Standardbred Canada Leads Racing Development and Sustainability Plan

Published: July 29, 2010 05:01 pm EDT

Standardbred Canada today announced the development of a comprehensive plan to revitalize Ontario’s harness racing industry. And we need your help


The formation of the Ontario Racing Development and Sustainability Plan has been in the works for well over a year and is the result of two Wagering Conferences, months of consultation with industry stakeholders, and numerous committee meetings emanating in part from SC’s Wagering Action Plan.

The concept is to establish, fund and execute an aggressive plan aimed at making Ontario harness racing self-sufficient through a concerted investment in development, technology, marketing and advocacy. The plan, which calls for a 5% levy taken from the Ontario purse pool, is outlined below.

Standardbred Canada will be hosting meetings of horse people and stakeholders across the province during the month of August to fully explain the Racing Development and Sustainability Plan and to answer any questions on its funding and implementation.

Jody Jamieson is one of the champions driving the plan. “Every person in this industry has tremendous passion for what they do,” said Jamieson. “Each of them hopes for the long-term success of harness racing in this province. It’s time for all of us to step up and make a real investment in the future of our sport.”

“I am asking every horseperson in Ontario to take responsibility and show their support for reinvesting in their future by signing the Racing Sustainability and Reinvestment Plan petition. The future of the industry we work in, love and are passionate about starts today, with a signature of support,” he continued.

“The timing has never been better for this project to get off the ground,” stated John Gallinger, president of Standardbred Canada. “Many in this industry are looking at the tenuous nature of harness racing in what were some of our previously strongest jurisdictions. The industry is in need of a comprehensive framework that focuses on real development and growth. This plan deals with the sport’s most critical issues, and the areas with the most potential for true long-term renewal – wagering, development and marketing.”

Racing Development and Sustainability Plan

The Concept

The RDSP will be an investment by Ontario’s horse owners and horse people through a 5% levy taken directly from the Ontario standardbred purse pool.

Funds will be managed and administered by an Ontario division of Standardbred Canada. Budgets will be reported separately, be fully transparent, audited and available and published annually.

Current Ontario purse pool: Approximately: $180 million.


Wagering Development to include:

  • Ontario Racing Products – (i.e. Canada One)
  • Lottery Wager
  • Expanded distribution
  • Betting Exchange Platform
  • New Wagering Products
  • Handicapping programs, leagues, championships, etc.
  • Consumer Marketing & Development Projects:

    • New Racing Products
    • Ontario Racing Festival
    • Fan Experience & Education
    • Fair Racing Revitalization
    • Publicity & Public Relations
    • Provincial Branding


    An “Ontario division” of Standardbred Canada will manage the Plan.

    The Ontario division would be comprised of an Oversight Committee of the following:

  • 4 Horsemen's Association Representatives (chosen from Ontario's horsemen's groups)
  • 3 elected SC Active Directors (owners, trainers, drivers)
  • 1 elected SC Racetrack Director
  • 1 elected SC Breeder Director
  • Non voting members

  • 1 Standardbred Canada Management
  • 1 Standardbred Canada Chairperson

Time Lines

  • August to October – Have individuals sign an online or in-person petition with their support of the model.
  • October, 2010 – Submit signatures and business plan to the Ontario Racing Commission
  • October, 2010 to December, 2010 – ORC review and approval
  • January, 2011 – Funding to begin flowing.

Click here to view or sign the on-line petition to support this plan.



Instead of the owner taking the hit
Perhaps we could split the 5% take out evenly between the 3 parties
driver -1.66% / trainer -1.66% / owner -1.66%

We must first make ourselves comfortable at our facilities before inviting others to join in the fun. Youth have eyes to see that we have let our tracks become outdated and unfriendly while proffits still come in with slot money. I would like Standardbred Canada to hang the hat of Track Inspector on a person that could first make recomondations, then impose fines or other methods to speed up the process of improving the facilities that we still have. If the penalty was greater than the cost for replacement, or improvement, action would take place. ie tv's, sewage aroma, food quality, seating, etc. This idea won't cost 9 million annually, and take 3 years to act on.

I tried to sign the petition on-line but was unable to due to the fact that my husband had already signed it on-line and we are using the same e-mail address. I wonder how many couples there are in this same situation. I would like to show my support.
Lenore Prince

Any initiative to save racing should be appluaded but my fear is that the rest of the country will go the way of Quebec where the best of our industry head for the promised land (Ontario) sealing the fate of the sport in the rest of Canada ie. two names come to mind Bill Davis who for years was the most respected, trusted and successful horseman in B.C. and Travis Umphries the same from Alberta. Can racing not only thrive but grow when you lose all your "FARM TEAMS"? And with the influx of stables from all of the other juridictions, who no doubt will bring their "A" stock, wont the purse pool distribution change and hence the small owner/trainers in your great province find themselves in the same predicament as those out of province? I guess to sum up I feel that as a national representative of this industry there should be some plan to include the rest of your members.

i agree with jodi's concept except for one thing. this is supposed to be standardbred canada not standardbred ontario. if whats good for the goose is also good for the gander we need to bring back standardbred racing to quebec. quebec was always one of the biggest centers for harness racing in north america and now we have nothing. we need the industry to help and support us here , the gov't wont do it and what the hell do they know about this game anyways these idiots think that the casinos here are the ultimate and they themselves killed the game here and lost an industry that employed more than 8000 people. help us do here what the ontario jockey club did for ontario racing and then the whole country will become stronger in our great sport and more evident to future harness sport lovers as well

NO CONCRETE PLAN has been established at any of these meetings nor has been presented to the horseman(especially the owners who's pocket it is coming out of). How can you ask for $45 million (over 5 years) and not have a budget of any kind,showing exactly how you intend to use this money.Even a budget for the first few years would help, and then things may have to be varied is understandable. Show me any banking institution that would just hand over and commit to that kind of money with absolutely no businessplan? NONE is the answer! This is just a fly by the seat of your pants attitude being shown by those who want this money.
No customer involement,no bettor,no small owner are on the committeebut just the smae people who have done nothing while things have gone downhill for our industry.
SC has stated that no monies will be going directly to them.I ask..Is the committee being paid? Willthey be paying rent for an office and if so where is the office? What are the admin costs per year? If the committee is being paid then the directors of SB on the committe do benifit, and if the offices and admin is being run ot of SB office then there is a benifit...If there is transparancy as stated then shoe a budget so we see all the facts.
Yes, there is no question something needs to be done, but a CONCRETE PLAN is needed and a proper budget is needed as well so we can all feel comfortable that the money is being put to good use!!
I was at a few of the meetings and did not get the exact same impression Mr. Gallager stated. Yes people feel change is needed but alot more information is needed as well. This is not a slam,dunk as it seems SC is trying to put across.As owners are the ones that are going to lose out, we have to be cautious where this money is going,and not hear in 3 years when reviewed, we need more money or the plan has not really helped.
At the meetings this was compared to other agricultural industries,like the pork/beef/dairy boards where they do marketing.When you see a commercial for milk or beef it does not make you go out to buy more.These are marketing boards that have to exhist for quota reasons, and there advertisements are a way to help keep these marketing boards existance. The actions of these boards are not bringing in new customers to buy or use their product,so this is a poor comparison.
Without the lowering of takeouts, better customer service at the tracks,family friendly atmospheres,a way to bring a keep the younger generation into the sport no matter how much you spend it does not work. To do all these things you also need the racetracks to be onside and to date this has not happened within the plan.
We must all be cautious and not buy into the first thing presented and also there should be others(new,younger) on the committee,not the same old /sameold that have been around for decades, a full change is needed and its time to pass the wand onto the next generation!!!!!!!!


Standardbred Canada's Current Process: Town Hall Meetings

Overwhelmingly what Standardbred Canada continued to hear from the industry was that we must rally for the betterment of the sport, and the future of Ontario harness racing. "said Gallinger"

Yes, anyone would agree with the feedback, but, no matter how you look at it, we don't have a Donald Trump leading the charge. Reality check. The public very much likes famous people, and/or animals. How can Standardbred Canada compete with this sort of media competetion?


Len Campbell Jr.

Ps. Thank you to Mr.Kaplan from Trot Magazine for your thorough investigative report.

