To provide clarity to the industry, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is announcing several updates to the temporary COVID-19 rule amendments in the Standardbred and Thoroughbred Rules of Racing. The temporary changes were originally made following the COVID-19 provincial emergency order to support the reopening of horse racing while ensuring health and safety for equine and human athletes, and other racing participants.
The AGCO committed to closely monitoring the impacts of the temporary rules and has already reinstated breathalyzer testing and resumed testing for the Human Alcohol and Drug Program to ensure continued safety in racing. Since the emergency orders and all public health restrictions have ended, the AGCO has reviewed and determined that the remaining temporary rule amendments either be withdrawn or made permanent effective January 31, 2024.
The following nine (9) temporary rule amendments are withdrawn since there is no longer a need for the various social distancing restrictions. The original rules are reinstated:
- Maintaining social distancing
- Standardbred rules 25.10, 26.12, and 32.07
- Thoroughbred rules 8.05.04, 9.09.02, and 15.03.01(d) and;
- Quarter Horse rule 8.05.04
- Limiting physical contact
- Standardbred rule 9.05, and;
- Thoroughbred rule 15.03.04
Additionally, the following 17 temporary rule amendments are being made permanent as they provide additional flexibility and positive impact to the sustainability of the industry. The following rules are now permanent:
- Jockey overweight allowance
- Thoroughbred rule 8.04.02 and;
- Quarter Horse rule 8.04.02
- Increased flexibility for added money events that supports economic sustainability
- Standardbred rules 16.04(c, d), 16.08, 16.11, 16.12, 16.14, 16.17, 21.03, 21.06
- Increased flexibility for horse eligibility and qualifying rules that supports horse supply
- Standardbred rules 11.01.02(f), 11.02.01, 12.03, 12.09, 17.10 (NOTE: deletion of 17.10.01 as a result of changes to 17.10(i))
- Protection for horse people who have recently claimed a horse
- Standardbred rule 14.06(a)
Please see the updates to the Standardbred Rules of Racing below.
Please see the updates to the Thoroughbred (and Quarter Horse) Rules of Racing below.
Please see here for the complete and up-to-date Rules of Racing and Directives.
Standardbred Rules of Racing
Maintaining Social Distancing
|The following rule in Chapter 25: Drivers of the Standardbred Rules of Racing are being reinstated:
25.10 Any driver programmed to drive in a race shall attend at the race paddock stall assigned to the horse he or she is programmed to drive at least two (2) minutes prior to the commencement of the post parade for the race.
The following rule in Chapter 26: Trainers and Grooms of the Standardbred Rules of Racing are being reinstated:
26.12 It shall be the responsibility of a trainer to have the horses under his or her care, and which are programmed to race,
check in through Association stablegate security and properly equipped and in the paddock at least one hour before the scheduled post time or by the time prescribed by the track.
The following rule in Chapter 32: Paddock Judge and Equipment Inspector of the Standardbred Rules of Racing are being reinstated:
32.07 The paddock is
Associations will designate a secure area for the period beginning two hours before post time and ending one hour after the last race. After a horse has entered the paddock, parenteral or oral medication of that horse is strictly prohibited whether the medication is on the prohibited list or not. Medications, drugs and substances are prohibited, in accordance with Standardbred Directive No.1 – 2019 Standards-Based Race Day Medication Ban.
Limiting Physical Contact
The following rule in Chapter 9: Official Samples and Positive Tests of the Standardbred Rules of Racing is being reinstated:
9.05 When a horse is in the retention area it shall be under the complete control and authority of the chief test inspector. In the case of all horses from which an official urine sample has been ordered, an effort shall be made to obtain the official urine sample by normal and natural means. If however, the chief test inspector is unable to secure an official urine sample within the time specified in the Pari-Mutuel Betting Supervision Regulations, a Commission,
or licensed veterinarian or registered veterinary technician, at the request of the chief test inspector, may draw an official blood sample from the horse, provided a statement duly signed by the owner or trainer is verbal confirmation to be denoted on the test card, which will be prima facie evidence that the sample has been properly collected. The sample will be given to the Commission Veterinarian or Official Veterinarian to the effect that the owner or trainer accepts full responsibility for any adverse effects that such horse may incur as a result of such an official blood sample being taken. The official blood sample is to be delivered to the chief test inspector to be tagged and shipped to the Official Chemist in the same manner as is presently in effect for all other samples.
