From The Mailbox

May 10, 2005

Slack & Juravinski Deserve Hall Of Fame Consideration

I have just had the pleasure of reading the May issue of The Harness Edge which featured the article on Bill Slack whom I have known and worked with for over 50 years.

It was a great story and showed how versatile he was on the racing scene in Montreal.  He did a lot and contributed a lot.  We don’t find those kind of racetrack people anymore.

The magazine arrived at the same time the nominations for this year’s inductions to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame were announced and they are indeed a worthy group.  It’s really too bad they won’t all be chosen.

This got me thinking that perhaps there are others who merit consideration and for whatever reason don’t get nominated and therefore aren’t considered.  I can think of two people in this class - Bill Slack and Charles Juravinski.

The article written by Paul Delean gives all the details on Bill Slack’s working life.  As for Charlie, here is a man who built and operated Flamboro Downs for about 30 years, provided substantial purses for horsemen, created jobs at the track, served the industry by helping create OHRIA and served on its board and also served on the Executive Committee of the Canadian Trotting Association (now Standardbred Canada).

He also bred, raised and raced Standardbred horses and had the good fortune of having two of his horses, Matts Scooter and Ellamony, enter the Hall of Fame.

However, his crowning achievement, and this has happened just recently, is his charitable contributions in the medical field in the Hamilton area.  The effects of his generosity will be felt for years to come.  What more does he need to do to be considered?

I am assuming that no one has sent in a letter of nomination for Bill and/or Charlie.  However, for 2006 I will make a point of personally sending the letter of nomination for these two deserving men.

Michael MacCormac, Montreal, P.Q.




NCRHHA Negotiates For RCR Not OHHA

You and your publication and others have been misled. No matter what motions were passed at the District 1 meeting of the Ontario Harness Horse Association, held in Ottawa on March 14th, OHHA will NOT be negotiating with anyone on behalf of the National Capital Region Harness Horse Association (NCRHHA).

OHHA has no standing vis-à-vis the contract at Rideau Carleton Raceway (RCR). The parties to that contract are RCR and NCRHHA and it's for five years. The ORC has approved of the 'winter race dates'.

OHHA would not listen to their constituents in District 1 who have been asking for winter race dates for the last four years. The NCRHHA was formed and is responsive to the needs of the local members. I hope this clarifies the situation.

Gerry White, Ottawa, Ont.



McIntosh Says Pay Up For Provincial Cup

I think that those owners and trainers who have paid the first payment to the Provincial Cup at Windsor should also make the March 15th payment.

It is my belief that the track is aware that the date change would not work but are now hoping that if enough people do not make the March payment they can cancel the race based on lack of separate betting interests.

In the event that they do get their way and the Provincial Cup is cancelled, all stake payments would have to be refunded so the owners/trainers would not suffer any losses if they make the March 15th payment.

Bob McIntosh, LaSalle, Ont.



Siegel Unimpressed With Windsor’s Plans

I am very annoyed with Windsor Raceway’s proposal to try and change the date of this year’s Provincial Cup from May to December.

Money aside, Windsor does not seem to understand the number of owners who put in countless hours with their trainers organizing the race schedules of the many horses that each own, to rate the capabilities of every horse and to try to avoid any conflicts of race dates of each horse. After we have made these decisions, paid the nomination fees in good faith, along come changes that give little regard to the fact that race dates had been skipped in order to race in the Provincial Cup. 

Windsor’s decision shows very little respect to the owners and trainers of this year’s Provincial Cup nominees, many of which will now miss other stakes events that would have conflicted with the original race date. I am not impressed.

Jules Siegel, New Hope, Pa.




Enough Is Enough

Having read about the latest Ontario Harness Horse Association debacle in Ottawa on Monday evening I have to ask the question when will this organization stop embarrassing its membership?

The executive, if not the entire board of directors, continues to behave in a fashion that should require them all to resign in disgrace. If they were board members of a publicly traded company that would be the minimum that they would do. 

Let's take a look at what has happened this last year and the steps the organization took: 

1. Supported a trainer who subsequently was dealt a heavy fine and lengthy suspension for serious breaches of the rules of Standardbred racing in this province. 

2. Provided financial support for a trainer who contributed to the death of a horse through failure to properly drench a horse. 

3. Through mismanagement of the purse accounts of a number of racetracks was forced to submit to a financial audit by the Ontario Racing Commission and subsequently was dealt a $100,000 fine despite that agency's reluctance to call it a fine. 

4. Failed to work with the members of District 1 which subsequently led to that group negotiating their own contract with Rideau Carleton Raceway and the formation of a new horsemen's association. 

5. Attempted to pass a by-law which would allow the board to eliminate any fellow board member they deemed to be in conflict with the views of the majority of that board. Fortunately, the membership would not allow this. 

6. Passed the most ridiculous of constitutional amendments forbidding non-Ontario residents to be allowed to join the OHHA.

7. Launched a $10 million lawsuit against Windsor Raceway. 

8. Launched a $6.25 million lawsuit against harnessdrivers.com and several OHHA members for alleged slander.

9. Failed to have proper documentation of expenses paid to directors of the organization.

10. Permitted the expenditure of approximately $700,000 in legal fees for a variety of battles.

Need we say more? It seems with each passing week there is another issue which the OHHA board attempts to champion. The group has been the most divisive body that I can ever recall in my 30 some years of being involved in the harness racing industry. This simply cannot continue with little accountability because the membership deserves better.

It is discouraging that people have not risen up and demanded the resignation of this entire board for their actions. Surely, enough is enough.

Ron Durand,
Brantford, Ontario




Dear Mr Blakney:

Would you please explain to me why it took you 10 days to make public your findings since you addressed the OHHA directors at their annual meeting in Mississauga Feb. 4/2005? At that meeting you presented them with the findings of the ORC audit and your course of action.

I feel as a member that I have every right to these findings in a timely fashion. Your findings to me seem somewhat evasive in reporting. You can try and colour coat things any way that you want but, a $100,000 fine by any other description is a $100,000 fine.
 
Further to your findings I have now presented you with new information and I expect your full attention to the matter. It is your duty as the head of the ORC to act on this issue and I would appreciate immediate action.

On Tuesday Feb. 8/2005 you and I spoke on the telephone and I brought to your attention the fact that on Feb. 5/2005 at the general meeting of OHHA in Mississauga they presented their own audit report to the members in attendance.

You were made aware that it was presented that approximately $190,000 was missing from our purse account. I am of the understanding some of this money was from "over or double" payments made by OHHA to members.

When questioned OHHA representatives could not or would not answer as to where this money was or even if it was recoverable. We were not told what steps would be taken to recover the missing money. It is your duty to contact the OHHA and request answers.

Under rule 6.29 of the Ontario Racing Commission  "Rules of Standardbred Racing Guidelines" If the information requested by the ORC is not forth given. The members not turning over the information will be suspended "Full indefinite suspension".

I realize you are a busy man, but I also feel eight days has been more than enough time for you to execute this request. Please advise me as to your position on this matter.

We further discussed your ability to recover the missing monies under Rule 6.26 of the same racing rules. I am an ORC licencee am following the rules and guidlines set forth by your commission and expect the same of all other participants. It is time for the regulators to regulate or kindly step down and bring in someone who is up to the task.

