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MILTON, ON - February 23, 2021 - Woodbine Entertainment today announced rescheduled dates for several harness racing winter series at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The recent shutdown of live racing in Ontario has forced the delayed start of four series and the delay of two series finals. The Family Day Trotting Series and Wine & Roses Trotting Series will now start on Monday, March 8. The Blizzard Pacing Series will start on Thursday, March 11, while the Snowshoe Pacing Series will start the following evening on Friday, March 12. All four series will feature two preliminary legs and a $30,000 added money final. The finals of the Valedictory Pacing Series and Niagara Pacing Series, originally scheduled for Boxing Day, will now take place after the completion of the Blizzard and Snowshoe Series. The date of those finals will be confirmed in the coming week. The list of eligible horses for the series starting in March are available below: FAMILY DAY TROTTING SERIES - ELIGIBLES WINE AND ROSES TROTTING SERIES - ELIGIBLES SNOWSHOE PACING SERIES - ELIGIBLES BLIZZARD PACING SERIES - ELIGIBLES by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment  

MILTON, ON - February 19, 2021 - Woodbine Mohawk Park's Race Office would like to inform all harness racing horsepeople of upcoming dates for training and schoolers. Schoolers will be offered this Monday morning following qualifiers. A total of three schoolers (maximum of 10 horses in each) will take place. Sign-up is first come, first serve and opens Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. The sign-up link for schoolers is available here. Woodbine Mohawk Park will also be open for training next week on Tuesday (February 23), Friday (February 26) and Saturday (February 27). Each training day is split into two sessions with 40 spots available in each. Trainers are reminded of the five-horse limit per day. The sign-up links for each training day are available below: Training - Tuesday, February 23 Training - Friday, February 26 Training - Saturday, February 27 Horsepeople are reminded to complete Woodbine's COVID-19 screening form prior to arriving at the racetrack and to always adhere to all COVID-19 prevention protocols. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment          

MILTON, ON - February 18, 2021 - Woodbine Mohawk Park would like to inform all horsepeople the entry box for this Monday (February 22) has been left open until Friday morning at 10:30 a.m.   Conditions have been added to the sheet for Monday's program. Horsepeople are urged to review the new and existing conditions.   The condition sheet for Monday's card is available here.   by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment          

MILTON, ON - February 18, 2021 - Woodbine Entertainment today announced that all slots for the 2021 Mohawk Million have officially been sold and the $1 million race for two-year-old trotters will be contested on Saturday, September 25 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The deadline to purchase one of nine slots in the Mohawk Million was February 15 and Woodbine has received purchase contracts to fill all slots. A $50,000 (CAD) payment was required by the February 15 deadline and all the slot purchasers will now have until June 1 to submit the remaining $50,000 (CAD) of the $100,000 slot fee. "We are very excited to announce that the second edition of the Mohawk Million is officially moving forward," said Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment. "The Mohawk Million is a race that impacts many avenues of our industry and brings notoriety to our sport. "On behalf of our entire team at Woodbine, I'd like to extend a special thank you to the owners that have purchased slots and are helping support a race that raises the prominence of our world class sport. I'd also like to acknowledge and thank Jessica Buckley, Bill McLinchey and our entire team for persevering in pulling this event together in spite of these challenging times." The names of the nine slot owners for the 2021 Mohawk Million will be unveiled by the end of the month. Woodbine Mohawk Park continues to compile a list of all the horses nominated to its 2021 stakes from the recent February 15 deadline. The tenth and final slot in the Mohawk Million will be awarded to the winner of the William Wellwood Memorial on Saturday, September 11. The Mohawk Million card on September 25 will be Canada's richest night of racing for 2021 with over $2.6 million in purses. The rising stars of harness racing will be the focus of Mohawk Million night, as the $850,000 Metro Pace for two-year-old pacers and $540,000 Shes A Great Lady are part of the rich evening. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment          

MILTON, ON - February 15, 2021 - Woodbine Mohawk Park would like to inform all harness rawcing horsepeople of an adjustment to Tuesday's (February 16) training times. Due to a snowfall warning, Woodbine Mohawk Park has pushed back the start of training from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. The new training times for Tuesday are listed below: Session One: 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Session Two: 11:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. All horsepeople are reminded to complete Woodbine's daily COVID-19 screening questionnaire prior to arriving at the racetrack. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment  

