFARE and sacrifices 70% of the business to protect 30%. Caving in to this plan is nothing short of an ACT OF DESPERATION. How long do you think the horse breeders are going to stay in business with 70% of the potential buyers gone and who's going to buy horses in Ontario. Look what happened in Quebec as there are no breeding farms left. Bob and Blair Burgess have got it right. We MUST HAVE A REVENUE SHARING AGREEMENT in order to sustain the business. By adopting the OHRIA plan, will only serve as a step to the demise of horse racing and breeding in Ontario.

Thank You Jack for taking the time to read this document and commenting that it is the model that will be and I'm certainly glad you see it the way you do. You will be a leader in fostering this plan to be implemented for industry and to save our industry. Unfortunately there will be a war, a division as our problem has been and continues to be that all horsemen can't come to any consensus.

I just can't believe that some of our associations and senior people in our industry can't remember that it was the Government who created OHRIA as the horsemen couldn't agree or get a consensus when the Harris Gov't were giving us SLOTS over 15 years ago. The same is happening now but wake up and realize that the Gov't have told OHRIA what to do and whats been submitted is what the Gov't will give us as they need to save face big time from their screw up with the announcement this spring by Dwight Duncan. He's finished as he has embarassed McGuinty and has put the Liberal party in a very bad position if they ever were forced into an election today or even down the road. The deal is done Gentlemen, lets get together and accept that fact and negotiate the fine closing points for our model going forward.

This proposal is a sellout in the great Canadian spirit of compromise. Not good enough. We are dealing with crooks and corrupt politicians. Get the gloves off and expose these people for what they are. Pitty patting around the issues is not good enough. Proposing something that is half as good as we have is not the answer.

At one time, horses raced for purses based on the wagering they attracted. One could argue that "fair" purse money maxes out at 10% of the wager. In that context, racing is not viable in its current format. Slots at the racetracks did a good job of masking this fact but now racing is exposed. I agree with Jack Darling's comments in his blog. I'm not wild about OHRIA's report but in the end it may be all there is.

The Burgess plan is the only plan , if not then lay down and die. Secondly everyone should follow Adler and ambush every Liberal at every fundraiser, park opening or dedication making them uncomfortable and film everything placing it on youtube. if not its over. Also where are (some of the higher profile drivers) in this fight, very silent.

I have been reading the OHRIA submission and decided to make notes so I could get a clear picture for myself. I am on page # 13 and decided to make some personal observations at this point.

First of all I should make it known that my bias will be with the standardbred side since I own such. I feel that the recomendations are very anti - standardbred and will elaborate why I feel that way.

1. On page 11 an Ontario Development Fund is recommended, that is fine, but why does OHRIA feel the need to administer to all 3 groups?
2. It suggests that race dates be determined by Demand as opposed to Supply, who determines the definition of demand as opposed to supply, let me guess, OHRIA, p.11,
3.Contraction of Race Tracks, pg. 12, 2 - 1 thoroughbred, 1 - 1 quarter horse,
16 - 5 to 8 standardbred , now here is the first slam to the sulkys, what was the justification for this big downsize.
4. A sensible # of race dates, who determined sensible, it certainly wasn't someone on the sulky side of the ledger - the committee suggested we reduce the dates from 1540 to 797 dates, now that's a reduction of 743 dates and guess what , 87.8 % of those lost dates are to the sulkies. How fair does that sound!!
Also, what bargaining unit enters into negotiations recommending that they accept 48 % fewer race dates as their opening stance.
5. OHRIA has recommended that they as a group will decide where standardbred race dates will be held, how did we ever function before their arrival. OHRIA even goes as far to suggest that some of the so called Grassroot races could be held at AJAX, with their big killer hub rails. Another big slam to the sulkies.
6. OHRIA has recommended an infusion of $165 million to the ODF for which they have assumed total control ovet it's allocation, that sounds like a very power hungry group.

I will report more after I have time to finish my study of the proposals, remember I am horse trainer and time is not always available as wished.

I am heartened to see so many comments. But the botom line is the bottom line:you have a political problem. It is endemic. You are "negotiating" a plan that will be fair; life is unfair to paraphrase JFK.If the slots revenues are not shared with the horse racing industry, you will have a hobby industry much like pleasure horses. Anyone, and I mean anyone , who is telling you that your industry in Ontario will survive in anything like your present highly successful,and much envied program, is misguided at best. We waited for decades in New York for slots revenue. We were on our way out as an industry. Now we are in a rebirth. If the slots money is taken away from us, it's over and we know it. You have a corrupt and ineffective provincial government. You can put lipstick on a pig, but you still have a pig.
Until you step up and face that fact, you are deluding yourselves. They are destroying your industry for personal gain. That should be obvious and it doesn't seem to be. Don't you believe in defending your contractual rights? Why are you afraid to sue these people? Does Duncan have a dossier on someone. Is he your J. Edgar Hoover? I don't get it. The polls say the electorate supports you.Toronto as a city want's to be Atlantic City North? I think not. You like crime and drugs and violence and vulgarity:build a mega casino in Toronto. Ruin whatever part of your beautiful city it occupies. Down goes the quality of life .Make the wrong kind of Americans wealthier . Oh and I guess the value of my NY yearlings will increase in value. Yuck! Not a tradeoff that I appreciate having spent so much effort building my ties to Ontario.Please take the towel off your head before entering the horse van!Sorry that I sound flippant;I say this with the best of intentions. SUE THE BASTARDS !Jim /owner/breeder/farmer/holder of ORC licenses.

In reply to by salt hill

Gentlemen : Let's listen to our hearts and not our heads..Since all of you had made comments I have faced you one on one and gotten the same answers.THINK BACK WHEN PAUL GODFREY MADE THE TELIVISION PRESS CONFERENCE WITH DUNCAN AND PREMIER DAD??HE GODFREY DECLARED QUOTE : WE (THE OLG) INTEND TO MODERENIZE(privatize ) and to review the operation( agreement) of the slots at racetracks in respect of the information contained in the Drummond Report..WHEN parliament passed in the spring ,the budget ( with the NDP ABSENT) nowhere did it say what GODFREY had done ,along with Duncan who said ,there are far too many racetracks...In other words when the smaller tracks such as GRAND RIVER CLOSE October 12 it will be decided unilaterally where they want them..NOW THE SLOTS HE SAYS WE ARE GOING TO PUT THEM WHERE PEOPLE WANT THEM(meaning where he wants them in KITCHENER- WATERLOO if they elect a liberal MPP) for example..IN THE CASE OF KAWARTHA DOWNS THE LIBERAL MPP HAS SUGGESTED THE BINGO HALL IN PETERBORO (YOU KNOW WHO BOUGHT THE BINGO HALL IN DOWNTOWN PETERBOROUGH? ) RIGHT ON and the liberal mayor agrees to put it before his council...OUR ONLY HOPE IS FOR A SNAP ELECTION after the NDP AND PC PARTIES REPLENTISH THEIR WAR CHEST I JUST DONATED $150.00 to the Lady RUNNING IN K.W. By election.....The OLG and the Ontario have not only broken their agreement ,which was supposed to end in 2016 ,but should to be taken to the Ontario SUPREEM court and all of the organizations in the racing industry support a statement of claim Against MR MCGINTY MR DUNCAN MR GODFRY AND MR TANNENBAUM for supporting the conspiracy against the Ontario HORSERACING INDUSTRY AND ALL THE EMPLOYEES AFECTED BY THE LIBERAL GOVT. DECISION IN THE BUDGET PASSED IN THIS SPRING 2012 ....ACTIONS NOT RHETORIC ...UNITED TOGETHER YOU WILL STAND UP AND BE COUNTED DEVIDED AND WE ALL FAIL....please reply..Tom kelly Q.C .? Groom standardbred Canada

To Jack Darling: If this is your idea of a game changer, I would hate to see how you play chess, because chess moves are made logically. All of the moves the government has made are illogical and are based on lies. The numbers speak for themselves, OHRIA has made that clear. We are not subsidized by the government, but under the new plan provided by OHRIA we will be subsidized by tax payer money. Under this agreement by OHRIA, it will give the provincial government more leverage against us. We are better off standing our ground now than to submit to any subsidy or compromise because the formula has been proven successful. So what you are submitting to is defeat. I give you what the game is all about is that you never submit to defeat from anybody. There is no compromise when it comes to people's livelihoods. The order to end slots and racetracks partnership should be discarded. There are still other ideas that we can exhaust before we admit defeat. If you want to throw the towel In go ahead because I'm not with you. I'm sure many feel the same as me. Were not quitting. We have too much Invested. Marty Adler has the right idea. Get the government back to the table to negotiate. Stop wasting time.
Len Campbell Jr.

