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MILTON, ON -  February 15, 2019 - Woodbine Entertainment would like to issue a final reminder of today's (February 15) deadline for nominations to its 2019 stakes program at Mohawk Park. Nominations are due for all major stakes, including the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup for three-year-old pacers, Canada's richest Standardbred race. Below is the full list of events with nominations closing today (February 15): Pepsi North America Cup (3-year-old pace) Armbro Flight (3-year-olds & older, fillies & mares trot) Canadian Pacing Derby (3-year-olds & older pace) Canadian Trotting Classic (3-year-old trot) Casual Breeze (3-year-old filly trot) Elegantimage (3-year-old filly trot) Eternal Camnation (2-year-old filly pace) Fan Hanover (3-year-old filly pace) Goodtimes (3-year-old trot) Maple Leaf Trot (3-year-olds & older trot) Metro Pace (2-year-old pace) Milton (3-year-olds & older, fillies & mares pace) Nassagaweya (2-year-old pace) Peaceful Way (2-year-old filly trot) Roses Are Red (3-year-olds & older, fillies & mares pace) Shes A Great Lady (2-year-old filly pace) Somebeachsomewhere (3-year-old pace) William Wellwood Memorial (2-year-old trot) Woodbine also handles the administration of stakes events contested at various tracks across Ontario. Nominations are due today for the following events: Grand River Raceway: Battle of Waterloo (Ontario Sired 2-year-old pace) Battle of the Belles (Ontario Sired 2-year-old filly pace) Flamboro Downs: Confederation Cup (4-year-old pace) Hanover Raceway: Balanced Image (Ontario Sired 2-year-old trot) Dream Of Glory (Ontario Sired 3-year-old trot, non-winners of $75,000, fillies $100,000, in 2018) Clinton Raceway: Kin Pace (Ontario Sired 3-year-old filly pace, non-winners of $50,000 in 2018) The 2019 Woodbine Stakes Booklet can be viewed by clicking here. To view the nomination form for today's closing, click here. Stakes payments can be made online by clicking here. If sending nominations by mail, envelopes must be clearly post-marked no later than February 15, 2019 or payment will not be accepted. Registered mail is recommended. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Communications  

MILTON, January 17, 2019 - Woodbine Entertainment today revealed its harness racing industry-leading $16 million-plus Standardbred stakes lineup for 2019. The 2019 stakes schedule is headlined by the 36th edition of the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup on Saturday, June 15 and the return of the $6 million (USD) Breeders Crown to Mohawk Park on October 25 and 26. This year's Pepsi North America Cup, Canada's richest race for Standardbreds, will showcase the continent's finest three-year-old pacers and will be the 13th consecutive edition contested at Mohawk Park. The Pepsi North America Cup undercard will again feature harness racing's best across various divisions. The $425,000 Fan Hanover for three-year-old pacing fillies, $370,000 Roses Are Red for pacing fillies and mares, $260,000 Goodtimes for three-year-old trotters, $250,000 Armbro Flight for trotting fillies and mares and $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup Invitational will make up the stacked Cup undercard on June 15. Woodbine Entertainment is pleased to host the 2019 Breeders Crown, presented by Libfeld-Katz Breeding Partnership, at Mohawk Park. The $6 million (USD) Breeders Crown will feature 12 championship races contested over two-nights. The four Breeders Crown finals for two-year-olds will take place on Friday, October 25 with the eight finals for three-year-olds and up to be held the following evening on Saturday, October 26. Woodbine Entertainment reminds all owners and trainers of the new Standardbred Integrity and Accountability Initiative conditions in effect for the 2019 season. Any owner who participates in a Woodbine Standardbred Stake Race (added money $50,000 or greater) with a trainer who has an outstanding Class 1, Class 2 or TCO2 positive test under appeal in any jurisdiction, shall be ineligible to participate as an owner in any Woodbine Standardbred Stakes for 12 months following the trainer's conviction, if such trainer is later found guilt to the Class 1, Class 2 or TCO2 positive test. (The new conditions are only applicable to the a positive test occurring on or after January 1, 2019). New in 2019, Woodbine Entertainment has changed the format of the $665,000 Canadian Trotting Classic and $350,000 Elegantimage Stakes for three-year-old trotters. These events will no longer require eliminations and instead the final will be limited to the ten (10) highest lifetime money earners among the horses entered at draw time. Consolations may be contested depending on the number of horses entered for each event. Following a strong stakes season in 2018, Woodbine Entertainment has kept all stakes in the same position on the calendar for 2019. The $650,000 Maple Leaf Trot and $600,000 Canadian Pacing Derby remain on Labour Day weekend (Saturday, August 31). The $400,000 William Wellwood Memorial and $380,000 Peaceful Way for two-year-old trotters join the Canadian Trotting Classic and Elegantimage on Saturday, September 14. The $850,000 Metro Pace, harness racing's richest race for two-year-olds, and $550,000 Shes A Great Lady Stakes will be contested on Saturday, September 21. The $250,000 Milton Stakes for pacing fillies and mares will also take place on this date. Woodbine Mohawk Park will again play host to a leg of the Miss Versatility and Graduate Series in 2019. The Miss Versatility for trotting mares will visit on Monday, May 20, while the Graduate Series for four-year-old pacers and trotters joins the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes for a stakes-filled card on Saturday, June 1. The Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots and Super Finals will be held at Mohawk Park in October. The Grassroots Finals will take place on Saturday, October 5 with the Semi-Finals scheduled for September 27 and 28. The Super Finals will be held on Saturday, October 12. Woodbine will again distribute money to all finishers in major stakes finals during the 2019 season. The winner of the finals will receive the traditional 50% of the total purse, while those finishing sixth through last will take home 1% of the purse. The horses finishing second through fifth will receive 50%-24%-16%-10% of the remaining purse. Nominations for all Woodbine Standardbred Stakes close on Friday, February 15. Conditions and payment details can be bound in the 2019 Woodbine Stakes Booklet. Woodbine continues to administrate stakes for Ontario Racetracks, including Grand River Raceway, Flamboro Downs, Clinton Raceway and Hanover Raceway. Details of their 2019 stakes can be found in the Stakes Booklet. Stakes payments for all Woodbine administrated events can be made payable to Woodbine Entertainment. Payments can be made through the Race Office, by mail or online. To view the 2019 Woodbine Standardbred Stakes schedule, click here. Mark McKelvie