Thank you,
Randy Rankin




Reflections On OHHA Annual Meeting

As an OHHA member for 17 years I had never felt I needed to attend a meeting, but after reading Joe Parkinson's letter regarding the bylaw changes proposed by the current OHHA executive I felt compelled to come and vote against this board’s proposals. 

What most people who were not present at this meeting will not realize is that there was little opportunity for those opposed to the board’s proposals to present much discussion on other issues other than the issue of existing directors being allowed to vote out another director.

I came away from the meeting shaking my head that this group has the responsibility of promoting the Standardbred business in this province and is responsible for distributing $192,609,642.00 CDN  of purse distribution in Ontario for 2003/2004, (figures from pg 36 Trot, Feb 2005). 

My observations:

-obviously the OHHA executive were able to be more organized than the horse people who showed up to the meeting and accomplish the approval of the existing auditors before any discussion took place. After some of the issues were brought to light a motion was made to take a second vote on the approval of the auditors which was denied. 

-allowing only 1 hour for the annual meeting, (considering the issues with the ORC suspension and financial issues) was a deliberate attempt by the OHHA to prevent discussion about their actions. 

-(from last year’s minutes), the annual meeting for 2003 held in Jan. 2004 took only 25 min, beginning at 2:15 and ending at 2:40, in which the OHHA president did not even attend. 

-during the meeting it was stated that the president did not attend two of the meetings in which the issue of directors being able to remove another director was voted on, when questioned on this, he stated he could not remember whether he attended the meetings or not. This raises the question of whether this person is mentally competent to represent and act as the association president. 

-towards the end of the meeting the president stated that there were people waiting to move into the room and unfortunately many of those horse people who were there to oppose began to leave the room. A motion was then made by George Millar to meet within 30 days to allow discussion on other issues, which could not be brought forward at this meeting. This was defeated, because many of the people present in support of the board did not leave.

-it was apparent to me that the existing executive of the OHHA appears to be an arrogant, self serving group who do not wish to allow any discussion of current issues by OHHA members, and it is only because the opposition does not seem to be able to organize sufficiently do they continue to operate in this fashion. 

-I wonder what the recorded minutes of this meeting will show? Usually the minutes of an annual meeting only become available at the next year’s annual meeting, at which time everyone has forgotten what was said. From my own experience the only things that count from a legal point are what is recorded in the minutes. It is plausible that this board could edit the minutes to leave only what they wish to be recorded. Does anyone in the membership have the right to go and read the minutes at the offices of the OHHA? When will they be available? 

-Any organization involved in as much litigation as the current OHHA is an organization with a lot of problems. The icing on this cake is the recent $100,000 penalty charge levied by the ORC for the necessity of the inquiry just concluded. In addition to that amount I recall a figure of $400,000.00 was mentioned at the meeting as money spent on lawyers by the current OHHA board. (In the 2004 financial statement a total of $780,819.00 is a total for "professional fees", for 2003/2004, $506,943.00 in 2004, up from $273,876.00 in 2003.) This kind of item ought to be itemized with a bit more information. What kind of an auditor would approve this on a financial statement without a footnote? 

There are many lurking issues which exist today that have the potential to have a negative impact on horseracing in Canada, why do we have to put up with the kind of behaviour and decisions that the current OHHA board has been making? 

Does anybody know how to remove these people from power before they do more harm to this industry?

I would be more than happy to be corrected by any OHHA board member if any of my statements here reflect anything other than reality. I would hope that some response from our president would be forthcoming considering the content of what I have been reading on this website. But then again, that arrogance thing probably is getting in the way.

ARROGANCE: someone said to me is: ignorance with attitude. Seems an appropriate definition.

I wonder whether they will terminate my membership now?

Chris Brown, Mississauga, Ontario




Hopping Mad

As a person who has been a member of the Ontario Harness Horse Association for over 30 years I am writing to publicly state how upset I am over the organization’s decision to forbid me to continue to be a member any longer.

I am 64 years old; I supported the organization when it needed support by people like me but now I am cast out because I do not live in Ontario.  Isn’t it a bit ironic that here in Quebec, which is supposed to be so separatist, that an Ontario resident can still be a member of ATAQ (Quebec Trotting & Pacing Association) with full voting privileges?

The horse racing industry in this country is not big enough to be taking such tactics.  It is discriminatory and even though a small number of members voted for it, I am not sure it would stand up in today’s court of law.

In my time as a member I was very proud to be an OHHA member and worked for the betterment of people in the Ottawa Valley region.  I live just across the river from Ottawa and of the 2,594 races that I have won over the years I would estimate that 2,000 of them took place at Rideau Carleton Raceway.  That was the track we all looked forward to racing at and still did up until now.

So now as non-Ontario residents we are allowed to be licensed by the Ontario Racing Commission to race in the province, Standardbred Canada willingly licenses us to race in Ontario (and everywhere else in this country for that matter) but the OHHA, which is supposed to be the voice of the horse people, says that because of where we live we are not allowed to be part of the organization.  What bloody difference does it make as to where a man lives?

I am so upset over the gall of the board and those few members who were at that meeting 10 days ago to support this.  The truth of the matter is that if the Quebec horse people were not racing at Rideau Carleton the track would lose 50 percent of its horse population.  It is a unique situation where we are like it or not.

The long-term result of this is that it drives another wedge into the racing industry.  Am I sour?  You bet I am as are a number of other people.  This organization has lost its way and if racing keeps pulling stunts like this there will be no industry left.

People need to speak up and be heard.  What the OHHA has done is wrong – plain and simple.

Robert O’Dwyer, Aylmer, P.Q.




Thoughts and Perspective on the Standardbred Industry and Its People

I very much appreciated having had the opportunity to serve a term as a Director of Standardbred Canada and hope that I’ve had some significant input after being the first Chair of our Island Industry Association and when the initiative was taken to bring the Maritimes into the Canadian fold.  Being on the S.C. Board of Directors has certainly been a very worthwhile experience for me.  Simply meeting and having discussions with industry leaders from across the country broadens one’s perspective and knowledge of our common problems and possible solutions.

I’m taking this opportunity to raise some questions and suggest some solutions on what I feel to be some of the more serious issues facing our industry. 

Breeding

In the 25 to 30 years we’ve been breeding Standardbreds, after spending my lifetime breeding purebred dairy cattle, it is my observation that we have improved the breed exponentially, from the standpoint of speed, conformation, and temperament.  I’m afraid the downside of this rapid improvement is at our peril for the long term future.  We have narrowed the base of our studs almost exclusively to the Hal Dal line (Adios, Dale Frost); then to (Meadow Skipper, Bret Hanover, Silent Majority); then to (Albatross, Most Happy Fella, Abercrombie); to today’s super sires like Artsplace, Western Hanover, Life Sign, and the Cam Fella sons Camluck and Cams Card Shark, the sons of whom will almost surely be our future sires.

In the few years that we’ve been in the business, we’ve lost the sire lines of Billy Direct (Tar Heel), Volomite (Bye Bye Byrd, Harold J.), the Axworthy (Knight Dream, Duane Hanover), and are precariously close to losing the Sampson Direct – Direct Scooter line.  The Gene Abe – Big Towner line will soon be lost as Big Towner sons, though having made an impact regionally; no sons of them are likely to be used to any extent.