In reply to by Len-campbell-jr

With respect to the creation of the Ontario Racing Development and Sustainability Plan, ‘RDSP’. As I understand it the Ontario Racing Commission has invited or provided Standardbred Canada with an opportunity to develop a program or plan or concept which is aimed at developing a long-term strategy of wagering, together with product and customer development. It would appear that the Ontario Racing Commission is responding to the declining interest in harness racing.

Prior to addressing the proposed “RDSP” it would be prudent to examine what resources (money) is being allocated to enhance harness racing in Ontario, at present.

According to Standardbred Canada the current program which is designed to promote and improve the quality of live horse racing in Ontario and to benefit the agricultural and rural economy is the ‘Slots at Racetrack Program‘. Under this program 10% of the slot revenue from the host track goes back to the host track for operations and marketing. In addition, 10% of the slot revenue from the host track goes to the horsemen’s purse account.

Standardbred Canada has identified that because this reinvestment strategy will enable prosperity amongst horsemen, the initial funding will come directly from the horseman’s purse account as opposed to funds from individual race tracks.

Standardbred Canada has revealed that in order to create new customers they need funds to address customer research, wagering development, marketing and branding. The goal is to reverse trends, increase wagering and ultimately raise purses back above current levels to the highest the province has ever seen. (all that’s needed is about 5% of the purse pool each year, or about 9 million dollars).

Standardbred Canada has clearly identified that the “release of the programs will have a demonstrable effect within the first 12 months of operation”. Quite frankly, I don’t know what “demonstrable” means in the context provided.
If Standardbred Canada is giving an undertaking that they will replenish the pool by 5.1% after each year of implementation, they should say so. Remember though, according to Standardbred Canada this is “an ongoing process”. If you’re under the impression that this is a one time extraction, think again.

It is not specifically known what Standardbred Canada intends to do with the 9 million dollar annual extraction from the purse pool. What is known is that if the Ontario Racing Commission accepts this proposal, Standardbred Canada has revealed that, “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”. In other words, there is nothing specific in play at the moment. Further, that the bulk of costs incurred will be in the form of salaries and administration.

Standardbred Canada has indicated that they met with the top 20 owners, have had numerous townhall meetings, discussions with stakeholders concerning various Ontario racing products, lottery wager, expanded distribution, betting exchange platform, new wagering products, handicapping programs, leagues, championships. Marketing projects include new racing products, Ontario racing festival, Fan experience & education, Fair racing revitalization, Publicity & public relations and Provincial branding.

With the greatest respect to those organizing the RDS Plan. You have contacted owners, trainers, patrons, and stake holders concerning how to reverse the downward trend and inspire the return of customers. Although I have no doubt that all of the parties you contacted were in favour of the various projects, you are asking the wrong people. People you have contacted are not amongst those who have created the downward trend. Those reading and commenting on the articles in ‘Trot Magazine’ are not your target audience, those folks are already sold on horse racing. It’s the people who have left harness racing, that’s your target audience.

Notwithstanding the proposed new nine million dollar initiative, the trend of owners taking their dollars elsewhere will continue and unfortunately, you have only yourself to blame. In my view, new programs and initiatives are not being targeted at the right people. In addition, it is not new programs which will allow the return of so many owners.

I don't often respond to these types of things. For the most part I think that these forums are established to allow whomever to blow off some steam. That aside, the maker of these new programs and initiatives aren't (in my opinion) flexible or overly objective. Accordingly my views are directed to the Ontario Racing Commission. The research which was undertaken (with existing members) is flawed. The only research which would be of value is to determine the cause of owners leaving harness racing.

If you’re sincerely interested in learning why or how the downward trend commenced, you need only to ask those who are no longer participating in harness racing. The Ontario Racing Commission and Standardbred Canada possess statistical information with respect to the number people who held owners licenses in 2010, 2000 and 1990. You will find a direct quantum relationship between the reduction in horse ownership and the quantum reduction in the handle.

If you really want to know why owners have left in droves, don’t ask people who continue to participate, ask those who have left. It won’t cost nine million dollars a year to learn the answer nor will it cost any more than an average salary for a few people to create a remedy.

If you would like some private sector participation, with respect to funding an initiative designed at determining the cause or reason why owners have left harness racing, feel free to contact me.

So this RDSP plan is going to be managed by a team of professionals who know what they are doing but yet not one of them has figured out they need to drop the track takeout to a maximum of 10% in every pool if they are going to retain there customer base and have any chance of attracting a new generation of gamblers. What other industry has the audacity to think they can charge 2 to 5 times more then there competition and move forward, only the race game in there infinite wisdom. It kind of tells you everything you need to know about why the race game is where it is. With leadership like this there are exactly where they should be.

What the hell is standardbred canada going to do with 9000000 of owners purse money? publish a comprehensive business plan,then ask us for 500000. if that works,we might give you more to invest.Someone has stars in their eyes if they think they should get 9 million on the basis of a bunch of promises to do the job they should have been doing all along. p.s. 6000$ for maidens is not to shabby. sam taylor

What a breath of fresh air-referring to the various comments about the "Plan", the savior of what was once a thriving and respected industry. Horse racing can only be considered for family entertainment when the pari-mutuel windows no longer play a part in the equation! Whoa! What am I thinking? It is and always will be geared to the person that is faithfully wagering hard earned dollars at the windows each week.

Take for example the on-going promotion of handing 4 customers $2500 to wager on the horse of their choice! If you have a family night, are you going to change it to perhaps a brand new washer & dryer as the prize? The bottom line is plain and simple-racetracks draw people with visions of winning money! Various comments about the availability of gambling sites on-line only confim that the younger generation is not interested in putting out the expense of getting to the track, when that overhead can be spent in the comfort of their home. The gouging at the beverage and concessions stands would limit many newbies to only one trip to the track anyhow. I remember an experience not too long ago, when a young couple asked me why they didn't get their money back because their horse was so far behind at the start of the race!? I politely informed them that their horse had reached the "Fair Start" pole, and even though the horse was about 100 lengths behind at the word "Go", they wouldn't get their money back because if they did, Mr. Taxman would not get his share of the dollar. They left the premises abruptly, and without a doubt-have not returned since!

Maybe the powers that be should take a closer look at areas of the product that needs refining, before it is offered to the younger client! Hats off to the trainers and owners:-)

I sat looking around the room all I saw was grey hair?? What does that tell you? You want young blood? Make it family friendly 1, rides for kids, games for teenagers, maybe dances, something for the whole family to enjoy. And stop cheating them on food & bevs prices.

Remember it's a night out for the family after all the bills are payed, there isn't too much left over for a night out for a family. Remember, charge a little they will spend alot, over charge, they'll spend a little. At the track I see maybe 15 - 25 people. Family nite maybe 100-150. what does that tell you? Change or fade away.

In reply to by broke

Ian Dow Couldn't agree more, bodies at the track is what is needed!
I sat through the meeting for this plan in Sudbury,very slick presentation, gives SC $9,000,000,00, and we'll decide how we will spend it, No Business Plan.

I applaud any idea that can rejuvenate the industry and drive the traffic back to our sport. Bringing in the top 40 money making owners only provides input from a small sector of the industry. Without feedback from the small stable operations the disparity between the top 40 and the others will only widen until the small operations are forced out of the business. All interested parties, who will benefit from the changes, need to contribute financially to ensure that everyone has a vested interest in seeing the plan succeed.

There has always been great ideas for the betterment of the industry, but there has never been an infrastructure in place to ensure implementation and to stay the coarse until new processes are stablized. The Horse people have been at the mercy of the Race Track Management to try new venues. While I appreciate the need for Tracks to make money, they need to understand that without the Horse people there will be no show. Without a show, there will be no customers to wager. If this new strategy is to succeed, it is paramount that this new venture have the authority to implement new strategies and programs at ALL race tracks so that we all success in this new Team effort. We all need to remember that there is no "I" in Team

There are only two groups to listen to !. THE OWNERS--they pay the bills 2. THE GAMBLERS--they create the purse revenue...
without the two above, the rest--drivers, trainers, associations ORC--Standardbred Canada, OHHA, COSA, Racing Commission, tracks--don't exist.

I have a few suggestions as well. If we want to be a major sport, we ought to act like one.