MILTON, January 11, 2019 - Woodbine Entertainment and the Central Ontario Standardbred Association (COSA) jointly announced today the agreement in principle of a new five-year harness racing deal that includes an investment in capital upgrades and an increase in purses, further solidifying Woodbine Mohawk Park as one of the leaders in total purses paid for Standardbred racetracks in North America. "The future is bright for Standardbred racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park. We are thrilled to come to terms on a new agreement with COSA representing Woodbine's continued partnership with horse people in the Province," said Jessica Buckley, President, Woodbine Mohawk Park. "We value our partnership with COSA and have successfully collaborated on multiple projects this year, including this new agreement." The new deal is highlighted by $15 million in additional purse money to be distributed over the course of the contract. Woodbine Entertainment has also committed to $1 million in capital upgrades to Woodbine Mohawk Park annually over the five-year period, a further demonstration of its commitment to the Standardbred horse racing industry in Ontario. "This new five-year deal is part of our commitment to Standardbred Racing, and the vision to grow year-round racing at our World Class facility in Milton," said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. "This long term deal gives Standardbred breeders and owners the opportunity to plan and invest with confidence." "COSA is pleased to come to terms on a new five-year deal with Woodbine, providing purse growth each year for the next five years for our members," said Bill O'Donnell, President of COSA. "We have developed a strong working relationship with Woodbine and will continue to work closely with them to reach goals for both sides during this new contract." Woodbine Mohawk Park reopened for the 2019 racing season on January 5. A total of 221 live race dates are scheduled for the upcoming season, highlighted by the Pepsi North America Cup and the 2019 Breeders' Crown. Mark McKelvie