Jack, give your head a shake. They also talk about reducing race days, as well as eliminating race tracks. WEG cannot survive with just quality racing and the sport cannot survive without the grassroots support it gets from small time owners and tracks.

To those of you still holding out hope that the SAR program may still be saved it's time to face reality. The fix was in, this was a done deal right from the word go and so the course of action should be for all to come up with some kind of a plan or way forward. A way to keep as many racing opportunities as we can and find new revenue streams to help cushion the blow as there will inevitably be less money. Will there be fewer racetracks, probably but would you rather go that route or have zero racetracks? I see some merit in both of the proposals I've read, the one from OHRIA and the one from the highly respected duo of Blair and Robert Burgess. Would like to hear or read any other proposals if people have put them forward instead I all hear and read is the constant bitching and whining which dominates this industry. Publicly some things never change, OHHA not being a part of OHRIA will not support the plan so OHHA where is your alternative, a concrete proposal that will save racing and bring in new revenues. Please if you have anything to say, say it now put it out there so we may take a look at it. My contempt for those who add nothing to the debate for the greater good of the sport isn't limited to any single organization. I know hundreds of people who work in this industry, it's their lives and I don't want to see them go down. By the same token I know lots of people including Blair and Bob who are thoughtful, intelligent and can articulate their position making positive suggestions to get out of a situation not of anyone's making. There are lots of people who have be fighting the fight on your behalf for years with the government, the regulators and everything that it takes to have racing in this province. To the rest of you get behind some of the true leaders in the sport and make a difference, enough with the pettiness and b.s. Time to sink or swim.

This is about a $300 million per year that the government has decided doesn't need to exist. Instead, the money will be earmarked to build hospitals and healthcare clinics for all the horsemen that will be out of work due to this plan.

What needs to happen in my honest opinion is for smart people in the industry to get together to get new or other sources of revenues to occur at the tracks in order to make up for the loss.

Clearly, sports wagering, table games, instant racing, and other horse related wagering schemes should be fast tracked through the approval process and installed.

Take this issue as a challenge; to get the politicians to work with the racing industry to replace the revenue over time. The cold turkey approach will kill too many people.

The OHRIA/Sadinsky report attempts to salvage parts of the industry based on the assumption that the Government will hold true to their word and eliminate the SAR program.

The Burgess report (which obviously all of us would prefer) is based on the assumption that the Government can still be shown the error of their ways, and will change their stated position.

If there is any chance winning with the Burgess model, one of three things (ideally all three) needs to happen.
a) OMAFRA task force recommends keeping the SAR program
b) Ombudsman finds cause to recommend legislative hearings
c) Liberals DO NOT WIN Kitchener-Waterloo by-election

If the stars do not align and/or the Liberals get a majority because of the by-election, the industry might need to quickly embrace the OHRIA plan and move on as a united force.

The OHRIA report is definitely a shocker. It would decimate a large part of the industry and obviously impact spin-off employment. That said, it may offer a best case scenario if the government/OLG sticks to it’s ridiculous position.

I make this statement based on 4 realities of Ontario’s current racetrack ownership.

1) Public (or private) companies do not intentionally operate businesses for the purpose of “breaking even”. They exist to make money.

2) NONE of the existing FOR-PROFIT racetracks, have any chance of “breaking even” unless they are able to secure a slots/casino contract.

3) If FOR-PROFIT companies (ie: Great West Gaming) are able to win a slots/casino contract, live racing seems unlikely unless mandated by the Government.

4) Given the current OLG/Government position, forcing a slots/casino operator to host live racing seems a long-shot prospect at best. It would also mean racing operators would live under a different set of rules than the other slot/casino operators (creating legal issues).

Given these circumstances, unless the Government reverses it’s position on SAR, the only race tracks with a chance of surviving will be those that are owned by Agricultural Societies, Municipalities and/or Not-For-Profit organizations.

To my knowledge the tracks that presently fit this criteria are Woodbine/Mohawk, Western, Grand River, Hanover and Clinton. Woodstock and Dresden would also fit this profile if the WinRac contract could be dissolved.

A comparison of dates at not-for-profit tracks listed

Level Current non-profit OHRIA Proposal
Premier 220 200
Signature 190 300
Grassroots 103 100

Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how/why OHRIA arrived at their race date conclusions. In fact one is left wondering how/where the extra “Signature” dates will be accommodated.

After much speculation, we now have two plans presented on our behalf to the government appointed panel on racing and the authors of each are to be commended for their dedication and hard work. Both plans agree that horse racing cannot go forward without financial support but the similarity ends there.

We have the OHRIA plan which would have government support us with the right hand (subsidies). They have the ear of government and their plan will likely be given serious consideration. Sadly, it appears only 30% of us will still be in business when the dust settles while the other 70% will be sacrificed.

And we have the Burgess plan which would have us receive funding with the left hand (slots). The strength of this plan is that it would allow most of us to continue doing what we love - work with our horses. But how do we get government to give this plan serious consideration?

I believe strongly that 70% of the business should not be sacrificed so that the remaining 30% can survive. We are all in this together and we should sink or swim together. The Burgess plan is the far superior plan and is the plan that should be endorsed by all of us.

If OHRIA truly represents ALL the horse people of Ontario then I call on them to withdraw their plan and throw their support behind the Burgess plan.

Further, I call on the thousands of other rural horsemen and women to publicly demand that OHRIA support the Peoples' Plan.

Thank you Robert and Blair. May the next Hambletonian be yours.

In reply to by karrydalefarm

Blair and Karry:Give Bill Murdoch 560 am OWEN SOUND AND JOHN TORY Newstalk 1010 AND Dale GOLDHAWK am740 a call or Email them .Talk shows will work in the GTA if the people realize they are going to lose their slot machines,especially at the rural racetracks.Actions speak louder than words.united we stand devided we fall.....TOM KELLY

In reply to by Tom

Dear Karry : everyone has a plan for THEIR FUTURE..Why don't we call for a meeting on INDUSTRY DAY at 9 am in the lighthouse restaurant ?The track will be open anyway AND IF WE INVITED MR. JAMES to speak it would be better than everyone going in each direction..I was there for the closing of the barns ORANGEVILLE RACEWAY 1996 .DEVIDED WE FAIL UNITED WE STAND..BATTLE OF WATERLOO DAY AUGUST 8 .....TOM KELLY

Glenn Bechtel (above) hits the nail right on the head.


I do not know who you are but I agree with what you are saying 100% - only difference is that I wouldn't have been able to state it as perfectly as you did.

If the Horse Racing Industry does not support OHRIA's proposal then why would they expect the government to accept it. By not supporting OHRIA's plan you essentially have given the government an easy out.

