Ontario government recently instigated a new lockdown that resulted in the suspension of Standardbred horse racing events in the province. The government has announced that funds have been allocated to Ontario Lottery Gaming Corporation to be paid as benefits to those affected by the suspension of races.
The horse racing industry is in its toughest season due to the constant lockdown and changing restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These restrictions are negatively affecting the long-term sustainability of the sport. The 28 stay-at-home order by the Ontario government puts the province race track on hold to an undetermined timeframe.
The news of financial support is a relief for the horse people. John Hayes, the head of the racing regulator, announced about the payment of benefits noting that the live harness regulator must maintain the wellbeing of the industry and the lives of thousands of workers by supporting them in hard times.
Horses and horse people scheduled to race on Saturday, April 3rd, 2021, and Sunday, April 4th, 2021, will receive a one-time payment of CA$300. The Sunday and Saturday events were to take place in Woodbine Mohawk Park, Rideau Carleton, and Western Fair venues.
For the month of April, eligible horsepeople will receive CA$1, 000. Eligible horses must have stabled in Ontario and have a registered line in the province. Horses must also not partaking in the current provincial training exercises.
The second requirement is that all horses aged 3 to 4 years and who haven’t raced in 2021 to receive a CA$1,000 in relief funding. Horses who have remained in Ontario between 1st September and 23rd December 2020 will be eligible for the benefits payments. For a horse to be eligible, it must remain in the province for a whole month and its first start must be in the province.
Woodbine Entertainment is seeking the renewal of the season once the current lockdown is eased. Horse racing leader sent Mayor Milton Gordon Krantz a formal letter requesting a discussion about the future of the industry. Woodbine Entertainment states that racing should restart after the expiries of lockdown to avoid further damaging the industry.
The 28 days stay at home order has prompted the gaming leader to shut down its Ontario horse racing properties. Horse training exercises at Woodbine Mohawk Park and Woodbine Race Track Etobicoke have been halted. It is not yet clear whether the properties will reopen after May 6th.