Most recently Ontario has entered a new lockdown stage resulting in the suspension of the Standardbred horse racing events in the province. In light of that Ontario, Racing has informed that there are still some funds available under the Funding Agreement with Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation which will be used as benefit payments for the affected participants in the currently canceled races.
The horse racing industry is enduring its toughest spells in a long time with the constant lockdown restrictions and changes that might have a negative impact on the long-term sustainability of the sport. As the provincial government issued 28-day-stay-at-home order races at the province’s tracks have been put on hold for an indefinite timeframe.
John Hayes, head of the horse racing regulator spoke on the subject of the financial support for horsepeople in the province. He stated that Ontario Racing is more than happy to provide the benefit payments since horse racing has been cruelly scarred by the unprecedented situation. The live harness regulator puts the wellbeing of the industry and its thousands of workers in the first place and it is devoted to assisting and supporting them in such times.
Eligibility requirements for the horses have also been revealed. Horses and horsepeople that were scheduled to race on Saturday, April 3, 2021, and Sunday, April 4, 2021, at certain race tracks will receive a one-time payment of CA$300. The events in question were drawn for Woodbine Mohawk Park, Western Fair, and Rideau Carleton.
There will also be benefit payments for the month of April, accumulating to CA$1,000. Eligible candidates must be stabled in Ontario with a charted line in the province in 2021 and not currently participating in out-of-the-province events or training exercises. The live harness leader stated that in this case application will be unnecessary.
The second requirement states that all unraced in 2021 3 and 4-year-old horses will also be granted $1,000 in relief funding. Additionally, horses that have started in Ontario between September 1 and December 23, 2020, and were stabled and remained in the province until December 23 will also be eligible for the benefit payments. In order for the horses to receive the funding they must remain in Ontario for the whole month and their first start must be in the province.
Woodbine Entertainment’s Position
Woodbine Entertainment continues to seek renewal of the live harness season after the news of the most recent lockdown rules. The horse racing leader has sent of formal letter of request to the Mayor of Milton Gordon Krantz to discuss the future of the industry. The company stated that the sport has been greatly hurt by the unprecedented situation and races should be restarted after the expiry of the order in order to avoid potential damage to the industry’s welfare.
Due to the new 28-day-stay-at-home directive, the gaming leader has shut down its Ontario horse racing properties. Woodbine Mohawk Park has put training exercises to an end, and Woodbine Race Track in Etobicoke has been closed down as well. As things stand it remains unknown whether the facilities will start working once the order is lifted on May 6.
Source: “Equine Benefit Payments Now Available”, Standardbred Canada, April 12, 2021