As a former professional hockey player and the son of a CFL quarterback, Jim Lawson appreciates keen competitiveness. But when it crosses into cheating, that’s where he draws the line. The CEO of the Woodbine Entertainment Group says integrity issues remain one of the greatest challenges facing horse racing. “I think we are our own worst enemies,” Lawson said in an interview with the Toronto Sun. “There’s a little bit of an attitude out there that if you can get away with it, it must be okay. I think that’s so wrong. “I think it is a real issue and I think the horsemen need to understand that they are not doing themselves any favours by condoning a lot of the behaviour that goes on. We need to remove that grey cloud.” Though the horse racing industry is regulated and horses are tested for illegal substances, there is indeed a cloud that hovers over trainers who have uncanny success. The perception is that the cheaters are one step ahead of the testers, something Lawson said must change. “We really have to go back to a grassroots culture where it’s not okay to cheat,” Lawson said. “When we talk about attracting that new generation of the public, we definitely have to put it as one of the top things on our agenda as an industry to eliminate the integrity concerns.” Lawson admits he doesn’t have all of the answers, but favours banning all race-day medication save for the anti-bleeding drug, Lasix. BREEDS APART Notable for WEG in 2019 will be a return to the separation of thoroughbreds and their harness-racing standardbred cousins on the Woodbine Entertainment Group circuit. “We didn’t have big concerns that we were going to lose the Toronto market, which was the biggest criticism, that Woodbine was throwing harness racing under the bus,” Lawson said. “Our evidence to date, six weeks into it now, is that we haven’t lost any wagering. We are very much holding our own at Mohawk versus what we would have been doing (at Woodbine) last year.” Lawson remains bullish on the harness product and said he believes an average of $3 million per night in betting handle is a realistic goal. “I think it’s the strongest harness-racing rack in North America,” Lawson said. “Our purses are great, our product is great. Unlike the thoroughbreds, we attract the best harness horses in North America. It’s just a great place.” BREAKING GROUND Besides sports betting, Woodbine’s other great revenue hope is development of the vast lands that surrounds the Rexdale track. In a leasing arrangement with Brookfield Business Partners and Great Canadian Gaming, the first 20 acres are slated to be developed this year. Included is a 200,000-square foot gaming expansion to the existing casino, a 5,000-seat music auditorium, a five-story parking structure and at least one hotel. “It should be a pretty vibrant area in the next three to five years,” Lawson said. KICKING GRASS With standardbreds moving west to Mohawk, the old harness track at Woodbine has been replaced with what will be known as an inner turf course. Combined with the spectacular E.P. Taylor turf track, the goal is to make Woodbine the best turf racing facility in North America. “That’s our goal,” Lawson said. “We’re likely to try all turf days and we’ll have five or six turf races a day on weekends this year. It’s our goal to be attractive as a turf destination.” Good turf racing with big fields is an attractive wagering option, particularly in markets such as Asia and Australia, where Woodbine is bet on remotely. And now with two courses, there will be options aplenty. Lawson likened the outer E.P. Taylor turf course with it’s big sweeping turns as a surface with “rough as deep as (golf’s) U.S. Open” while the new course “is like fairways — short and beautifully cut.” The old “horses for courses” cliche will be alive and well. “I’m expecting some horses will like the grass on one course and not like it on the other course,” Lawson said. “We’re going to have good field sizes and a whole bunch of uncertainty. It adds a whole new dimension.” By Rob Longley Reprinted with permission of The Toronto Sun

MILTON, ON - November 14, 2018 - Leading Standardbred owner Brad Grant will be inducted in the Milton Sports Hall of Fame at a special ceremony this Thursday (November 15). Woodbine's leading Standardbred owner will be inducted in the Builders category for his time owning and operating the Milton Merchants Junior Hockey Club. Grant purchased the Merchants in 1986 after the club won just five-games the previous season and was at risk of folding. During a 15-year run as owner and operator, Grant turned the club around and led them to great success, including four division titles, three league championships and a provincial title. The Merchants captured a Junior 'B' league title in 1992 and back-to-back Junior 'A' league titles in 1997 and 1998 under Grant. The 1998 championship team went on to capture the Dudley Hewitt Cup as Provincial champions and participated in the Royal Bank Cup to determine the national champion. Following the sale of the Merchants in 2001, Grant has remained involved in hockey by serving as the Ontario Hockey Association's (OHA) finance chair for 14 years before moving into the Chairman role. He received the Hockey Canada Order of Merit (Central) in May 2017 and currently remains on the OHA Board of Directors. Grant's Milton Merchant teams from 1996-1998 will also be taking a spot in the Milton Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday. With deep roots in the harness racing industry, Grant is currently enjoying tremendous success in the sport as owner of several award-winning and superstar horses, including Stay Hungry, Atlanta and Bettors Up. The 2018 Milton Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place this Thursday evening (November 15) at the Milton Sports Centre. Woodbine Entertainment would like to congratulate Brad Grant on his induction into the Milton Sports Hall of Fame. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Communications  

