06/14/2013 12:41PM

Ontario government extends support of Horse Improvement Program

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TORONTO, Ontario – The Ontario government announced Friday that it would be extending its support of the province’s racing industry by allocating another $30 million to the Horse Improvement Program in 2014 and 2015.

That amount, equal to this year’s funding, is to be divided equally between Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds and includes funding for restricted stakes races, bonuses available for Ontario foals in open races, owner and breeders awards, and equine research in support of the province’s breeding industry.

“Continuing to invest in this forward-looking program gives the horse racing and breeding industry confidence that there will be a future here for Ontario-bred horses,” Kathleen Wynne, Ontario’s premier and minister of agriculture and food, said in a statement.

The continued support is in keeping with recommendations made last year by a Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel that was comprised of three cabinet ministers appointed to come up with recommendations to keep the industry afloat following the end of the slots-at-racetracks programs on March 31, 2013.

Those slots operations had provided 10 percent of net revenue to racetracks for operating expenses and 10 percent to horsemen for purses.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation now leases the ontrack slots operation under confidential terms.

The government has provided “transitional funding” for 12 racetracks, including Woodbine and Fort Erie. Those terms also are confidential.

Beginning June 21, the panel will begin a new round of consultation with stakeholders on creating a more sustainable future for horse racing and integrating horse racing into the province’s gaming strategy.

The final plan is due in October.