Ont. boosts rewards for standardbred racehorses

Standardbred racehorse breeders in Ontario are hailing what they describe as a $12 million boost to the province’s Standardbred Improvement Program.

The Ontario Racing Commission approved the program’s budget and elements earlier this week, pledging almost $16 million in purses for 2015 and just over $2 million in “Ontario Bred” and “Ontario Sired” rewards.

The Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association (SBOA) said its new agreement with the ORC “will further reward excellence and encourage breeders to invest in Ontario.”

Over $700,000 in new purse bonuses for Ontario-sired two-year-olds will be available in 2015 and 2016, the commission said in a release, to be distributed as a 20 per cent purse bonus for Ontario-sired two-year-olds racing in overnight races in Ontario and a five per cent purse bonus on two-year-old Ontario Sires Stakes earnings.

Come 2017, two- and three-year-old Ontario-sired and Ontario-bred horses (that is, the foals of 2014 and 2015) will be eligible for a share of a new $2 million “Owners’ Bonus,” the commission said.

The Owners’ Bonus is to replace the current $700,000 bonus and will be calculated based on a horse’s earnings in overnight races in Ontario. A double bonus will be paid if the horse is both Ontario-sired and Ontario-bred, the commission added.

As part of the Ontario government’s Horse Racing Partnership Program, the commission said, additional breeders’ awards will be paid out at about $3 million a year in the 2015 through 2018 seasons, through the SBOA’s four-tier program.

The structure of the 2015 season will otherwise remain as in 2014, the commission said. The Gold series will feature five Gold Legs ($210,000 split between the required divisions), leading up to the $250,000 Gold Super Finals in October.

The season will also include six Grassroots events ($18,000 per division), followed by the Grassroots Semi-Finals ($20,000 per division) and the year-end $50,000 Grassroots Championships.

Quoted in an SBOA release, provincial Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal also hailed the new agreement, which he said “will continue to build confidence and support the growth and development of the industry going forward.” — AGCanada.com Network

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