1. Place microphones and cameras around the 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 poles so the betters can see and hear the horses approaching each of these points in the race. Racing is best when you see, hear, feel and smell the track. The feed we get on tv barely gives you one of the senses, sight.
2. Invest in High Definition cameras and a better video feed with multiple angles (like the Brown Jug). I get tired of watching tiny, blurry objects going around a dark track viewed by a camera that is a half mile from the action. The picture/view is so bad we have to watch little colored boxes below the screen to tell what is going on in the race! Can you imagine the National Football League putting out a product where they had only one camera at the top of the stadium and video so blurry you couldn't tell for yourself who had the ball?
3. Publish a simplified program for novices with only a few phrases of information for each horse. Example: "Fastest time this year was 153.4 two weeks ago. Looked strong last week but got parked outside most of the mile. Finally has a good post position."
4. Put multiple nice restaurants and bars all around the track. Everyone loves a patio with a view. It doesn't cost much to put up a long bar, with a bunch of bar stools down by the rail. At the Little Brown Jug, people stand shoulder to shoulder by the rail all around the track. Many modern tracks have grandstands a block away from the track. You don't feel like you are part of the action from so far back.
5. Interview the owners/trainers/drivers before and after the race and play it on the big screen. You think the bettors feel bad about losing? Let them see what it does to us owners/trainers/drivers. This brings a human element to it. Ask some tough questions in the interview. "Why did you let the favorite squeeze in for a pocket trip?" or "Why does your horse always break at the gate?" Ultimate fighting does this so people actually get to know and root for fighters they had never heard of before. Ultimate fighting has people paying $50 a night for pay per views and they, like racing, have a lot of down time between each contest. We can't give it away.
6. Let people back by the barns like they do at the Little Brown Jug. People love racing because they love to be around the horses. Why do we keep them hidden and off limits?
7. Play music between races. The NFL, the NHL and the NBA all play music during time outs to fire up the crowd. Think they know what they are doing?
8. Sell commercials between races. There is normally about 12 minutes between races. Sell a couple of the minutes to sponsors and advertisers.
9. Get people involved by having a site on the internet where trainers can sell shares of yearlings they are going to buy or have bought. Sell shares in tenths, but people can buy as many shares as they like.

If there are 10 owners, then there are ten families coming to the track to watch their horse. Standardbreds are the people's horse. Let's get back to the roots.

The current state of harness racing is in desperate need of some solutions and ideas to deal with current events. What have they been trying to do over the past ten years? The answer is get young people involved with harness racing. My son was one of them at the first harness racing camp for kids at Mohawk. I'll admit, all of the girls and boys had a lot of fun. It was truly worth it. After all was said and done, most of them went back to their cell phones, ipods, computers, etc.

All of these young people will end up in enormous debt while seeking an education in post secondary institutions. Next, young people must have a suitable living style, including transportation, clothing, and communications. Not to mention the cost of extra curricular activities.

My question is: how can Standardbred Canada change the lifestyle of our younger adults and teenagers to have interest in harness racing when no research into development has been done?

Standardbred Canada is asking horsepeople to give 5 percent to the cause that Standardbred Canada is the only business willing to do something about our lack of success in the gaming world.

Ok Standardbred Canada, what research have you done that would change the position of harness racing in terms of gaming money? Meaning: increased revenue for horsepeople and more enjoyable for racing fans.

Where is the proof?
Len Campbell Jr.

People seem to think getting rid of the exotic wager will get people to bet moreand fill the stands Maybe 25 years ago. We now live in the lotto age the life changing betting experience. By all means reduce the take out of the win place show pools.Unfortunatly the time has passed whereby you are entertaining the regular the need for life changing wagers will attract people to the sport, ask anyone in Sweden or Europe. I have asked this question on several occasions with no answer have we approached any of the wagering companies if not contact me and I will put you in touch. As for the 5 percent levy on purses to pay for this plan fine if your making thousands of dollars but if you trying to make a way in the sport it makes a difference. Ask each track ADW carrying Canadian content to contribute half a percent from each card and you have your 11 million withing 6 months guaranteed.

I see that David Menary has jumped on board with the "new plan", stating that he sees it as an investment. All well and good from a trainer who has done quite well for himself and has a healthy income from racing. It's the little owners, breeders, trainers who are wondering how they can afford yet another decrease in purse size. Sure, it may come one way or the other but signing the petition without being fully informed is not going to sit well with many member. Like any other investment, it is prudent to ask questions and to expect satisfactory and reassuring answers. Were those questions asked and answered at the meeting?
The article on SC about the meeting certainly wasn't very informative. If the people at SC want the support of all the members, they had better come up with a better way of communicating ALL of us. Getting to that meeting was not possible for us and the next two are even less viable given the distances. Are these meetings going to be taken to places like London, Windsor, Clinton, Hanover or Sudbury? We live in an age of communication and yet, most of us are still in the dark as to why 5% of the purse accounts are required to fund another marketing plan when there are funds currently available. Why not pool those other accounts and have one, big, effective plan instead of several small, ineffective ones?

Futher to my comments on the disasterous effects of the excotic wager,plan organisers should understand a improtant aspect of betting.Their are 2 types of gamblers the opinion gambler and the non opinion gambler.The opinion gambler bets on his opinion against others betting on football gasmes hockey games.playing poker, betting horses,playing commodity makkets and other forms putting his money on his prediction.The non opinion gambler belives in lady luck,buying lottery tickets,pulling slot machines playing roulette keno or bingo. As a rule men are opinion gamblers and women are non opinion gamblers.That is why the racino is such a success men watch the races andwomen pull the slot machines,of course this a generalisation as the are many excellent women opinion gamblers,and many men like to pull slot machines.If we are to solve the empty grandstand problem we have to understand the problems,it no good signing pettitions mindlessly we have to come up with solutions.

Just a quick comment to Mr Durand's statement regarding accessibility to the meetings. While I agree other forms of communication are vital to the transparency and any steps forward with the development, it was very deflating to see the number of individuals leave the sales pavillion as soon as the sale was over, and not stay for at least some if not all of the meeting. If there is no interest now in the redevelopment of the industry, we will all have lots of free time on our hands in the not so distant future. I took not much away from the meeting, just frustration regarding the push to market the product. The product has to be marketable, and perhaps that needs to be one of the starting points.

Two very good questions from Mr. Wood but I would go a step further and ask why the "feeders" aren't being asked to contribute. There are so many industries/businesses that rely heavily on the racing industry ie--veterinarians, tack shops, feed companies, equipment business, truck and trailer businesses to name but a few. Why just Ontario owners when it is going to affect all of standardbred racing across the country? I realize that it is a "place to start" but can the small owners/trainers/drivers afford to sign over another piece of the ever-diminishing purses when they have already committed to montly expenses that are going the opposite way (as if the HST isn't enough)?
Large sums of money are already alocated to the promotion, marketing and improvement of harness racing, yet, we see venues in Ontario that are an embarrassment and a disgrace to the industry but are allowed to continue year after year as such. Obviously, this is money that is completely wasted. Show us that the current funding is being used wisely and effectively before asking for more.
I hope that the leaders behind this endeavour are monitoring these comments as there have been many that are "spot on". Take these comments to the meetings and answer some of the questions. I wonder if they are going to hold meetings outside of the GTA to get input from those of us who are not within an hour of Toronto. No, I'm not going to the meeting following the sale at Flamboro--can't afford to put another horse in the barn when I have to get ready for another cut to the purses!

In reply to by Lynne Magee

I hope someone has the foresight to record these town hall meeting presentations and put them on Youtube for the benefit of those unable to attend due to location or the fact they may have other commitments ( racing, working, etc ). This would be a positive step into the way things are done in the real world of 2010, virtually everyone interested would have access or at least access to some one who does have access to the internet. Meetings behind closed doors or excluding anyone is one way to ensure this has little chance of success to get the needed people on board to make this project fly. Transparency is laid out to be a cornerstone here, let's learn from OHHA's mistakes that led to their own destruction by a few deciding their view of what was best for everybody without listening to the masses.

I agree completely with Wally Wood's comment. SC is supposed to represent all of Canadian standardbred racing and its horsemen.
Anyone on PEI this week (Old Home Week)would certainly be hard pressed to deny the fan support for the sport in the Maritimes. I dare say some of the major venues anywhere in the country could only wish for these kinds of crowds for their big races. It seems to me Standardbred Canada, given its mandate, should be treating this as a more broadly based issue and not just one limited to Ontario.

