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Racetrack magnate Jeff Gural hates dishonesty. Once you know that, it’s easy to understand why the man who spent more than $100 million to build a new grandstand at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey said he was “really angry” with Standardbred trainer Corey Johnson. Both horses Johnson raced in the Breeders Crown at the Meadowlands in November of 2014 — including Traceur Hanover, the winner of the 2-year-old colt pace — later tested positive for cobalt. The lab in Hong Kong Gural personally employed to do the testing reported each horse had five times the threshold level of cobalt typically found in a horse’s system. Gural, 72, also was irked that the New Jersey Racing Commission had allowed Johnson to race in the Breeders Crown in the first place. The Ontario Racing Commission suspended the trainer on the Monday before the Crown finals after another horse he trained received a positive test for elevated total carbon dioxide (TC02) levels at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto. “The guy embarrassed the sport,” said Gural, who maintains a sizeable list of trainers banned from racing at the Meadowlands as well as the two smaller harness tracks he also owns in upstate New York — Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs. Yet, Gural couldn’t bar Johnson’s Crown entries because the Breeders Crown is operated by the Hambletonian Society, which defers to the sport’s state and provincial regulators to determine a participant’s eligibility. The New Jersey Racing Commission allowed Johnson to race because the trainer had not had a hearing in Ontario prior to the Crown finals. After the cobalt positive, Gural not only banned Johnson from racing at his tracks, he also banned entries from Quebec-based owner Richard Berthiaume, the owner of both of Johnson’s Breeders Crown entries. “We’ve now made changes to our rules so that can never happen again,” Gural said, explaining the language in those rules is so broad that the track will now be able to reject entries for all stakes races at his tracks, even those operated by outside groups. The Breeders Crown will return to the Meadowlands in 2016. Gural is puzzled why people in horse racing call him a polarizing figure. To read the extensive full article written by Dave Briggs click here. Dave Briggs is the co-editor of Canadian Thoroughbred magazine and a freelance horse racing columnist and features writer. For 18 years, he was the editor of the harness racing trade publication The Canadian Sportsman.

Standardbred Improvement Program participants are reminded of the importance of enrolling their mares in the harness racing Ontario Resident Mare Program this year. The following incentives especially benefit ONTARO BRED foals: SBOA $12M Breeders Reward Enhancement  Only Ontario Sired foals out of mares enrolled in and meeting the requirements of the Ontario Resident Mare Program, will be eligible to earn a share of the $12M enhancement funding through the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association (SBOA). Further details of this Breeders Rewards enhancement for foals that are BOTH Ontario Sired and Ontario Bred are available on the SBOA website. $2M Owners’ Bonus starting in 2017 Foals of 2015 will be eligible to earn a portion of the new $2M Owners’ Bonus based on their overnight earnings as 2 and 3-year-olds. This Standardbred Improvement Program bonus, which was announced in January, will begin in 2017 and is available to owners of foals that are Ontario Sired OR Ontario Bred. However, if a foal is both Ontario Sired AND Ontario Bred they will receive double the bonus. Although it will be paid to the owners of eligible foals rather than the mare owners, it is anticipated that this bonus will increase the value of Ontario Bred foals. These incentives are, of course, in addition to the Ontario Bred Rewards which have been in effect since 2011 and amount to 15% of OSS earnings plus 15% of earnings in selected Open Stakes in Ontario. Ontario Bred Rewards are paid to the person who enrolled the mare in the Program. Mares may be enrolled in the Ontario Resident Mare Program for a fee of $50 before they foal or $300 after they have foaled (up to September 1st). The mare must be resident in the province of Ontario at the time of enrolment and must remain in the province for 180 days surrounding foaling in Ontario. All forms are available on the new OHR website www.ontariohorseracing.ca by clicking “Breeding Programs” and then “Standardbred Improvement Program”. For further information: Karen Hauver Ontario Horse Racing (519) 369-3545 Walter Parkinson SBOA (519) 227-4294 Robin McClure Standardbred Canada (905) 858-3060

The Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) announced that it will begin working with the horse racing industry to develop a practical and appropriate response to the testing for cobalt. The ORC plans to move in a timely manner through its existing Out-of-Competition Testing (OCT) Program. It is noted that the addition of a cobalt threshold would be communicated to the industry prior to implementation. Out-of-Competition testing of cobalt Ontario Racing Commission  

