July 31, 2023 0 Comments

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has once again demonstrated its commitment to bolstering the integrity of Thoroughbred, quarter horse, and harness racing in Ontario. This week, the regulation reported that it has made changes to the Rules of Racing to promote the welfare of equine athletes. The new changes are in play from June 5, 2023.

For the changes, the AGCO contacted industry stakeholders including horsepersons’ associations, licensed and official veterinarians, and racetrack management to hear their input on these welfare initiatives. Now, that it has gained their support, the regulator has put the new rules in motion and they are in effect for the horse racing industry from this week.

  • Some of the Changes

With Information Bulletin No. 88 there will be a new starting gate rule for Thoroughbred and Quarter horses. A new rule and revision to the Rules of Racing to ensure safe and acceptable loading practices in the starting gate, for both horses and starting gate personnel. Meanwhile, there is also Information Bulletin No. 89 which is a new trainer requirement to report all current stabling locations.

This one applies to all breeds and it is a new rule to both the Thoroughbred Rules of Racing and the Standardbred Rules of Racing that requires licensed trainers to report all stabling locations they operate under their license, including any location variations to the Registrar within five days. There is also a new rule restricting the use of certain medications for horses participating in workouts or qualifiers.

This change is regarding certain medications and substances that are now being regulated in horses participating in a workout or in a qualifying Race. This rule went into play on June 5, however, there will be a transition period until July 4, 2023, where the regulator will limit out-of-competition testing activities to only those horses requiring a Workout or Qualifier to come off the Veterinarian’s List.

Last but not least, information Bulletin No. 91 will bring updates to the penalties for a violation of Standardbred rule 22.19. It applies to only Standardbreds and it is a revision of the Standardbred Rules of Racing and enhances language and the penalty structure that bans a driver’s foot from making contact with the horse in any manner.

  • Last Year’s Changes and Confirmed Race Dates

Last September, the AGCO announced changes to the cancellation of horse racing fees, which are now conducted by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. The changes went into effect on October 1, 2022. It is also worth noting that Ontario Racing has had a major influence on the changes, as the organization led a collaborative effort to update the cancellation fee policy.

A few months later AGCO published its approved racing dates for the majority of race tracks in Ontario. This year, Clinton Raceway will run a total of 15 days. Clinton Raceway is scheduled to have 15 racing days, while Dresden Raceway will run only 11 dates. Meanwhile, Flamboro Downs will be quite busy with 132 racing dates. Woodbine Mohawk Park will have the most with 222 days of racing.

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