Day At The Track
Harness racing

Ontario getting virtual reality game

The Central Ontario Standardbred Association has partnered with The Farm Games, creators of ‘Off and Pacing’ and ‘Catch Driver,’ to bring you a never before seen experience – a fully immersive VR arcade harness racing game. Ryan Clements of The Farm Games is excited for the opportunity, stating, “We were thrilled to have found a partner in COSA to help develop this game, without them it would have remained just a dream, but now it is a reality! “This type of industry partnership is exactly what we need in order to continue innovating within the sport we love. We are very grateful for the opportunity, and we believe this game is going to create some waves!” Fans will feel like they are truly a part of the action as they sit in the sulky and control their horse using realistic reins. The game will put the player directly into a race with other Catch Driver players, so others can play along from their phones. Keep an eye out for this exciting new game to show up at an Ontario racetrack this spring! From The Farm Ventures

Rene Allard, harness racing

Allard to be guest speaker

It has been announced that the Prince County Horsemen’s Club’s 2019 awards banquet will take place on April 11, 2020 at Credit Union Place Convention Centre in Summerside, and Rene Allard is going to be this year’s guest speaker. Allard is coming off yet another solid season, as starters from his operation won 339 races and banked $5.91-million in purses in 2019. Over the course of his career, Allard has trained his pupils to 4,545 wins and more than $53.7-million in purses. Social hour will start at 6:00 p.m. and awards dinner at 7:00 p.m. Jimmy Flynn will provide entertainment after the awards dinner, followed by music and dancing to end the evening. Tickets are now on sale. All seating will be assigned. Also, a limited number of tables of eight are currently available. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased from Lynn Whitlock (629-3346), Earl Watts (626-9444), Frank Banks (439-2981), Deanna Clow (629-9175), Darla MacEachern (439-5522), Jansen Sweet (856-0166) or Kingsley Walsh (432-4121). (With files from the Prince County Horsemen’s Club)

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Mohawk Park cancels training

MILTON, ON - February 20, 2020 - Woodbine Mohawk Park would like to inform all harness racing horspeople that training has been cancelled for this Saturday morning (February 22). The cancellation is to allow the track crew an opportunity to prepare the racing surface for live racing on Saturday night. Horsepeople are reminded that track is regularly open for training Tuesday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to Noon. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment  

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Mohawk Million slots filled

MILTON, ON - February 20, 2020 - Woodbine Entertainment today announced that the inaugural Mohawk Million for two-year-old harness racing trotters will officially be contested on Saturday, September 26, 2020 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The deadline to purchase one of nine slots in the Mohawk Million was February 18, 2020 and Woodbine has received purchase contracts to fill all slots. A $55,000 payment was required by the February 18, 2020 deadline and those that receive slots will be required to submit a second $55,000 payment by June 1. "We are thrilled to announce that the inaugural Mohawk Million is officially moving ahead," said Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment. "On behalf of our board of directors and our fans, thank you to the owners who are helping make this innovative event a reality. We are confident that this race is going to be a huge success and we hope that it will become a staple on the Woodbine Mohawk Park stakes calendar." Woodbine will not be releasing the final number of purchasers or names at this time, in order to allow any additional purchase contracts and cheques submitted by mail to arrive. Woodbine asks that any owners who have mailed a purchase contract and have not received confirmation of its arrival to immediately contact Bill McLinchey, Director of Racing, at bmclinchey@woodbine.com. The final number of purchasers and next steps regarding slot distribution will be announced in the coming week. The Mohawk Million is a $1 million (USD) harness race for two-year-old trotters that follows a buy-in formula. The race has ten slots with nine available for purchase at a cost of $110,000. The tenth and final slot will be awarded to the winner of the William Wellwood Memorial, which will be contested on Saturday, September 12, 2020. The Mohawk Million will take place on Saturday, September 26, 2020 at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Milton, Ontario and will become Canadian harness racing's richest race of the season. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment

