New Purses Help Support Ontario Horseracing
Horseracing in Ontario, save for the fact that all races are currently competed without spectators physically present in the stands, has for the most part made a comeback. Even so, since the province’s horse people did not remain unaffected by the recent months-long national shutdowns of most industries and sectors, the expectation is that it will be some time yet before the industry fully recovers from the resultant financial implications.
The good news however, as recently highlighted by Walter Parkinson, who is the president of the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association, is that thanks to programs such as the Standardbred Improvement Program (SIP) which is a part-component of Ontario’s Horse Improvement Program, help is at hand and available to those eager to see Standardbred race horses continuing to be bred and owned in a quality and controlled manner.
Recent Months Haven’t Been Easy
Given recent and ongoing challenges, it’s easy to see why some of the province’s horse people may have been tempted to exit the industry – had it not been for initiatives such as Ontario Sires Stakes races, benefits offered to breeders and owners of especially mares, purse bonuses, race incentives, etc.
Horse owners and trainers have despite difficult and even precarious circumstances had to continue taking care of their horses, fund and perform daily grooming, see to it that training carried on uninterrupted in preparation of a now-resumed live racing season, cover costs associated with the feeding and stabling and medical care of race horses, and much, much more.
These challenges would naturally have affected both the Standardbred as well as the Thoroughbred horse racing industry in Ontario. And since the fall is typically a time for the purchasing of yearlings and the breeding of Standardbred horses, there’s seemingly no end to the demanding nature of a whole new reality – all of which makes the existence of a program such as the program recently elaborated on by Parkinson so very important and necessary in terms of the industry’s survival.
Ontario Sires Stakes Expanded
A significant leg of the program is the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) program, which program makes available annual race purses to the tune of an incredible CA$15 million.
Traditionally a two-tiered program focused mainly on existing races and horses long already actively running, OSS recently grew by a third tier, namely the Prospect Series.
Piloted this year, the series offers race states to specifically two- and three-year-old trotters and pacers sired by recognised Ontario sires. All purses offered in terms of the series are co-funded by the SIP and by the individual racetracks hosting said races.
The aim of the additional tier, according to Parkinson, is to ensure that the industry remains attractive to new breeders and owners looking to enter horse racing in Ontario.