MILTON, ON - February 12, 2021 - Following today's designation of the Halton Region being placed in the 'Red-Control' zone by the Government of Ontario, Woodbine Entertainment has announced plans to resume live harness racing, without spectators, at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Thursday, February 18. Halton Region will officially enter the 'Red-Control' zone as of 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, February 16. Live horse racing, without spectators, is permitted in all phases of the province's current COVID-19 Response Framework except for 'Grey-Lockdown'. With the resumption of racing on February 18, Woodbine Mohawk Park will proceed with its regular schedule of live racing every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings starting at 7 p.m. Condition sheets for the first several cards at Woodbine Mohawk Park are now posted at www.StandardbredCanada.ca. The draw for Thursday's card will take place Monday, February 15, with the entry box closing at its usual time of 10:30 a.m. The full draw schedule is listed below: Enter Monday for Thursday Enter Tuesday for Friday Enter Wednesday for Saturday Enter Thursday for Monday Woodbine Mohawk Park qualifiers will be held on Thursday, February 18 and the draw held on Wednesday, February 17. As per the Government of Ontario's restrictions, spectators are not permitted at Woodbine Mohawk Park at this time. Only those performing essential duties relating to the operating of live horse racing are currently permitted onsite. Woodbine Entertainment will provide an update to horse owners and the public over the coming days of opportunities to watch and wager. Any horseperson coming to Woodbine Mohawk Park for training, qualifying or racing must complete the COVID-19 Daily Screening Form prior to arriving at the racetrack and must adhere to Woodbine Entertainment's COVID-19 Racing Protocols at all times. Any horseperson that has been outside of Ontario must provide the Director of Racing (Bill McLinchey, bmclinchey@woodbine.com) with proof of their return date and be in Ontario for 14 days before coming to Woodbine Mohawk Park for training, qualifying or live racing. Any individual outside of Ontario must also provide a negative COVID-19 test taken 10 days into their quarantine. For the latest updates, visit www.WoodbineMohawkPark.com or follow @WoodbineSB on Facebook and Twitter. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment

MILTON, ON - February 12, 2021 -Woodbine Mohawk Park has released the sign-up links for next week’s training days and issued a reminder of COVID-19 prevention protocols to all harness racing horsepeople.  Training will take place Tuesday (February 16), Friday (February 19) and Saturday (February 20) of next week at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Each day is split into two sessions with 40 spots open in each session. Trainers are limited to bringing in five horses per day. Sign-up opens Saturday at 2 p.m.   Here are the sign-up links for each day:  Training – Tuesday, February 16, 2021 Training – Friday, February 19, 2021 Training – Saturday, February 20, 2021  Woodbine Mohawk Park would also like to remind all horsepeople of several COVID-19 prevention protocols.  Any horseperson that has been outside of Ontario must provide the Director of Racing (Bill McLinchey, bmclinchey@woodbine.com) with proof of their return date and be in Ontario for 14 days before coming to Woodbine Mohawk Park for training, qualifying or live racing. Any individual outside of Ontario must also provide a negative COVID-19 test taken 10 days into their quarantine.   All horsepeople are to complete Woodbine’s daily COVID-19 screening questionnaire before each visit to Woodbine Mohawk Park. The screening questionnaire can be found at www.Woodbine.com/Mohawk/Horsepeople.    All horsepeople must wear an approved face mask at all times while on the Woodbine Mohawk Park property. Bandanas and balaclavas are no longer permitted as face coverings, unless worn over an approved face mask.   N95 face masks that have been properly fitted prior to use  Disposable surgical / non-surgical face masks  Custom re-usable face masks that cover both the mouth and nose   by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment  