Increased flexibility for added money events that supports economic sustainability
The following rules in Chapter 16: Added Money Events of the Standardbred Rules of Racing are being made permanent:
16.04 (c) Conditions for added money events must specify:
c. The dates and amounts of nomination, sustaining and starting payments; and may be adjusted by the Association with approval of the Registrar;
16.04 (d) Conditions for added money events must specify:
Whether the event will be raced in divisions or conducted in elimination heats;, depending on scheduling and time constraints;
16.11 The starting fee and all postponed or waived sustaining fees shall become due when a horse is properly declared to start and shall be payable in accordance with the conditions of the added money event. Once a horse has been properly declared to start, the starting fee and all sustaining fees shall be forfeited, whether or not the horse starts. Should payment not be made 30 minutes before the post time of the event, the horse shall be scratched and the payment shall become a liability of the owner who shall, together with the horse or horses, be suspended until payment is made in full, providing the Association notifies the Registrar within 30 days after the starting date.
16.12 Failure to make any payment required by the revised conditions constitutes an automatic withdrawal from the event.
16.14 The date and place where all postponed Added Money Events will be raced will be announced when determined by the Association and approved by the Registrar.
early and late closing events will be raced must be announced before nominations are taken. The date and place where stakes and futurities will be raced must be announced as soon as determined. Such announcement will be made when a date has been determined for a rescheduled event. but, in any event, such announcement must be made no later than March 30th of the year in which the event is to be raced.
16.17 Every nomination shall constitute an agreement by the person making the nomination and the horse shall be subject to these rules. and any revised or amended rules. All disputes and questions arising out of such nomination shall be submitted to the Registrar, whose decision shall be final.
The following rules in Chapter 21: Postponement and Cancellation of the Standardbred Rules of Racing are being made permanent:
21.03 An early closing event or a late closing event that cannot be raced during the scheduled meeting shall be declared off and or rescheduled to a later date, meeting or racetrack. If declared off, the total of nomination, sustaining and starting payments divided equally among the owners of eligibles horses in proportion to the number of horses declared to start.
21.06 Unless otherwise provided in the conditions, in order to transfer stakes and futurities to another meeting, the Association will determine another date that shall be approved by the Registrar. All those having eligible horses in the event shall abide by the decision.
unanimous consent must be obtained from the Association and all those having eligibles in the event.
Increased flexibility for horse eligibility and qualifying rules that supports horse supply
The following rules in Chapter 11: Horses Permitted to Race of the Standardbred Rules of Racing are being made permanent:
11.01.02(f) A horse shall not be eligible to be declared in to race at any raceway unless:
f. Not more than 60 clear days prior to the time of closing of declarations,
from February 1 to March 19, 2020 the horse was credited with a clean charted past performance line obtained in a purse, qualifying or schooling race conducted at an extended meeting.
11.02.01 If a horse meets the conditions of Rule 11.01.01 and 11.01.02 it will be considered qualified and eligible to be declared to added money event races provided that one of its last three charted lines is a clean line in a purse, qualifying or schooling race, not more than sixty (60)
forty-five (45) clear days before the closing of declarations and its individual time in that clean charted line meets the following standards for age and the size of the track where it raced or qualified after the Judges have given appropriate allowances for track conditions
The following rules in Chapter 12: Qualifying Races of the Standardbred Rules of Racing are being made permanent:
12.03 A horse that does not show a charted line at the chosen gait within its last six starts, or does not show a charted line within the previous sixty (60)
45 clear days, must perform in a qualifying race.
A horse making a break in or off a qualifying, matinee or schooling race must qualify again unless the break was an equipment break or caused by interference, or unless the horse is declaring into an Ontario Sires Stakes or other added money event.
The following rule in Chapter 17: Declarations and Drawing of Post Positions of the Standardbred Rules of Racing is being made permanent:
17.10 Starters and also eligibles for overnight events shall be drawn by lot from horses properly declared to start.
, except as follows:
First preference shall be given to a horse that is stabled in Canada the day of the draw and remains in Canada until the race is contested; and
Second preference shall be given according to a Horse’s last scheduled start in a purse race, other than races designated as schooling races, at the gait for which it is declared.
