Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ontario News, Go For Soda & Wednesday Notes

Good morning racing fans!

In Ontario more transitional funding deals were completed, this time with Flamboro, Georgian and Fort Erie. All three might be surprising to some (I expected Fort Erie to race, but with the horsemen, tracks and White Knight of some sort pulling together $5M or so, not the government), but I think we've seen a pretty stout shift in the government's view.

Earlier this year they seemed to be focused on making racing "sustainable" with a plan, which was welcomed (I use that term loosely of course). It appeared the province would have six or seven workable tracks in 2013, spending time and (transitional) money trying to set the table for growth when the transitional money ran out. If there are going to be six tracks racing in three years, the first three with transitional funding should be a trial run of that. Instead we might have twice that amount racing in '13.

I am not sure this is great for racing in the Province in the long term. In New Jersey, the last year of casino money was used to prop up the tracks, then when it ran out, the Meadowlands was about to shut and Monmouth had to be sold to horsemen. If the Province and handle is only going to be able to support six tracks on its own in the long term, why do we have twelve or fourteen? With transitional money to places like the above, it seems they've moved to doing what government's do best - spreading the money around and politicking - hoping everyone puts a sock in it. It helps them, I think, but it doesn't help racing come to grips with what it has to do long term to survive when the taps are shut off, and we're back down to five or six tracks.

Shifting gears slightly, the more I read about testing and positives in other jurisdictions, the more I believe Ontario and the ORC (and to some extent Woodbine) should take a bow. In Florida, Jamie Ness just received a high TCO2 test and will be sent to the detention barn. Tampa Bay Downs tests for soda in house. Reading the comments section, vets are running around (seemingly) everywhere treating horses on raceday.

In Ontario the regulator took this stuff seriously. D barns were set up at Woodbine's direction and other Ontario tracks followed suit for big races. Out of competition testing was implemented and it worked, catching some with EPO. The ORC passed "no treatment on raceday" directives long ago, suspended vets and so on. They were also the first regulator to pass mandatory necropsy's if horses have died, and made trainers keep a vet passport too. They took their job seriously.

With slots ending and Ontario racing facing an implosion, the little lost fact of it is that this province has the best program for horse safety and drugs in North America, in my opinion. Other jurisdictions can learn a lot from Ontario, regarding the use of slot money for the long term health of the sport, and regulation.

Notes: 

We spoke about how trainers are very open for the most part with their horses in harness racing, and how the new Meadowlands initiaitve of asking them how their horse is off time off is a good thing. A trainer who does not mind sharing his horse's health in the runner game with the masses is Kenny McPeek:
Baconater made a funny today. Dale Romans, who has been a lasix advocate for horse safety and doing right by the horse, says he is going to race more overseas, where there is no lasix:
HANA and Derby Wars announce their second annual challenge. $10,000 is up for grabs. I am playing so feel free to take my money. But don't brag about it, money of mine seemingly gets taken most days lately! Also, HANA expects to have their updated track ratings out soon too, which most find a good resource on pool size, field size and takeout rates. Those things are rarely published by the industry for bettors to use.

The Big M is increasing purses for younger horses. That is a step in the right direction. This past weekend in Harness Racing Update (page 3, pdf), much was written on the harness stakes season, and how it could be better with a grading system, and structuring stakes with a "big tent" not a small tent feel.

Have a great day everyone!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ontario: Back to bandaids..... having FE, FB and GN race makes no sense, because all three will be closed in three years when there is no subsidy.

Ontario needs to take their medicine and get on with it.

Pull the Pocket said...

Anon,

I think those deals are for one year, not three, so one would expect those three tracks will not be racing this time next year.

PTP

Cangamble said...

Don't count Fort Erie out next year. The track is as invincible as Chucky.