To solve racings promlems we must address the issue of wagering,horseracing is all about betting.Racing went into decline with the wholesale introduction of the exotic wager.Firstly it reduced the pools of the win,place and show bets and made them less attractive to bet into,at small tracks you affected the odds with a 20dollar bet,they also with their high take out and huge decrease in the chance of winning cleaned out the bettors and they quit coming to the races.That is why the grandstande are empty.There are a number of downsides to the exotic wager,firstly a newcomer finds them hard to understand,secondly they destroy the fun of watching the race as it is virtually impossible to watch 3 or 4 horses in a race.The handicapping required in an exotic is far greater,many punters dont have the time required.Ironically as wagering dropped tracks introduced more exotics,reducing the size of the bet would help,at Fraser Downs where I race 60 percent of the superfecta bets are 20 cent wagers,if you keep the exotic at least reduce the solution would be to get rid of the exotic entirely

Standardbred Canada and the Ontario racing industry are to be congratulated on finally proposing a positive program for the industry. This sort of thing is long overdue. Before slot revenues became available, there was no money available for marketing as it took all of our resources for survival. When slots were negotiated with the government, there should have been an immediate percentage of the revenue directed to marketing and promotion - an obvious lack of foresight. No consumer oriented product can prosper today without a well planned, strategic marketing scheme. Two rather obvious questions arise in my mind:

1. Why are the proposed monies coming directly from the purse pool rather than a percentage of the total share the industry receives from slot revenue? Are the tracks not obvious recipients of additional revenues generated as a result of marketing, etc.?

2. Why is Standardbred Canada, the national body for the entire harness racing industry, sponsoring a program in the province of Ontario only? The Woodbine pool's success or failure is based upon Canadian wide support. All provinces bet into the Woodbine pool and marketing throughout the country is a must if our industry has any hope of long term survival. I fully realize that Ontario is the only province with significant slot revenue and it is understandable why they should have the major policy input, but I believe there is a lack of foresight in it not becoming a national program. Such a program would be more effective and surely more cost effective.

A number of excellent suggestions can be found in previous messages. I would like to endorse the suggestions made by Howard Nemovitz, especially his fourth point:

4] Lease out the food concessions to "branded" restauranteurs such as Applebys for example, and the inside restaurant to a more upscale restaurant such as The Keg. This would accomplish 3 objectives:
- End the huge losses WEG keeps crying about and instead add leasing revenues to the bottom line
- Bring in the new young fans who frequent these types of restaurants anyway, plus cross promotion potential.
Think about it. Young people can go out to a Keg restaurant and get racing added for free! Cross promotions
will bring the betting component to the table, no pun intended.
- Bring in the Casino players who want to eat at these restaurants. Wouldn't they make a bet while eating??

I am one of those more recent owners in the industry who would entertain family and friends at the track if only there was a decent restaurant - the suggestion of a Keg is an excellent idea - the track owners should be persuaded to go along. We used to go to Flamboro, Mohawk and Woodbine fairly often, with friends and family,for a night at the races. The food was sub-par, but we could eat and bet at the same time and we generally had a good evening out. However, I simply could not justify the exorbitant bills for such poor fare, and we no longer go. Give me a Keg or a similar quality restaurant, and we will be back at the tracks (with friends and family in tow)in a flash.

Getting the twenty-somethings involved in the sport of wagering is essential, and this means attracting them to the venues. Good food, drink and alternative entertainment will go a bit of the way but our sport has to compete with the all-so-popular poker that is the rage for the younger wagerer. that game offers a lot of venues (on-line, tournaments, casinos here and abroad)so how are we going to convince the twenty-somethings to stay at the track and bet. I suggest that an increased payout will help but that will only be part of the answer.

Getting experts to develop the business plan is also essential, whether that be an academic or someone from Bay Street doesn't matter - so long as they ARE expert with a proven track record.

All of this said, this may all be too late. I am afraid that we will NOT have a racing industry in 10-15 years, because we cannot seem to find the common enemy so that we can come together in solidarity to fight against our demise. We blame the tracks or WEG or owners or trainers or the ORC or the food or the weather or the economy - we just cannot come to agreement WHAT IS WRONG!

I hope everyone attends the meetings, and if you have a thought or an opinion, SPEAK UP where and when it counts!

I sure hope they start at Windsor Raceway because that track is the worse facility in North America. The owner of the track does nothing for the customer or racing. We in the clubhouse have no air conditioning, the heat is unbearable, TV's that are 25 years old, no security, and self tote machines that won't except vouchers. But the bottom line is i don't blame the owner of the track it all falls on the ORC because a lot of us have been e-mailing the ORC for a very long time and have had no response. I hope this new plan addresses the situation because it is no secret how much the owner despises racing. Thank You

Yesterday at Woodbine was a sight to behold. It was a regular card of racing on a sultry night and the place was jammed packed. Why?
I think there are several factors that contribute to thoroughbred horseracing excitment, and the 6th race might give us a few clues. The horse that won the race couldn't beat a standardbred at a mile and a sixteenth, as his record so clearly indicated, ergo the 42-1 odds. His name is "Vegas Vinny". The trainer, Audry Cappuccitti, decided to take the blinkers off and cut back to 6 furlongs. The result-a most exciting race where Vinny won by open lengths, paying $97.60 to win. This is just one example of how multiple distance and surface can make a horse race a real "horse race". Thoroughbred payoffs are typically all over the map simply because the outcomes are far less predictable, not to mention the fact that the race card itself is anything but boring. Changing starting/finishing poles is no answer to more exciting racing. Multiple distance racing may just what the doctor ordered.

Another idea that might get the juices flowing is one that NASCAR came up with that is now a cornerstone of the sport - "Lead lap payoffs". I propose we carve up the purse monies as follows: 1st place- 50%
2nd place- 23%
3rd place- 10%
4th place- 07%
5th place- 03%
lead at half- 02%
second at half 01%
*fastest last quarter- 01% *[tie break-the highest order of finish]
hitch fee 6th,7th,8th-01% each
Just think how exciting the races would become. You would probably never see single file racing again and you can bet that the driver on the 30-1 speed horse won't just take a seat at the back of the pack! He'll be challenging the 3-5 shot, I suspect.
Also, all drivers turning for home will most assuredly push their respective charges all the way to and through the wire.

More ideas to come, although I am not quite sure who is actually listening.

Thanks again,
Howard Nemovitz

I agree with Mr. Baker. 1% or 2% of sales registration by both buyer & seller would be better than 5% of the horsemans race purse. I don't think more committees & more wages will make any difference to getting more fans back to the track. Why not use monies from fines & suspensions that the ORC collects from drivers, trainers, owners & grooms. Where does all those monies go to?

The province of Ontario has just announced they will allow online gaming by 2012 so it's my conclusion that any plan or action probably won't be implemented before then as is harness racing's folly we are always behind doing what needs to be done -- in this case at least 10 years behind when action might have resulted in making positive change.

Pat, sorry you feel that way about ol KD I know we are all working hard here to improve everything, safety lane has been done and to spec about 4 months now. Sewage your right we have a problem not parked directly next to track but too near I agree, wish you could help our fight with the township who benefit greatly from the track yet refuse to give us water & sewer lines. My comments were directly about my feelings about the attitudes of horsepeople generally in this area that can't see past next week's condition sheet. Don't want purses raised caused it might attract real competition and therefore better races let alone give up part of the gravy train they have to some group to market their sport -- that's all. I have questions about the proposal as well such as why SC didn't step in to save Quebec racing in the same manner? Why isn't this a country - wide proposal only Ontario, isn't racing dieing out west as well. Should SC and the group proposed have the say in who is hired as marketing agency or consultants or will it be the same as all other ventures by the governing authorities since they hold the purse strings to such a venture I am not sold on the idea since hiring tends to be former employees and friends on more than one occasion. I know at this track there has been considerable effort into marketing and getting new people out and it seems to hopefully being paying off -- we will see. This new "scheme" still has more questions than answers so I look forward to being informed.

August 10, 2010

To whom it concerns,

I am writing in regards to the article “Development & Sustainability Plan” published by Standardbred Canada on August 5th, 2010.

I do not think that it is fair to the horsemen & horsewomen in the standardbred racing industry to have their purse structure reduced to accommodate the implementation of yet another committee to look into the Racing Development & Sustainability Plan.