Louis-Philippe Roy recently received his second straight Canadian Driver of the Year Award, but it was his success with two other 2019 O'Brien Award winners that most pleased him. The 30-year-old Roy was the regular driver of 2-year-old filly pacer Alicorn and 2-year-old male trotter HP Royal Theo, who each captured divisional O'Brien honors earlier this month. "I'm proud of my season with the young horses," said Roy, who was a standout in Quebec before moving to Ontario's Woodbine-Mohawk circuit in 2017. "I never raced on a big track until I came here, so that was the first adaptation for me. Then after, driving a lot of young horses in the summer, stakes horses, 2-year-olds. That was something I didn't do a lot in my early years. "I learned a lot of it by moving here when I started driving more 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds and teaching them how to race. I feel like I've learned a lot and improved a lot in my last two years with stakes horses. I'm proud of that." Roy has driven four O'Brien winners in the past two seasons, with female pacer Shower Play and male pacer Jimmy Freight both receiving honors in 2018 at age 3. He was the leading driver on the Ontario Sire Stakes circuit in 2018. "You need to get those special horses to drive to step up to the Grand Circuit," Roy said. "Any type of competitive guy would tell you that he wants to compete at the highest level. That's for sure something I would like to do. To get there, you need the opportunities. I just want to keep doing good and take any of the opportunities I can get." Roy, who received Canada's Rising Star Award in 2016, won four times on the Grand Circuit in 2019, with four different horses: HP Royal Theo in the William Wellwood Memorial, Lindy The Great in the Caesars Trotting Classic, Alicorn in a division of the Eternal Camnation, and YS Mathis in a division of the Champlain. He finished second in purses among Canadian drivers and third in wins. In 2018, Roy led both categories. Roy is a graduate of the University of Quebec at Rimouski. For the first two years of his driving career, he also worked as a financial analyst for a telecommunications company. For the past three seasons, he has donated a full card's earnings to a food bank in his hometown. For his career, Roy has won 1,467 races and $16.4 million in purses. He is the fourth driver this century to receive Canada's Driver of the Year Award in consecutive years, joining Chris Christoforou, Mark MacDonald, and Sylvain Filion (who did it twice). "It's something I didn't expect to achieve yet but I'm very happy with it," Roy said. "I feel like I realize it more on those kinds of nights, when the awards happen, because in your everyday life you don't realize all the roads you've traveled to get where you're at now. When I look back to where I was five years ago, I'm pretty proud of all the traveling I did." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Trois-Rivieres, QC - The Quebec Jockey Club has announced that the 2020 edition, the seventh revival of the $200,000 Prix d'Ete Pace, will now feature a $50,000 consolation race the same day for those horses entered that did not make it into the final. Anyone with a promising four-year-old pacer, nominations for the 2020 $200,000 Prix D'Ete at the Hippodrome 3R must be postmarked by Sunday, March 15. One of only a handful of opportunities restricted to just four-year-old pacers, the Prix D'Ete is the showcase stakes event of the season at the Hippodrome 3R and will take place on Sunday, August 23 in 2020. "Management at the Quebec Jockey Club added the $50,000 consolation race after we had so many entries for the final last year," Said Murielle Thomassin, General Manager at H3R. "We had 16 horses entered and only eight get into the final. Now, provided we have that many entries again this year, there will be the $50,000 consolation race. And the consolation race can feature up to nine starters." Continued from 2018 in the conditions for the race is that horses that finish 6th through 8th, will each get $1,000. Only the top eight money winners this season, up until time of entry, will be allowed in the Prix d'Ete final. To make nomination payments, owner/trainers can go to www.standardbredcanada.ca or to www.quebecjockeyclub.com and get the necessary nomination forms. Please note there are no supplemental payments allowed for the Prix d'Ete. This first nomination payment must be made to be eligible. The Prix D'Ete, once the richest and most prestigious race in Canada, was revived by the Quebec Jockey Club back in 2013. The inaugural revival saw Jimmy Takter's Sunfire Blue Chip set the all-age Canadian and track record at 3R in 1:50.3. That record was tied the following year with All Bet's Off scoring for the Ron Burke Stable. Then Harness Horse of the Year, Wiggle It Jiggleit, came to 3R for Team Teague in 2016, only to come up second best to the Burke's Stable's Rockin Ron in a classic battle over a sloppy track in 1:52. In 2017 it was the Jimmy Takter Stable winning the Prix d'Ete for the second time as Western Fame and driver Trevor Henry wired the field in 1:53.2. Then in 2018, Ricky and Jamie Macomber stole the show in an upset with their pacer Beckhams Z Tam in 1:52.1. Records were made to be broken and in 2019 that happened in the Prix d'Ete. Ron Burke's This Is The Plan with Daniel Dube driving, led from start to finish and rewrote the all-age half mile Canadian, Prix d'Ete and track record at H3R with an amazing 1:49.1 triumph. The 2020 40-day race season gets underway at the Hippodrome 3R on Sunday, May 2 with first race post time at 1:00 pm. From the Quebec Jockey Club  

