Help preserve racing and breeding in Ontario

by | 06.22.2012 | 11:36am

On Sunday, the attention of millions of Canadians and racing fans throughout North America turns to the Queen's Plate, a time-honored race for 3-year-olds bred in Canada that will be having its 153rd running. It is an outstanding day of racing that on many occasions has attracted members of Britain's Royal Family, including Queen Elizabeth and the late Queen Mother, both of them extraordinarily knowledgeable and enthusiastic participants in this great sport.

Queen's Plate Day is normally a celebration for everyone within the industry, but in light of the Ontario government's recent move to end the partnership between racing and gaming, specifically the slots at racetracks program, this year's renewal will be bittersweet. Executives at Woodbine Entertainment said its very future is in serious jeopardy.

Horseman Dennis Mills is a former member of parliament who also served in high-profile positions with racetrack owner and Eclipse Award-winning owner and breeder Frank Stronach. Mills is one of many who is not yet willing to wave the white flag, and he has launched a new initiative called

The site is a valuable resource for those who want to better understand the importance of Ontario's horse industry and what impact the Ontario government's actions will have on the tens of thousands of people who work in racing and breeding. But it is also a call to action, providing a list of members of parliament, complete with contact information.

I encourage everyone, not just those who know the words to “O Canada,” to visit the website and help ensure Canadian racing and breeding's future.


    thank you for sharing this with your readers

  • This is a serious situation both for horses and Horseman Ray the link didn’t work maybe there server crashed today?

  • RayPaulick

    Link is working for me right now. 

  • Lisa Wintermote

    Great website. Canada is a beautiful place to race and has a long history of producing talented racehorses that I would hate to see end. Dennis Mills is a very powerful and charismatic speaker. He is passionate about Racing and eloquent in its defense. We could use more like him.

  • railbirdpete

    Hi Ray…Site is down 11 AM Sat…

    Thanks for all/any help in setting this moronic McGuinty Liberal provincial government straight…They have NO IDEA what they are doing to our horse industry in Ontario.  It’s criminal !!

    Ridgeway, Ont

  • ManuelB

    If Woodbine doesn’t want to stage the Queen’s Plate perhaps Hastings Park or Assinoboia Downs would. The race is for CANADIAN breds, not Ontario breds.

  • wallyhorse

    This is a well done site that hopefully (though I doubt it without a huge groundswell) will help in explaining the plight of Canadian racing right now.   

  • wallyhorse

    Would Hastings be able to offer the $1,000,000 purse necessary for it.  Also, would trainers want to go in a three-turn, 1 1/4 Mile event?

  • wallyhorse

    Sorry, I think that would actually be a four-turn event.

  • wallyhorse

    Unfortunately, you are dealing with people who have no clue about racing and are only looking at the purse supplements.

  • Ahorsepainter

     Rumour has it Hastings Park is all done too. The point is the Ontario Liberal Government is disseminating an industry that put billions of dollars toward healthcare and education, and will be putting thousands of mostly rural Ontarians on welfare or EI. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Why is it Godfrey’s buddy (Tannebaum) bought up most of the bingo halls and now the OLG is putting in pulltab slots in them for starters. Can you say “Conflict of Interest and back door corruption?!”.

  • The tactics used by the Ontario Liberal Party really sickened me.  Calling it a subsidy and pitting it against health care and education.  The reality is that it is a business partnership and both partners needed each other to get it going.  This arrangement has been the blueprint for all other slots deals in the US because of its success.  As for pitting the revenues the tracks and horsemen get from slots, it is the goal of the OLG (a Crown Corp.)  to privatize slots.  What that means is the most of profits, if not all of them will go to private operators instead of the racing industry and NOT to health care and education.
    As for calling it a subsidy, in Ontario public sector workers make close to 30-40% more than private sector workers doing similar jobs when factoring in benefits (there is something called the Sunshine List, government workers who make over 100k a year, and it grows in leaps and bounds each year. In 2011, over 70,000 people were on the list).  The Ontario taxpayer is subsidizing these overpaid individuals big time, yet the government is looking at wiping out the livelihood of those involved in the racing industry, many who make net incomes of 20k-50k.

  • Jay Robbins, in case you missed it all day.