Racing participants from both Woodbine, Mohawk Park along with The Raceway at Western Fair District are stepping up in support of Kristy Dustin. Kristy, the daughter of long-time horsemen Greg and his wife Doreen Dustin, was diagnosed with Breast Cancer this past summer and is currently undergoing treatment. The 33-year-old and husband Matt, share two young daughters, Abbigael, 9, and Kamryn, 3. Kristy along with her mother began The Raceway's Harness The Hope in support of Breast Cancer 13 years ago after Doreen was diagnosed. Doreen is cancer free, while Kristy begins her own fight. Kristy has already began treatment which will continue for the next six to eight months followed by another surgery. Driver Natasha Day along with trainer Shannon Henry spearheaded the idea of horse people stepping up in support. "Our industry is one of a kind and we always seem to support people in need," said Shannon Henry. "Natasha and I spoke about this idea and thought it would be a great idea to have a night that trainers/driver/owners could donate a portion of their winnings to a great cause." Day echoed Henry's thoughts. "I mentioned the idea to a few of our drivers at Western Fair and there wasn't any hesitation. People want to help," she said. "That snowballed into the Mohawk drivers room and the whole idea quickly came to fruition. It's really great to see the industry coming together." Monday, November 19 both Woodbine, Mohawk Park and The Raceway at Western Fair District will host an evening to support Kristy Dustin. Drivers/trainers and owners on that evening that are willing to donate a portion of their earnings are encouraged to contact Natasha Day and/or Shannon Henry. "Everyone is encouraged to participate in their own way as well," Henry said. "We've started a conversation on social media and it's gone viral. We have people participating as far as south Florida. What a wonderful gesture as we begin the holiday season." Day will be a special guest with track announcer Shannon 'Sugar' Doyle on Tuesday evening at The Raceway. The pregame show is set to begin at 5:45 p.m. For more information please contact Shannon Henry (519-831-6921) or Natasha Day (519-498-3203). From The Raceway at Western Fair District      

MILTON, ON - September 27, 2018 - Woodbine Entertainment today announced new stakes conditions to be implemented for the 2019 Standardbred racing season. The new conditions reflect Woodbine Entertainment's commitment to strengthening integrity in the sport. The updated rules have been approved by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and Central Ontario Standardbred Association (COSA). Effective January 1, 2019, any owner who participates in a Woodbine Standardbred Stake Race (added money greater than $50,000) with a trainer who has an outstanding Class 1, Class 2 or TC02 positive test under appeal in any jurisdiction, shall be ineligible to participate in any Woodbine Standardbred Stakes for 12 months following the conviction if such trainer is subsequently found guilty relating to the Class 1, Class 2 or TC02 positive test. The new conditions are only applicable to a positive test occurring on or after January 1, 2019. "Woodbine Entertainment continues to hold our racing to the highest of standards and the new conditions demonstrate our commitment to providing a fair racing environment for all participants," said Jessica Buckley, President, Woodbine Mohawk Park. "We appreciate the effort and support from the AGCO and COSA in promoting integrity and encouraging responsibility from all owners and trainers." The approval and announcement of the new conditions was consciously timed to be released ahead of the upcoming major Yearling Sales in Lexington and Harrisburg, as part of Woodbine Entertainment's devotion to transparency in harness racing. The new conditions will be made available on the website for Woodbine Mohawk Park and in the 2019 Stakes Conditions Book. The following stakes races are subject to the new conditions. Pepsi North America Cup Armbro Flight Canadian Pacing Derby Canadian Trotting Classic Casual Breeze Champlain Elegantimage Eternal Camnation Fan Hanover Goodtimes Graduate Maple Leaf Trot Metro Pace Milton Miss Versatility Nassagaweya Peaceful Way Roses Are Red Shes A Great Lady Simcoe Somebeachsomewhere William Wellwood Memorial by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Communications