Thrilling, exhilarating, heart-pounding, and unforgettable are but a few words that describe the experience of watching live horse racing at The Raceway in the Western Fair District. The Raceway  evokes these feelings with their premium harness racing product. The Raceway is located in one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada: London, Ontario. This oval plays host to Canada’s richest half-mile-track race for older pacers, the $150,000 Camluck Classic.  When arriving at The Raceway, race fans of all ages immediately pick up an energetic feel to the track. As the fans make their way out to the tarmac and into the grandstand, they are filled with excitement, hoping to see how close they are able to get to the horses. The grandstand was built almost on top of the track, to allow racegoers to feel like that they are in the middle of the action. It is quite common for drivers to greet spectators along the fence during the post parade. Race fans can also take in the races  and enjoy dinner at the same time from the Top of the Fair restaurant.  The warmer months of the racing season bring in a great crowd of younger individuals and families for live racing. Throughout the colder months of the season, many children still encourage their parents out to the fence alongside the track, to get up close to the horses and to wish their favourite driver good luck. It may be frigid outside, but the joy of watching live racing doesn’t cool down.  Back in the warmer grandstand on Friday nights, many 19+ individuals enjoy the bar area on the main level and converse about their next bet or maybe the Toronto Maple Leafs game between races. At The Raceway, there is something for all ages to enjoy, from live racing to a drink with friends.  The Raceway provides the highest-quality racing product for fans and horseplayers to enjoy. This enjoyment brings in major betting dollars to this “small” Ontario track. Wagering has been setting a record pace this season, with the track averaging well over $400,000 per card. Not only have the wagering pools been outstanding, so have the payouts to horseplayers. The Raceway attracts those established bettors and is a great starting spot for younger bettors to get in on the action.  The Raceway has live races on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 6:15 pm (Eastern), as well as the popular Friday night race card beginning at 6:55 pm (Eastern). The best aged pacers in North America will come to The Raceway on Friday May 29th for the 2020 Camluck Classic. You can find out more by visiting www.westernfairdistrict.com/raceway or by following The Raceway on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.  by Tony Elliott (For USHWA Youth Committee)  

Guelph, ON Feb, 18, 2020 - Bits and breathing. Both words start with the letter B and most might assume their relationship ends there. But Dr. David Mellor, a leading animal welfare expert at Massey University in New Zealand, believes there is more to the story, especially when it comes to our horses. His research, shared in a talk at the University of Guelph in autumn 2017, looks at how bit use can impact equine breathing during exercise and what this means for equine welfare.   Interested in breathing, exercise and performance in horses? Check out Equine Guelph’s upcoming 2-week course on Racehorse Respiratory Health.   One of the first topics that Mellor covered during his talk was bit-induced pain (pain that comes from bit use). Mellor introduced the topic by asking audience members to take a pen, press it lengthwise against their teeth, increase the pressure, and consider the amount of pain this caused. He then asked audience members to repeat the steps, with the pen pressed against their lower gums instead. Audience members agreed that this location produced more pain.   Try this experiment for yourself. Mellor compared the sensation felt on the lower gums to the sensation felt by your horse when a bit is in their mouth. He explained that the sensation can range from mild agitation to severe pain, depending on factors like bit type and rein use.   Mellor then extended this topic to links between bit use and breathing in horses. He explained that many horses will open their mouths to deal with bit-induced pain. Unfortunately, when a horse opens his mouth, especially during intense exercise, it becomes harder for them to breathe.   This is because horses breathe only with their noses, and not their mouths. In fact, a horse's mouth actually needs to be closed for optimal breathing. When the mouth is closed, there is a negative pressure that the horse creates and maintains through swallowing. This pressure keeps the soft palate from blocking the nasopharynx. If something, like bit-induced pain, causes the mouth to open, then the pressure is disrupted and the soft palate can block the pharynx. This obstruction can cause the horse to experience breathlessness, which can impact the horse's athletic performance.   More details on the links between bit use and breathlessness in horses can be found in Mellor's recently published literature review.   In another talk at the University of Guelph, Mellor presented on his research looking at the big picture of animal welfare. One of the core concepts of animal welfare is the Five Freedoms, which cover the five main aspects of animal welfare (e.g. freedom from hunger or thirst). Dr. Mellor explained that the Five Freedoms give an animal reasonable survival, by looking after their nutrition, environment, and health. However, he believes that it's time to move towards giving animals a  "Life Worth Living". This is based on the concept that for animals to have "lives worth living" not only necessary to minimize their negative experiences, but also provide the animals with opportunities to have positive experiences. For instance, giving them experiences to feel engaged, positive, and providing time for bonding and play behaviours. For more on Dr. Mellor's fascinating work, check out his talk on the topic.   Did you know that horses are obligate nose-breathers? Have you thought about how this impacts their respiratory system health and their performance? Topics like these will be covered in Equine Guelph’s upcoming Racehorse Respiratory Health course, available exclusively to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) licence holders. Register here.   by Nicole Weidner, for Equine Guelph University  