As a result of changes to rule 17.10, the following rule in Chapter 17: Declarations and Drawing of Post Positions of the Standardbred Rules of Racing will be deleted as it refers to rule 17.10 (i).
Notwithstanding the requirements under 17.10 (i), Ontario Sires Stakes eligible horses will be exempt from the requirement to meet first preference for the period of May 1 to November 1 of the current year inclusive.
Protection for horse people who have recently claimed a horse
The following rule in Chapter 14: Overnight Events of the Standardbred Rules of Racing is being made permanent:
- Ontario Sired, Ontario Bred, or Ontario Sired Stakes eligible;
- A combination of any one or more of the qualifications listed under this section.; or
- Horses who have raced for a specific claiming price in one of their last three (3) starts.
Thoroughbred (and Quarter Horse) Rules of Racing
Maintaining Social Distancing
The following rule in Chapter 8: Weights of the Thoroughbred Rules of Racing is being reinstated:
8.05.04 After unsaddling, a jockey shall pass their equipment to the valet who will carry
their own equipment it to the scales at which time the valet will give it to the jockey to weigh in. After weighing in the equipment may be handed back to their valet.
The following rule in Chapter 9: Jockeys of the Thoroughbred Rules of Racing is being reinstated:
9.09.02 Only jockeys’ valets shall be permitted to assist jockeys in weighing out.
The following rule in Chapter 15: Misconduct, Needles, Syringes and Searchesof the Thoroughbred Rules of Racing is being reinstated:
15.03.01(d) Only the owner, trainer or designated representative of the trainer, to a maximum of
one person two persons having a valid Commission licence on their person, are permitted to have care, custody or control of a horse in the retention area when any specimen/s are taken from or examination made to a horse under his/her care, and shall remain until the sample tag, attached to the specimen, shall be verbally confirmed signed by him/her as witness to the taking of the specimen or the examination is completed. , to be denoted on the test card, which will be prima facie evidence that the sample has been properly collected. Failure to present the licence may result in a monetary penalty and/or suspension.
The following rule in Chapter 8: Weights of the Thoroughbred Rules of Racing, Quarter Horse Appendix is being reinstated:
8.05.04 After unsaddling, a jockey shall pass their equipment to a valet or will carry it
their own equipment to the scales to be weigh ed in.
Limiting Physical Contact
The following rule in Chapter 15: Misconduct, Needles, Syringes and Searches of the Thoroughbred Rules of Racing is being reinstated:
15.03.04 If a Urine Inspector is unable to get a urine sample within
thirty (30) minutes two hours from the time the horse arrives at the retention barn, or with respect to the last race, thirty (30) minutes one hour after the last race, the Chief Test Inspector shall contact a Commission Veterinarian, Official Veterinarian or Registered Veterinary Technician who will withdraw a blood sample. The Commission Veterinarian, Official Veterinarian or Registered Veterinary Technician shall draw the blood sample which shall be collected, packaged and sealed in the prescribed manner set down by the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency. The trainer or his/her representative shall witness the sample being taken and provide verbal confirmation to be denoted on the test card, which will be prima facie evidence that the sample has been properly collected. sign test card.
Jockey overweight allowance
The following rule in Chapter 8: Weights of the Thoroughbred Rules of Racing is being made permanent:
8.04.02 Eight (8) pounds
Five pounds is the limit of the overweight any horse is allowed to carry but an allowance may be waived with permission of the Stewards to comply with this rule. (See Rule 8.10). However, an owner or his/her representative may, in the absence of sufficient allowances, request an overweight in excess of eight (8) 5 pounds. The Stewards may grant such request if they believe it is in the best interest of racing.
The following rule in Chapter 8: Weights of the Thoroughbred Rules of Racing, Quarter Horse Appendix is being made permanent:
8.04.02 All horses in Quarter Horse Racing must carry from 120 lbs. up to and including 130 lbs. An overweight allowance limited to eight (8) lbs
5 lbs. (Eight five pounds) is allowed. All jockeys must declare their weight prior to riding the first race on any racing card and must ride at that weight for all races on that date. The afore mentioned weight must be posted prominently before the public prior to the mutuels opening for any race in which any jockey rides.
All temporary amendments in the following industry notices are updated as of January 31, 2024: