The uncertainty that Ontario’s Standardbred breeding industry faces is substantial. Ontario’s once strong breeding sector has been devastated due to the provincial government’s ill-planned decision to end the mutually beneficial partnership that the Slots-At-Racetracks Program created between the Province of Ontario and the horse racing and breeding industry.
For the second consecutive year, Ontario’s Standardbred breeders have had to weather tremendous losses. Although Standardbred Canada’s 2013 Canadian Yearling Sale showed an average increase of nearly 22 percent over the 2012 sale, it is important to realize that the 2013 sale average remained almost 31 percent below that of the 2011 sale. Much like 2012, Ontario’s Standardbred breeders have once again taken another drastic financial hit.
In her recent letter to the Horse Racing Transition Panel, Premier and Agriculture Minister Kathleen Wynne requests a comprehensive five-year plan for Ontario’s horse racing and breeding industry. This plan is vital in order for long-term sustainability and growth to occur within the industry. However for sustainability and growth to be achieved through a five-year plan, the government must be willing to invest sufficiently in Ontario’s horse racing and breeding industry, as well as promote and encourage integration amongst gaming and horse racing within the province. Unfortunately, for many breeders the financial losses that they have incurred over the past 18 months have been so substantial that it is difficult, if not impossible, for them to survive to a point where the industry can see it’s way through to a five-year plan.
Until the final plan is released sometime this October, participants in all facets of the industry face more questions than answers. Only once the final plan is released will breeders have the ability to make informed decisions about the future of their operations.