MILTON,ON -  February 17, 2020 - As Tuesday's (February 18) stakes nomination deadline looms, Woodbine Entertainment would like to remind connections of two-year-old harness racing trotters of the increased purse and Mohawk Million slot connected with the William Wellwood Memorial. The winner of this year's William Wellwood Memorial (to be contested on September 12) will be awarded the tenth and final slot in the inaugural Mohawk Million at no cost. The Mohawk Million for two-year-old trotters will be contested two-weeks after the Wellwood Memorial on September 26. Woodbine Entertainment's marquee two-year-old trotting stakes are even more lucrative in 2020 with the addition of a Mohawk Million slot and purse increase to $610,000 for the Wellwood Memorial. Making a two-year-old trotting filly eligible to the Peaceful Way will also keep the door open to harness racing's new rich event. The connections of a two-year-old trotting filly eligible to the Peaceful Way will be able to enter the Wellwood Memorial in hopes of winning the final slot in the Mohawk Million by paying a $5,000 starting fee. Nominations for the William Wellwood Memorial, Peaceful Way and all major stakes are due Tuesday (February 18), which is also the final day to submit a purchase contract and $55,000 payment for the opportunity to purchase a slot in the Mohawk Million. To view the 2020 Stakes Booklet, click here. To make stakes payments online, click here. If sending nominations by mail, envelopes must be clearly post-marked no later than February 18, 2020 or payment will not be accepted. Registered mail is recommended. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment    

Standardbred Canada reports that So Much More, sent off as the 7-5 favourite, fired off cover to land first at the finish in the $36,000 Preferred Pace at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Saturday (Feb. 15). Kendall Seelster led the field to a :27.2 first quarter with Easy Lover Hanover sitting in the pocket. Driver James MacDonald lagged So Much More off the gate and sat seventh around the first turn, but caught cover to race third over into a :56.1 half. Fixed Idea led the overland charge around the final turn, drawing on near-equal terms with Kendall Seelster past three-quarters in 1:23.1 and taking a narrow lead into the stretch. MacDonald angled So Much More off cover and dashed down the centre of the track to the lead in the final stages, winning by a length over pocket-popper Easy Lover Hanover. Fixed Idea settled for third. A four-year-old mare by Big Jim, So Much More won her 22nd race from 40 starts, surpassing $300,000 in earnings. Trainer Don Beatson co-owns the $4.90 winner with Kenneth Beatson and Cole England. Trainer Richard Moreau claimed victory five times during the 11-race card. He began with back-to-back victories midway through the card, with Blu Crew ($6.00) winning in near wire-to-wire fashion and Legion Seelster ($3.30) winning in wire-to-wire fashion. Two races later, Sylph Hanover ($15.50) won in near gate-to-wire style while Wheels On Fire ($5.30) capped Moreau’s evening with a first-over grind to victory. The finale on the program, giving Moreau his fifth win on the night, featured a mandatory payout to the Jackpot Hi-5. Moreau trainee Peace Out Posse ($30.20) ripped off cover to win, with Play Jet Ray finishing second, 66-1 shot Ramblingamblinman closing for third, Foot Soldier finishing fourth and Freddy Bear rounding the ticket. With over $300,000 bet into a $150,000 carryover, the ticket combo of 9-4-2-8-3 returned $41,354.03 on a $.20 ticket. To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Standardbred Canada reports that race favourite Northern Royale swept to command after the opening quarter and closed out the Wine & Roses Trotting Series a winner during the Valentine's Day harness racing card at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Northern Royale left sharply from post six in the $33,000 series finale for driver Sylvain Filion before 52-1 shot Kinderunbelievable, firing to her outside, crossed in front through a :27.4 opening quarter. The favourite then looped the longshot leaver down the backstretch and posted middle splits of :56.4 and 1:26.3 en route to a three-length victory in 1:55.4. Second-place went to 3-1 second choice Club Belvedere (James MacDonald), who made a bold rush out of the four-hole in tandem with Northern Royale's winning move during the second quarter and dropped into the pocket to follow the rest of the way. Delilah Seelster (Bob McClure), the longest shot on the board, was last at the half and closed late to finish third at nearly 75-1. Northern Royale, who endured a parked out trip to win the January 30 first leg, was just a head shy of a series sweep as rival Club Belvedere had collared her in their last match up on February 6. Sent postward as the favourite in the finale, she paid $3.30 to win as the 3-5 bettors' choice. Northern Royale's bankroll swelledd to six figures as she improved her career record to 9-5-1 from 26 starts. Julie Walker trains the four-year-old Royalty For Life-Dover Miss mare for owners Brenda Walker, Barry Klages and Nancy Holmes. The series was for three and four-year-old fillies and mares that were non-winners of $60,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2019. To view Friday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Friday Results - Mohawk Park.