You are right in that this has not affected us to this point in time, as we’ve had the influence of these great sires of the past, through our mares.  That will end in another generation or two; then where do we go?  I don’t have the answer. We haven’t had the foresight to freeze semen and allow it to be used in a selective manner in the future.  We’ve tended to be ‘hung-up’ on things like the number of Embryo Transplants we can register from a mare and not looking at our direction several years down the road.  The two or three E.T. foals from a mare, in any given year, wouldn’t have any great impact on our future.  Maybe it will in our next year’s sales, and this is where we are getting ‘hung-up’.

Generic Marketing and Promotion

Any track, province or state attempting to survive without it has a dismal future. Having said that, we must not allow ourselves to become complacent and reliant upon other forms of gaming to the detriment of our own longstanding dependence on pari-mutuel wagering.

What are we doing to truly market our product?  The answer has to be very little.  A track struggling to pay the taxes and utility bills isn’t likely to have funds for marketing.  In all likelihood, that track doesn’t have the facilities that are such to attract new fans or owners, but where we have the facilities, we must promote our product to the max.

As the new, attractive, user-friendly facilities come online, and they are from coast to coast, we, through Standardbred Canada or a subsidiary there of, must implement a national marketing and promotions programs like we’ve never known before.

It must be ‘generic’ in nature, probably including the runners, that is funded by all segments of the industry, but chiefly by breeders and tracks as they’ll be the major benefactors of such an endeavor.  Much expertise and vision must be utilized in the development of such a project; in the area of funding (it will require big bucks); means of effective marketing and the structure required to implement and operate this most essential program.

A couple of simple possibilities that come to mind: Why do Tim Horton’s and President’s Choice display their products so effectively on their tractor trailers as they crisscross the countryside?  We also have such trucks and trailers, so let’s develop a decal with race horses and ‘Horse Racing – You Can Bet On It!”  We’ll need the right to control the use and maintenance of such material.

Secondly, we must have people who can present the many joys of being part of our business at service clubs, and any group or organization that is willing to hear and see what we have to offer. 

No product or commodity can exist, let alone expect growth, in today’s world, without an extensive marketing strategy.  I realize we have some promotional projects underway, but not of the nature that will have any immediate impact on the growth of the industry. 

Other primary producers, whether it is milk, eggs, beef or pork, spend millions in generic advertising of their product.  We’re limited only by our imagination and the will to get on with the job. 

Presentation of our Product

Once the facilities and infrastructure are in place, the ball is in our court.  How good a product are we going to present?  We must accept the highest degree of discipline and regulation, so both betters and fans will look upon us as being the ultimate in integrity to the best extent that man and beast can provide.

Finally, if we are going to attract new owners and fans (fans more particularly) we must be prepared to do something about the use of WHIPS. One hand being made free to flail a horse down the ‘home stretch’ is not acceptable in this day and age.  We as ‘old horse people’ may be aware that in most cases, the weapon is only striking the shaft or saddle blanket, but new prospective fans of our sport are not aware of this.  They can easily be permanently turned off by such actions and loose all desire to become part of our sport.

“Perception can be as bad or worse than reality”.

There is a very simple solution, if we have the intestinal fortitude to implement it: “A rein or line in each hand holder at all times during the race and a much-shortened whip or prop.”

Some will argue that this will result in loose lining or throwing the reins at the horse.  We have judges in the stand and it’s up to them to ensure that this is not happening. They need to be prepared to penalize harshly until such a time as the drivers realize that this is neither acceptable nor necessary.  Who’ll be the first jurisdiction to implement this rule?  God bless you, as others will surely follow.

Solidarity in our Industry Organizations

The formation of Industry organizations, including all horse interests within a province or jurisdiction, has become the norm. Ontario set the example of what can be accomplished in this regard.  Governments and other institutions are not prepared to have an ear to a splintered industry.

It is of the utmost importance that this solidarity stay in place after our chief objective has been achieved.  There is a strong tendency for the various interest groups within the industry to want to take things into their own hands, if it appears to be in their best interests.  This must not be allowed to happen.  Permanent solidarity is absolutely essential; if your representation is not adequate, replace him or her, but never, never allow our industry voice to be under mined by selfish interests.

Thank you for allowing me to express some thoughts on the future of our great “Sport/Industry”.

Wally Wood

Woodmere Farm, Charlottetown, PEI




More On OHHA Membership Restrictions

Mr. Belliveau, I believe membership to the OHHA should not be restricted to Ontario residents but to those participating in the racing industry in Ontario, whatever their capacity - owner, trainer, groom etc.  There are many who in my opinion would be valuable assets and allies to the OHHA.

It is my belief that the only reasoning behind the decision of making the requirement for membership of the OHHA a restriction that allows only Ontario residents access was fueled by a hidden agenda which was to silence the voice of Quebec members at Rideau Carleton Raceway.

When horsemen at RCR finally decided enough was enough and they did not accept the representation they were getting from the OHHA is when this action arose. When our Quebec members rallied with the Ontario members that had the wherewithal to stand up to the OHHA, the OHHA was loosing control.

In the past RCR horsemen were very apathetic. With the support of our Quebec members we were finally able to make our common sense vote count at RCR. In order to silence the Quebec vote and continue to push the agenda of the OHHA executive wishes this restriction had to be implemented.

Is was a bad and sad decision to do so but one we will have to live with as long as the current leadership is in place at OHHA. We can only hope that a change in leadership at OHHA will restore the OHHA to what it should be, an organization with equal representation and membership of all who participate in the Ontario horse industry.

Those are my thoughts.

Sincerely, 

Randy Rankin




Why Restrict Membership?

Although I believe in democracy, I fail to understand the logic behind the OHHA's decision on restricting the membership to Ontario residents. Is there is a group of non-Ontario residents wanting to take over the Association and dictate how things should be run in your beautiful province?

I'm not sure who promoted the idea of reducing the size of the Association but if only for financial reasons, I would think the OHHA should be actively recruiting non-residents. An increase in membership would likely decrease the costs of benefits (e.g. insurance). Having opinions from members all over North America could do nothing but improve the standard of your association. As it was stated in an earlier letter, many people such as myself race horses in Ontario and breed to Ontario stallions.

I belong to a few American associations who believe that they are better because they include international members. I honestly feel like I am not wanted on the Ontario racing scene. There is a bitter taste in my mouth but I cannot help but to think of a famous Barbara Stanwyck line "I've been kicked out of better places than this" (Mexicali Rose - 1929).

Dan Belliveau, Halifax NS




Why Does OHHA Restrict Membership?

What in the world would make OHHA members vote to restrict membership to Ontario residents only? It sounds like something that we might have expected out of nationalists here in Quebec, not the open society of Ontario.

Many non-Ontario residents purchase Ontario bred horses, race their stable in Ontario and support the industry there. This appears to me to be a slap in the face to them.

I'm proud to say that the membership of ATAQ (Quebec Trotting & Pacing Association) is not limited to specific residence.

Rick Karper,

Vice President, ATAQ




In response to Mr. Grant's letter

Cabrini Hanover set a world record time for two-year old pacing fillies in the Shes A Great Lady and won an elimination of the Breeders Crown.  Lady Dillinger was mainly an OSS competitor outside of winning the consolation of the Shes A Great Lady, she did not compete in the Breeders Crown, and Lady Dillinger did not win her last race, the Canadian Breeders Championship when she was upset by Smiling Beauty. 