I also support the Burgess submission and it would be my preference between the two plans but the government has MADE IT CLEAR, TIME AND TIME AGAIN THAT THERE WILL BE NO SLOTS AT RACETRACKS PROGRAM. Despite the fact that the government are totally incompetent with their decision making has nothing to do with it. They are calling the shots and if not for OHRIA there would be no panel or negotiations with government at this stage and the industry would be getting absolutely nothing. Wake up people!

My anger and blame is directed towards the government and I support any plans put forth by Industry that attempt to sustain some sort of racing product.

Dave Landry

Mr. Mitchell speaks for The Raceway at Western Fair District--not all of horsepeople in that district and beyond. It may be that Western Fair is going to survive and Mr. Mitchell will continue to enjoy employment but at what cost? As a non-profit track are we going to be racing for "fair" purses with decreased race dates as proposed by the OHRIA report? Assuming that we get in every race and get any part of the purse, it won't even pay us to trailer there let alone keep horses in the barn.

In reply to by Lynne Magee

"There seems to be a prevailing notion in the industry that we can simply return to the current model. The government has made it abundantly clear that is not an option and as such is not up for debate or discussion,” noted WFD CEO Hugh Mitchell

Is it not the OHRIA duty to inform the industry that that is the case just like it would of been their duty to inform the industry that an escape clause was in the contract and the OLG could terminate everything within a year.
People are making decisions, large business decisions without beeing informed fully of the consequences. All I heard was that contracts were signed and valid till 2015. So why was it not common knowledge that the escape clause was in the contract ???

What is one to do, get copies of contracts and read them themselves and then decide ?? We trust that our representatives will keep us current on matters that affect us !!!

As a fan of horse racing with no investment in the industry I have been watching this saga from the sidelines. What has become clear is that the horsepeople have no effective voice in this matter. Racetracks have, over the years diminished the voice of the horsepeople by creating new associations to negotiate with when they felt that the former provincial association was fighting too hard for their members. Locally in Windsor the racetrack operator tried this tactic but fortunately the horsepeople saw through the charade and recognized the importance of a singular provincial voice to represent them. Unfortunately horsepeople in other regions of the province didn’t sense the repercussions of not standing united.
Through diminished funding and a fractured model for representation horsepeople became less effective. This latest report from OHRIA demonstrates that clearly the large percentage of horsepeople in Ontario are not being represented at a provincial level. Perhaps it is time for the horsepeople to have their voice heard. Demand a provincial vote to recognize the official representative of the horsepeople. From the comments posted here it would appear that the answer isn’t OHRIA.

I see support for the OHRIA report is few and far between, Western Fair and Mr. Mitchell have put their support firmly behind OHRIA. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, in a recent radio interview, Mr. Mitchell basically "gave up"...I"m sure he's not too worried about Western Fair (I believe London doesn't want a Casino) and as a not for profit, they will continue regardless. A comment he made in his statement:

"There seems to be a prevailing notion in the industry that we can simply return to the current model. The government has made it abundantly clear that is not an option and as such is not up for debate or discussion,” noted WFD CEO Hugh Mitchell

I must have missed something else, but, from all the information we have, the government WILL NOT discuss our industry in any form and continuing the industry as it has been makes no difference to the Liberals. Offering a "smaller" takeout or different structure doesn't interest the gov't at all...OHRIA and their few supporters are banking on the Liberals coming to the table to talk...they have done all their talking and it's $50,000,000 over 3 years...that's it...there won't be anymore "talk".

We literally have to force this gov't into a conversation...they need us (believe it or not), without the tracks they have no where else to put the slots...cities don't want them, unfortunately people like Mr. Mitchell are continuing to allow the gov't to walk all over them with literally no resistance...it's embarrassing, and will ultimately kill the industry.

We are going to need help...we can no longer count on OHRIA, we need organization for many things, opposing the liberal candidate in Kitchener, picketing, rallies...everyone needs to think about it and we need to determine who to turn to....ideas are welcome....

Chris Bradt

In response to Mr. Mitchell's support of OHRIA's plan. The government can suggest alot of things or dictate how the flow of conversation is going to go....With that, who says we HAVE to ACCEPT it. Your support of this document can only mean that Western Fair has made the cut....Good for you. Now maybe its time to look at the bigger picture and put aside self-interest. This government has made the wrong decision by terminating the SAR agreement. Reinstating that model or a similar revenue sharing model with a RACINO concept would be a plan worth supporting and standing behind. The success of that is what perpetuates the rural economy, agri-service businesses and the countless jobs that go with it. That would be in the province's best interest and yours.

After reading both OHRIA ,s submission and the Burgess submission I agree with the Burgess proposal and hope the government heads down that road when it opens up the discussions.I am also very sorry to announce that the very divisive nature of this industry which has caused a large amount of the hate and distrust which has plagued this industry for years still exists. It is obvious that the OHRIA board believes or have been told that the government has zero appetite for slot sharing or anything close to a revenue sharing arrangement so if you present any solution that has this as a premise than it will become a non starter. I believe that with this in mind they attempted to put something in front of the government that would protect 70 percent of the total revenue but have a appearance to it that would allow the Liberals to save face. You might disagree with their premise that the slots sharing arrangement has no chance to be accepted by the Liberals at any level but to either blame them for where we are today or question their intelligence or integrity for presenting this solution is just plain wrong. I disagree with what they are proposing as a starting point for the negotiations because I believe it is and will always be seen as a subsidy but I also think they might know more than I do because of their discussions with the Liberals. If Mr Runciman ,OHHA or anyone else that seems to be front runners for the concept of seventeen tracks and SAR with no changes need to step forward with a plan ASAP that they believe would work and be accepted by the Liberals before September and the yearling sales. I commend Blair and Robert for putting forward a great proposal that on the surface appears to keep most of the parts of the industry intact and a well thought out logical argument on why the SAR program is working for all parties involved and should be kept in some form. I am also hoping that I am wrong but when the three person panel comes back with their report I will be shocked if Slots programs as a form of funding will even be mentioned let alone recommended. At that point we will get to see the new leaders put on their helmets and all their followers head to the front entrance of the casinos and create the civil disobedience it might need to get the Liberals intentions. Unfortunately when that happens I hope the newly appointed leaders dont look over their soldiers and wonder where have all the soldiers gone!

I have now read this report 3 times and I am totally dismayed at what this report recommends. For the last 2-3 months we have spoke of how unfair this Liberal Gov't is with regards to the new Gaming Strategy. The gov't. is giving very obvious and one might suspect corrupt advantage to Bingo halls and big casinos.

The comparison: We now see OHRIA giving obvious concession to the Thoroughbreds and WEG and too bad for everyone else especially the "grassroots" side of Standardbred Racing. This isn't new though; we experienced the same greed and bull in Alberta. Remember the old saying: "you can't pick your relatives, but you can sure pick your friends!" We now know what friends we have.

OHRIA should not have been looking for donations from everyone to assist them, as it appears that big money spoke the loudest. I can't believe that the Standardbred people on OHRIA supported this report. Further I hope OHRIA didn't pay much to have it done. It smacks of one of those academic type reports that, when presented; displays utter ignorance of the subject of the report and everyone looks at each other and asks what the hell is this! I know many have complained to the Ombudsman's Office and perhaps we need to also start with the Ethics Commissioner with regards to these sweetheart deals the Liberals are giving some of their Liberal buddies that own bingo halls etc. Remember the litmus test; "if it looks like s--- and smells like s---....it surely is s---!"
If this is what OHRIA wants to put forward....OHRIA no longer speaks for me!!!!
It is now time for very different strategy to evolve and we need to decide who will lead us in that strategy.