MILTON, ON -  February 9, 2021 - Less than a week remains to submit nominations for Woodbine Entertainment's 2021 Standardbred harness racing stakes program at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Nominations close Monday, February 15, 2021 for all major events at Woodbine Mohawk Park and stakes at various tracks across Ontario. The February 15 date is also the deadline to purchase a slot in the Mohawk Million. All events closing on February 15 are listed below. All purses are estimates, except for the $1 million guaranteed purses for the Pepsi North America Cup and Mohawk Million. Pepsi North America Cup (3-Year-Old Pace) - $1 Million Mohawk Million (2-Year-Old Trot) - $1 Million Armbro Flight (Filly & Mare Trot) - $250,000 Canadian Pacing Derby (Open Pace) - $600,000 Canadian Trotting Classic (3-Year-Old Trot) - $600,000 Casual Breeze (3-Year-Old Filly Trot) - $180,000 Elegantimage (3-Year-Old Filly Trot) - $375,000 Eternal Camnation (2-Year-Old Filly Pace) - $240,000 Fan Hanover (3-Year-Old Filly Pace) - $450,000 Goodtimes (3-Year-Old Trot) - $250,000 Maple Leaf Trot (Open Trot) - $600,000 Metro Pace (2-Year-Old Pace) - $850,000 Milton (Filly & Mare Pace) - $250,000 Nassagaweya (2-Year-Old Pace) - $220,000 Peaceful Way (2-Year-Old Filly Trot) - $400,000 Roses Are Red (Filly & Mare Pace) - $330,000 Shes A Great Lady (2-Year-Old Filly Pace) - $540,000 Somebeachsomewhere (3-Year-Old Pace) - $190,000 William Wellwood Memorial (2-Year-Old Trot) - $610,000 Note: The winner of the William Wellwood Memorial receives a slot in the Mohawk Million. To download the 2021 Woodbine Standardbred Stakes Booklet, click here. Woodbine Entertainment also handles the administration of stakes races contested at various tracks across Ontario. Nominations close February 15 for the following events: Grand River Raceway Battle of Waterloo (Ontario Sired 2-Year-Old Pace) - $240,000 Battle of the Belles (Ontario Sired 2-Year-Old Filly Pace) - $160,000 Flamboro Downs Confederation Cup (4-Year-Old Pace) - $185,000 Hanover Raceway Balanced Image (Ontario Sired 2-Year-Old Trot) - $40,000 Dream Of Glory (Ontario Sired 3-Year-Old Trot) - $50,000 Clinton Raceway Kin Pace (Ontario Sired 3-Year-Old Filly Pace) - $50,000 Sustaining payments are also due February 15 for the following events at Woodbine Mohawk Park: 2021 Simcoe Filly Stakes (Foals of 2018) 2021 Simcoe Open Stakes (Foals of 2018) 2021 SBOA (Ontario Sired 3-Year-Old Filly Pace and Trot) Full information for all stakes and other racing related items can be found by visiting www.Woodbine.com/Mohawk/Horsepeople/. Woodbine Entertainment encourages all horsepeople to submit payments online by visiting www.Woodbine.com/SBPayments. If sending nominations by mail, envelopes must be clearly post-marked no later than February 15, 2021 or payment will not be accepted. Registered mail is recommended. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment

MILTON, ON - February 8, 2021 - Following today's (February 8) update from the Government of Ontario, Woodbine Entertainment has announced that Woodbine Mohawk Park will reopen for training starting this Thursday (February 11). Woodbine Mohawk Park will be open to horsepeople for training this Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning from 7 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Beginning Tuesday, February 16, training will be conducted on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Registration is required, and strict COVID-19 prevention protocols enforced. While the racing surface and paddock will be open for training, the apron and grandstand remain closed to horsepeople until further notice. The Government of Ontario today announced its plans for reopening the economy. The current "stay at home" order will be lifted for three Eastern Ontario regions this Thursday and for the remaining regions (excluding Toronto, Peel and York) next Tuesday (February 16). Once the "stay at home" order is lifted, each region will be placed into the Government's five-tiered, colour-coded framework (Grey, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green). Each colour represents specific restrictions with Grey representing 'Lockdown.' Woodbine Mohawk Park is located in Halton Region. Live racing is permitted to resume at Woodbine Mohawk Park once Halton Region is placed into the 'Red-Control' designation or better. The Government of Ontario has not announced or indicated which category the Region of Halton will be placed in as of February 16; therefore, the date racing is permitted to resume without spectators is not yet known. Woodbine will continue to provide updates when available. Registration for this week's training at Woodbine Mohawk Park will open on Tuesday at 2 p.m. Each training day is split into two sessions with 40 spots available in each. The first session runs from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and the second session from 9:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Trainers must limit to signing up no more than five horses each day. Registration for each of this week's training days is available below. Sign-Up: Thursday, February 11, 2021 Sign-Up: Friday, February 12, 2021 Sign-Up: Saturday, February 13, 2021 by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment

MILTON, ON - February 4, 2021 - The deadline to purchase a slot in the Mohawk Million, harness racing's richest race for two-year-olds, is quickly approaching on Monday, February 15. The Mohawk Million for two-year-old trotters follows a "buy-in" formula with nine slots available for purchase, each priced at $100,000 CAD. The million-dollar race is scheduled for Saturday, September 25. "We're hopeful that the Mohawk Million can continue to grow in 2021 and build a legacy in our sport," said Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment. "A race like the Mohawk Million has a large impact on all parts of our industry, including our racetrack, owners, breeders, sales and fans. "We appreciate the support of our key industry stakeholders to help growing a World Class racing event." The Mohawk Million is one of only three million-dollar races in North American harness racing and purchasing a slot will guarantee a spot in the prestigious race. Each slot is considered an entity that may be sold, traded or leased. The slot holder does not have to declare a horse for the Mohawk Million until the week of the race. The inaugural Mohawk Million was captured by Venerate, a son of French Stallion Love You. Venerate, who was recently named a Dan Patch Award winner, held off O'Brien Award winning filly Donna Soprano for the million-dollar race victory. The deadline to purchase a slot in February 15 and a $50,000 nomination fee is required when submitting a slot contract for the Mohawk Million. The remaining $50,000 is then due by June 1, 2021. Any requests for information or purchases of a slot can be directed to Bill McLinchey, Director of Standardbred Racing, at bmclinchey@woodbine.com. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment

MILTON, January 21, 2021 - Woodbine Entertainment today unveiled the tentative schedule for the 2021 harness racing stakes season at Woodbine Mohawk Park. More than $20 million in stakes races, including over $12 million in Woodbine administrated events, will be contested at Woodbine Mohawk Park in 2021. "While we continue to advocate for the safe return of live Standardbred Racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park, we are preparing for an exciting 2021 Standardbred meet," said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. "With a proven track record and industry-leading health and safety protocols already in place, we are confident that when it is safe and permitted to resume horse racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park, we will be well positioned to restart the industry and the thousands of jobs it supports." Currently, horse racing (without spectators) is not permitted until at least February 10 in Ontario due to the COVID-19 pandemic and government restrictions. However, Woodbine Entertainment has published this 2021 stakes schedule (subject to the latest government restrictions) to provide horse people with the information required to prepare for the season. Typically kicking off in May, the 2021 Woodbine Mohawk Park stakes season is headlined by the million-dollar Pepsi North America Cup and Mohawk Million races. The 38th Pepsi North America Cup for three-year-old pacers will take place on Saturday, June 19 and is the headline event on a stacked Grand Circuit card of racing. The eliminations for the $1 million contest take place a week prior on Saturday, June 12. The Pepsi North America Cup card will also include the $450,000 Fan Hanover (three-year-old pacing fillies), $330,000 Roses Are Red (pacing mares), $250,000 Armbro Flight (trotting mares), $250,000 Goodtimes (three-year-old trotters) and $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup (invitational pace). The second edition of the Mohawk Million is scheduled for Saturday, September 25. The $1 million race for two-year-old trotters continues to follow a "buy-in" format with nine slots available for purchase. Each slot available for purchase in the Mohawk Million is priced at $100,000 (CAD). The tenth and final slot will be awarded to the winner of the $610,000 William Wellwood Memorial on Saturday, September 11. The deadline to purchase a slot is February 15, 2021. The Mohawk Million card on September 25 is scheduled to be the richest card of the season. The lineup for the night also includes the prestigious $850,000 Metro Pace (two-year-old pacers), $540,000 Shes A Great Lady (two-year-old pacing fillies) and $250,000 Milton (pacing mares). The month of September is loaded with rich stakes events each Saturday, starting with the $600,000 Canadian Pacing Derby and $600,000 Maple Leaf Trot on September 4 and closing with Mohawk Million night on September 25. The $610,000 Wellwood Memorial (two-year-old trotters) and $400,000 Peaceful Way (two-year-old trotting fillies) take place on September 11, while the $600,000 Canadian Trotting Classic (three-year-old trotters) and $375,000 Elegantimage (three-year-old trotting fillies) are scheduled for September 18. The traditional Champlain and Simcoe Stakes are sprinkled throughout the end of August and early September. Other notable Grand Circuit races include the Somebeachsomewhere (three-year-old pacers) on Saturday, June 5, Nassagaweya (two-year-old pacers) and Eternal Camnation (two-year-old pacing fillies) on Saturday, August 28, and Casual Breeze (three-year-old trotting fillies) on Friday, September 3. Woodbine Mohawk Park will also host a leg of the Miss Versatility (trotting mares) on Friday, May 28, and Graduate Series (four-year-olds) on Saturday, June 5. Both events are administrated by The Meadowlands. The Ontario Sires Stakes Super Finals and Grassroots Championships will again be held at Woodbine Mohawk Park in 2021. Final dates for the Ontario Sires Stakes season will be released at a later date. Nominations for all Woodbine Standardbred Stakes close on Monday, February 15. Conditions and payment details can be found in the 2021 Woodbine Stakes Booklet. Woodbine continues to administrate stakes for Ontario Racetracks in 2021, including Grand River Raceway, Flamboro Downs, Clinton Raceway and Hanover Raceway. 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. The entire 2021 stakes schedule for Woodbine Mohawk Park is available here. Mark McKelvie