The fact that Cabrini Hanover's price was $350,000 and that she is owned by Mr. Willmot and Mr. Anderson should not be held against her.  How many of those types of yearlings have we seen never reach their full potential?  Cabrini Hanover met all of the criteria outlined by Standardbred Canada and was a worthy recipient.

If one wanted to question the selection of an O'Brien Award winner, it would have to be Peaceful Way over Housethatruthbuilt.  After the Delvin Miller Memorial in July at the Meadowlands, Peaceful Way did not defeat Housethatruthbuilt the rest of the year.  Housethatruthbuilt was an easy winner of her Simcoe Stakes division by a length and a quarter over Peaceful Way in September at Mohawk, and then Housethatruthbuilt came back the next month and won both her elimination and the final of the Breeders Crown in dominating fashion.  Yes, she only had three starts in Canada (the minimum required to be considered for an O'Brien), but they were all starts against high quality competition and wins to boot. 

Greg Reinhart




Lady Dillinger Was Robbed

I was watching the O'Brien awards this year very carefully with my eyes on one match up in particular: the two year old filly pacer of the year.  It was not a shock to see Cabrini Hanover win over the small time owner's horse Lady Dillinger.  

I mean, how can a "voting" body ever get over her $350,000 price tag  not to mention she is owned in part by David Willmot who just happens to be chief executive of Woodbine Entertainment Group.

The mandate that an O’Brien voter has is to choose the horse that they feel has made the greatest contribution to Canadian harness racing.  Lady Dillinger was this horse as she is a Canadian sired, Canadian bred, and Canadian owned filly who raced all of her starts in Canada. 

My hat goes off to Lady Dillinger as does the hats of 58% of the other voters (on WEG’s online poll) who chose her as the class of the two year old filly field. Bravo Gaetan!

James Grant



Dear OHHA Directors and Membership:

Decembers' issue of The OHHA News, along with the proposed changes to the constitution and by-laws, were delivered to me on January 10/2005.

After reviewing these proposed changes I feel that I am obliged to voice my concerns.

Article 2- I believe that the main objectives stated are too narrow and as such should be changed to reflect what I believe what OHHA is or should be.

Section 5:03- Since I have moved from Ontario to Nova Scotia my opposition could be viewed as self-serving. My reason for opposition is outlined in the proposed amendments I have included.

5:07- This proposed change would allow the board to terminate membership for a subjective reason with no method for appeal.  

8:12- This proposed change would allow the Board of Directors to appoint a director to represent an Association District with no input from the membership.

8:16- This proposed change would allow the Board of Directors to remove an elected Director for subjective reasons and appoint a Director under 8:12 that would be more to their liking.

8:13- Allows the Board of Directors to appoint Directors with the same voting rights as an elected Director. The problem with this is self-evident.

Article 16- Does not allow a member to submit changes to the Constitution and By-laws directly to the membership to vote on. The Constitution and By-laws are the rules that the Board must operate under as these rules reflect the views of the membership. The Board of Directors should not have the right to alter, add to, or delete from the Constitution and By-laws without each member having a vote. This article seems to allow the Board of Directors the right to create changes and implement these changes without approval from the membership for a year.

Schedule "A"- the reference to "the corporation" throughout Schedule A does not allow an elected Director the autonomy to represent the Association District/membership that elected him/her.

To summarize my concerns, it appears that the majority of the proposed changes to the Constitution and By-laws will remove the general membership's voice and allow dictatorial powers to the Board of Directors.

A hypothetical situation that could come about might be as follows. The membership of an Association District, by majority vote, remove an incumbent director and elect another person to represent them. The defeated incumbent is a "friend" of the Board of Directors as a whole.

The newly elected Director could be terminated for subjective reasons, and the Board could appoint the defeated Director to represent the Association District. This could happen with no recourse for the terminated Director or the membership.

 As such, I respectfully submit that following for your perusal and consideration.

Proposed Changes:

Change  Article 2- include in the main objectives of this association so it reads:

The objectives of this association shall be:

  (a) to encourage, improve, and promote the breeding and racing of trotting and pacing horses.

  (b) the fostering and encouragement of a higher degree of skill and professionalism.

  (c) the cultivation of friendship among its members and the elevation of the moral, social, intellectual and economic conditions of its members.

  (d)- This association shall be nonpartisan and shall not be used for the dissemination of partisan principles, nor the promotion of the candidacy of any person seeking public office or preferment.

Proposed change to Article 5. This proposed change should be revisited and withdrawn. I do not believe that the proposed change to Article 5:03 is consistent with the objectives of Article 2, "The main objectives of this association as set out in the charter are to encourage, improve, and promote the breeding and racing of trotting and racing horses."

This proposed amendment will exclude all individuals who breed to Ontario sires, purchase Ontario bred yearlings, own, train, and race in Ontario if their permanent residence is outside of Ontario. These individuals require a voice and that voice should be OHHA. We should be doing everything in our power to promote harness racing and this proposed amendment will not do that in anyway. Rather then exclude and alienate horse people from membership, OHHA should be recruiting non-members to join.

As a point of interest the proposed amendment appears to exclude horse people who support and participate in Ontario's harness racing if they did not live in Ontario, but allow membership to an Ontario resident who chooses  not to race or support Ontario's  harness racing if that member owns in whole or in part, or is a current lessee of a horse in another country {USTA}.

5:07- include: (a) Termination for just cause shall be preferred in the following:

  i- The statement for just cause shall be in writing

  ii-be signed by the President, or Vise-president, and five members of the board

  iii- Contain the facts out of which such action originated and set forth the specific act or acts alleged to constitute just cause.

  iv- state the nature of the violation(s) alleged

  v- Reference to the articles  and sections of this constitution, deemed to have been contravened  or are being violated, and

  vi- a copy of the statement shall be sent by registered mail to the accused.

  (b) Appeal of Termination for just cause:

        i- Any member whose membership has been terminated under article

5:07 may appeal their termination. This member shall remain a member of the Corporation with full voice and vote until such appeal is resolved, and

        ii- The decision to appeal his/her termination shall be in writing and a copy sent to the Chief Operations Officer, via registered mail, within seven days of receipt of notification of termination.

  (c)  The appeal shall be resolved by an Appeal board. This Appeal board shall be held within 30 days of receipt of the decision to appeal, unless mutually agreed to by the Appeal-board and the terminated member.

They will hold the Appeal, unless mutually agreed to, in the Association District in which the terminated member resides. If the accused resides outside the Province of Ontario, the Appeal board will be held at the offices of OHHA.

 (d) Appeal board:

                             (1) The appeal board shall consist of three members selected and appointed by the President of OHHA. If the President is the terminated member,  the 1st. Vice-president will appoint the members of the Appeal board.

                             (2) The members selected to the

Appeal board shall be members in good standing, and who reside in the same Association District as that of the terminated member. The President or 1st. Vice president, shall submit the names of seven members in good standing to the terminated member of which the terminated member may reject four. The three remaining names shall be appointed as the Appeal board.

                             (3) No name submitted for selection to an

Appeal board shall be that of anyone directly or indirectly involved as a party, witness, or otherwise in the conduct that resulted in the termination for just cause. In the event any members are involved, they shall be disqualified to sit as a member of the Appeal-board. The appointing officer will submit three additional names from which the accused will select one to replace the disqualified member.