In reply to by ChuckIbey

Back in march we in DUFFERIN County found out highland group of companies had applied to extract limestone from over 1000 acres of prime farmland .Two of the larger potato operations sold out! The rest of the neibours did not and with the help of DALE GOLDHAWK AM 740 their group NDAC there are thousands of signs all over Ontario ! PROTECT OUR WATER STOP THE MEGA QUARRY!.....I was at the protest where 25,000 people showed up The sign cost me ten dollars..MAKE A PHONE CALL TO DALE GOLDHAWK OR JOHN TORY AND BUY A SIGN THAT THE HORSEMAN IN BEETON HAS TO PUT TOGETHER FOR YOU AND OUR INDUSTRY! UNITED WE STAND DIVIDED WE FALL? YOUR BATTLE OF WATERLOO ....AUGUST 2012 tk

Time for talking is done.

The industry needs to get national & local media headlines EVERY day till this mess is corrected.

It’s been said many times nobody outside the industry knows or cares about this travesty. Protests must be arranged to cause inconvenience to the urban population of TORONTO and the political leaders. The industry needs to get their attention in a hurry you can’t educate them if you don’t have their attention.

Be creative slow down highways, block entrances to the largest slots. This is not closing slots it’s just not letting people get to the open doors. This will also take money out of the government’s pocket. Show up and protest at political photo ops just like the Oshawa GM donation the other day. McGuinty & Harper and others were there the industry could have taken advantage of this opportunity for media coverage. In other words where ever the politicians go the industry follows this includes HUDAK & HORWATH . The population follows the media coverage of politicians so if you’re with the politicians you’re going to get the coverage. Have the politicians always looking over their shoulders to see if your there, they hate bad publicity; it’s not good for votes.

Turn up the pressure NOW.

Well after being told repeatedly not to do anything until OHRIA came up with a plan,which we have done... we see the plan was to kill everything other than WEG which all us B track guys should have known all along!! or is that grassroots or whatever Sue calls us! I don`t know but who made her god! at least I got to vote for the conservatives both federally and provincially,and if I don`t like what they do thats whom i voted for. The Only contact I had from OHRIA was when they sent me an e mail asking for money!!!!! Boy I am really glad I didn`t send that now!!! Is there any way we can break off from OHRIA and do our own thing or are we just being sold up the river by the few at the top!

My Belief Only:
This proposal by OHRIA will do nothing for 80% of us. It will probably keep 20% + WEG prospering. This is not what we were expecting or agreeing to from the the OHRIA proposal. To not have used or asked for help and advice from Sen. Runciman, MPP Dennis Mills and horse owner Ed James plus the CAW shows that OHRIA has one concern only. I would expect OHHA to contact these 3 gentlemen and the CAW immediately. I have spent 45 years in this industry only to feel pushed aside by a self motivated committee. This sounds more like a McGuinty/Duncan proposal to me. Jack Harris

When does the union or any other organization representing an industry of this magnitude take it upon themselves to make a proposal without first having it passed by all its members ? It appears that OHRIA has assumed they are the decision makers for the industry.
I think we need to beware of who says they represent everyone!


Disappointing report. Who wrote this? Looks like it was written by an undergraduate student hoping for a passing grade in a Sadinsky classroom. Better yet, who passed this report? Obviously those with no understanding, and a hidden (and conflicting) agenda.

Waiting for the OMAFRA committee and their report may not be the answer, as they refused to travel west of London for input.

As time passes, so does the opportunity for action. Shutting the 401 or picketing Queens Park accomplishes nothing but hard feelings.

If this is all about money, and it is, the slots must be closed now; then, the only ones affected would be the irritated gamblers that won't be able to play the slots, and the cash-strapped government that profit from them. Imagine how much would be lost between now and next March!

We have no champion to lead us, so.......(shutting down the slots) Remember, it's all about the money. We have NO other bargaining chip!

This couldn't have been more of a disappointment to those of us outside of the WEG circle but, to be honest, why would we expect anything else? OHRIA/WEG is trying to save their conjoined necks at the expense of the rest of Ontario racing. The standardbred sector has one vote at the table for an industry that covers all of Ontario with 14 functioning (currently) tracks compared to one thoroughbred track and one quarterhorse track. Comparing the dollar value of horses sold in 2011, $69.7 million was generated by standardbreds and $6.7 million by thoroughbreds. Race dates of 1252 (Stbds) to 243 (TB) in 2012 is a significant difference. The number of people involved and employed in the Standardbred industry is considerably higher and diversified yet, dispite all of these unbalanced numbers, we get only one vote on the OHRIA panel. This is hardly good representation of the industry.
This report appears to address the concerns and welfare of WEG and OHRIA while the rest of us are left to fight for the bread crumbs. This will hardly be beneficial to ALL of Ontario and racing in general. Cut out the roots of racing and the plants will surely die.

Good People, you have been "Sold Out" as it where.... This is war right down to the very core of your survival and, at the very least - when at war, bring a gun! Putting all your eggs in the "Sadinsky"/"Leslie" basket could become your most lethal mistake. A "Yes" man at best. Other than filling a title throughout his tenure with the ORC - what accomplishments can the gentleman claim for the industry? Sue Leslie - Funny, I don't recall ever seeing her in the Winner's Circle at any landmark Standardbred events.

Fair Racing? Good Grief! Have you no respect for the horses?? It may become a consideration when a Quarter Horse Meet is conducted in a plowed field.

To say I am dismayed would be an understatement. Why would an association, (OHRIA) that has plead with the industry to allow them to be their voice table such a report? Especially now when the OMAFRA transition committee will soon be offering their own report to government and the Ombudsman is looking into the possibility of a full review of the decisions regarding the modernization of gaming in the province. This report is akin to negotiating with one’s self and offering to reduce the industry to a fraction of its current size without first allowing the transition panel to make recommendations to Government. Possibly the panel has thoughts of maintaining the industry in a form much closer to the current model. Wouldn’t it have been more responsible to allow the panel to make their recommendations before issuing a plan for reduction?

As a participant from Southwestern Ontario I feel that the new “plan” has essentially given up on horse racing in our area of the province. How is it possible that the Standardbred horsepeople on the board of OHRIA approved such a plan? In my opinion if this plan is implemented it will be the beginning of the end of horse racing. It may take longer to get to the bottom but that is where we are headed. It is clear for me that although OHRIA represents itself as the voice of the industry they do not speak for me or the others involved in horseracing in southwestern Ontario. It may not be possible to negotiate to have the racing industry sustained at the current level but I for one will continue to lobby and fight for that result until I have exhausted all of my efforts.

In reply to by mark Williams

Mark, your comments are right on the money. I also share your view that this plan would not sustain standardbred racing throughout the province in the future. Do you know if anyone from OHHA endorsed this proposal?

Someone get a hold of Ken Lewanza at CAW.Hold a Rally AT ONTARIO GOV.HEADQUARTERS
You are all on the TITANIC!! You need to do something drastic.Stop all this talk.DO SOMETHING !!! THIS IS NOTHING.
Contact Lewanza,Senator Runicman,and Ed James,ask all three to sit with horseman rep and brain storm ,and let them decide the direction to take with government.All three have great ideas.

OHIRA should be dumped, They have just rolled over and accepted what the liberals are doing. We need to lawyer up and fight. Please Mr Runciman help us!!!!!

The directors of OHRIA should get their heads out of the sand, if they think they can negotiate with these hoodlams, that are going to destroy one of the greatest racing jurisdictions in the world

In reply to by samtaylor

Okay people now is the time to hurt the liberals and the olg where it hurts them the most. The pocket book. We need to picket and make some noise, show up at all the racetracks at the exact same time with our truck and trailors and cut off the supply of funds they have been receiving and see how they like it. At the same time educate all the public of why and what we are doing and make sure they know what the liberals are doing to the province and the people of ontario .we will undoubltly have every newspaper and tv in the areas there.

I just received an e-mail from a writer at sun media and he told me
"I believe the industry is ready to fight back now, including picket lines at all casino/slot facilities until the government wakes up and listens" so i think we need a leader to get this organized and let's make some noise.