MILTON, December 31, 2020 - The recently concluded 2020 Woodbine Standardbred meet saw no changing of the guard, as the harness racing titles of leading owner, trainer and driver remained with their previous holders. Brad Grant, Richard Moreau and Sylvain Filion led their respective categories once again in 2020, adding to their already impressive collection of Woodbine titles. Richard Moreau won his fifth consecutive and ninth overall Woodbine training title. The Puslinch, Ontario resident posted 156 wins in 2020, 36 more than runner-up Carmen Auciello. Moreau, who also led all trainers in earnings with $3 million, won his first Woodbine training title in 2010 and has won the title in every year since, except for 2011 and 2014. Sylvain Filion won his sixth Woodbine driving title with a runaway total of 245 wins. Bob McClure finished second with 208 wins, while Doug McNair was third with 206. McClure led all drivers in earnings with $6 million. A resident of Milton, Ontario, Filion has now won the Woodbine driving title in back-to-back years. He first won the title in 2012, sharing it with Jody Jamieson, and then was a solo winner in 2013, 2015 and 2016 prior to this recent double. Brad Grant led all owners at Woodbine in 2020 with 58 wins to collect his fifth consecutive leading owner title. The Milton, Ontario resident, who was again prominent on the Grand Circuit scene, has won the leading owner award in each year since Woodbine revived the award in 2016. Millar Farms finished runner-up with 37 wins, while Determination led all owners in earnings with $2.1 million and scored 36 wins. The Woodbine Standardbred season for 2020 concluded on December 23 due to the current province lockdown imposed by the Government of Ontario. The start of the 2021 Standardbred season is to be determined. Mark McKelvie        

MILTON, December 23, 2020 – Woodbine Entertainment has announced the cancellation of this afternoons harness racing card at Woodbine Mohawk Park due to deteriorating track conditions caused by mild temperatures.  This evening’s 12-race card will proceed as scheduled. Post time is 7 p.m.    Mark McKelvie Woodbine Entertainment, Mohawk Park