                             (4) Prior to proceeding with the hearing, the members of the Appeal-board shall elect one of their group as Chairperson. The Chairperson shall preside at the hearing and rule upon all questions and points of order.

                             (5) Each Trial board shall select a certified court reporter to take the official verbatim transcript of the hearing proceedings. All documents or other items offered as exhibits shall be preserved by the Appeal board for a period of one year. A copy of the official transcripts shall be furnished to each party.

                             (6) Decisions of the Appeal board shall be by majority vote, shall be in writing, and shall contain a statement of the pertinent facts involved, and a pronouncement of the verdict.

                             (7) Decision of the Appeal board shall be submitted to the Chief Operating Officer who will send a copy of the decision to all parties involved by registered mail. The decision of the Appeal -Board shall be final and binding unless reversed upon appeal to a general meeting called for that purpose.

 8:12- a vacancy that may arise between the election of directors shall not be filled except by the Article 10 or, at a special meeting called by the Association district where such vacancy exists, and for the expressed reason to elect a member to fill the vacancy. Only those members having a permanent residential address within such

Association-district will be entitled to vote and elect directors for that district.

8:13- delete " and to have full voting powers as directors." and add, appointed directors shall have no voting rights.  

8:16- The removal of a director as per 8:16 shall be deemed a Termination for just cause.

9:04- remove "or appointed"

Article 16-Replace with:  Amendments to the bylaws. No part of these bylaws shall be amended except in the following  manner.

Proposed amendments will be submitted in writing by any member in good standing, and be placed in the hands of the Chief Operating Officer on or before September 1st. All proposed amendments will be referred to the Board of Directors for consideration.  

The membership will be notified of all proposed amendments and the recommendation of the Board of directors, by mail, before October 15th. 

Ballots shall be mailed to all members. Ballots shall be mailed no later then the second Tuesday in November.

Only ballots properly completed by members eligible to vote, and received by the Corporation office by 11:00 a.m. local time on the day of the election of directors shall be counted. A two thirds majority of the votes properly cast shall be necessary to adopt an amendment to these bylaws.

 Article 17- delete.

Schedule "A"- Replace the words "the Corporation" with the words "the membership" in sentence #1; #3; #7.  Replace sentence #4 with; A Director shall recognize that their primary responsibility is to the membership.  

I trust that the amendments I have submitted will be reviewed and considered.

Sincerely,

Ernie Guillemin, Antgonish, NS



Doing Something For Others – An Open Letter To Horsemen In Canada     

All of us have been moved in the past week by the tragedy of epic proportions that is being experienced by the populations of the areas hit by the tsunami. None of us can be immune to this human suffering.

The Standardbred Industry benefits from the "surplus" of our economic system and although we all have personal burdens and needs we must be prepared to give of our resources to help in times of need and tragedy. Although it should never be the reason for giving, it is in our own interest to be generous and caring.

We are calling on our organization to lead a fund raising for the next month or so in a coordinated way to demonstrate our concern and love for our fellow citizens in that part of the world. Perhaps a respected person in our industry, could be asked by Standardbred Canada (and given the secretarial help needed) to lead a "Canada Cares Fund" that would accept donations from breeding farms, trainers, drivers, owners, patrons, tracks and the Ontario Gaming Corp. to raise money to be added to the contribution by the Ontario and Federal Governments to be used in this effort.

We believe that all of us would be amazed at what we can do if we simply give people the chance to be caring and generous.

Respectfully,

Angie and Cal Stiller



The Real Story

I wish to offer comment to yesterday's open letter by Joe Parkinson to Jim Whelan, President of the Ontario Harness Horse Association.
As a former member of the OHHA Constitution Committee, I voted against the proposed change to the constitution that allows a vote by two thirds of the directorship to vote out a director. It should be noted that Jim Whelan who was on that committee did not attend either of the meetings.
However, he called directors Dave Devine and Bill Bannon to the telephone before each meeting. I presume this was to make sure they voted as he wanted them to.
My opinion is that the change is being proposed for the purpose of removing the District 6 director George Millar. George is not wanted on the board by Mr. Whelan and his followers because he expresses his opinion and is a free thinker. This hate mongering cannot be allowed.
I urge all OHHA members to attend the annual meeting on February 5, 2005 at the Delta Meadowvale Hotel in Mississauga, Ontario and not allow this change to the constitution to proceed by voting no.


Lou Liebenau, Thornhill, Ontario


An Open Letter to the President of OHHA:

   It has recently come to my attention that a proposed change to the constitution of OHHA that would allow the directors of OHHA to vote a fellow director out of his position is to be voted on at the annual meeting on February 5/05. I disagree completely with the action that you are proposing.

The area directors are voted in by the members of their district to represent us at OHHA, and we are the only ones who should be able to remove them from office. If we the people that they represent are not happy with their performance then it is up to us to not vote for them in the next election.

You as an executive have absolutely no business even thinking about trying to get this amendment passed. It is one of the most arrogant things that I have ever heard of. We live in a part of the world where things are decided by a democratic process, and if this is allowed to go forward then what is the sense in having a vote in the first place, if the person that we vote in can be disqualified by his/her fellow directors?

  OHHA is not supposed to be a dictatorship where everyone falls in line with the party view. We elect our representatives to come together as an association to represent the different views of the people in each area. Just because someone expresses different opinions than those of the board, and in turn tries to make fellow members aware of the inner workings of the board of OHHA, which we as members are entitled to, should not put into jeopardy his position as our representative. An equivalent example of what you are proposing would be if the MPs in the house of commons were allowed to vote out a fellow MP from representing his riding because they did not agree with the person's views or opinions. It is beyond the realm of common sense to think that this is a reasonable situation.

  As an association we are constantly in a state of conflict, whether it be internally, against the racing commission, or the racetracks. I have heard that in the OHHA budget that has been approved for 2005 there has been $400,000 allotted to cover legal fees. Why we need to be spending that kind of money on lawyers is beyond me. While I will agree that there are certain situations where we should be helping out fellow members with their fees, the amounts that we have spent in recent years are crazy. To be helping fund the defense of members who have received suspensions due to positive tests is wrong. These members are essentially stealing from the rest of us, and yet we are helping to fund their defense instead of applauding the commission for taking such a hard stand against these cheaters.

With respect to all the money that was spent fighting the audit by the ORC, why if we did not have anything to hide was all the information not just handed over at the beginning so that we could have avoided the whole situation? Lets face it, our industry, and the budget that OHHA operates on is currently being subsidized through the slot program by the government. I know that no one wants to hear it but those are the facts, our betting handle does not nearly justify the purses that we are racing for. To be fighting against the hand that feeds us is not productive. Our percentage take in the slot agreement is not is not etched in stone and if we do not start conducting ourselves in a professional manner then the government of the day may deem that there are better uses for some of the money from the slots than giving it to the horse industry.

Public perception is everything in today's world. When you talk to the average person on the street, it is not uncommon to hear that that person still thinks that the races are fixed or that all the horses are drugged. These are the things that we should be working together to change so that we can draw new people to our great sport. If we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot then the great times that horse racing in Ontario is experiencing will not be around forever.

  In conclusion I would like to suggest that if it is the case where the proposed change about director disqualification does come to a vote then it should be done by a mail in ballot. As it states in the constitution that there only needs to be 20 members at the meeting to form a quorum, then it is possible that a change to the constitution could be made without a single vote from the general membership.