I have thought about this issue, and in talking with some people in the industry feel that a minimal amount of 1% to 2% should be charged on all horses going through the Ontario Sales Arena from both the seller and buyer. This would be payable upon registration or transfer of ownership of all horses bought or sold. A small fee could also be applied to claimers as well. This money could then be used for the purpose of an added incentive of cash draws for the betting public. There would be sufficient funds gathered over the course on a year to be divided amongst the local provincial tracks to allow each track to offer a nightly draw. Between Standardbred Canada and the Ontario Racing Commission you would be able to divide these monies between the local tracks depending on the number of race dates. Each track then would be able to advertise and offer at least one or more drawings of a non-winning pari-mutuel ticket. These funds would be used for the “Betting Public” that have non-winning tickets in the hopes of attracting more fans to “Live Racing”, and fill up all the empty seats in the grandstands. Who wouldn’t stay around to see if they had a winning ticket and bet on a couple more races?

As I think that Standardbred Canada and the Ontario Racing Commission are being very well paid for their services already, you should not require extra committees.

A local betting patron.

Just a point I thought I would mention when it comes to everyone working for the well-being of the sport. Our organization's mandate has been to bring new owners into the sport of harness racing. As small a part as we play we have probably brought about 75 new owners into harness racing over the last 3 years. Now to be fair most of my owners invest in 5% or less of a purchase. These are the typical life-long fans who are willing to take the next step from just watching and enjoying harness racing to actually getting involved. Is this not what we want to see from our fans? With this in mind I have approached the licensing bodies governing our sport to amend or change the liscensing requirements that would allow owners who have less than 5% of a horse the choice to not have a full license. Keep in mind that one of our groups may have 20 owners. In this case the combined licensing fees including SC/ORC for the individuals and the equivilent liscenses for the stable total $3250. Does this seem right when the ultimate goal is to bring owners into the sport. Would not this $3250 be better spent at the racetrack or in the owners pockets to buy more horses or maybe bring some new friends and family out to see their new horse purchase.

The above example is just one of many that I have come across ( and pointed out to the governing bodies ) that have gone on deaf ears. Although this plan sounds exciting going forward, if we cannot get anyone with some clout to implement the changes than we are simply just wasting more time and money. The plans in the past have not all been bad or wrong but simply lacked any authority to implement the recomendations.

Let's hope this plan does not fall into the same trap. I would hate to take more money out of this sport with zero chance of success from the start.

Harness Racing Canada Inc

Joe R brought tears to my eyes when talking about Greenwood and the older, fun tracks. As far as this new initiative, I have to agree with the posted comments that are questioning why now when so many ideas (an good ones at that) have been ignored. The ORC has dropped the ball when it comes to enforcing the contract with track owner. Many things have been questioned such as the lack of safety lane at Kawartha downs. This man has been getting away with so many things. If Dave Gilders wonders why the people at his local track are saying a big NO he just needs to look around at the facilities. Who wants to go to a track where you can smell the parked sewer truck which stands beside the grandstand (I kid you not people). Marty Adler is right on as are many others. The ORC has not answered one concern that I have voiced. Its all politics.

A Place to Start.....immediately (and free)

It seems to me that given the slots mandate

The Ontario Racing Commission acts in the public interest to govern, direct, control and regulate the horse racing industry in Ontario, including racing in all its forms, the operation of race tracks, licensing of racetracks and racing participants. The ORC must exercise its powers and perform its duties in the public interest and in accordance with the principles of honesty and integrity, and social responsibility. The role and authorities of the ORC are established by the Racing Commission Act, 2000 (Statutes of Ontario 2000, c.20) and its regulations.

The ORC reports to the Ministry of Finance and assists the ministry in its mission to promote a dynamic, innovative and growing economy and to manage the fiscal, financial and related regulatory affairs of the Province of Ontario.

A strong, vibrant horse racing industry founded upon the principles of honesty, integrity and social responsibility.

To ensure effective and efficient oversight of the horse racing industry in Ontario.

Core Values:
Respect, Innovation and Accountability
that we, the horse people participants in this industry should be taking examples from around the world ( protests in Iran come to mind), taking the bull by the horns with our cell phone cameras to thoroughly document the atrocities we all seem to agree are happening at many racetracks in Ontario, which obviously are only interested in the demise of horse racing completely. If Standardbred Canada and OHHA to start with could supply the membership with email addresses of ORC Brass and politicians alike, we posted to youtube exactly how bad these facilities are and demand they be rectified immediately,reminding them of the mission and core values they were entrusted to manage at the same time, basically light a fire under them like they've never seen before, maybe we would begin to see some sort of urgency with their political butts held to the fire rather than studying it for a couple years first hoping it will all go away. Local Television news would also love this sort of thing, let's tell the story as it is, let's get some of the public on our side for a change. Look how fast they got that kid back from Cuba, he sat there for 3 months then when the press got a hold of it, what did it take, a week? Politicians and their appointees are what they are, they will do nothing to change the status quo on anything until forced to. Let's force them. Our future depends on it. If patrons cannot have an enjoyable experience at the track, they won't go !!

The only other comment I will make here I am tentatively on side with Standardbred Canada's new initiative, I want to hear more details upfront about how the money will be spent as opposed to past iniatives, how existing marketing money is presently being spent as it certainly isn't obvious, and how we will get fresh blood into the mix as we have a new generation of customers to entice to our product. I don't necessarily think that the unanimous support of the top 40 money owners from last year means everything, let's hear the opinion of the people who depend solely 100% of revenue earned in this business to feed their families what they think as these are the people affected the most.

Although I know neither personally, two people I would have complete faith in to be a major part of this iniative would be Kelly Spencer from Grand River and Marty Adler from Windsor, they have shown time and time again their love and passion for the industry and I would personally feel quite comfortable following their lead !! Also we need new, young fresh ideas from the very people we are trying to attract.

I know this is only part of it, yet this can be done now as opposed to another year slipping by before the first "action" starts ! Talk,talk,talk,talk,talk Let's do something !!

Geoff Durand

Let me get this straight,your trying to sell a game to the younger generation,where the participants(trainers/drivers) can raise or lower a horse in purse with no bearing on it's past performance!Influence the odds of a race with the placement of their horse!Not only are they allowed to use a tool(whip)to enhance the performance of the horse....they get to bet into the pools(when it best suits them)!!!

Promotion isn't going to save this.The GAME has to CHANGE.

How are you going to compete against one team sports betting!There isn't a sanctioned sport in the world that gives it's participants that kind of carte blanche!

They can hold all the meetings they want and have town hall sessions all over ontario and they will be wasting there time unless they face up to the number one problem facing this game. This game is about gambling not entertainment and they are not willing to face up to that. Why bother wasting your time trying to attract young people and even if you do get them there you won't have them there for long because they will not accept being taken to the cleaners with excessive track takeouts every time they go to the window.

They will quickly go back to sports or poker where they at least have a fighting chance. I have yet to see one single person on this committee step up to the plate and address this issue. Can someone on this committee please explain to me how you hope to long term compete with other forms of gambling if you are not competitive.

I used to be a big player and i can say they can get every single one of these initiative's thru that they have put forth and they have zero chance of getting me back playing the races. However forget every initiative they have put forth but reduce the track takeout to a maximum of 10% in all pools and if i like a horse i am knocking people down running to the windows.

I am all for marketing...don't think the horse owners can afford another 5% cut on top of a 15% purse cut at WEG, a tax increase--13% HST & cost of feed & supplies going up--as a horse owner if I break even in a year I am happy (we do most of the work ourselves on our horses & don't take any money out). Drivers make the most money with the least invested--even trainers have less invested than owners. There needs to be incentives for people to own horses & another 5% cut isn't--however, if the marketing could somehow lead to a greater than 5% increase in business/handle.
Big questions about paying these huge sums to people in the industry to market & Standardbred Canada is first & foremost a record keeping agency--not a marketing company.