Milton, ON – December 21, 2020 – Woodbine Entertainment announced today that live Standardbred Racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park will be temporarily suspended as a result of the Government of Ontario imposing a Provincewide Shutdown for at least 28 days starting on Saturday, December 26 at 12:01 a.m.  In an effort to provide horsepeople with additional harness racing opportunities prior to the mandated shutdown, Woodbine has received approval from the AGCO to add two cards of live racing to its schedule for this Wednesday, December 23. The doubleheader will begin with an afternoon card at 2 p.m. followed by an evening card at 7 p.m.  The afternoon card is the previously drawn Tuesday, December 22 card for Flamboro Downs.  “While we are disappointed that we must temporarily suspend live racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park, we continue to be supportive of the Government’s efforts to manage the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. “The safety of our employees, horsepeople, customers and communities will always be our highest priority. As we have demonstrated throughout the pandemic, we will continue to be leaders in health and safety and look forward to when we can safely resume live racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park that supports thousands of people in the region who depend on it.”  Standardbred racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park will be temporarily suspended following the two race cards scheduled for Wednesday, December 23.  As a result of the suspension of racing, Woodbine Mohawk Park will be closed and not available for training as of Thursday, December 24  Woodbine Entertainment will provide updates as necessary.    Mark McKelvie Woodbine Entertainment, Mohawk Park

MILTON, December 19, 2020 - Woodbine Entertainment today announced the addition of two cards of live harness racing, to be held as a doubleheader, for this Wednesday (December 23) at Woodbine Mohawk Park. With the City of Hamilton entering the Grey-Lockdown category as of Monday, December 21 at 12:01 a.m., Flamboro Downs will not be permitted to host their previously drawn card for Tuesday, December 22. Following discussions with all appropriate parties and pending final approval on Monday, the card slated for Tuesday at Flamboro Downs will now take place on Wednesday afternoon at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Post time for the 11-race card, which will be contested under the Woodbine Standardbred brand, is 2 p.m. In an effort to continue providing racing opportunities, Woodbine Mohawk Park applied and received approval to also add a card of live racing for Wednesday night. A condition sheet has been established and the entry box for Wednesday night's card will close on Monday (December 21) at 10:30 am. Final changes will be done immediately following the draw. Post time for Wednesday night's card of live racing will be 7:30 p.m. All horsepeople competing on either of Wednesday's cards at Woodbine Mohawk Park are required to complete Woodbine's COVID-19 daily screening form prior to arriving at the racetrack. Full live racing schedules and race handicapping resources, including free programs, are available at www.WoodbineMohawkPark.com. Horseplayers can watch and wager on both cards of live racing through www.HPIbet.com. Woodbine Entertainment would like to acknowledge all the parties involved, including the Central Ontario Standardbred Association (COSA), for their immediate action and support. Mark McKelvie