  There are enough directors whereby you could form a quorum yourselves and do whatever you choose to. This to me is very scary as it seems most votes at OHHA are usually decided by approximately a 20-10 margin. It seems that most of the directors just follow along with whatever the executive board wants without thinking what the ramifications are for their individual constituents.

  A very limited number of people could decide an issue that goes to the very heart of the democratic process. The vast majority of the membership will not be in attendance at the annual meeting, and I can assure you that your membership does not want people being disqualified from representing them by anyone but the very members who cast votes for their respective directors in the first place. For this to happen a mail in ballot on a change to the constitution of this magnitude would be the only fair way to get a true understanding of how your total membership feels.
I hope that you will take an interest in this matter and not just dismiss it like so many other issues that have been brought before the executive board in the past. I would also hope that just because my views are very different from the boards on these issues that you will not see fit to try to exclude me from OHHA. After all free speech is the basis of our society, although it seems that some people at OHHA have forgotten this key point. I look forward to hearing your response on these very important issues that stand to have a very profound impact on our association.

Sincerely,

Joe Parkinson, Sharon, Ontario



More Questions On Stallion Fees

Regarding your question about stallion fees being charged in Ontario, I continue to be amazed and disappointed with many of the introductory fees being established for new stallions that have yet to prove their merit one way or the other.

As a small breeder who has patronized Ontario-based stallions for many years now, I have great difficulty in justifying an expenditure of $6,000-$7,500 to breed to a "new kid on the block." Perhaps the proof in the pudding may well be the approach taken by Kendal Hills Stud when they introduced Aces N Sevens. At an affordable $2,500, I am given to understand that he attracted more than 200 mares in his first season, one of which was mine. The math seems simple enough, 200 mares at $2,500, or 40-50 mares at $6,000.

The question that begs asking is this: Why aren't more stud farms and/or stallion owners paying attention and taking notice? A stud fee can always be bumped up once a stallion has proven his worth. Seems to me to be a better option than the embarrassment of discounting one (as has recently happened) because no one paid attention or came calling at the ridiculous price you began with.

Doug Saunders, Nova Scotia


Stud Fees Out Of Line With Yearling Prices

Your weekly question sparked me up that finally someone was looking out for us "little breeders". Stud fees today do not warrant the prices we are getting at the yearling sales, especially up here in Ontario. I wish the Ontario buyers would spend money to support Ontario breeders like they do at the US sales.

On that note, I give huge kudos to Tara Hills Stud farm for supporting the returning breeders with discounts on their stud fees! What a great thing to do in times like these. Thank you David Heffering.

I have only ever bred to Ontario stallions, but with the stud prices going up and sales prices going down, I was considering heading to US studs. Now, I can stay in Ontario. Let's all help to support our breeders, stallions and the OSS! We have the best right here at home.

Lori Ferguson, Oakwood, Ont.




Bah Humbug To Winrac

As if it was not bad enough that Windsor Raceway put all the horsemen and women out in the cold when they closed down the barns at Woodstock Raceway, now they have pulled another stunt by not allowing the city of Woodstock to use the track to line up the annual Santa Claus parade and march out from there.

This has been done for many years, since I was a child. It only proves to me that slots not people are important to Windsor. As Scrooge says: bah humbug. Where has the Christmas spirit gone? It’s surely not with Windsor Raceway or Winrac.

Mrs. Eleanor Stienmetz, Woodstock, Ont.



Where Are The Bettors

My wife and I just returned from a vacation in Prince Edward Island.  While there we went to the races at Summerside.  The stands were full, but nobody was betting. 

I probably bet (and lost) as much as anyone at the races and I'm not a big bettor.  People around us were horsemen, but nobody placed a bet.  Hey, if people who know horses won't bet on them why should anyone else? Don't these people realize that the only reason there are horse races is because people bet on them?

I race at Buffalo Raceway and probably the biggest bettors are the horsemen.  It was depressing seeing nobody betting on the races in front of them.   

Harold Penasack, New York



Thanks To Canadian Sponsors

With the Red Mile annual fall Grand Circuit race meeting secured in the record books, the Standardbred horse interests turn to Woodbine Entertainment Group for the staging of the Breeders Crown finals.

Many outstanding colts and fillies have been entered to compete despite the fact that injury or retirement have claimed a substantial number of established star performers.  The most notable is the absence of season-long leaders from the three-year-old colt and gelding trotting division who will miss the season ending championships for one reason or another.

I feel it is reasonably safe to say Windsongs Legacy moved to the front of that division after his convincing victory in the Kentucky Futurity raced earlier this month at The Red Mile in Lexington, Kentucky.  He is an extremely good horse and his young Scandinavian trainer did a masterful job guiding him through a very demanding season.  The horse is deserving of any awards voted to him.

In closing, may I take this opportunity to thank the many Canadians who so generously supported this year's Red Mile race sponsorship program. 

We are genuinely appreciative.

Respectfully,
Charlie Bowen
Director of Sponsorships
The Red Mile



Proposed Changes To The Ontario Sires Stakes

There have been many suggestions presented on the OSS recently and I have read some of the letters and surveys on the internet. I am afraid that the prevailing stream of thought is that there has to be some sort of OSS race for ALL Ontario-breds, ie. a third tier of racing, more consolations or more money allotted to consolations.

This is a utopian concept that the OSS program was never designed for. Inevitably all OSS races and subsequently the entire program will be cheapened because stake races will no longer be for the horses that are superior. When one buys an OSS yearling there was never supposed to be any guarantee of return, for horse racing is the ultimate free-enterprise business. It is the dream and tremendous desire of horseman and breeders in Ontario to breed train and develop some of the best horses on the continent.

In the past 20 years the OSS program has provided the incentive for Ontario breeders and horseman to do just that. Horses from Ontario that are competitive can presently make a lot of money right here in Ontario. Because they are legitimately competitive they can also compete anywhere else in the world.

It seems to this observer that providing races for horses just based on parentage alone will lead to the watering down of a program that has always provided the greatest of incentive. Many other Sire Stake programs have employed extreme protectionist policies in the past and have created a group of horses that are not competitive in regular overnight racing of any kind once their so-called stake races are complete. All of this can eventually affect handle.

 As any smart racetrack operator will attest ---- bettors like to bet on good horses. I personally do not recommend tinkering too much with a program that has been largely successful, especially if the money that is available is going to be static. It is some of the recent tinkering that has led to some of this uproar ie. a minimum purse for Grassroots divisions. This was essentially the removal of free-market forces and now everyone, even those with a "non-winner of a race" horse, will enter a Grassroots race hoping for a cheaper division and the chance to make purse money beyond what the horse would have made otherwise had it competed in an overnight race as it probably should have because it was not ready for stake competition.

Before this rule was implemented if too many people entered the first two Grassroots of the season the non-competitive horses went back to the regular overnights. This was where they should be upon realizing that they had to go too fast for too little money. Subsequently the remaining Grassroots races of the season were contested by the right horses for respectable purses.

If any changes are to be suggested from this corner I like the direction of the race secretary Ian Fleming. He has provided for races at one of the tracks that he supervises that are claiming series for three-year-old OSS horses with a final that goes for a much greater purse than the legs do. This concept could easily be expanded to include more tracks and two-year-olds. It is not a stretch to suppose that any horse that is not good enough to compete in a Gold or Grassroots event should probably be in a claimer.