CAMPBELLVILLE, ON - June 12, 2018 - Woodbine Entertainment Group (Woodbine) today announced the appointment of Mr. Hugh Mitchell to its Board of Directors.   Mr. Mitchell is the President and Chief Executive Officer at Western Fair District in London, Ontario.   Throughout his successful career, Mr. Mitchell has led the horse racing industry in various prominent roles including as the Chairman of the Board of Harness Tracks of America (HTA) and as a member of the Ontario Racing Board of Directors.   In addition to his role as a current member of the Board of Governors at Fanshawe College where he was a past Vice-Chair, Mr. Mitchell is also a past President of Tourism London, as well as Director of both the London Chamber of Commerce and Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions. Earlier in his career, Mr. Mitchell worked for Woodbine as the company's Senior Vice President of Racing from 1998 to 2005.   The announcement was made at the post position draw for the 35th Pepsi North America Cup, happening on Saturday, June 16, 2018 at Woodbine Mohawk Park and comes at a historic time in Woodbine's history.   "The Woodbine Entertainment Board of Directors looks forward to working with Hugh to utilize his immense industry expertise," said Mr. Clay Horner, Chairman of the Board, Woodbine Entertainment. "His insight, extraordinary industry and community relationships, and broad business and industry experience will be valuable as the company takes on transformative projects such as the redevelopment of the lands surrounding Woodbine Racetrack and Woodbine Mohawk Park, as well its increasing industry leadership role as it administers the management of Ontario Racing under the Ontario Racing Management (ORM) banner."   "The Woodbine executive team benefits greatly from the leadership and expertise of our board members," said Mr. Jim Lawson, Woodbine CEO. "Hugh's knowledge and understanding of the Ontario horseracing industry is second to none, and we look forward to working with him and the rest of the board to create a vibrant and sustainable future for horse racing in Ontario."   by Keith McCalmont for Woodbine Communications          

MILTON, ON - May 31, 2018 - Woodbine Entertainment has release details for a group of summer series, presented by Sharpe Farm Supplies Limited, to be raced at four-different tracks across Ontario. Clinton Raceway, Georgian Downs, Grand River Raceway and Hanover Raceway will all host events in the Sharpe's Summer Series. The group of series will be raced during the months of June and July. The Sharpe's Summer Series consists of six-different events, all featuring two preliminary legs and an added money final. Here are the details for the six events: Event A (TROT): Horses & Geldings, 4-year-olds & younger, Non-Winners of a Race or $5,000 (Ont. Sired $7,500) lifetime as of midnight May 31st, 2018. To be raced at Georgian Downs. Event B (TROT): Fillies & Mares, 4-year-olds & younger, Non-Winners of a Race or $5,000 (Ont. Sired $7,500) lifetime as of midnight May 31st, 2018. To be raced at Georgian Downs. Event C (PACE): Horses & Geldings, Claiming $15,000 for Non-Winners of $30,000 lifetime as of midnight, May 31st, 2018. To be raced at Grand River Raceway. Event D (PACE): Fillies & Mares, Claiming $15,000 for Non-Winners of $30,000 lifetime as of midnight, May 31st, 2018. To be raced at Grand River Raceway. Event E (PACE): Horses & Geldings, Non-Winners of a Race or $5,000 (Ont. Sired $7,500) lifetime as of midnight May 31st, 2018. To be raced at Hanover Raceway. Event F (PACE): Fillies & Mares, Non-Winners of a Race or $5,000 (Ont. Sired $7,500) lifetime as of midnight May 31st, 2018. To be raced at Clinton Raceway. The nomination fee for each event is $100 ($80 USD) and nominations close Friday, June 15. For more information about all stakes events administrated by Woodbine, click here. Payments can be made online by clicking here. If sending nominations by mail, envelopes must be clearly post-marked no later than June 15, 2018 or payment will not be accepted. Registered mail is recommended. Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Communications

The Lakeshore Horse Racing Association says a new agreement with the province could jeopardize the long-term future of harness racing in this area. The association refused to sign a 19-year deal with Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation following an emergency meeting Sunday night. Members say they won't be pressured into signing a deal before Tuesday's deadline. The $105-million deal would guarantee Leamington $35, 000 for each of the 13 racing cards for the next three years. Association member Tom Bain says after three years racing would be privatized and handled by a new group - the Ontario Racing Management. He says it's an offshoot of Woodbine Entertainment Group. Bain tells CTV News there were too many red flags for members. CTV Windsor

