December 14, 2017 (Toronto, Ontario) – The Board of Ontario Racing and members of the Standardbred Alliance have voted to merge the two existing organizations. The combined entity will be an independent, not-for-profit industry organization that will represent all Ontario racetracks and horse racing industry associations in the Province with one unified voice.
“We’re excited to announce the merger of the two organizations to create a more inclusive Ontario Racing with an expanded membership and governance mandate,” said Hugh Mitchell, Chair of Ontario Racing Board of Directors. “Both the board of Ontario Racing and the Standardbred Alliance are confident that the merger will create a unified voice for racing to advocate for the sector’s interests and ultimately negotiate a long-term funding agreement that ensures the sustainability of three breeds of horse racing in Ontario.”
The newly formed entity will create a more cost-effective and streamlined approach to industry administration and governance, as well as a more collaborative and effective approach to decision-making and strategic planning on behalf of 15 racetracks and racing industry associations across the Province.
The new merged association will enter into a management agreement with Ontario Racing Management (ORM), utilizing shared resources from Woodbine Entertainment’s management team. This formula follows the successful business model of the Standardbred Alliance and allows racetracks to realize on multiple operational cost savings.
“Members of the Standardbred Alliance have benefitted from Woodbine Entertainment’s expertise and have realized countless benefits including greater operational efficiencies and a coordinated approach to overcoming shared challenges,” said Ian Fleming of Clinton Raceway.
The newly merged organization is committed to having a three-year business plan in place by April 1, 2018. The plan will include guarantees of purse payments for all member tracks, staking programs and race schedules, as well as establishing and administering common racetrack rules and policies.
“Once the long-term funding model is determined, the sector can move towards a more sustainable plan for racing, which includes strengthening the industry to meet public demand and ensure the long-term success of viable racetracks,” said Sue Leslie, President, Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. “We need to work together, all racetracks and horsepeople, and we are committed to working collaboratively with all industry stakeholders moving forward.”
“The alliance track model has helped stabilize racing since its inception. Merging the alliance tracks and OR will create a unified voice to communicate with Government and secure the long-term funding. ORM will help sustain racing in Ontario for years to come,” said Bill O’Donnell, President of Central Ontario Standardbred Association.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ontario Racing (OR) and Standardbred Alliance (SA) Merger
Who decided that the Standardbred Racetrack Alliance would merge with OR?
The Boards of Directors of both the Standardbred Alliance and Ontario Racing voted to merge into one new, stronger independent, not-for-profit industry association to represent all racetracks and racing industry associations across the Province.
Why are OR and SA merging?
The horse racing industry’s current leadership model is fragmented. Various independently operated industry associations, coupled with the diverging interests of racetracks across the Province, have hindered Ontario’s horse racing industry from channeling its full economic potential.
How will the new merged organization be different?
The new organization will include members of all racetracks and stakeholders in the industry (including Thoroughbred, Standardbred and Quarterhorse racing industry associations), and will therefore, provide stronger, more effective and efficient industry leadership for the racing sector. This more united, stronger voice is needed to put the sector on a more sustainable path. As the industry association for horse racing, the new merged organization will work collaboratively with the OLG to negotiate the long-term funding agreement.
What will Ontario Racing Management (ORM) do?
ORM will create an annual business plan to provide for the effective administration of the industry and management of annual long-term funding. ORM will provide administration and funding management with respect to the HIP programs, manage a central race office, establishing live race schedules and post times for all racetracks, with a mandate of maximizing pari‐mutuel wagering for all Members, manage an equine welfare program, and market and promote the horse racing industry as a vital part of Ontario’s agricultural, sports, entertainment and gaming sectors, including marketing and promotion of horse ownership.
How will industry interests and government funding be handled by the new organization?
The new merged association will utilize its strength, capacity and, knowledge to provide industry oversight to create a viable and self‐sufficient horse racing industry in Ontario. In so doing, it will create an infrastructure of racetracks, breeders, owners, trainers that strengthens the economics of the industry, as well as ensuring that the economic benefits of horse racing support investment and growth in rural Ontario. Among the many benefits are a more cost-effective and streamlined approach to industry administration and governance, as well as a more collaborative and effective approach to decision making and strategic planning.
Why will Ontario Racing Management be a wholly owned subsidiary of Woodbine Entertainment Group?
In order to maintain efficiencies in operations and best use of the existing racetrack and supporting infrastructure, and in light of its broad-based industry knowledge and operational expertise, the new merged association will enter into a management agreement with Ontario Racing Management (ORM) such that the day to day business operations will be managed by ORM. ORM will benefit from utilizing shared services from WEG.
How will the creation of a new merged organization affect the proposed long-term funding agreement?
The new organization will work collaboratively with the OLG to negotiate the long-term funding agreement, which will then be distributed to Ontario Racing Management (ORM) to allocate under a fair and transparent formula through a business plan approved by the Board of Directors of the new merged entity. Once the long-term funding model is determined, the sector can move towards a more sustainable plan for its future.
How does the merger impact OR?
Ontario Racing (OR) will continue to carry out all of its current responsibilities, programs and services as using the management services of ORM. It is intended that the transfer payment for administration funding will continue to be paid to the new merged entity.
What about the racetracks that aren’t currently in the SA?
The new merged association’s membership will include every racetrack in the province. All member racetracks will benefit from more efficient administration and a streamlined approach to live race scheduling. This structure will allow tracks to conduct races at their respective racetracks independently, but with a common slate of procedures and protocols.
Who can I contact to get more information?
Contact Mike Chopowick, Acting Executive Director for Ontario Racing,email@example.com, or Hugh Mitchell, Chair of the Ontario Racing Board of Directors, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally posted on Ontario Racing