Our Thoroughbred counterparts are not so adverse to “pricing” their two and three-year-olds. In any event I can conclude this stream of thought by saying that I strongly urge that the OSS pie is not cut too many ways to try and appease everyone. In our rush to do so, no one will really want that special Ontario-bred because it just won't be that exclusive a product.    

Yours truly,

Blair Burgess, Campbellville, Ont.



Another View On OSS Improvements

We respect the views expressed in previous submissions by Doug McIntosh and Ron Durand regarding the Ontario Sires Stakes, but we feel that the problem lies elsewhere.

The Ontario Sires Stakes program does not need fixing.  It is the finest and most lucrative program in North America.

Raising OSS entry fees would only hurt owners with limited funds and good horses.  The owner with unlimited funds will still enter a non-competitive horse regardless, so how will increasing entry fees help the sires stakes program?

Also, what is the problem with a full card of Grass Roots races?  These are big event days at small tracks and they give all owners, big or small, a chance to recoup their investment in a sires stake horse.  Ron stated that these days take away overnight races but there is a solution:  For example, the ORC grants Grand River Raceway 50 race days per year.  They could mandate one extra day for each Grass Root event at that track, therefore, no overnight races would be lost.

The real problem lies with the overnight program where Ontario bred horses are not given preference over American breds.  Canadian dollars are being won by U.S. bred horses and the money is being reinvested in U.S. breds at U.S. sales.

By giving Ontario bred horses preference in overnight races, horses will race more often, they will race against other Ontario-breds, and the breeder will benefit because his yearling will become a sought-after commodity.

Gary and Bernie Stead




Further Suggestions For Ontario Sires Stakes

It is sad that what was at one time the BEST program in North America has degenerated to its’ current state of MEDIOCRITY.  May I re-state the original objects of the program were to improve the QUALITY of the Ontario bred yearlings and allow us to compete on the North American playing field.  The by-product would be a better class of racing and improved prices for our higher quality yearlings.  Supply and demand would naturally dictate the quantity being produced.

We hit a new standard with Sires like Camluck and Balanced Image and our racing product in general has improved but our Sires Stakes Program is on a slide, in the wrong direction.

Speaking with two of our premier breeders, they indicated they had better returns back in the 70’s and 80’s than currently.  Isn’t the bottom line the important item?

Now to the issues. Isn’t it somewhat astounding that a 30 million dollar plus annual program does not have a systems analyst/manager or the likes continuously monitoring and recommending adjustments based of the facts which control the performance of the program? No checks and balances.

Since inception, we have had tinkering based on subjective intuition and emotion! How did the starting fees get reduced and reduced when costs kept going up and up?  There is continued talk about getting rid of the Trillium series, the one opportunity for trainers and breeders both to improve the genetic base of our product.

There is no simple solution and wiping out a whole race card at our B events to host 15 or so heats of Sires Stakes events is certainly not promoting a very high standard for a quality racing product here in Ontario.  Our fans and patrons deserve better!

Here would be my suggestions for starters: 

-Implement a monitoring program that will provide the facts for ongoing changes.

-Keep the Trillium program but exclude Ontario Sired participants.

-Raise the starting fees  - $1,000 for Grassroots  -  $2,500 for Gold

-Lower the qualifying times to the local track standard.

Now, you will achieve some quality racing as only those that truly deserve to be there will ante up the increased starting fees.

The new problem area, what to do about all the Grassrooters that will not have an opportunity to race.  This will be easy and simple to accommodate.  There will be 10 or more heats less which currently cost the program approx. $150,000 per event.  Make this pool available in say $3,000 or $5,000 allotments to be provided to any track that hosts replacement overnight events with one or two divisions on their regular cards. What better way to learn and when ready, move up to the Grassroots, then Gold divisions.

This is a WIN WIN situation for all, owners trainers and breeders alike plus, we will truly give the patrons and fans a superior product.

Ron W. Durand, Paris, Ontario




Suggestions For Ontario Sires Stakes Changes

Dear Fellow Horsemen and Women:

With all the purposed changes to our Ontario Sires Stakes program being discussed, I thought I would like to add to the suggestion box.

I am proud to say that I have participated in the Ontario Sires Stakes program each and every year since its inception. It is without doubt the VERY BEST regional program available to horse owners, breeders, trainers, and drivers today. But there comes a time in every business that even the best has to be “tweaked”. I use that word because that’s all we need to do. Not re-invent this program, just fine tune it.

The following are my suggestions for serious consideration:

Gold Events

Finals to $100,000 ea.

Add a consolation, at $25,000 ea.

Change starting fee to $1,000 for eliminations

Finals and consolations no starting fees.

Two year old trotters not to start before July 15th; pacers not before July 1st.

Grass Roots

Format: leave as is.

Change starting fee to $300

Qualifying times drop two seconds. (use track rating of the track the horse qualified on)

Two year old trotters not to start before July 15th; pacers not before July 1st.

 In summary

Adding a consolation to the Gold events will draw more entrants to the Gold, create better racing and provide more owners with purse monies. By dropping the finals to $100,000 and having a $25,000 consolation we save $5,000 per event to go toward the Grass Roots pool.

As for the Grass Roots, the consolations will take the best of the possible Grass Roots starters, thus reducing the Grass Roots entrants, thus reducing the number of divisions. Lowering the qualifying standards would eliminate some of the less competitive entrants, again reducing the number of starters in the Grass Roots events.

I do not believe it is our mission or obligation to provide racing to all Ontario bred eligibles in stakes races. But it is our mission and obligation to offer the owners, breeders and our fans the best of the best. Creating mediocrity will not sustain our breed, our sport and our business.

Sincerely,

Doug McIntosh, Wheatley, Ont.




Clarifying The PEI/Atlantic Lottery Corp. Story

 One takes issue with Doug Harkness gingerly and with great reluctance, but his otherwise fine article in your September issue on the proposed racino at the Charlottetown Driving Park errs in the matter of the Atlantic Lottery Corporation's previous involvement with harness racing in the Maritimes.  Doug wrote that "part of the reason was a lack of a total commitment by the ALC, which wasn't willing to make capital improvements to the area racetracks," and also that it backed out of its commitment 18 months early.

 It is important that we get the issue straight, in case the industry repeats past history.  We're still a long way from shore on this one.

 The ALC Racing experience deserves an article itself, not only with respect to how it ended but how it began and how it was conducted.  It was the 5th of five options presented to the PEI Government in 1998 by an industry committee, and was included only reluctantly as a fail-safe option when it became clear that Government was unlikely to consider anything else.

 Contrary to what Doug wrote, ALCR quickly began what was intended as a 5-year commitment with a number of short-term capital improvements but soon found itself engaged in simultaneous and difficult negotiations with several of the tracks, including some private owners who were looking for advantages which government could not countenance.

 The first year experience, with aggressive promotion, showed a quick reversal of the 10-year trend in attendance and wager but despite this, critics remained active throughout the industry.  ALC was not helping us in the right way.  They had promotional ideas we didn't like.  Their encouragement of show betting for new patrons was wrong.  The Breeders Crown event was a terrible idea.  Changing the Gold Cup and Saucer from an invitational to a paid-in event would be disastrous.  De-regulating simulcast would be the death of the live bet.  We should not have stopped charging admission to the races.  We don't need all these kids around the track.  And so on.