MILTON, February 13, 2018 - Woodbine Entertainment would like to remind all harness racing owners and trainers that time is quickly running out to submit nominations for this year's stakes. Nominations for all Woodbine major stakes in 2018 are due this Thursday (February 15). The 2018 Woodbine Stakes program features purses exceeding $10 million and is headlined by the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup (three-year-old pacers) on Saturday, June 16. Other notable dates include the $615,000 Canadian Pacing Derby and $600,000 Maple Leaf Trot on September 1, $685,000 Canadian Trotting Classic on September 15 and $815,000 Metro Pace on September 23. The entire 2018 stakes schedule is available by clicking here. Conditions and guidelines for all Woodbine stakes can be found in the 2018 Stakes Booklet. Nominations can be paid online by clicking here. A sustaining payment is also due Thursday for the 2018 Simcoe Stakes and SBOA Stakes (foals of 2015). A reminder regarding these sustaining payments can be viewed by clicking here. Woodbine continues to handle stakes administration duties for Ontario Racetracks. Nominations close Thursday for the Confederation Cup (Flamboro Downs), Battle of Waterloo/Belles (Grand River Raceway), Balanced Image/Dream Of Glory (Hanover Raceway) and Kin Pace (Clinton Raceway). Nominations to all of these events are made payable to Woodbine Entertainment. If sending nominations or sustaining payments by mail, envelopes must be clearly post-marked no later than February 15, 2018 or payment will not be accepted. Registered mail is recommended. Mark McKelvie        

Clay Horner told HRU Thursday there are two major reasons the Standardbred Racing Integrity and Accountability Initiative (SRIAI) rule being proposed by the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) and the Jeff Gural owned tracks will not be in effect until 2019. (Read previous stories: 2018-01-07 and 2018-01-12) Horner, WEG’s chairman, had hoped the new integrity rule intended to increase horse owner accountability would be in place for 2018, but with February 15 stakes payment deadline looming quickly and Ontario’s regulator asking for more time to properly vet the rule, Woodbine at Mohawk Park president Jessica Buckley confirmed the decision has been made to hold off until next year. “I think it’s going to take more time than we hoped, but we’re definitely not going to back away from what we’re trying to achieve,” Buckley said. Horner stressed this is not a sign WEG, Gural or the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) that oversees racing in Ontario is giving up on the rule. “That would be the wrong message to take away (from the delay in implementation),” Horner said. “There are two messages (to take away): this is highly constructive and we’ll be back.” Burke issued penalty over TCO2 In semi-related news, judges at The Meadows have handed trainer Ron Burke a 30-day suspension and $1,000 fine after TJ Blast — a horse trained and owned, in part, by Burke — had a high blood gas reading (TCO2) prior to the third race on Monday (Jan. 22) at the Pittsburgh-area track. At the request of the horse’s connections — and in accordance to an authorized procedure offered to others with horses with high TCO2 readings in the past — TJ Blast was sequestered for 72 hours after the initial positive and then retested. The Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission has been told the penalty will likely be appealed, but no such appeal had been filed by Thursday afternoon. To read the entire article on Harness Racing Update click on this link.

Further to the announcement last month, Woodbine Entertainment is working through the implementation of the Standardbred Racing Accountability and Integrity Initiative (SRIAI). Woodbine Entertainment would like to thank the Standardbred racing industry participants for the undeniable support and encouragement to proceed with SRIAI. Many have provided insightful feedback that will ultimately make these stakes conditions better for all. We have been addressing various considerations with the Province's racing regulator, the AGCO, and will continue to do so. We recognize the importance of transparent communication of definitive stakes conditions in advance of the nomination payment deadline of February 15, 2018. Woodbine Entertainment remains committed to the highest level of racing integrity at our tracks, and the future implementation of the SRIAI. Mark McKelvie - Woodbine Communications