Matt Bax - I've always said that you can't be in harness racing if you don't love it. Each morning and every night, I am reminded of just how much I love it. And the thought of it being taken away from us again - worries me so much. Both in the short term and how a shutdown may impact the industry in the long term. We totally appreciate that many other industries are being impacted by the pandemic too. When people say 'buy local' - that's us. Everything we do to run our racing operation is supported locally. We buy feed and equipment and use veterinarian and blacksmith services. When you look at those big manufacturing plants that employ thousands of people and are an engine for the locally economy - that's us too. Without spectators, we are merely working the craft we love and providing a product to the public. We have our health and safety protocols that we all follow and none of us want to be the one person who is responsible for a COVID-19 outbreak, so we take those protocols very seriously. We are so extremely thankful to be racing during these difficult times. I'm so thankful and grateful for the opportunity to be a Standardbred trainer -and to do something I love. I'm grateful to work with some of the finest equine athletes in the world. I'm fortunate to be able to provide my family. I take great pride in being in an industry that employs thousands of hard-working people, and I'm proud to be part of something that contributes significantly to the economy, locally and provincially. Through good times and bad, the horse racing community has always been bound together by a passion for our craft. The amount of hours and dedication required to be successful is unlike any other industry. Even when you're not working, you're watching the races or reading stories about racing - it's something you live and breathe. The first thing I do when I wake up - 5:30 every morning, seven days a week - is to go down to the barn on our farm and feed all the horses. The horses, they always come first. Then I'll come home, get a coffee, have breakfast and get the kids ready. My wife and I get one on the bus, and then I take my three-year-old son down to the barn, and start the day there. The horses are always happy to see you when you come out every morning, and I'm just as happy to see them. It gives you a great feeling every morning that you're connecting with the horses, seeing what's going on with each one, and knowing that they are all okay. The longer you go in the business, the more you understand the little things can go wrong each day. When you get that baseline off of feeding them, it helps relieve any anxiety you might have. You worry about them because in every way, they are your family - all 24 that we have with us, plus the broodmares, the young ones and the retired ones that are on our farm. In many ways, the horses are just like people, just like your family and friends. You want to make sure they are happy, healthy and loved. Like any business, you also need to have a strategy in place, both short and long term. With horses, it takes meticulous planning to ensure each one is given the best opportunity to succeed. We have a board where it maps out when each horse is racing, their pre-race training and routines. You set that up each week. I sit down with my dad [longtime successful trainer and owner John Bax] and we talk about what we want to do with the horses. Some have ended their 2-year-old season, so then you start having to map when they're going to come back. From there, it changes day-to-day for every horse. If the horse isn't feeling well, or is feeling sore, it's critical that you are able to care for them. You have to be able to adapt to every situation that comes your way. Every day is different. Every day has its challenges and every day has its rewards. There is always running around to do, whether you have to go to the tack shop or the bank to do all the books. You have little jobs to do in the afternoon. I pick my daughter up when the bus drops her off and then her and her brother get half an hour of quiet time, whether that's reading or schoolwork. Then it's on to bringing in all the horses from outside, and feeding them. Being able to share my love of horses with my family is one of the most cherished things I have in my life. My kids are pretty well-versed in the barn because they've been able to spend a lot of time there the past while because of the pandemic. They have a little pony named Licorice that they take care of. At night, they'll run out to the paddock and bring her inside. It's nice that they have an animal to take care of. It teaches them responsibility. They learn those tough lessons too, like taking care of her, feeding her and things like that. Then there's joy of it. They dressed Licorice up for Christmas and they jogged her outside. That's pretty cute to see and I hope to be able to see much more of that for years to come. It's one of many reasons why I hope that live horse racing continues on at Woodbine Mohawk Park and other racetracks across Ontario. In a business where so much goes into the animal, us, as well as the majority of horsepeople, are on a shoestring budget as it is. To be shut down again would really hurt us all, as it's such an unscheduled stoppage of income. There are no corners to cut. Horse racing isn't simply a source of joy for all of us - it's also our livelihood. The pandemic has had a devastating effect on so many industries in Ontario, across Canada, and around the world, horse racing included. Woodbine Entertainment has done a fantastic job in establishing strict COVID-19 protocols at racetracks throughout the pandemic, as have the other racetracks in the province. Everyone has done an outstanding job to ensure the safety and welfare of the horses and horsepeople. The racetracks have adapted so well throughout the pandemic, in establishing new protocols and also making it a top priority that everyone adheres to them, so that we can keep racing. They know how vital it is for people in this industry to have racing continue. We cannot afford to shut down again. People in the horse racing industry, they don't take sick days. If you're not at the barn taking care of the horses, there aren't a lot of people to pick up the slack. And if we don't have racing, then it would be devastating for all of us. For those who work in the industry, and for the love of animal, we need racing to continue. What we do is tremendously impactful in terms of contributing to the economy. You think about how many time the dollar changes hands coming from horse racing. It's a very economically diverse industry. There aren't too many like it. A lot of people don't see the economic plusses from horse racing, just how wide and diverse it is in the economic sense. You have farms, farriers, feed people, harness racing equipment makers - this industry supports and is supported by so many other businesses and sectors. We're very lucky to have such a vibrant horse racing industry in Ontario, with thousands of people working hard every day to make it a world-class sport. When I made the decision to have a career in horse racing, I knew I was going to be part of something special. Many years later, I know I still am. You have to be all-in with horse racing. And that's why people are in it. You fall in love with the horses, the people and everyone that contributes to it. It's something I think of the moment I open my eyes each morning, right before I fall asleep, and every time I watch one my horses line up behind the starting gate. Mark McKelvie

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