 The cry about increased simulcast was countered by a 25 percent increase in the live bet at the CDP in the first year after simulcast was broadened, with comparable increases at tracks elsewhere.  The Wheels-and-Wager feature (a creative version of Bingo adapted by ALC staff for the tracks) was very popular as a fund-raiser for voluntary organizations and people continued to look for it long after ALC left.  The "second chance draws" which is now a feature of many tracks across Canada was developed by a CDP Volunteer Committee working alongside ALC Racing. The 4-H Days which were initiated at the CDP by that same Committee was the inspiration for Youth Days in Ontario.  And so on.

 Despite all these gains within one year of its start, the carping continued.  By the middle of Year Two, a CDP spokesman was on the front page of the local Guardian saying that "the deal with Atlantic Lotto is not working" and other unhelpful comments along the same lines. The ALCR promotional person at the CDP had already been isolated as an unwanted presence. Finally, the ALC Board of Directors got the message.  Not only was the industry not cooperating fully, but the corporation was investing substantial money in return for bad publicity.  Allegedly, it was interfering, it was incompetent, it was not delivering the goods. They could do nothing else but pull the plug, which they did after two years -- three years ahead of schedule, and immediately the total bet started backwards, with a significant drop during Old Home Week this year.

 Truly, it is only because of the sustained efforts by our Minister of Agriculture over the past four years, first Minister Eric Hammill and then Minister Murphy, who is now Minister of Finance, that racing has survived until ALC could be brought back in, but has the industry learned anything?  Will the ALC offer to double the purses on PEI be a life preserver?  The momentum lost over the past four years will be hard to recover, with attendance declining and the live bet in free fall, but it will do something.  An analysis of the situation of 78 Island-owned horses in non-Stakes races of two events during Old Home Week (I had the programs at home,) showed average earnings of $2,188 last year. Adjusting for the 10% driver and trainer shares would net $1,970 to the owner.  Doubling the purses would thus have raised last year’s average take per aged horse to $3,950.

 On the other hand, the cost of maintaining an aged race horse at the CDP is approximately $8,000 per year, presuming average vet care.  Hence, even with doubling of the purses, it will not be the ALC contribution but rather the ability and willingness of owners to sustain financial losses that will enable harness racing to survive.  Even there, industry regulators have recently provoked some major owners by introducing a regulatory regime whereby there is no seeding by either trainer or owner in added money events in this District, so that owners must now watch their trainer try to beat their horse, or owners of two horses in the same class must watch them race against one another. The horse deserves better of the industry.

 John Eldon Green, Charlottetown, P.E.I.




Agrees With Segal

This writing is in response to the letter from George Segal published recently on The Harness Edge website. I couldn't agree more!

Ron Gurfein is an accomplished, renowned Standardbred horse trainer concentrating on trotters. His accomplishments speak volumes on his ability and competency.

Mr. Segal asks: “What is the criteria for induction into The Harness Racing Museum’s Hall of Fame?” and “Is induction into The Hall of Fame a personality contest or reward for outstanding accomplishments and/or service to the Standardbred horse industry?"

Over the past decade, I have faulted the USHWA organization for their lack of knowledge and sensitivity in denying one of the true giants in the Standardbred horse industry, Mr. Paul E. Spears, induction into The Living Hall of Fame fraternity. Ludicrous!
Both gentlemen are eminently qualified and most deserving.


Respectfully,
Charlie Bowen, Columbus, Ohio



The Appeal Of Revenue In North America

 I found your question of the week regarding the possibility of Revenue coming to North America to stand at stud an interesting one.

In my opinion North American breeders don't have many choices today and the road gets more narrow year after year. For the breeders’ future, let's hope he has enough appeal.

He would become the first French stallion to stand in the U.S. and I really hope he could open up the road a little bit.

I strongly believe that the inbreeding in North America is a big factor in less horses making it to the racetrack year after year. We can't go on blaming the tracks.

People are aware of the problems, and therefore I think Revenue will have great market appeal. I also believe owners today are getting more interested in racing their horses beyond the age of three. The purse money, thanks to the slots is so much better today allowing the horses to have careers after their three-year-old season.

Revenue was voted Two Year Old Trotter of the Year in Sweden and was undefeated at two.

He has continued racing for six more seasons and is better than ever. I think we will see a lot of breeders considering stallions with results as aged racehorses, in the future. Since he showed so much early speed at two really makes a difference for North America, than most of the other French horses that start to race well at five.

With his dam by Sugarcane Hanover and Speedy Scot's maternal line on his dam. Why not? Many legends in the Standardbred business believed in those bloodlines – Mr. Simpson, Mr. Van Lennep and Mr. George Alexander to mention a few.

Best regards,

Thomas Moberg, Sweden




Letter To The U.S. Harness Writers Association: 

As a member of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame I want you to know how shocked and saddened I was to learn that you have denied entry into The Hall of Fame to trainer Ron Gurfein. Where have you been for the last fifteen years? You certainly have not been awake or covering our sport to not have recognized Ron Gurfein’s accomplishments. 

Since 1994 he has selected, trained and raced three Hambletonian Winners, (Victory Dream, Continentalvictory and Self Possessed, in case you didn’t know) and the only two year old trotter to win Trotter of the Year, Cantab Hall. I only know of two trotting trainers whose accomplishment rivals his in the last twenty years, they are Chuck Sylvester and Per Erickson.

 What are the accomplishments needed to get into the Hall of Fame? Is it a personality contest or is it being one of the best in your sport, while conducting yourself within the rules? 

What you have done with this vote is to insult all those who have been inducted before and have given a black eye to our sport. You write constantly about the integrity of harness racing and when faced with approving someone who has met both the achievement and integrity standards, you reject him.

Shame on all of you!
George Segal, Chicago, Il.




Praise For Bill Loyens
I had contemplated writing to discuss the OHHA-ORC impasse to provide my view, but I think the members of OHHA would do better to express their opinion in the Fall elections.
Instead I would like to focus on the positive, as so rarely done in the news.
Last night I read the article "Four Decades and Counting" (a story on Bill Loyens of Windsong Acres in London, Ont., in the Yearling issue of The Harness Edge).
I was touched by the article as I had first met Bill Loyens over twenty years ago (when I was a boy). However the focus was only on his breeding business and construction business, and I feel that you are missing out on important things that make Bill a great human being as well as a business man.
Bill is active with the Western Fair Association, to what level I am not privy, but he works diligently to improve the industry, not just his position.
More to where his involvement in my life comes in. Being of modest means, my family was not in the best position to share some of what this country has to offer when I was a boy. Now I had met Bill through Leroy Revington and the horse business in Lucan, but it was through one of his employees that Bill provided some of my youthful memories. When I was in venturers (older scouts), Jeff Rostenberg was our advisor. He took us on a canoe trip one summer, and the last two days we spent at Bill's cottage in Northern Ontario. Bill was there with several members of his family, but he opened up his cottage to us. There I tried water skiing for the first time. They also feed us an excellent meal (after eating our own campfire cooking for a week), it was a welcome change.
In an industry where everyone is here to make money, I thought that everyone should know what a fine community leader Bill is though his generosity.

Thank-you Bill, Tim Bates,
Richmond Hill, Ont.


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