It's only a matter of time before the Provicial leaders decide that Harness Racing subsidies are just not valid and take too much from the bottom line AND THEY WOULD BE RIGHT! UNLESS...
We create a new and exciting product geared to the young people. The actual Harness "Race" itself is as exciting as any sport out there today, for all age fans. Therefore, I propose the following changes before we raise the purse takeout. These ideas can be implemented at little or no additional cost, save and except the subsidized bet takeout
and hitch fees.
1] Lower the bet takeout on "straight" bets by 4% (win, place, show). This will bring back the base betters that like the sport, but hate the huge takeout. If WEG won't budge, we may have to subsidize.
2] Institute multiple race distances. This will create new pure excitement at no cost and hopefully bring new pure fans. For the bettors, it certainly increases revenues (just ask the Thoughbred industry). It will also revitalize the breeding sector. For instance, there may be renewed interest in a "speed" producing sire.
3] Pay out hitch fees to all participants, say 1% purse takeout. This may help bring in new owners.
4] Lease out the food concessions to "branded" restauranteurs such as Applebys for example, and the inside restaurant to a more upscale restaurant such as The Keg. This would accomplish 3 objectives:
- End the huge losses WEG keeps crying about and instead add leasing revenues to the bottom line
- Bring in the new young fans who frequent these types of restaurants anyway, plus cross promotion potential.
Think about it. Young people can go out to a Keg restaurant and get racing added for free! Cross promotions
will bring the betting component to the table, no pun intended.
- Bring in the Casino players who want to eat at these restaurants. Wouldn't they make a bet while eating??

These are just a few ideas I've thought about and I am sure I've only scratched the surface. We're not dead yet, but we've got to get a move!
Howard Nemovitz

I find it ironic NOW we need to invest in Marketing the product and promoting and developing new betting platforms? And it will cost about $9M to do so?
I just read an idea about a competition amongst universities and colleges and have them compete to develop a marketing plan; offer them a prize - I can guarantee you will get a lot of great ideas for a lot less than will be put aside to watch crap commercials on only one or two channels. YES people aged 19 to 24 - wow what a concept, the future market of the industry. We already missed one generation !!
Old-timers get the industry and simply want a lower takeout (and we'd like to actually go to a track that resembles a track, not the junk out there currently (except Grand River and Georgian). In fact, half the tracks should be closed and there should be only about 6 of them in total in Ontario (Alberta good luck, Fraser I would be worried if Chuck Keeling has already left the building).
And I agree it should be a plan to reach all of Canada and try to salvage at least Alberta and BC since we lost out on Quebec already.
Take your old school ideas and the cartoon marketing last done and toss them. Pass the torch to those who will help sustain it. And make the tracks somewhere people want to go - clean entertainment, reasonably priced food and beverages.

Gotta agree with Terri...
You can tweak the product / facilities / $$ etc..

BUT can you change society ? Today's culture is immediate gratification and everything
has to be faster. More download speed - faster processors - cell phones that do things
that were unheard of just a few years ago.

Lotteries that pay millions. Football and Hockey betting. On line poker sites.
The competition for today's market is staggering.
You can go online fill out you pro line slips and waddle over to the corner store and place your bets. Waddle back to your lazy boy and watch the games in HD. Pretty easy and it pays a lot better than a $2.10 show bet.
The industry has lost an entire generation and I hope they will come back but I can see a day when we only have the central Ontario tracks left.

I've been to the track for the last 4 Monday's (only because my horse was racing)
and have yet to place a bet. Wagering at the track just does not support the risk / reward necessary to entice me and the industry has lost me to other forms of sports betting.

I don't have any suggestions on how to correct the problems but I do agree with another post that an outside marketing group should be consulted to get some fresh ideas. These marketing
guru's must have demographic studies on what interests today's generation and how to attract them to the races.

We can't change society, but we can change the sport.
Rather than try to tweak the sport for the old guys
we need major over hall of the sport to attract the new guys, without them it's over.


I love the idea of finally putting a serious effort into salvaging Harness Racing, however I totally disagree with the format being proposed. Why have a Committee comprised of:

3-4 Active Directors
1 Racetrack Director
1 Breeder Director
1 Standardbred Canada Management
1 Ontario Racing Commission representative

These people are all from our industry. This will not bring about the change that is necessary and if it did, many changes should have been implimented by now, providing positive results.

Harness Racing as we know it, needs to be blown up, completely destroyed. Than and only than can it be rebuilt. It can't be rebuilt doing the same old same old with the same old same old.

To take 5% of 180,000,000.00 is huge. How to spend that 5% is even bigger. We owe it to the winner of the North America Cup who is going to lose out on $37,500.00 of hard earned dollars once this plan is implimentated. The first thing that needs to be done is to get full agreement on the 5%. Once that has been approved by all major player's I would suggest hiring the smartest peerson available to bring forward a new plan for Harness Racing.

Perhaps Standardbred Canada could get in touch with the Dean of the Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario to assist them in the hiring of an individual capable of rebuilding harness racing into an all new self sufficient business model. Afterall, this is one of the most if not the most respected schools of Business in Canada.

Brian hancox

Congrats to Jody adding his name to this important plan. I ask O'Rourke to clarify is confused comments about a certain irony? Would the same be applied to Campbell, Lachance and so forth?

Maybe detail your own contributions to the everyday racing game before you come up with such ludicrous statements.

Or get yourself a racehorse? Shameful, but not surprising.

As long as the racetracks are the most expensive venues in any given city they will not attract the younger generation. Has anyone purchased a beverage or food item at Mohawk lately ?? THE PRICES ARE RIDICULOUS . . $3 for a bottle of water, $4 for a wiener on a stale COLD bun. $7 for a 16 oz cup of draft beer. Someone in a previous statement mentioned that the slots & tracks were working together to promote the game, at (one track in Ontario) you can't get them to put the races on a TV, when was the last time you saw a slot employee at the races in line making a bet or have a cold beer at the bar ?? NEVER. (The track) has races all winter long with a SUMMER grandstand. The clubhouse is way too expensive to go to on a regular basis.

The Boston Red Sox had trouble putting butts in the seats a while back, they cut the prices of beer & food concessions in half & now the place is sold out on a reg basis.

In reply to by GYoung

even have one night a week where you have a special like buy a program and get something free or make all beverages and food cheaper for instance

beer 2$
hot dog 1.50
sausage 1

It's nice to know there is work being done to improve the current situation of harness racing and I too agree with Pamela's comments.

Standardbred Canada should be representing all members as we all face the same problems, shouldn't the focus be on racing in Canada?

Every Province would benefit from Standardbred Canada creating a Canada wide promotion of our sport. Guidelines of what should be done Provincially to improve wagering and attendance by all race tracks. We would be more united and have a stronger voice if we were to work together.

Individual performance sports, rather than team sports, must be promoted more intensely by management, agencies and voluntary organizations to all media in order to keep the public informed and interested hence attracting new adherents.
Hockey, soccer, basketball, et al; depend upon their 'minor sports leagues' to develop new super stars. The same model for harness horses has been the fair circuits amoung others. Fair racing venues in Ontario have decreased severely over the past 2 dozen years. This alone accounts for fewer spectators at trackside.
The grassroots and gold stakes have helped to produce the star performers for sure. But the dearth of live fair racing has not fostered a sustainable spectator development in recent years. Agricultural fair boards operate with incomes dependant more on car smash up racing and tractor pulls rather than horse racing.

Harness racing is going to die off no matter what anyone does. There are to many ways for people to gamble and entertain themselves without having to leave their home. The industry cannot go back to where it was 25 years ago with the stands full of people. It is a different time and the industry has been left in the dust of new forms of gambling. A lot of people fing going to the track boring. The race is over in less then 2 minutes and then you have to wait until the next one. The younger generation want instant and constant stimulation such as slots and on line gaming not waiting in between races. As the population ages and more of the old time gamblers are no longer with us the handle on horse racing will diminish to nothing. Every dollar that is invested to try to change this will be lost in the end. My reccomendation to the younger generation in racing is to get out and look for a new profession.

I'm sorry but I think Pam is the only one that appears to have the situation well in hand.Please answer the following questions.
1. What other sport participates in the sport and does not get paid. Oh yea! if you win you get monies. But what about all the others who don't win should they not receive a hitching fee or some renumeration for their dedication and daily work.
2.Can you tell me why the 5% should come out of the purse structure? Can it not be the responsibility of the owners of the race courses, after all they stand to make a return on their investment.
3. Can you tell me where all the money is going that the horseman give to OHRIA is going as I understood it was going to improve and market racing in Ontario. Are you aware how much money goes to this organization and they appear to only be working with the 4H clubs.

Do I have an answer mmmm probable not but I think that if the monies that were sent to OHRIa were directed to the marketing plans then the results would surely be more positive.
I have much more to express however, I believe I would be just running on about all the things horsepeople already know
thanks for listining

The contract with OLGC has the tracks commited to promoting harness racing with a portion of their share of the slot money.