Ronda Markle

Very disappointing.
I agree that such proposal should be ratified by members of the separate organizations as is done within unions.

Accepting a loss to racing without any further fighting is unacceptable. Who determines which 50% get to survive?

I believe purses could be reduced at WEG and that money be redistributed to smaller track since they make up the majority of people in the industry.
Otherwise we all need to relocate to Woodbine or Mohawk.

If the government comes back with a 75 Mil. offer does that mean OHRIA accepts that 70% of the industry is doomed for the 30% at WEG?

I for one, do not accept the governments decision on racing or some other issues and encourage a more radical approach. Unions do strike for that reason.
OHRIA's contention to speak for all and to remain united just splitt the industry down the middle.

Other then begging for money there are little to no new ideas.
I for one will be severely affected by this proposal and respectfully request that this be voted on before being forwarded to the government for consideration.

With regards

Dr. Bernd Kretzschmar

In reply to by oakhillfarm

Hec Clouthier explained that he knows Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan personally, and that he "figured quiet diplomacy would work, but I hit a brick wall."
This to me spoke volumes as to what we are dealing with and how much of a hill we have to climb.
What we have done so far is equivelent to a fly hitting a windshield at 100 KPH.

Like someone mentionned previously we need a war time leader, someone the liberals will be afraid of, someone that is not afraid to take off the gloves and do whatever is necessary to get the liberals in the negotiating room. Unfortunately I think that ORHIA have dropped the ball and don't think their way will accomplish anything with these liberals.

To say I am angry would be an understatement. Once again we have been let down by our industry “leaders” who are directly responsible for getting us into this mess and who, quite obviously, are not qualified nor experienced enough to be in charge of a billion $ industry. As proof of this one only has to read this “document of dribble” to realize that their obsession with government handouts has completely obscured their obligation to create a sustainable future for horse racing in the province. The government is not going to subsidize an industry which has no fan base and can’t make it work without government handouts – suck it up and get on with the task.

It is time for all the directors of OHRIA to do the honourable thing - find replacements for themselves and then resign gracefully. I know from firsthand experience that our industry has a wealth of brilliant talent available to us – people who have the qualifications and experience to manage an industry of this size and complexity. It is time for a new team. Enough damage has been done already and the livelihoods of thousands of people are in balance. March 2013 is nearer than we think and we have now squandered 4 months of the 12 that the government gave us.

When even a strong supporter of our industry, Senator Bob Runciman, castigates us for inaction we need to listen. Out with the Old and in with the New.
By the way, if anyone thinks that this is all “sour grapes” they should consider why I am so mad about the current situation – we have more dollars invested in facilities and horses than 98% of the participants in the industry and we stand to lose it all due to the short sightedness and lack of qualifications of our “leaders”. WE NEED CHANGE.

Self sustaining comes up often in the report. A term many who comment on here just hate. Don't see anything in this report other than racing won't survive without government assistance of some kind. Demand that SAR is put back in place is a crazy statement as it is not happening. We have to be customer driven is about the only true remark but I think the powers to be should have adopted that concept years ago. If racing has any chance going forward it had better find a group that can lead and come up with a plan not 26 pages of nonsense.

It is nothing more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The Industry needs a "War Time Leader". There certainly is not a Winston Churchill in OHRIA!!

In reply to by Dr Wayne Robinski

WAYNE.TIM HUDAK was on a talk show with Bill Murdoch on 560 OWEN SOUND WED. MORNING When asked how he intends to help the racing Industry in Ontario He said and I QUOTE: MY PARTY P.C? Intends to put all our resources into the fall election in KITCHENER- WATERLOO so that the LIBERAL GOVT? Will fail to get a majority! THE SAME P.C. PARTY MRS. WITMER left to join McGinty as head of the old workmans comp.....WHEN I ASKED IF HE WOULD COME OUT TO SUPPORT US INDUSTRY DAY ? He said he would be glad to come and with his candidate he will be at ELMIRA....What does that tell you? TOM KELLY... OUR WATERLOO 2012......

Go back to Fair racing! You have to be joking. What do you think the purses would be? $500, $300? Does anyone think we can keep a racehorse in training at $250 a month training facility along with shoeing, vet, etc. ? No fairs will be offering racing and pari-mutuals.

Firstly ,how does OHRIA get to assume/command/inherit the leadership role. Shouldn't the industry at least vote on such an important matter? They have not demonstrated any effective defence or offence for that matter in at least trying to alter the outcome. For good reason nobody I know has been or is impressed. Just trust us they said and now look at the outcome. We have next to no chance of surviving let alone thriving given the contents of this proposal. Better not let Dalton see this. He'd be laughing all the way to the resort casino. Runciman is one of the few that has it right. Now what?

Wow!!!! If I get this right. As a horseowner/trainer you will enter your horse and although you are based in Ottawa you may only race it at London...............obviously that owner will be gone faster than what goes down a toilet.

There is lots of thought in this report; however OHRIA if you present this report to the government: 1. We are now surely a subsidized industry and just short years away from total demise. 2. Time to get far more aggressive....why should this industry not be welcome to the same gaming splits as Casinos and the new Bingo hall agreements.

Get with it OHRIA take the gloves off.....now

Chuck Ibey

With this plan to eliminate half of the race dates and over half of the tracks, we can pretty well be assured that well over half of the horsepeople will be exiting the industry as well. The "fairground" tracks will not be anything more than a very expensive hobby for many of us and one that most can not afford. Standardbred racing was, at one time, the game for the ordinary man/farmer in rural Ontario. Now, only the wealthy can play this game. Rural Ontario gets hit again. Not much to be happy about.

Agreed 100% Mr. Gangle. After reading over this plan for the third time, I was typing a letter very similar to yours. You have expressed all my thoughts exactly. This "plan" will create the very scenario the government is accusing the industry of right now - a bunch of wealthy horse owners growing wealthier off the backs of subsidies provided by Ontario taxpayers. I am very disappointed this document is basically "waving the white flag" as many others have stated. I think it is a huge mistake not to demand that the SAR program be renewed and continued. We have been told over and over again how financially succesful it has been and figures show it is the OLG's best performer.
Stand up OHRIA, grow a pair and demand that this program is the only deal the horse racing industry will accept. Andrea Horwath failed to drop the hammer when she held the power, why are you making the same mistake? The OLG will have no income from their slots past March 2013. They either cut a deal with the racetracks and the horsemen, or they can be satisfied with a much smaller share of a few bingo halls! This industry is not prepared to accept a 50% job loss either!!

What I dont understand is the timing of this proposal.The Liberal appointed panel haven't finished there interviews yet,so we dont know what they may come up with.For all we know they might have went to the Liberals and got us a good deal,now we are looking weaker than ever.Why not see what they come up with first,before we go begging for a handout.

I strongly disagree with any one who calls this a good report, it is nonsense, as for the comment about the root of the problem going back to ignoring the last Sadinsky report is also nonsense!
10 years ago I spent the day with William Wellwood, (he passed away the next day)
I distinctly remember him telling me "We're going to kill the Golden Goose unless we share the wealth) That's when I moved the motion at the SC annual general meeting for 5% of the purse money go to the grooms.
OHHA fought like hell to get it passed, the Jockey Club (WEG)shot the idea down.
Hence today we have the public perception that horse racing is a rich mans game, the rich get richer, nothing could be further from the truth in Standardbred Racing.
Had the industry listened to "Woody" and got this passed the government would have to think twice about their ill conceived plan.
Horse Racing or MRI for my grandmother & all day kindergarten, boy did we miss the boat.