The allocation of standardbred horse people's share of the Pari-Mutuel Tax Reduction (PMTR) funds will be revised, following a request from the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA). At its February meeting, the Board of the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) approved the revision which had received unanimous support from the OHRIA Board and the endorsement from each President of the four horse people associations. ORC approves revised allocation of horse people’s share of PMTR  The allocation of standardbred horse people’s share of the Pari-Mutuel Tax Reduction (PMTR) funds will be revised, following a request from the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA). At its February meeting, the Board of the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) approved the revision which had received unanimous support from the OHRIA Board and the endorsement from each President of the four horse people associations. The standardbred horse people’s 0.4 % of the PMTR will be reallocated as follows: 60 % - to the horse people’s RRSP program 40 % - to province-wide Marketing programs By way of this Notice to Industry, ORC licensed racetracks are advised that the horse people’s allocation will be directed to the respective association on a monthly basis and forwarded in accordance with the current MOU and Business Plan (or any future agreement that replaces the existing MOU). In a July 2014 Notice to the Industry, the ORC announced a new structure setting out the allocation of funds from the Pari-Mutuel Tax Reduction. Steve Lehman Executive Director and CEO  

The Ontario Racing Commission has released the following Ruling which is accessible at the link below: COM SB 003/2015 in the matter of the appeal of Keith Cassell http://www.canlii.org/en/on/onrc Jacinth E. Chang Alloy Executive Assistant Ontario Racing Commission

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has been notified of a confirmed case of Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy (EHM), caused by equine herpes virus 1 (EHV-1), in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. The text of the Notice is pasted below. The Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) has determined that this case does not involve a racehorse. However, due to the infectious nature of this virus, the ORC urges participants to take appropriate steps when such cases are reported. Outbreaks of neurological EHV-1 are contagious and have a significant risk of mortality. ANYTHING that touches an infected horse or carries secretions or manure from sick horses has the potential to transfer pathogens to other horses. The horse owner voluntarily placed the premises under a self-imposed quarantine to reduce the risk of viral spread. To date, there have been no further reports of equine illness on the farm. In 2014, there was one laboratory-confirmed case of EHM in Ontario due to the non-neuropathogenic strain. This is the first case diagnosed in Ontario this year; however, cases of EHM have been diagnosed in Texas, Virginia, Minnesota and New Jersey this month. EHV-1 infection in horses can cause respiratory disease, abortion, neonatal foal death, and/or neurological disease. EHV-1 is not a federally reportable disease but is immediately notifiable by laboratories under the reporting regulation of the provincial Animal Health Act. Attending veterinarians suspicious of EHM should contact OMAFRA as soon as possible. Because infected horses may show no clinical signs, but still shed the virus, the temperature of suspect animals should be monitored twice daily for 14 -21 days and any abnormalities discussed with a veterinarian. Neurological signs, if they develop, may include loss or balance, hind-limb weakness, recumbency, difficulty urinating, decreased tail tone and depression. It is important that a veterinarian assess suspect cases of EHM since it can be difficult to distinguish this from other serious neurological diseases, such as rabies. EHV-1 is easily spread by nose-to-nose or close contact with an infectious horse, by sharing contaminated equipment (bits, buckets, towels etc.) or by the clothing, hands or equipment of people who recently had contact with an infectious horse. This highlights the need for routine biosecurity measures (including hand hygiene and basic cleaning and disinfection practices) to be in place at all times to prevent a disease outbreak. Special attention should be given to cleaning and disinfecting trailers. Current EHV-1 vaccines may reduce viral shedding but are not protective against the neurological form of the disease. Implementing routine biosecurity practices is the best way to minimize viral spread. The best method of disease control is disease prevention.  

Notice to the harness racing Industry - Approval of Amendment at Hanover, Application for Variance Flamboro & Georgian. The Director of the Ontario Racing Commission has approved the application for amendment to the 2015 race date schedule made by Hanover, Bentinck & Brant Agricultural Society for Hanover Raceway (Hanover). To view the full notice please click here.          

The ORC has released the following Rulings which are accessible at the link below: COM SB 001/2015 in the matter of the appeal of Kelly Sheppard COM SB 002/2015 in the matter of the appeal of Sue Gangell http://www.canlii.org/en/on/onrc Jacinth E. Chang Alloy Executive Assistant Ontario Racing Commission (416) 213-0520 (416) 213-7838 (direct) (416) 213-7827 (fax) www.ontarioracingcommission.ca      

Hanover, Bentinck & Brant Agricultural Society is requesting approval for an amendment of the race date schedule at Hanover Raceway (Hanover). The Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) is circulating this application for amendment to the approved race date schedule and will receive comments on the application from interested industry participants before making its decision on the application. Copies of the application and business case to support these changes are included with this Notice. Please click here to view the full Notice to the Industry.    

The Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) has advised ORC Official Veterinarians and racing officials at all racetracks to remind participants to take the necessary steps to protect the animals. According to Dr. Adam Chambers, ORC Manager of Veterinary Services, any concerns about weather conditions impacting racing should be shared with horsepeople representatives, racing officials, track management and the Official Veterinarian. There is an established policy of allowing a trainer to scratch their horse should the trainer be concerned about the particular condition of the animal due to weather. “Race horses in Canada are conditioned to race in cold weather,” said Chambers. “However, trainers should adapt for cold weather practices. For example, don’t tie tongues in such a manner that they protrude from the mouth. Tongues are very susceptible to freezing when temperatures drop.” He also pointed out that horses need to be warmed up adequately. Offering lukewarm water several times a day will counter any reluctance to drink ice-cold water, which can leave some horses dehydrated in winter. The protection of the health and welfare of the horse is of paramount concern to the ORC and to members of the racing community. An effort to monitor the horse in weather extremes is in keeping with this mandate. Dr. Adam Chambers Manager of Veterinary Services.        

ORC hosts annual meeting with its licensed Vets Special guests to speak on equine health matters In the interests of ongoing dialogue with the veterinarian community, the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) will be meeting with its licensed veterinarians tomorrow evening in Guelph. The ORC first will meet with all Commission and Official Veterinarians to review best practices, and policies. The meeting with all vets will include two presentations on very timely subjects, which qualify as Continuous Education. Dr. C Wayne McIlwraith is a Professor of Surgery at Colorado State University and a pioneer in the field of equine orthopedic research and surgery. His presentation will focus on joint disease and appropriate therapies. Dr. Alison Moore is Lead Veterinarian, Animal Health and Welfare, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). Dr. Moore will speak on the issue of antibiotic resistance. The veterinarian community is an important partner in Ontario’s horse racing community. This outreach to the community is one just one of the ways the ORC strives to protect the health and welfare of the horse. Rob McKinney Deputy Director Ontario Racing Commision  

Ontario’s Standardbred Improvement Program is confirmed for 2015, following the Ontario Racing Commission’s Board of Directors approval of both the 2015 budget and Program elements as developed by the Standardbred Advisory Group. The successful Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Program is on track to provide an exciting season of racing and will offer close to $16 million in purses and just over $2 million in Ontario Bred and Ontario Sired Rewards. The structure of the 2015 season will remain as per 2014. The Gold series will feature five Gold Legs ($210,000 split between the required divisions), leading up to the $250,000 Gold Super Finals in October. There will be six Grassroots events ($18,000 per division), followed by the Grassroots Semi-Finals ($20,000 per division) and the year-end $50,000 Grassroots Championships. Over $700,000 in new purse bonuses for Ontario Sired two-year-olds will be available in 2015 and 2016. This will be distributed as a 20 percent purse bonus for Ontario Sired two-year-olds racing in overnight races in Ontario, plus a 5 percent purse bonus on two-year-old Ontario Sires Stakes earnings. Starting in 2017, two- and three-year-old Ontario Sired and Ontario Bred horses (foals of 2014 and 2015), will be eligible for a share of a new $2 million Owners’ Bonus. This bonus will replace the $700,000 bonus and will be calculated based on a horse’s earnings in overnight races in Ontario. A double bonus will be paid if the horse is both Ontario Sired and Ontario Bred. As announced earlier this week, as part of the Ontario government’s Horse Racing Partnership Program, additional breeders’ awards will be paid out at approximately $3 million a year starting in 2015 through 2018, through the SBOA’s four-tier program. The Administration would like to thank both the Standardbred Working Group and Advisory Group for their hard work and careful consideration in developing a long-range plan for the continued success of the Ontario Program. From the Ontario Racing Commission

The Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association (SBOA) is pleased to announce that it has officially signed an agreement with the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) for a $12 million enhancement of the current breeders rewards program.  After a number of productive discussions and meetings with representatives from the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) and Ontario Horse Racing (OHR), Ontario’s Harness Racing Breeding industry now has an enhanced program in place that will further reward excellence and encourage breeders to invest in Ontario.  The Board of the SBOA would like to thank Jeff Leal, the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for his support in reaching this agreement.  "I'm pleased that the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association has signed this new agreement to enhance the current breeders rewards program. Horse racing is an important part of the fabric of communities across Ontario and this new agreement will continue to build confidence and support the growth and development of the industry going forward," said Minister Leal. In addition to Minister Leal, the SBOA would also like to thank Elmer Buchanan, Chair of the ORC, and Steve Lehman, Executive Director of the ORC, for working with the SBOA to create a comprehensive enhanced Standardbred breeders rewards program. The SBOA has established a 4-tier program for these enhanced breeders rewards, which will be paid out at approximately $3 million a year in 2015-2018.  An outline of this dynamic program is included below: Tier 1 - Breeder's Incentives - $1 million Incentives will be paid to the owners/lessees of eligible Ontario Resident Mares that produce registered foals that are both Ontario Bred and Ontario Sired and that are nominated to the Breeder’s Incentive program.  Further details and conditions regarding this incentive will be available in the coming weeks.  The first foals eligible for this incentive will be the foals of 2015. Tier 2 - Increase to the Standardbred Improvement Program's Ontario Bred Rewards - $1 Million These rewards will be paid on a pro-rata basis to the owners/lessees of eligible Ontario Resident Mares with purse-winning offspring, which are both Ontario Bred and Ontario Sired, racing in Ontario Sires Stakes races and selected open stakes races in Ontario.  These rewards will commence with the 2015 stakes season. Tier 3 - Leading Divisional Performer Breeder Rewards - $400,000 A $50,000 reward will be split amongst the owners/lessees of the eligible Ontario Resident Mares that produce the top three Ontario Bred performers in each of the eight divisions of the Ontario Sires Stakes, based on earnings in Ontario Sires Stakes races, in the following manner: 1st - $25,000 2nd - $15,000 3rd - $10,000 The top performers from the 2015 stakes season will be the first group eligible for these rewards. Tier 4 - Stallion Rewards - $400,000 A $100,000 reward will be paid to the top Ontario Sires Stakes stallions based on progeny earnings in the Ontario Sires Stakes in each of the four following categories: 2-year-old trotters 2-year-old pacers 3-year-old trotters 3-year-old pacers These rewards will be payable to the stallion owner/syndicates.  Further details and conditions regarding these rewards will be available in the coming weeks.  The leading stallions from the 2015 stakes season will be the first group eligible for these rewards. The enhanced breeders rewards program has been designed to promote the breeding and racing of quality Standardbreds that are both Ontario Bred and Ontario Sired.  In order to fully participate in this innovative program, breeders are encouraged to enroll their broodmares in the Ontario Resident Mare Program in 2015.  To qualify as an Ontario Resident Mare, the mare must be enrolled with the Program each year and meet all eligibility requirements as outlined in the Program Criteria booklet that is produced by the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC).  Further information on the Ontario Resident Mare Program can be obtained from the website of the ORC ontarioracingcommission.ca. Additionally, the owners/lessees of mares that were enrolled in the Ontario Resident Mare Program for the 2014 foaling season must return a signed Declaration of Compliance form to Standardbred Canada before the 2014 foal can be designated as ‘Ontario Bred.’ Seelster Farms

On December 22, 2014, the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA) released a Memorandum to Provincial Regulatory bodies noting the ARCI Board approval of an amendment to the Model Rules for the Pentafecta. As the CPMA memo advises, this type of bet is now available to Canadian race-course associations. A copy of this CPMA Memorandum can be viewed by clicking here. The contents of the CPMA memorandum appear below. On December 12, 2014, the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) Board of Directors adopted a proposal to amend the RCI Model Rules for the Pentafecta. Ad per section 143 of the Pari-Mutuel Betting Supervision Regulations, this type of bet is available to Canadian race-course associations. The pool rule amendment, supported by the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA), allows the race-course association to request authorization to move Pentafecta carryover amounts amongst race meetings for which they are the pool host. This is limited to associations utilizing the ‘unique winning ticket’ option of the Pentafecta pool rules. This change will allow associations greater flexibility in building upon the popularity of this bet, and will offer bettors the greater opportunity to follow the Pentafecta’s jackpot pool. The amending language to the Pentafecta pool rules will soon be available online athttp://arcicom.businesscatalyst.com/model-rules---standards.html. From the Ontario Racing Commission    

The Ontario Racing Commission has announced via a notice to the industry that it has approved applications for variance to the 2015 race date schedule made by The WFA Raceway Corporation for The Raceway at Western Fair District (Western Fair) and Grand River Agricultural Society for Grand River Raceway (Grand River). Via release, the ORC announced that its director approved the following changes: GRAND RIVER Add • Wednesday, September 30(Post time 6:30 p.m.) WESTERN FAIR Delete • Friday, October 2 • Monday, October 5 WESTERN FAIR Revised Post Times • All Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays – Post Time: 6:15 p.m. (change from 4:05 p.m.) • All Fridays – Post Time: 7:15 p.m. (change from 7:05 p.m.) In addition, a correction has been issued for the 2015 race date schedule at Clinton Raceway (Clinton). The corrected version of Clinton’s approved 2015 calendar – along with the Grand River and Western Fair schedules – can be accessed by clicking here. From the Ontario Racing Commission      

The Director of the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) has approved applications to amend 2015 race date calendars. In accordance with Policy Directive 3 - 2007, the racetracks submitted applications to vary their pre-approved 2015 race date calendar as part of the 2015 racetrack licensing process. To view all the race dates click here. From the Ontario Racing Commission

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