That is where you get the money other wise, keep your hand out of the purse pool, you do not know enough of the obligations that are not being met under the present contract with OLGC.

I am as discusted with this approach as I was with Ted Smith announcing when he retired that he would now start to promote Harness racing. Was that not his job before? Standardbred Canada is the registry, and record keeping entity self appointed in Canada.

It has in my opinion erroniously also become the auction company in Ontario. What is next, will you seize the authority to run the tracks?

Where is the ORC / OLGC audits of the promotion expenses from the current tracks? Who is policing the contract that only seems to come up in October when race dates are applied for? There is more to the gaming agreement than 10% here and there.

Time to enforce the entire contract.

If I understand correctly, the proposal on the table would divert $9 million in purse money to a revitalisation committee. It looks like the steering committee will be made up of a cross section of members of the old guard. Already the comments have started: lets get rid of the cheaters, lets reduce takeout, lets make the tracks more customer friendly, lets come up with new wagering ideas - all valid initiatives. And if every initiative were achieved it would only bring back previous participants.
Here is one I haven't seen mentioned. How about finding a way to tap into the very large segment of the public who've never seen or even heard of harness racing. You may have seen them walking around, glued to their cell phones and blackberries etc. They tend to be younger and have disposable income. They also seem to have lots of energy which would make our tired old sport an unlikely destination. I really have no idea how to go about chasing down this demographic and I'm sure this would not be a particular expertise of the steering committee. Quite simply, marketing experts need to be hired with the mandate to reinvent the sport in such a way that the demographic is expanded. If this isn't achieved, I suspect the sport will continue to die, literally one of us at a time.

Not sure how the racing exchange would work so i can't comment on it. A lottery style wager in my opinion is a waste of time doomed to fail. Until the industry catches on and understands if they want to retain customers and get people like me back who bet big money for years they need to get competitive with other forms of gambling that they are now competing with.

I have not bet a race in over a year and will never ever bet another race until the takeout is reduced to a maximum of 10% in all pools. You want big players to bet your product then stop taking them to the cleaners every time they go to the windows. Every ticket they cash they are getting cheated because of excessive take out. The ticket never pays what it should. Until those in a position of power in the industry recognizes this and does something about it all this other stuff is just a waste of time and money. The bottom line is big players want two things, a fair takeout rate and full competitive fields.

I'm a long-time horse owner and breeder. My mares reside in Ontario, and I breed to Ontario stallions. I race at tracks all over Ontario, but home base is Detroit/Windsor(here with Marty Adler). I have a veterinary practice of exclusively Standardbreds.I have watched the deterioration of the tracks with the advent of the casinos. Track owners want to glean the cash from the slots and strip the horsemen of whatever they can.Example; Windsor Raceway has no one selling programs( you have to wait in line at a machine), no outrider( has created numerous dangerous situations with loose horses), and no track kitchen.WR used to be a popular place for thousands of people.Now it is desolate.Dresden and Woodstock still don't have lasix. Dresden's barns and paddock are ridiculous. The ORC is a subservient organization to the track owners, selectively not enforcing its own licensing regulations( requirements for promotions and marketing for example). What is needed is an ORC that is comprised not of political appointees who are in bed with track owners, but people who know the sport and the people involved.Everybody knows the cheats- I'm not talking about people who haven't been found guilty, but suspended people still around. Drug dealers and hidden trainers. We need horsemen's organizations with CLOUT that are willing to take a stand. The slots at tracks need to be SHUT DOWN if contracts aren't in place. As the late Danny Dengel told me, horsemen need to approach the tracks with the attitude that we're 50/50 partners on the slots, that they were installed to save and support horse racing, that decisions will be made jointly between track owners and horseman's associations concerning promotions, track and facility maintenance,etc. We do not need more commitees taking purse money.Go ahead and try some new forms of wagering. Tracks should be constantly on the lookout for new approaches. We need to have facilities that are fun and appealing to attend. Good food options. Clean and nice facilities.Think of successful casinos-they've got a lot of ways to take your money, but if you have fun its ok.Comps, free drinks, cute waitresses/waiters, ACTION ACTION ACTION!We need to put people back in the stands. If I gave you a liquor license, a gambling license and a facility do you think you could make money? I do!

for 30 years ive been a winning horseplayer one of the toughest jobs on earth.i dont believe this can work,i believe weg and other harness outlets have created an image of no creativaty,handicappers selecting the favorites in all races.then giving us stats on why the 3-5 should win,announcer getting excited by 3-5 shots winning and almost making you feel a sense of sadness when they loose,winning like a 3-5 should just announce the race dont put an illusion like you can put your money in the bank and gain small interest let the new gambler think that 30-1 is good not a shocker a totaly ridiculas result,if you watch hong kong or australia the handicappers give you reasons to bet the 30-1 shot,the announcer call them the best when they win easy,poker the boomong form of gambling the anouncers lets you know if you play your cards right you dont need aces to win the hand you need creativity,no 20 year kid with so much gaming out there will be attracted to a sport that has no creativity,a lotery may work in sweeden with high chops but not here,proline you can pik 12 teams with a ridiculas rake big return on your money has generated no interest,we need legit bets with big returns that are somewhat reasonable,the group that would be hired would not understand gaming vegas has real players running the show that understand it

It took this industry to be brought to its knees before it began to see the light, and it is still missing the boat. At industry marketing meetings in the past, this Windsor marketer had no voice, but the answer was simple. I don't attend anymore to listen to verbal diahorrea.
Two points, and two points only as to what needs to be done.
1) A leader, a single voice, a voice with clout.
- THAT looks to be finally in the works
2) Attention to the fan, our market - THE BETTOR.
- that is absolutely NOT happening.

I have answers and I will give you a starting point (I have 12):
Stop giving away $100,000 in purse money on 12 races, at tracks where wagering totals
$7,000, and 100 people are in the stands!

An example of one my 12 rants:
Stop complaining about the cheaters. They will eventually get theirs. Having said that, they all have one thing in common - they will do anything to win; and, gamblers love betting on horses, trained by those who will do anything to win.

More rants? You'll have to wait till I produce my next TV show.

Yours for integrity and transparency,
Marty Adler, Windsor Raceway track announcer, and,
Executive Producer, Great Lakes Television/Woods Advertising
(The company that brought The Little Brown Jug to television)

Not everyone likes harness racing but it is safe to say that most people like the prospect of making money without having to go to work (aka gambling). Maybe we wont get 40 000 people back to the track b/c maybe there arent that many people in a given location that like horse racing that much. Maybe we will get 40 000 people out to the track again if they have to be in attendance to claim a $250 000 carry over on a lottery type quick pick wager that they bought three weeks ago at the corner store for 2 bucks. Were those big crowds everyone talks about years ago b/c people loved horses so much or was it b/c racing was the only prospect in town for making money without having to go to work? We do need to change our wagering b/c other forms of gambling have invented better games for the gambler. Once again, we could take more for the house years ago b/c we had the monopoly on betting - kind of like how Hydro One jacks elec. prices when ever it feels like it. We have been made to respond by competiton and if we dont - yikes! All facets of racing have changed over the years - catch driving, horses that wear minimal equip., lightning speed, training methods - Why cant wagering and product presentation change as well.

By the time all of you brain surgeons stop bashing this idea and dream up your own, (and believe me this is all that it will take) the Ont. govt will have legislated new law allowing slots to ring without live racing and there will be 5 claimers at Mohawk going for 2500 dollars.

They should change their name to StandardbredOntario, What about the rest of Canada? The rest of the country is in turmoil but Ontario must be taken care of, they are the prodical sons of Harness Racing. I would like to know what they have initiated to help the rest of us....funny... their #1 spokesman is a driver whose family went to Ontario for the very same reason that they are now trying to avoid.... Ironic???

Get rid of the fat cats - the ones who sit and get paid to make wrong decisions and go south young man and get the ideas to bring back Canada. What are they doing in the industry south of the border (the world's biggest econ.)