MILTON, ON -  February 14, 2020 - Harness racing horseplayers will look to cap off Saturday night (February 15) with a big score by taking home a piece of Woodbine Mohawk Park's Jackpot Hi-5 mandatory payout. A carryover of $152,060.29 will be brought into the Jackpot Hi-5 mandatory payout and past results show that the total pool is expected to be large. The most recent Jackpot Hi-5 mandatory payout took place less than two months ago on December 21. On that occasion, a total of $544,793.76 in new money was wagered to go with a carryover of $180,992.59. The new money total has tripled that of the carryover in three of the past five mandatory payouts, including a record $2.8 million in new money wagered on the March 30, 2019 mandatory payout that had a carryover of $525,140. The Jackpot Hi-5 race is Race 11 on Saturday's card at Woodbine Mohawk Park. As usual, the mandatory payout race will have an overflow field of 11 going for a purse of $25,000. The horses competing in Saturday's Hi-5 race are Non-Winners of $8,600 last five starts or $17,200 last 10 pacers. This level would typically compete for a purse of $17,000, but with an extra horse added to the Hi-5 race, the purse has been bumped and all starters will receive money. Horseplayers can start studying for Saturday's card and the Jackpot Hi-5 by visiting www.Woodbine.com/Mohawk/Free-Programs/ to download the official Woodbine Standardbred program. Saturday's card will also feature a $36,000 Preferred Pace (Race 9). Mares Kendall Seelster and So Much More are two of the seven competitors in the top-level event. Millionaire Easy Lover Hanover headlines the male competitors. Kendall Seelster comes into Saturday's contest just $11,154 away from reaching $1 million in career earnings. The five-year-old Rod Boyd trainee would need a victory to accomplish the milestone this weekend. Post time for Saturday's card is 7:10 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment  

