WEG Pitches Guaranteed Starter Bonus

Published: December 22, 2010 02:54 pm EST

In a notice to the industry, the Ontario Racing Commission has announced that the Woodbine Entertainment Group is looking to implement a pilot program which would see horses that fail to earn a purse cheque in their race receive a 'guaranteed starter bonus.'

The contents of the ORC notice appears below, followed by a link to an official copy of the release which contains a letter by WEG Executive VP of Racing Jamie Martin explaining the proposed program.


WEG application for Guaranteed Starter Bonus program circulated for comment

The Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) is circulating an application from Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) to implement a Guaranteed Starter Bonus program as a pilot project for the 2011 Woodbine Winter/Spring meet.

The application will be considered within the framework of the Ontario Racing Program -
2011. A copy of the WEG letter is attached.

Input, comments or concerns must be received by 12 noon December 31, 2010 to be considered and can be forwarded to the Ontario Racing Commission as follows:

Facsimile: (416) 213-7827
E-Mail: [email protected]
Mail: ORC, Suite 400, 10 Carlson Court, Toronto, ON M9W 6L2

John L. Blakney
Executive Director


To view the release in its entirety, click here.

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Dan Fraleigh has a good idea.Otherwise can I send up my 2000 claimer to race in the 10000 claimer there and I will at least break even or make a few bucks.

At a time where other tracks are suffering and/or closing it amazes me that woodbine has enough money to pay people for not getting a cheque.

Secondly it was just a couple of months ago that the ORC was going to take a percentage of all the purse money in order to delovope a statergy to keep harness racing viable in the furure.

ssems to me like they are going to take thier money and give it right back to them

Great idea!! This program should be extended to all tracks--A or B tracks.
Horses are entered where the trainer thinks the horse can handle surface and class qualifications. Racing still costs horse owners training,vet and trucking bills. This would off-set some of the costs. If the horse has shown he has raced competative--incentive should be given. Like some have commented in their comments--some might use this as a training just to get money--then the judges should see this.

Now if they would only do a pilot program to give something back to the customers/gamblers. Just a thought that pops into my head is reduce the track takeout to a maximum of 10% in every pool so they are competitive with other forms of gambling like sports and poker. That type of pilot program would entice some very big ex horse players such as myself to start playing the ponies again. All this guaranteed starter bonus accomplishes is, it just guarantees someone like me will continue to spend my gambling dollars at the poker tables and betting on sports. I guess the other thing it would guarantee is owners getting a small payday despite the fact there horse turned in a poor performance. Yes nothing like doing something for the fan base, horses can know drop a line of there card so they can drop in class and get paid to do it. Once again another brilliant idea put forth by the racing industry.

To whom it may concern:

I have pondered this "idea" myself as a means of making the racing industry more competitive. My thoughts were more in line with a performance "reward" rather than a "starter" reward.

For example: Every horse that finishes out of the top five but does race time within one second or less (or five lengths or less) of the winner would receive their performance "reward". This would encourage horseman/horsewoman not only to enter their horses but have them race competitively in the class they are entered in.

I would call it the "FIVE and FIVE program". Obviously some horses will not finish with five lengths - too bad.

However, I would increase the bonus to those that do finish within the five length margin to FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS.

I think this would satisfy those who think the program will be just "used" and WILL result in the thrilling blanket finishes that the bettors are looking for.....

Best of luck with this program!

Dan Fraleigh

A long-time racing fan and a member of Standardbred Canada.

As a better I think if they are going to pay 5 or 6 horses for finishing from 5 to 15 lenghts behind the winner (because they didn't belong there in the first place) then They should pay back the Betters for driving to the track or otb for betting these horses,(Don't You Think)?? Say nobody showed up at the track or otb for only one day, how will they pay the horses that finished 1st to tenth? I agree that it must be expensive to own & train horses and try to keep them racing but that is the path they chose, I worked in a plant all My Life and I cannot afford to buy horses. They get paid for what they do in the race, WIN, PLACE OR SHOW and 4rth & fifth at the WEG, They are very well paid. "Have more honest" races and maybe some "old betters" will be back. Somebody that owns 7-15 or more horses does not need The Betting Public to pay Their gas, Our Govenment does and it is included in their training bill. We are already paying for the mistakes made in a race, breaks, couldn't keep up to the gate, using the horse for 1/4 of a mile and its done for the rest of the race, the judges went out for a breath of fresh air, come back in, have a look at the photos and They decide if every thing went OK then the race is made official. Every gets their pay for the night exept the betting Public. "My horse broke, "sorry" bet the next race please and Thank You. MERRY CHRISTMAS! RACEFANS.