I have read with alot of interest the proposal & these comments. The proposal is a good one, however, we are selling ourselves short and becoming a "SUBSIDY" and how I HATE that word. If I hear it, all I see in front of me is
(Dumb) McGuinty, (Dumber) Duncan, and throw in Paul Godfrey for good measure.
There is one way to get the LIBERALS to back off and while it is a very extreme measure it might be the one we need. The Liberals want to pull the plug on us so why don't we pull the GD plug on them.....SHUT DOWN THE SLOTS PARLORS ON EVERY DAY THAT THERE IS NO LIVE RACING AT A RESPECTIVE TRACK. for instance....
Then you would hear loud and strong how the OLG is NOT making money or supporting the Health and Education, which we all know is what we were supporting until all the screws ups occurred in those departments.
Is it not the gaming licences at the racetracks that allowed the slots to set up there in the first place.??
The private individuals, Ed James, Dennis Mills, Senator Bob Runciman, OHHA, OHRIA have been very vocal in support of SAR But it seems we are flogging a dead horse (LIBERALS) to get them to see what a crippling effect they will have on the Agriculure of ONTARIO...

In reply to by rnicolas

Ray: on sat 21 I attended the press conference held near the roadway at Georgian downs at 5:30 pm. There were ten people there Bryan Tropea Mr. J. Whealan Tom Kelly 2 reporters GARFIELD DUNLOP ? SENATOR RUNCIMAN and others? AFTER ALL THE B.S?( lasted 15 minutes) I asked RUNCIMAN who was going to speak for my pregneat race mare, or weanlings or the rest of the colts and fillies? WITH THAT I GOT A TAP ON THE SHOLDER AND THIS AGENT SAIDVTHE POLITITIONS WOULD ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS AT A DINNER INSIDE THE GCGC SLOTS AREA, THEY LFET FOR THAT DINNER! AND FOR ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS I COULD SIT DOWN WITH GARFIELD AND SUPPORT HIS FUND RAISER. signed Tom Kelly ....PS I watched the races and had a good meal at ALS in the backstretch ..... See you all at the battle of Waterloo ......TK

Thank you Mr. Brandt, Mr. Gangle, Mr. Christie and all the others for sharing thier thoughts on want the liberal gouvernment is trying to do.I agree that the MONKEYS ARE RUNNING THE ZOO BUT IT'S THE GORILLAS BEHIND THE MONKEYS THAT WILL EAT ALL THE BANANAS ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$)oh the monkeys will not starve, they will be tossed a few bananas, and I will say it again, it is not McGuinty or Duncan that is running the show, it's the Gorillas. Do not forget what happened to the QUEBEC racing industry after the Gouvernment made all kinds of promesses, they PULLED THE RUG OUT FROM UNDER OUR FEET AND 40,000,000 horsemen dollars disapeared,you know the old saying (TIME CURES EVERY THING ), TODAY NO ONE TALKS ABOUT IT ANYMORE, BUT I STILL REMEMBER. And once again a special thanks to MR. JAMES. I can see a way to deal with the gouvernment, it is for all agricultural workers from the grooms to the farmers and everyone in between, to become unionized and have one organization fighting for your survival.When a union with hundreds of thousands of members, tells it's members, today we shut down everything because we are fighting for these members survival, all these big GORILLAS that have their BANANAS invested in these companies may open their eyes a little wider and realize that terminating the agreement with the slots at racetracks is not a good thing to do.Have a good day and REMEMBER IF YOU DO NOT FIGHT FOR WHAT YOU WANT, YOU WILL NOT GET IT.

you people are all dreamimg.This is done deal unless you all hold hands and do something drastic.In France when they disagrea with government they hold hands and CLOSE the hi-ways down.Shut down 401 and see how long it takes for them to come to the table.Do you see what the Indians in and around that land claim near Brantford did?

Is it possible for OHHA (as the representative of the largest number of Standardbred Horsemen and women) to become "a local" within the CAW?

Can we ask Brian Tropea to speak with Ken Lewenza (or Representative) to see if they would be interested in a local within their Union for the Horse Racing Industry of Ontario? Perhaps we could become a local, still maintaining our current status with directors and district representatives. Of course it would cost more, because we would have to pay monthly union dues just as the other locals do, but a unified strong voice, fighting for all the horse racing in Ontario, not just the Thoroughbreds or "A" level racing, would be worth it.

We need spokespeople who believe the Grassroots level of horse racing is just as important as the top level, and support for the young athletes (Maidens) in the industry is much needed! There are many of us in this industry who love and care for our animals enough to admit they are not ready to race at the A level at the start and gamble with their futures by burning them out and not giving them a chance to race their way up to that level, if they can.

Track owners (perhaps in partnership with industry) should be given the option of purchasing the slot machines in their facilities so we are then able to compete with gov't sites.

I understand that this report was written by well intended people, but are you kidding?The overall tone is brown nosing the government. Yes the horsepeople come off as reasonable and willing to work with the government, but the liberals have already demonstrated they have no desire to do so. If corruption wasn't involved and they wanted to increase gaming revenue, why wouldn't they improve on their most profitable product?They could have negotiated to put casinos at the tracks like in the states, and shut down their losing operations. Do they really believe bingo parlors will beat tracks in income? One of the most interesting things in the report are the revenue numbers showing how much stronger all the standardbred numbers are, not just total horse numbers, gaming,breeding and yearling sales dwarf thoroughbred-we should have much more clout. I'm for lawsuits, union backing(where are the teamsters?), strikes,shutting down the slots NOW. Let's get the media coverage we so desperately need and can't explain the lack of.Oh, and that compensation model to Windsor, Sarnia, and Fort Erie? Someone let OHRIA know 2 of the 3 are closed and the other is right behind.

There is obviously not an unanimous consent from the horsemen on this "plan". I know I didn't have a say on it. I certainly hope that before any deal is struck, the horsemen (as individuals) have a chance to vote on it. I don't see how OHRIA can appoint themselves as trustees without some sort of democratic process. I actually agree with Blair on this one, why would we spend all this time defending our stance on partnership vs subsidy to turn around and make it one?? I also am going to speak up on behalf of the Fort Erie crowd. Why were they discarded in this "plan"? It is the most historic site of all tracks combined and one of the cities most dependant on the track as a source of income. What are all those people to do? Because it's a "B Class track" it's ok to toss them aside? I personally feel that OHHA has proven themselves to be unbiased towards the 'caliber' of horsemen throughout this battle and are fighting for the 'little guy'. I think we need to reassess our leadership. Don't settle, keep fighting everyone!

While Sue Leslie and her team are to be commended for their efforts to save our industry, I am very dismayed with this report. If we were not a "subsidy" before we are, indeed, one now. To be quite frank the horse racing industry will be, on "WELFARE". Here are my concerns:

A) with this plan , we are at the total mercy of the gov't (while we are now, with the cancellation of slots.... we still do have options, (legal action,etc.)

B) we will be the subject of budget cuts in the future as horse racing will be considered a "non-essential service" and therefore subsidized funding will be cut dramatically as money gets tighter in the future.

C) in the public's eyes, we will be considered as "subsidized" and will fall into disfavour with the populace, as an industry

D) parimutuel wagering will not increase due to the competition with other gambling venues which the gov't controls. The gov't will see to that, as they have total control of the monopoly on gambling and stand to gain greater revenue with those other venues as opposed to wagering

E) although I do not anticipate 14 tracks surviving in Ontario, the reduction of race dates will decimate and discourage the breeding of Ontario bred horses and therefore the breed itself will deteriorate accordingly


In order for the industry to survive and prosper, there MUST be some kind of revenue sharing agreement with the slots. Several states in the US have copied our business model which has proven time and time again to be the most successful for ALL parties. Look at NY, PA, and now Ohio.

However, there must be certain conditions implemented. Firstly, the slots license must be combined with the racing license and the ORC and OLGC must also be combined as per the recommendation of this report. Secondly, those race tracks that do not promote racing should be EXCLUDED from the revenue sharing agreement. If the parimutuel handle does not exceed the overnight purses allocated on average, (excluding stake race nights) then, the revenue sharing agreement with that track should come under review.