  • wizard123

    four turn event??…..on a bullring….them horses would be mighty dizzy by the end, let alone the pinhead jockey’s….

  • wallyhorse

    The problem is, many of these people in government probably look at Horse Racing as a “rich person’s game,” not understanding or refusing to understand that there is an entire industry that could be wiped out and never brought back.  Unfortunately, you are likely dealing with people who are likely very hard headed and refuse to listen.

  • tfly

    As one who spent about a qtr. of a century (1950’s-1980’s) as a fan of Ontario TB racing, i am disgusted with the gov’t’s decision, as well as that of the TB industry ‘leaders’.  In regards to the latter- where was the outcry when beautiful Fort Erie was too inconvenient for the August A meet?  You know, when the Woodbine horsepeople decided going to the Fort was too much of a hassle?  That decision illustrates the shortsighted leadership which brings us to this crises.  By eliminating the August meet, the fan base was narrowed, excitement and publicity eliminated, markets ignored.  Now the entire industry is in peril, and unfortunately, the majority of the entire industry is really Woodbine. You got what you sowed.   Unfortunately, everyone now is going to suffer from it.

  • Tinky

    What you recount is a microcosm of the broader North American Thoroughbred industry. Like countless others, my real passion for racing was ignited at Hialeah. I saw Forego win the Widener, and spent many wonderful mornings watching the best horses from the best stables train.

    And while I am certainly no apologist for John Brunetti, it was the industry, ultimately, that allowed such an important venue to disappear.

    That is but one example…

  • Convene

     A huge part of the profits will go to one of this country’s biggest projects: the surrogate daddy program. 40% and growing is the volume of out-of-wedlock babies, all taxpayer-supported at a standard of living we working poor would love to have! No wonder the province is broke! I saw an interview with Drummond today on the Queens Plate show where he said Ontario has too many racetracks. 1/4 of the country’s tracks, he said. We have TWO! All the rest are harness tracks – and Woodbine does double-duty and accommodates both. Since when is two tracks too many? Lumping both types of racing together like that is like saying we have too many sports and eliminating all of ’em . Hockey isn’t football isn’t soccer – and thoroughbred racing isn’t harness racing either. Don Drummond thinks that because he wants something to be true, it is – and to heck with the truth. After all, it isn’t HIS job that will be gone (unfortunately?). I think the most secure jobs up here will be in social services and the corrections system, neither of which is nearly as interesting as racing – or makes you feel as good!

  • Dick

    Its quite incredible that an Ontario government that claims it is in serious financial difficulty (15 billion in debt) would arbitrarily cut off and destroy a 14 year partnership with the Horse racing industry that in 2011 alone contributed over 1.5 billion (10% of the outstanding debt) to its treasury and has presented no clear business plan or alternative to replace those losses.
    Also resident economists have suggested the multiplier consequences of the decision will will not only directly impact the lives of the 55,000 people employed in the horse racing  industry in Ontario, reducing their incomes by over 30%, but will have a much larger negative impact on the province of $6.800.000.000. Where is the Ministry of Finance in all of this? Where are the facts? Where is the business plan that supports this decision? The fiscal and financial dynamics of the government’s decision and motivation are all a very large mystery to the people of Ontario and are daily becoming more and more mysterious. 

  • Yschwabe

    This couldn’t be more true!!!

  • ycs

    The Ontario Taxpayer will be subsidizing 55,000 people who will sooon be out of work if something doesn’t change and quickly!  We have yearling sales in September.

  • TR10

    Quick question from someone who doesn’t follow Canadian racing / doesn’t find it particularly interesting, but is a fan of the sport in general…

    I notice that Woodbine’s overnight purses are quite large right now, and the Canadian Stakes committee seems to add like 10 new graded stakes races per year.  Wouldn’t it be possible for them to cut purses down to a reasonable level (considering the quality of race horse that actually runs in these races) in an effort to plan for the future? It seems to me like they would attract big fields on the polytrack anyway, even if purses take a slight hit.

  •  The increase in number of Graded stakes in Canada is the result of the ever increasing quality of horses competing in them.

    Steven Crist has written about the quality and stringency used when determining grades by the Canadian Graded Stakes Committee. 

    Otherwise, you’re right. A slight decrease in prize money would probably be OK.

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