This has nothing to do with the bettors, drivers, Trainers or Grooms. This has only has do with the owners something to do with shareing the wealth. The cost of racing a horse today is more than $300 and $300 is not enough. You cannot race a horse in a race if you are not qualified for that race. This will help stop the scratches for the reason you have drawn outside and do not wish to work for 8 hours and pay out of your pocket to get there and have no chance of making money. This has been along time coming and should have been done a long time ago. There are alot of empty stalls out there and it all has to do with cost. It is time that we woke up and started sharing the found slot money that has made alot of people rich.
Thank You
P.O.Christie

Nothing wrong with this imo. It's going to the owner to help cover costs....the trainer or driver does not gain by this. It's up to the race secretary to make SURE they do not accept non competitive entries just to "fill" the race. Maybe have an also eligible claimer for most class's to try to make sure they have competitive fields. One change I think they should make along with this is up the winners share to 1st-60% 2nd-20% 3rd-10% 4th & 5th 5% then have your "starter bonus" amount based on what class it is also. Time to reward winners & stop the "milking" of class's!

Lets see slot revenue subsidy for the Owners/Trainers/Drivers. Now another non performance subsidy. Not a thing for the alleged customer the betters!!

Carmin,four times 300-500 is a nice 2thousand bucks a month.I don't think anyone would stiff but if i had a horse that needed a few prep races,why not load him up on a trailer with another trainers horse and have it jog around the track!

The reason a lot of trainers don't bring their horses to Woodbine is because of the layout of the track.WEG,two meets ago moved the start line in about 10 race dates to see if it would make a difference,then realized they didn't move the start line close enough to the turn, so what did they do,they raced a "entire" meet with out doing anything then decided to try a "one race experiment" on the "last night" of second meet,moving the start line even closer.Their calculations weren't even close the first meet,they were AT LEAST 100 feet INCORRECT!

Don't try to evolve the game,just keep throwing good money after bad.

Wow. Do you people realize that the Thoroughbreds have been doing this for years? Have you any idea how much it costs to race a horse these days, and do you actually think that a trainer is going to tell a driver to stiff his horse just because the owner is still going to collect $300 for the race. It is an attempt to create more full fields, and I think it will work, which is apparently what the bettors want, and will definitely increase the handle. Everyone squaks when they see a 6 horse open pace go behind the gate, and the favourite gets it all his own way on the front end. It is a horrible product when you only have 6-7 horse fields. The idea is to start attracting back some of the horses that WEG has lost to places like Georgian Downs and Western Fair, and I think it will work.

Mr Turner do you think that the race secretary will take this 10000.00 dollar trotters entry in that class..........come on

As a bettor, I think this is a horrible idea. In fact, I have long felt that the fourth and fifth horses should not get cheques. The interests of the race participants should be as closely aligned with those of the bettors as possible. Remember: nothing happens until a bet is placed!

To Mr. Fitzgerald, you have just hit the nail right on the head and this is why the race game is going the way of the dinosaur. They can come up with all kinds of clever little ways to try and correct problems as long as it does not involve doing anything that may give the customer/gambler a break.

My comment is directed to Carlo, and others that share his opinion.

Are you aware of the starter fee the runners already garner at Woodbine? Are you also aware of the handle that the runners pulled in this year?

Perhaps everyone with concerns should get a little more of the picture.

This if anything begins to level the playing ground for the Standardbreds.

If this is what it will take to get full fields and increase the handle, have at it. (but dropping the take out will be supported by the real bettors also).

It is nice to see that someone has thought of the time, effort and expense it takes to race a horse or mare at various tracks in Ontario and there is the guarantee of some money to cover the expenses of gas, shipping, labour and etc. It is not nice to drive 2 hours or more to race a horse after getting assigned a bad post position then have some bad racing luck to come away with no money. It would have no effect on the integrity of the business and only help those who did not get a purse cheque to offset some of their cost. The thought of someone just entering a horse to get a minimal payment is not realistic, as we all know we want to earn as much as we can and be as competative as we can be to get the recognition that we deserve for our time and efforts. I think this is a great idea and it would help bring more people into the industry knowing that they would get some money to cover the monthly cost of owning a standardbred racehorse.

One of the major problems which I believe has been overlooked are horses which will enter to basically go a training mile for $300. Let's say if you own a 10k claiming trotter and he doesn't get in at your local track, why not put him into race in the preffered trot a woodbine which usually only has 7 at the most you know you are guaranteed 300 and if a couple of them break stride you get 1500 plus, you know you have no chance to win, but why not go and get paid 300?

WEG won't even consider dropping the takeout but see nothing wrong with taking $1.09 million of bettor's money and giving it to horses that finish last. And the ORC is considering it. Why am I not surprised?

Just what the bettor wants to see more incentive not to be competitive! A reward for being last, come on join the real world where people do not get paid for non performance!