A percentage of the slot revenue, allocated to the tracks must be implemented and spent on maintenance of the track and horse facilities. Also a certain percentage must be allocated for the promotion of racing and slots. The days of "milking slot revenue" by race track operators are over.

Also, as there is only one track left for thoroughbreds, Fort Erie needs to be reopened as a "B" track to give the less competitive and "green" horses a chance to develop.

These are only several suggestions as I see it. Hopefully some one else will come up with more. Let's keep working to find a viable solution.

I’ve taken sometime to think about what this“26 page proposal” says, and to net it out from my perspective – we are asking the Liberal Government to give us $210 million dollars as opposed to $340 million – WOW – are kidding ourselves!!! In exchange for their “Subsidy”, we will abandon the majority of our brethren in the rural communities – are we hypocrites. We need to stand together and fight for the entire industry not just the Woodbine and Mohawk facilities.
We owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Ed James for taking our fight through the major newspapers at his own personal expense – one might wonder why many of the major newspapers have not made this a major issue in their editorials as we are the second largest agricultural industry in Ontario and about to go under (the better part of 60,000 people) – perhaps these institutions are not a public entity as many of us have grownup to believe.
It must be clear to all of us by now that we are not a very well run nor organize industry if the Ontario Government can so easily destroy us with so very little effort. Recently, the CAW has gotten involved and is taking our fight to the Liberals, and we should be thankful for their efforts. We should also seriously consider becoming members of their organization should they be willing to let us join, but ask yourself this - who would lead that effort – just food for thought!!!!

I was under the impression that OHRIA was for every racing breed in Ontario....I, as all participants in racing waited for this plan to come out with much anticipation... Me, as a standardbred participant feels like I just got a swift kick in the gut, much like what the government did a few months back. Who is losing the most out of this proposal?? who will lose most tracks? who will lose most dates? who will lose most employment opportunities? who will lose most horses for racing?? It has always been referred that standardbreds are second to the thoroughbreds, and OHRIA has just enhanced that notion. Why wasnt the SAR program discussed firstly with suggestions to revamp it?? Standardbreds got the crappy end of the stick with this plan.

If we didn't want to call it a subsidy before, it certainly is now. We are no longer "partners" with the Government if this plan were to be adopted.

I got to page 18 of this nonsensical report & gave up in disgust, as I said in a previous post we have been let down badly by the so called leaders in our industry, this rubbish just proves that point!

The next obvious question is how much did this rubbish cost?

Guess I will be the only one that says AN EXCELLENT REPORT AND THE MODEL TO GO FORWARD. I'm sure that I will get 1000 comments and really Martha I don't give a care. You won't get another comment back from me as I've said my piece.
The same 1000 will be the ones that Poo Poo'd the Sadinsky Report when it was presented and because we didn't act we are in the position we are in right NOW
Its time to put quality racing at quality racetracks. Level 2 racing at Level 2 Racetracks and welcome back to the grassroots of our sport from 100 years ago when fair racing was where it was all at. Thats where you build the interest in the sport. People can go, pet a horse and have fun without all the hoopla of rules and over regulation
I totally support this initiative and thank the industry leaders for putting forward this superior submission
Lets hope McGuinty, Wilkinson and the Red party listens to some common sense that has been put through.
People will have more fun and entertainment with continued horse racing even a a downsized venue than spending their
money in a Bingo Hall where the horse racing industry gets nothing. However Tannenbaum and his friend Godfrey will get their way.

I think it comes down to the sentence in the conclusion. IF with a capital IF the gov't want horseracing to survive etc.They have already shown that they don't care a toss about racing or the hard working people who rely on it for an income.They mention income from the supposed rent from the OLG at the slots.Has anyone tried to find out what a reasonable commercial rent would be? I asked a real estate agent in a town where there are slots at the present time and his reply was probably $25000 a month as who else would want a place with parking for 500 cars. Also remember the tenant is going to tell the landlord how much they are prepared to pay and not the other way round.300k won't even pay the costs of running the place. And as I understand it ,the tracks only get 5% of the handle so taking a handle of $200000 a night would only give the track $10000 , not enough for 2 races.

In as plain and simple terms as I can state this, the correct course of action in this situation, is for the Ontario Liberal government to reverse it's plan to remove the "slots at racetracks" program. I think that everyone who has put an ounce of thought into it can recognize that.

I must have missed the memo to issue the "White Flag", I appreciate the work that went into this report, although the majority is basic common sense. I question the timing, when OHRIA and everyone involved in the industry should be fighting with everything we have, to come out with a "compromise" report basically shows we've given up. Perhaps, those on the committee are pragmatists, maybe they believe we'd be lucky to get the government to even talk about a compromise and maybe they'll be proven right in the end - but I for one, are far from ready to concede that at this time. Recently, Ms. Leslie responded to some negative comments regarding OHRIA's "less than agressive actions" so far. She said there would be time to do that later, so why the "white flag" now...I'm sorry I don't understand. I strongly believe it's time to "take the wind out of the sails" of the Ontario Liberal Party - and yes, we can do that. Fourteen years ago, the Conservatives had a problem, they needed the income from a slots program, but the vast majority of cities would not approve casinos or slots - with the exception of racetracks where there was already licensed gambling. Today, I see very little difference, as almost all cities have rejected casinos - the difference is that 14 years ago we were negotiating with a government, now we are Panicking. If all the tracks stopped negotiating with the government to "extend" the slots for mere "rent money" - we could "turn the tables". The Liberal Government would actually see a possibility of losing all the slot income until they could build casinos (that the cities don't want), it would be a gamble - but then that is our business. If we continue to allow the government to "cruise" along without a significant "financial" challenge - we won't have a prayer. This is just one of a number of opportunities we have available to us...there are others, we just have to take the "white flag" down and change our focus from a "scrambled retreat" to a confident "attack" posture - I applaud Ed James and senator Bob Runciman and others, the information they are supplying is excellent, but we still need that financial hit to the government, that's the only way to get their attention.

Chris Bradt

In reply to by Chris Bradt

Ask Senator Ruciman to talk to Sénatrice Céline Hervieux payette.
Some years ago, I received a letter from her.

She was stating that the video poker are the ennemies of the pari-mutuel in Québec and unless the horsemen organise themself , the video poker would kill the horse racing in Québec.

In 1995, the french horse racing industrye had offer $300 millions to install and promote the off track betting.

Who were again ? the owl industry, commercial operators ( in France, the 257 racetracks are non-lucrative associations) associations, breeders, even grooms.

In Ontario, the horsemen are acting like the quénécois horsemen.

The video pokers are not a product invented to finance the horse industry.
First, it was invnted by the mafias, and in 1993, by the québec fovernment.

You know the story.

Ask the Senator not to make politic but to promote the paris-mutuel on the tracks and off teacks

In reply to by virgule

Remember, Ontario horsemen did not want slots at the tracks. Track owners and OLG forced it on us with their big promises and of course track owners got a better deal than horsemen did.

Most Municipalities no longer permit fair racing because of insurance costs etc. Where have our leaders been?

"the ultimate objective is to assist the industry transition to a greater level of self-sufficiency. However, financial and other support from government is necessary to permit this to happen."

p. 21 touches on the idea of us getting "self-sufficient". New wagering products that require "lobbying" (what you do to change govt thinking when you have no clout),and a subsequent change in laws. Becoming self-sufficient is not the focus of this paper, which it should be.

" Financial support" is the 50 million we got, some of which I assume, has been chewed up by the creation of the document we all have just read and "other support" is changing laws so that other forms of gambling on horse racing can be introduced to "modernize" our gaming.