MILTON, ON - February 14, 2020 - Woodbine Entertainment would like to issue a final reminder to all harness racing owners and horsepeople of Tuesday's (February 18) deadline for nominations to all major stakes in 2020 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Nominations close on February 18 for all major events, including the 37th Pepsi North America Cup (three-year-old pacers), Metro Pace (two-year-old pacers), and William Wellwood Memorial (two-year-old trotters). The opportunity to purchase a slot in the inaugural Mohawk Million for two-year-old trotters also closes on February 18, as a purchase contract and $55,000 payment must be submitted. The full list of events closing on February 18 is listed below. Purses are all estimated except for $1 million guarantees on Pepsi North America Cup and Mohawk Million. Event Age, Sex, Gait Purse Pepsi North America Cup 3-Year-Old Pace $1 Million Mohawk Million 2-Year-Old Trot $1 Million USD 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 $650,000 Metro Pace 2-Year-Old Pace $850,000 Milton Filly & Mare Pace $250,000 Nassagaweya 2-Year-Old Pace $225,000 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 (winner receives slot in Mohawk Million) To download the 2020 Woodbine Stakes Booklet (including full conditions), click here. Woodbine Entertainment also handles the administration of stakes races contested at various tracks across Ontario. Nominations are also due February 18 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) Clinton Raceway Kin Pace (Ontario Sired 3-Year-Old Filly Pace) Sustaining payments are also due February 18 for the following stakes at Woodbine Mohawk Park. 2020 Simcoe Open (foals of 2017) 2020 Simcoe Filly (foals of 2017) 2020 WEG SBOA Filly (foals of 2017) (NOTE: A late nomination fee for the 2021 WEG SBOA Filly (foals of 2018) is also due if horse was not nominated in May of 2019.) Visit www.Woodbine.com/Mohawk/Horsepeople/ for full information. To make stakes payments online, click here. If sending nominations by mail, envelopes must be clearly post-marked no later than February 18, 2020 or payment will not be accepted. Registered mail is recommended. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment  

I - as well as others - had a chance to see, read and hear about Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s proposal, this past Tuesday Feb. 4, of establishing a new ‘Nellie Bly’ Scholarship Fund by redirecting $204 million of existing tax dollars from the Race Horse Development Trust Fund.   If this didn't throw the Pennsylvania horse industry under a bus it sure appears that the life line of horse racing in that state is in serious danger. After taking a few days to think about this and inhaling some very good social media posts from drivers, trainers and people around the industry, I ask you - have we done enough to market our product outside the proverbial four walls? The sport of racing has been around a very long time and so has it’s outdated form of betting. The long tradition of pari-mutuel wagering just isn't going to cut it any longer and if we don't do anything to change the landscape of our betting, we will have basically killed our sport. I know the above can't be changed overnight and we have hurdles to leap over, but time is running out. Horse racing has been playing catch up to many things - including sports wagering and before we fall off our own pile of shavings we best start looking at what we need to do as an industry. Have we done enough to get our product out there? I don't mean self-promotion that you see all over the internet and social media sites - where one promotes themselves - for the good of their own and parlays it off as an industry achievement. Our industry requires advertising and advertising agency's to focus on creating a demand for our brand. Selective advertising is not the path we should be looking to follow. Selective advertising can be deceptive to lure one into a false belief. This past month in TROT magazine I can point out where one breeding operation takes a shot at another and in a recent online article you can find similar being done on the Standardbred Canada website. Can’t we sit the children down and remind them that they are the same people who - as one owner said - are suing the province/government over lost breeding dollars from the SARP cancellation? Let me tug on the right line and get you back to selective advertising. Selective advertisers assume there is an existing demand and we see that inside our race tracks with as Casino Operators luring people in with gifts and gift promotions. Give people something for free and they will take it all day long - does that mean value added? Maybe for a casino, but as far as Return On Investment (ROI) for tracks – I’d have to say no! We as an industry need to get racetrack owners and operators to join in. We need to make not just good marketing moves, but great marketing decisions - if we are going to compete for the wagering dollar. Where do we get the funds to do this?  Let’s take a percentage of purse funds and let’s look at selling outside advertising campaigns - to generate cash flow from outside the four walls.  We as individuals are so great at selling the game to one another, but selling this to someone already involved in the sport is like selling water to a camel - when it doesn't want or need to drink. I can sit here all day and make you believe I'm going to bring thousands of people to the sport - by doing something that's hasn't been done yet, but before we jump in - hand over fist - is there going to be any ROI? I have yet to see the cards dealt, but I'm sure a couple of email blasts aren't going to do it… Nor will a few gifts - so to speak Legit marketing firms will tell you this industry needs proposed changes. The industry leaders have to make things - such as past performances - free and available to EVERYONE!   When I want stats to bet a basketball game - I can get tons of information free, for that sport, without having to spend a dime. I betting you'd be hard pressed to point out when the last article you read, on our sport, actually had a positive movement to make you (or someone reading it) want to get out and watch live horse racing. I challenge you to walk around in a circle and find a corner, let me know when you have successfully completed that mission. Deception and illusion are great tools - just as David Copperfield and Criss Angel have shown in the past. If you want to use the phrase ‘outside the box’ then start creating a primary advertising focus and demand - on this general product called horse racing. It all starts there and make sure to get the product out to those who aren’t already a prodigy of the sport. We are all ‘addicts’ to the sport we breathe. I hate to use the word ‘addicts’, but we are IMHO. The industry needs help and we need it fast. Imagine sitting at a McDonalds - eating a Big Mac - and then I walk over to you to try and convince you that a Big Mac is the best - so just keep coming to McDonalds. I hope you get the analogy of that. Back on Feb 4th, of this year, driver Yannick Gingras said the following on social media - after the announcement of Tom Wolf’s proposal… “Let’s all get together and promote our wonderful sport before it’s too late.” His key word there was ‘together’.  Our sport, right now, is like watching an episode of survivor - where it's every man and/or woman for themselves… Where - in the end - they all point their fingers at each other... Hopefully horse racing doesn’t come down to this. As a fan and part-time owner - I won't sit here and preach that I am a marketing firm and I have a ‘100% sure proof solutions’ to solve this, but at the same time - I will tell you what we are missing and it's because I see it daily and have spoken to groups who see it too. Three to five times a year we have the mainstream media actually paying attention to horse racing and I don’t need to list what events those are. I'm sure everyone has their idea of what works best, but remember most ideas are like armpits - we all have them and most stink. People can't come to the races if they don't know about it. More often than not, no one knows what is going on at their local track - unless they are on the inside looking out. Think about that last statement for a bit. We, as an industry, are promoting horse racing to people who are already a part of the sport - so how can we expect it to grow? We can't grow it like that… by Lou Sorella, for Harnesslink  