MILTON, January 26, 2018 - Woodbine Entertainment today revealed its full $10 million-plus harness racing stakes lineup for 2018. The 2018 stakes schedule is highlighted by the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup for three-year-old pacers on Saturday, June 16. This year's Pepsi North America Cup will be the 35th edition of Canada's richest harness race. It will also be the 12th edition held at the newly renamed Woodbine, Mohawk Park. The Pepsi North America Cup undercard will feature the $440,000 Fan Hanover for three-year-old pacing fillies, $365,000 Roses Are Red for pacing mares, $255,000 Armbro Flight for trotting mares, $250,000 Goodtimes for three-year-old trotters and $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup Invitational pace. On the heels of a successful 2017, the 2018 stakes schedule features just one notable date change. The $600,000 Maple Leaf Trot has been moved from mid-September to Labour Day Weekend. Canada's most storied trotting race joins the $615,000 Canadian Pacing Derby, Canada's oldest stakes race, on Saturday, September 1. The Canadian Pacing Derby and Maple Leaf Trot kicks off the richest month of the season, as over $5.7 million will be up for grabs during September. The sport's top two- and three-year-old trotters will be on display on Saturday, September 15 for the $685,000 Canadian Trotting Classic, $385,000 Elegantimage, $400,000 William Wellwood Memorial and $375,000 Peaceful Way. Rookie pacers will be in the spotlight on Saturday, September 22 for the $815,000 Metro Pace and $500,000 Shes A Great Lady. The annual Grand Circuit week, featuring the Champlain and Simcoe Stakes for two- and three-year-olds, will take place from August 30 to September 8. Woodbine, MohawkPark will again play host to a leg of both the Miss Versatility and Graduate Series in 2018. The Miss Versatility for trotting mares will visit on Monday, May 21, while the Graduate Series for four-year-olds visits on Saturday, June 2 to join a card featuring the $140,000 Somebeachsomewhere for three-year-old pacers. The Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots Championships and Super Finals will again be held at Woodbine, Mohawk Park in 2018. The Grassroots Finals are slated for Saturday, September 29, while the Super Finals will take place on Saturday, October 13. Nominations for all Woodbine stakes close on Thursday, February 15. Conditions and payment details can all be found in the 2018 Woodbine Stakes Booklet. Woodbine will again distribute money to all finishers in major stakes events during the 2018 season. The winner of the finals will receive the traditional 50% of the total purse, while those finishing sixth through last will take home 1% of the purse. The horses finishing second through fifth will receive 50%-24%-16%-10% of the remaining purse. Woodbine continues to administrate stakes for Ontario Racetracks, including Grand River Raceway, Flamboro Downs, Clinton Raceway and Hanover Raceway. Details of their 2018 stakes can be found in the Stakes Booklet. The entire 2018 Woodbine Stakes Schedule can be viewed by clicking here. Stakes payments for all Woodbine administrated events can be made payable to Woodbine Entertainment. Payments can be made through the Race Office, by mail or online. All Woodbine major stakes may be subject to conditions imposed by the Standardbred Racing Integrity and Accountability Initiative (SRIAI). Final details regarding SRIAI conditions will be made public once finalized. Mark McKelvie

Here is a letter from Anthony MacDonald of TheStable regarding the contoversy around the pending new harness racing owners rule put together by Jeff Gural and Woodbine Entertainment. Here is the letter; I can't even go away for a week without all hell breaking loose. I woke up yesterday to the largest unread inbox I've had in a very long time. Those of you who know me, know roughly how many emails I generally receive, so the endless comments and questions about "the rule" drowned out even our clients for a good chunk of the morning. I think I even saw a dirty look from the guy wearing the goofy costume at magic kingdom who was surely judging me as that "guy" who answers emails at Disney world all day. My answer to the rule from Mr Horner and Mr Gural is simple, but not: Yes we have some dark corners of this game. What facet of life doesn't? We race for money, and there are going to be cheaters; how we combat this defines us as an industry. We will not be able to build any future in horse racing by looking to the past for direction. The past got us here, and it is not where we need to be. These "draconian measures" will surely lead to lawsuits and more black marks on our industry that we cannot afford. The overwhelming majority of this industry is not considered cheaters. Yet we are willing to partake in a witch hunt not seen since McCarthyism to smoke out this miniscule portion of the industry. The first time we get it wrong and someone is excluded only to be later exonerated you will find this story in the main stream news and in a court room only further validating the general publics reasoning for not investing in this industry. The stigmas most of us work hard to dismiss will only be affirmed by this direction. We cannot focus on growth and investment in this industry by shrinking it. If you have mice in your house you do not burn your house down. Extermination is handled in various forms but none damage the structure of your home. Under this rule our industry owners will inevitability claw back investment. They will not partake in group investing programs, (fractional or otherwise) and yearling sale revenue will most certainly drop. The smaller trainers who are already in peril will feel the pinch the most, and again our industry will contract. Do NOT think the governments will not notice this contraction, and as growth again slows and retreats as it has over the past decade, so to will government investment and subsidies. It was difficult to write this for me. My closet in not "Skeleton free". Many of you are well aware that my wife is in the final stages of class II medication violation proceedings for levels of alcohol found in a 2 years old filly this summer that were contamination level readings. I myself served a 7 day reduced suspension just after Christmas for an error made by our veterinarian regarding jurisdictional withdrawal times in Ohio. Neither would exclude our stable under the new rule but plenty of other trainers in the past have also found themselves in similar situations with the Aminorex positives of the past, the Glaucine and Ractopomine positives more recently. Of course you start under this rule with a clean slate, but contamination positives will not cease to occur and its only a matter of when not if improper exclusion will occur. I believe with proper checks and balances most of this industry would get behind a rule like this. But not in its current form. This rule has fallen short of what our industry should strive for. Inclusiveness and industry growth above all else should far outweigh the pursuit of a small group of bandits. I'm not saying turn a blind eye, I'm saying build an air tight policy that the industry can get behind. Through consultation with industry stake holders and regulators we can all take a stance together on behavior that is harming our industry. I'm not expecting, or asking to be invited to any consultation meetings, but I hope my words are noticed. I represent just under 400 owners in 10 countries and have introduced many people to horse racing over the past 3 years. I applaud the efforts and hard work of Mr Gural and Mr Horner on this. No one seems to be too concerned about integrity these days and this rule speaks for the people who didn't get their picture taken. The foundation of something great is before us, I ask only again that we use consultation from our own industry stake holders to ensure we get it right. With respect, Anthony MacDonald Thestable.ca