Talking about private operators giving the horsemen the time of day is a waste of printer ink (p.9). Plus we are already freshly divorced from ON gambling, why would we want to remarry the same spouse?

IF ORIA is to be our one voice, (a much needed virtue for our industry), they must be elected by horsepeople (all ORIA members). We wouldnt need govt appointed heads (senate). They cost money.

I'm worried and leary about the comments about integrity, transparency and misuse of funds surrounding an "idea" that is nowhere near fruition (p18). That goes without saying - no.

Tracks generating $ from car shows etc.(p.20) - how does that help horsepeople? plus, many tracks already do this!

Aside from the "self-sufficient" ideal touched upon on p.21, this entire document seems riddled with sensible ideas that scream "subsidy". The very word we have adamantly been denying the existence of for the past 5 months.

SORRY! but, next

Sounds like a lot of giving for a little receiving !
It leaves another opening for a lot of back door,back scratching deals for the Father and Son team. Since when should the government get to say who can stay in business or who can't? What happened to private enterprise ? They need to spend more time on how to create jobs and bring new industry into the country instead of shutting them down. This gaming expansion fantasy they have will be like all the rest of the government run creations. If 17 racetracks were way too many (.. as Duncan said ) then why do they think that 29 Casinos are right ? Their gaming expansion is far more detrimental to the country than 17 racetracks. It takes paying jobs to sustain the gaming industry...not welfare checks!

As the old saying goes....THE MONKEYS ARE RUNNING THE ZOO !

MLSE doesnt really require anymore negative publicity with the products they own in Toronto. The timing of the sale of the majority shares from the Teachers Pension Fund to Rogers and Bell could not have come at a more opportune time for the members of the horse industry to target Mr. Tannenbaum and the future stakeholders in this lucrative and publicly traded company. If I were Bell and Rogers and had thousands of subscribers who purchase there cell phone time, internet, cable and land line phones through my company I certainly would not want to be in business with a person who is viewed by the public so negatively. These larger than life companies want to be perceived as transparent and crystal clear to the people who they do business with. Duncan and McGuinty are pawns being positioned by the big players in this saga. (Re.) U.S. based casinos, Tannenbaum and the OLG guru Paul Godfrey. Anyone who believes that there wont be kickbacks or payoffs down the line are either naive or just hiding there heads in the sand waiting for a white knight to ride in and save the day. Im a little disappointed that more industry insiders havent rallied around Mr Ed James who has put his money where his mouth is. He is not a young man and is trying to give back to a industry that he loves and cares about. He is trying to save it for the next generation and trying to grow it as it was done by his predecessors. The time for you folks is now or months ago. This is a full out gunfight so drop your butter knives and get to it. With Respect to all the players in this repulsive battle.

Cutting the racedates and the number of tracks in half will be directly proportional to future investment in rural Ontario. Those small business owners, farmers and agricultural industry service providers should anticipate a huge economic hit, as well as those currently employed by our industry.

Advocating for status quo given the fact that our industry and the slot-at-racetracks agreement made sense for all stakeholders would have been a direction worth pursuing and standing firm on, especially with the Ontario Ombudsman and media/public/opposition parties connecting the dots with regard to the OLG, its financials and private interest relationships.

We shouldn't have to give up so much, we've taken the higher road but this compromise in racedates, track number and funding source is an incredible blow to our industry. There are some good ideas in this plan with regard to marketing, innovation and accountablity of how a much needed guideline was vacant in the original SAR, those issues can be implemented and addressed going forward; but they should have been implemented with the thought of maintaining what we already have, in light of WHY the decision to terminate the SAR came to be in the first place.

Abuse of public power for private gain.

In reply to by mjpappin-lamoureux

People need to understand that we are NOT in a negotiating position. The contracts were terminated legally by an escape clause that should of never been permitted by our representatives. There was absolutely no benefit for our industry to have that clause in the contract.

Moving forward however you can read between the lines that the governments been cold and unreceptive thus far. Thus a plan that calls for almost a charity for the next 5 years...and then extinction. The OLG is having difficulty finding homes for the new slots, just like they did 15 years ago, stick to our guns and negotiate the % down if they will talk to us that is. It's the only hope this industry has to survive.

I agree Sheldon. What a sellout!! I thought in negotiating you were supposed to come strong and meet somewhere in the middle. Guess it is over as we knew it. We obviously have no negotiating power as an industry. And I was trying to be optimistic. There must be a thoroughbred perspective when they were coming up with race dates. There is no understanding of how harness racing in Ontario works.

There was obviously a considerable amount of thought and hard work that went into preparing this plan. As a horse racing fan , not directly involved in the industry, I am not qualified to critique it ... but it does appear to contain a number of very good ideas ... and seems like a reasonable and logical approach, very much in contrast to the unreasonable and illogical approach of the OLG and the Liberal Government.

There will, no doubt, be those who are critical of the plan, if for no other reason than it envisions a "smaller" Horse Racing Industry in Ontario ... which many feel should not be neccessary.

It will be most interesting to see the response from our Liberal Governmnet - will they come to their senses and work with OHRIA to maintaian a strong and viable Ontario Horse Racing Industry - or do we get the same arrogant babble that we've heard in the past ?

The Conservatives must publish their position on any new or innovative program. They will form the next government in Ontario. The Liberals are now a non entity due to all the derogatory publicity. The NDP, lost their credability when the abstained from voting on the budget. We must hear from Tim and company on this and many other issues in the next 48 hours. The lobbyists must be very uncomfortable. aka Lapsitters. Bruce T. Winning

If this plan takes effect, horse racing in Ontario will be a shadow of what it is today. By eliminating race tracks and racing days, most people working in the industry will not survive.

In reply to by [email protected]

just doing the numbers supplied
$210,000,000 required for purse money from the provincial government annually
the Provincial Govt. receives $31,060,000 in levies and taxes
a net loss of $178,940,000
I may not have it all here, not sure if they will just hand out $178,940,000 annually for horse racing
It would be easier for them to keep the slots at racetrack program in place...
and thats not going to happen....if we're not talking directly to McGuinty and Duncan...nothing will happen.
he Liberals have been point blank
No Slots at race tracks
and here's $50 million, get your sh-- together
then it's a big period....

It is a comprehensive plan that looks like it took a lot of work, but any situation that does not allow surviving facilities to participate in the gaming ie.slots at their own place, means Godfrey et al has succeeded and cleared the decks for his accomplices. If we didn't want to call it a subsidy before, it certainly is now. We are no longer "partners" with the Government if this plan were to be adopted. Additionally, cutting race dates in half is absolutely radical. I am not sure Ontario horse people will be able to survive that.

This info I read is very positive, and it looks like all the meetings and dialogue is perhaps going to pay off.

I'm not going to run down Premier DAD, or the Finance Minister. I think that with the CAW, and all other Unions getting loud, that with all the proof, DAD and SON (Finance) will run out of race track and have to agree that the SAR should remain in force. After all, even some of the Liberals are SAR positive. There are too many important people who are backing SAR, and it is only a matter of time until DAD and SON fold their hand.

Bob Runciman has had 2-3 posts that make the Fiberals look foolish. (Correction )
(Senator Robert Runciman.)I can only hope that the Fiberals give way. If they don't, and there is trickery about, there could be embarassing facts dug up, and some people could find themselves with only one hour per day for recreation on the lawn.(The public lawns, not the turf race I am waiting for this Wed.in the 4th at Woodbine.

It's a start, needs some tweaking but will hopefully lead to meaningful dialogue with the government. Without a doubt we have far too many associations and that has hurt the industry in the sense that none were effective. We do need only one voice when it comes to governing and leading our industry and it should not come from government.

However having said that and a big IF the industry survives , we should have a democratic process (election) and decide whom will be our voice with a clear mandate.

I don't understand why this proposal would come out so soon - throwing in the towell on the slots program a little early?