Guelph, ON Feb. 13, 2020 - In 2015, Lara Genik and Dr. C. Meghan McMurtry from the University of Guelph’s Department of Psychology conducted a survey at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, looking into the prevalence and impact of less studied painful incidents among children while handling and riding horses. Some of the results may surprise you. “There hasn’t been much work conducted about less serious incidents”, says Genik. “When I looked at the literature that did exist, I found that it has primarily focused on serious injuries that led to hospitalization. For example – we don’t know much about how often less serious incidents are occurring, when or where they are occurring, and what the impact is on youth and their parents.” Genik’s research survey set out to understand common painful incidents associated with riding and to gain insight that could potentially lead to intervention through safety and educational programming.   With the help of Equine Guelph and their EquiMania! youth display, data was collected at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. 120 children aged 8-18 (who participated in riding at least once per week) and a parent completed brief questionnaires about their riding habits including helmet use, supervision, painful incidents that have occurred, and their impact.   A startling result indicated that 75% of the children surveyed had experienced at least one type of painful incident more than once, yet only 7.3% said they had modified their behavior (e.g., keeping fingers away from the horse’s mouth after having been bitten). “We were quite surprised that these incidents had little impact on children’s behavior around horses,” says Genik. “This implies that the incidents may continue to occur even if they could be prevented – and we know from recent work that many incidents around horses may actually be preventable.”    Responses from parents and children were quite consistent and revealed regular and consistent helmet use and supervision were more commonly endorsed when riding horses compared to handling them on the ground. There were just a few responses that differed; specifically, parents believed children’s helmet use occurred more frequently when handling horses on the ground compared to their children’s reports. The same was true for the answers regarding supervision when working around horses from the ground.   'Once Bit, Twice Shy' not the case in equine research study   When incidents did occur, it was mainly parents and coaches who addressed them. Therefore, a proactive suggestion would be for both coaches and parents to have current first aid training and knowledge about concussions. The study also identified many benefits associated with riding, which Genik identified with, having been involved with horses since a young age herself. “It is a fantastic sport and there has been many positive changes in regards to safety around horses over recent years,” says Genik, “but we still need to do more. Specifically, we think there would be value in learning more about how and what is happening when these incidents occur – this could allow us to more specifically inform, develop and implement targeted interventions to relevant stakeholders.”   Genik hopes future research into the relatively unknown prevalence of minor incidents around horses will help parents and riding coaches supervise and educate children in proactive ways, as well as work through incidents and talk about prevention strategies. The development of problem-solving skills was one of the benefits of riding, according to survey participants. This is a great opportunity for parents to apply these problem-solving skills with children.   Future studies collaborating with stables could provide a better understanding of incidents to tailor and update safety programming. Detailed incident reporting and real-time reporting are just a few of the items cited for potential research that could contribute to education influencing behavioural change.   Read the full research paper at ScienceDirect.com   Equine Guelph has been happy to support this important research. With the same goals for increasing safety through education, Equine Guelph offers online courses benefiting anyone who handles horses. Visit TheHorsePortal.ca for the next offering of Horse Behaviour & Safety. This short course is available for both Adults and Youth (age 13 – 17) and our students say, “I recommend this course for everyone involved with horses to gain a better understanding of their behaviour and how we can make safety our top priority.”   Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph in Canada. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government - for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information, visit www.equineguelph.ca.   Story by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions

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The Central Ontario Standardbred Association has partnered with The Farm Games, creators of ‘Off and Pacing’ and ‘Catch Driver,’ to bring you a never before seen experience – a fully immersive VR arcade harness racing game. Ryan Clements of The Farm Games is excited for the opportunity, stating, “We were thrilled to have found a partner in COSA to help develop this game, without them it would have remained just a dream, but now it is a reality! “This type of industry partnership is exactly what we need in order to continue innovating within the sport we love. We are very grateful for the opportunity, and we believe this game is going to create some waves!” Fans will feel like they are truly a part of the action as they sit in the sulky and control their horse using realistic reins. The game will put the player directly into a race with other Catch Driver players, so others can play along from their phones. Keep an eye out for this exciting new game to show up at an Ontario racetrack this spring! From The Farm Ventures
It has been announced that the Prince County Horsemen’s Club’s 2019 awards banquet will take place on April 11, 2020 at Credit Union Place Convention Centre in Summerside, and Rene Allard is going to be this year’s guest speaker. Allard is coming off yet another solid season, as starters from his operation won 339 races and banked $5.91-million in purses in 2019. Over the course of his career, Allard has trained his pupils to 4,545 wins and more than $53.7-million in purses. Social hour will start at 6:00 p.m. and awards dinner at 7:00 p.m. Jimmy Flynn will provide entertainment after the awards dinner, followed by music and dancing to end the evening. Tickets are now on sale. All seating will be assigned. Also, a limited number of tables of eight are currently available. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased from Lynn Whitlock (629-3346), Earl Watts (626-9444), Frank Banks (439-2981), Deanna Clow (629-9175), Darla MacEachern (439-5522), Jansen Sweet (856-0166) or Kingsley Walsh (432-4121). (With files from the Prince County Horsemen’s Club)
MILTON, ON - February 20, 2020 - Woodbine Mohawk Park would like to inform all harness racing horspeople that training has been cancelled for this Saturday morning (February 22). The cancellation is to allow the track crew an opportunity to prepare the racing surface for live racing on Saturday night. Horsepeople are reminded that track is regularly open for training Tuesday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to Noon. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment  
MILTON, ON - February 20, 2020 - Woodbine Entertainment today announced that the inaugural Mohawk Million for two-year-old harness racing trotters will officially be contested on Saturday, September 26, 2020 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The deadline to purchase one of nine slots in the Mohawk Million was February 18, 2020 and Woodbine has received purchase contracts to fill all slots. A $55,000 payment was required by the February 18, 2020 deadline and those that receive slots will be required to submit a second $55,000 payment by June 1. "We are thrilled to announce that the inaugural Mohawk Million is officially moving ahead," said Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment. "On behalf of our board of directors and our fans, thank you to the owners who are helping make this innovative event a reality. We are confident that this race is going to be a huge success and we hope that it will become a staple on the Woodbine Mohawk Park stakes calendar." Woodbine will not be releasing the final number of purchasers or names at this time, in order to allow any additional purchase contracts and cheques submitted by mail to arrive. Woodbine asks that any owners who have mailed a purchase contract and have not received confirmation of its arrival to immediately contact Bill McLinchey, Director of Racing, at bmclinchey@woodbine.com. The final number of purchasers and next steps regarding slot distribution will be announced in the coming week. The Mohawk Million is a $1 million (USD) harness race for two-year-old trotters that follows a buy-in formula. The race has ten slots with nine available for purchase at a cost of $110,000. The tenth and final slot will be awarded to the winner of the William Wellwood Memorial, which will be contested on Saturday, September 12, 2020. The Mohawk Million will take place on Saturday, September 26, 2020 at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Milton, Ontario and will become Canadian harness racing's richest race of the season. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment
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