The following letter was submitted by harness racing owner Howard Taylor. It seems that the industry is not concerned, but I believe that everyone in harness racing should be up in arms over the recent announcement from the partnership of Jeff Gural and WEG. For those who live in a cocoon, these entities have announced that they will bar owners of horses from participating at their tracks if one of their horses tests positive for a class 1 or 2 medication, as well as a TCO2 or steroid positive. In this day and age of advanced testing at microscopic, nonperformance enhancing levels, it is non just likely, but probable that many innocents will suffer. Imagine you were a small time trainer, in the business all your life with marginal success. You finally get the big horse you wanted for all your life. You have him prepped for the Meadowlands Pace or North America Cup. But days before you enter, one of the owners of your horse has a trainer in another state, who you never met, receive a positive for a class 2 substance at 5 Picograms (Billionth of a gram). Your horse is now barred from the race. How about the big owner with horses in many different barns, with many different partners. A trainer gets a positive with a horse you never heard of, but which is owned by someone whom you have only marginal dealings. You may have never met him (think fractional ownership) BARRED! You wonder how this is legal as you make your stakes payments faithfully, and the track accepted them. However, the courts have rules that this is legal. They own the tracks so they can make the Rules. They can even change them on a whim as we have seen them do, when it affects their interests adversely. They not only believe that they can dictate terms, but also how you can race. I used to own a small part of Lady Shadow. She regularly beat most horses, including one name Solar Sister. Solar Sister is owned by Clay Horner, Chairman of the Board of WEG. Two weeks before last years Roses Are Red Stake, I received a call from Jaime Martin, the Director of Racing. He told me that he was being pressured to not allow her to participate while she was trained by Ron Adams. He suggested that we switch trainers. I asked if Adams was barred and he acknowledged that Ron regularly raced there. He indicated that she would likely be barred if Adams trained her at the time of entry. Against my suggested we gave in and switched barns. Incredibly, Ron Adams was allowed to race another horse in the same race. These people are petty and vengeful. They are intent on ruining the sport they claim to be saving. In his announcement, Clay Horner couldn't help himself but to cite Lady Shadow as an example of conduct he is seeking to correct. Yet, Lady Shadow was found with an excessive level of Clenbuterol, a Class 3 substance, and thus would not have been affected by the Rule. Traditionally, horsemen don't get involved until it affects them or their pockets. This Rules is so far reaching that it likely will affect many. Unfortunately, by then it will be too late. Horsemen must do something now, before it is too late. We should just refuse to stake horses to races they control. We should avoid the entry box at their tracks. Turn on them before they turn on you. I personally own a lot of horses with many different trainers. Some I have no control over. But, I have asked my trainers to avoid racing at Freehold North (The Meadowlands) when possible. I have several top caliber horses which will not be staked to races controlled by these egomaniacs. And, if it does affect me personally, I will simply exit the business. Forewarned is forearmed. Horsemen beware! Howard Taylor,  Philadelphia, PA  

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