12/14/2017 2:54PM

Ontario Racing, Standardbred Alliance merge

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The board of Ontario Racing and members of the Standardbred Alliance have voted to merge the two organizations, creating an independent organization that will represent all Ontario racetracks and horse racing industry associations in the province with a unified voice, according to a press release put out by Ontario Racing on Thursday.

The combined 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 the 15 racetracks and racing industry associations across the province.

Ontario Racing will create a not-for-profit to be called 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 benefit on multiple operational cost savings.

“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, chairman of Ontario Racing’s 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 model that ensures the sustainability of three breeds of horse racing in Ontario. It is in the industry’s desire to have the government funding agreement, of approximately $100 million annually, entrusted to Ontario Racing to establish a more independent self-governing industry.”

The new organization is committed to having a three-year business plan in place by April 1. The plan will include guarantees of purse payments to all member tracks, stakes programs, and racing 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,” said Sue Leslie, the Ontario president of the 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.”