While I applaud the amount of time and thinking that has gone into this project I believe that it is misguided and does not address the issue of who exactly can make the change to our industry that will ensure its survival.
This industry reminds me of the rich kid who never has to worry about where his money is coming from (slots) nor what he may have to do if rich Daddy goes bankrupt. We have become so totally inward looking and out of touch with the fan and bettor base that we think the same people who have reigned over its demise are now going to save us. What nonsense.
If you think that I am going to entrust $9,000,000 a year of purse money to people who couldn’t or wouldn’t solve our problems in the past, think again!
Central to our problems is the quality of the product that we currently try to sell to the public and the bettors. To those of you who are old enough to remember the Edsel the comparison is obvious. Ford introduced a car called the Edsel which had absolutely no appeal to the car buyer – Ford had to shut down the model at a tremendous loss to the company. They wildly misread the market. We in the horse racing industry have not read our customers for years – and we now have an Edsel on our hands! The first step is to change the product so that it appeals to a large segment of the public. Only then do you promote, advertise, invest, etc.
So, what to do? The only people who can make a change are the people who have actually invested MONEY in the industry. They control how the product looks by either investing or not investing. Without them the industry dies. Who are they? They are the horse owners and the track owners. Period. Not Standardbred Canada, not the ORC, not OHHA, not the drivers, not the trainers. Why is the NFL, the NHL, the NBA, MLB a success? The owners run it - not the players, not the trainers, not the coaches.
If SC wants to be effective and “save” the industry it needs to get the investors working together. We don’t need to redirect purse money – we need to have the investors spend their money on the things you mention in your plan. We need better track facilities, we need a fan appealing product, and we need to give the bettors a reason to bet. Nothing stimulates action better than the prospect of improving your return on investment.
You are on the right track - let’s get the people who can make it change on board.
Ken Morden

As a first time horse owner at the age of 48,after spending numerous nights and dollars at the tracks since I was 16,I support this even though I lost thousands of dollars over the last few years with my horse not being very talented.It was still exciting every time he raced and he only won once in that time but words can not describe how proud I felt of him.He is now enjoying life as a saddle horse at the age of 8 as it was just getting harder for him to be competitive even at the lowest level.We gave him to this young girl for free and he and she are just loving it.I am in the works with a partnership to purchase another horse who is well established and can hopefully compete in big money races,which is definetly a step way up for me but the risk is worth the excitement and payoff.Take 5% and another 5% for the diehard fans of this sport(gamblers) because they are so passionate about this game and support it wholeheartedly.
Bring in all the new fans you can for sure but do not lose the old passionate ones either.There is new blood(young people) who have been turned on to this sport,my son included,and they are part of the future of this sport that I love.

Sign me up.I will support anything that might save our sport.J.R.:Half of what you say is true,unfortunately.

It's great to see action, but there is nothing new here. This has all been talked about for years. The industry needs fresh thinking to survive. How will this initiative bring people back to the track? Horse racing, both standardbred and thoroughbred, needs to take the sport back to the people. It needs to get them back trackside and interested in the people and the horses of the sport. Restructuring wagering and new 'race products' is just moving deck chairs around on the Titanic.

Anything we can do to promote racing should be done. Just waiting anxiously to see if Ontario owners, trainers and drivers will relinquish the 5% from "their" purse pool to fund the effort. I'm guessing by the feedback I'm already hearing around our local track that would be a big NO. Too bad really most have trouble seeing beyond next week let alone a few years down the road. My only regret is as a previous poster said this is not time to be tinkering or making slight adjustments to the product and it's presentation, the time for that was at least 10 years ago. A wholesale change in attitude by people earning their living in the sport is what is needed. Don't know if another group or committee can accomplish this and since I am not currently a horseperson will not sign the petition since it's not my purse account however I am ready ,willing and able to help the cause in anyway I can, just call me.

I would love to add my humble opinion to what is wrong in both standardbred and thoroughbred racing, not only here in Canada but also in the US. It's simple. The track does not feel like the track anymore. I am 47 years old. I have been going to racing at Woodbine, Greenwood,the old Mohawk, Orangeville, Barrie Raceway etc. etc. for over 35 years. Back in those days going to the track was a great and fun experience and you could make a few bucks wagering too because you weren't betting a race every 30 seconds like is the case bnow due to all the simulcasting. I used to love going to the track, getting up close to the horses and drivers and jockeys who always had a comment to share. It used to be so much fun going to Greenwood and crossing over the path where the horses come by and seeing Doug Brown or Steve Condren or the gass man Reggie or Mike Saftic etc. It was great to have the great Cam Fella walk right by you.In the summer during the OSS I used to go grab a sausage at the barbecues of which there were many and watch the racing. There were plenty of tellers and us bettors would discuss our selections while in the line up and yelling at the guy at the front of the line to hurry up. Now there are barely only tellers and they are really only there to sell you a voucher so you can got a machine somewhere.We used to hang out in small groups and many of us got to know each other each near our own TV monitor that used to hang from the ceiling. That has all changed.
Now you walk into the track and what do you get? A million wall to wall tv's showing tracks that nobody really even cares about. I mean c'mon who really cares or wants to bet on Northfiled, Mountaineer,Vernon Downs, Balmoral, Emerald Isle and on and on. All we really need is tww or 3 good prgrams like perhaps Woodbine harness, Meadowlands and maybe one more smaller track like Georgian Downs or Kawartha Downs. At least in those cases we don't mind an extra track if it's Canadian and we are supporting our guys and we know and recognize those drivers and trainers. It's always great looking at Kawartha and seeing Douggie Brown or Reggie or Tony Kerwood. At least we know who these guys are and we are supporting our product.
On the thoroughbred side all we need to see is Woodbine and maybe Belmont or Gulfstream
and Fort Erie. we don't need Sam Houston, Penn National, Arlington, Australia etc. etc. Who cares?
The tracks have become Las Vegas instead of tracks. The tracks are no longer for horse lovers they are for die hard gamblers who will bet on anything.
At Woodbine the desgin of the track indoors and out is brutal. Why did they go 7/8ths and not a one mile track. Harness tracks should be either one mile or 5/8ths. Not 7/8s which simply produces races with absolutely no flow and are boring as hell to watch.
On the inside from the main level getting outside is a challenge. You can barely find the doors to the grandstands and all the glass and ridiculous desks in front of the seats make it horrible. You can barely get near the horses or jockeys.
Internet betting was a terrible idea. All that does is take people away from the track. I have some wonderful memories of being at the track. The internet can never replace that and it is slow at best. And why do we need a million online tracks to bet? Again who cares about Yapawei Downs, Los Alamitos, Australia, Esprie D'Isle,Charlestown . You can't even bet $20 on these races without killing the odds.
The solution is simple.
1) get rid of the cheaters, drug users, and force drivers to actually race not parade around single file.
2) Bring back the fun and camaraderie of being at a track (ie. make hosres and drivers/jockeys more accesible,bring back the outdoor barbecues etc.)
3) reconfigure Woodbine and mohawk to one mile or 5/8ths mile tracks. Will make for much better racing.
4) Get rid of the casinos. I know this is not a popular idea but could the casinos not be somewhere else with funds funnelled into horse racing? Tracks should be for horse lovers and the fans need to come back.

I know these ideas won't completely solve racings problems. But at least they will go a long way. At one time going to the track was fun. Now it seems it's simply all about them finding different and boring ways to take my cash. Sorry not interested.



In reply to by fantom


This is a great initiative for Ontario but maybe there is an opportunity for the experience to rub off on the rest of Canada. Perhaps the steering committee can have ad-hoc membership from the other regions. These would be people actively involved in the management side of the business, not necessarily SC Directors, and they would participate as observers with no active role in discussions unless invited for comment.

Harness racing only survives when people bet on our product. As long as Woodbine Entertainment controls what people bet on our product is in trouble.every night look what hpi offers for people to bet on. 3/4 of it is american product. we need our betting dollar to stay with the canadian product. Perfect example jody jamison has 10 drives at woodstock on a saturday afternoon. The only way i can bet jody that day is drive to woodstock. hpi tells me i must bet on american products that day woodstock not on the list. hpi is here for people to bet on horseracing in the comfort of our homes. This is great but our product only gets wagered on when woodbine allows it. until this gets changed our product will always be in trouble mainly at the small tracks.Until this gets addressed this will always be a problem.

Congratulations Jody and Standardbred Canada for an agressive and common sense initiative. Will this get support of some track operators who are so content with slots profits, that there little or no concern/respect for the racing fan. Unless these operators pitch in, all efforts will be in vain in some markets.