On May 20, 2020, the Registrar announced a number of Temporary Rule Amendments to address pre-racing activities associated with the return to racing. These amendments were based on the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s (AGCO) active review of Ontario’s horse racing rules and regulations, and industry input, to ensure responsible measures are taken to help contain the spread of COVID-19.
As a result of these efforts, and pursuant to the Horse Racing Licence Act, 2015 and the Rules of Racing, the Registrar will temporarily amend a number of additional rules to accommodate the return to racing and ease industry burden, while also ensuring welfare for equine and human athletes and other racing participants.
The AGCO will closely monitor the impacts of these temporary changes to determine how long they should remain in effect and to ensure they are meeting their desired outcomes. The AGCO will be flexible if any of the measures identified require further amendment, in order to uphold the health and safety of horse racing participants and racehorses.
Standard for All Associations Regarding their Plans to Re-Open
Administration Directive No. 1 – 2020 Association Re-Opening Plan requires that each Association establish, implement, and maintain a COVID-19 pandemic re-opening plan, and that it be made available to the public. As part of this standard, Associations are required to submit their plans to the Registrar at least 2 business days prior to the anticipated site opening for live racing. It also indicates that an Association may not open a site for live racing until the Registrar has provided the Association with approval to do so.
The COVID-19 pandemic re-opening plans should be sent to the AGCO by email to Tyler Durand at Tyler.Durand@agco.ca.
Standardbred Rule Amendments:
See Understanding the AGCO’s Temporary Amendments to the Qualifying Rules for Standardbred Horses for more on information on the qualifying amendments announced on May 20.
Maintaining Social Distancing in the Paddock
Summary of Changes:
Amendments have been made to limit the number of drivers in the paddock and the timeframe that they are required to report to the paddock in an effort to support social distancing. Drivers are encouraged to communicate with the Paddock Judge or Race Officials by phone when they are on Association grounds, and to limit time in the paddock. As a result:
- Drivers will now be required to report to the Paddock Judge at least 30 minutes before the post time of their first programmed drive.
- Drivers in Daily Double races will not be required to go to the paddock before the post time of the race which comprises the first half of the Daily Double.
- Drivers will not be required go to the paddock stall of the horse they are programmed to drive.
- Trainers, with their horses, will be required to check in through Association stablegate security at least one hour before the scheduled post time, or by the time prescribed by the track.
- Associations will be required to designate an area on Association grounds to be a secure area before and after a race.
25.03 Drivers must report to the paddock judge at least thirty (30) minutes
one hour before post time of any race in which they are programmed to drive, unless excused by the Judges. When programmed to drive in any race that is part of the Daily Double races, drivers must be in the paddock at least one hour before post time of the race which comprises the first half of the Daily Double, unless excused by the Judges. Where advanced wagering takes place on any feature betting race, drivers programmed to drive in such races must make their presence known to the paddock judge prior to commencement of the advanced wagering.
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.
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 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
Summary of Changes:
In order to limit the use of pens and physical contact, verbal confirmation will be required in the place of a written statement in instances where a blood sample is requested. This confirmation will be given to the Commission or Official Veterinarian and documented by the Chief Test Inspector to ensure the sample has been properly collected.
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, at the request of the chief test inspector, may draw an official blood sample from the horse, provided a verbal confirmation to be denoted on the test card, which will be prima facie evidence that the sample has been properly collected.
duly signed by the owner or trainer is 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.
Summary of Changes:
Regarding overnight events, an option has been added for Associations to implement a condition that provides flexibility for the industry, based on having a horse classified on their claiming price in one of their last three starts. This will enable horses to compete without the possibility of being claimed.
- May be based only on:
- Horses’ money winnings in a specified number of previous races or during a specified previous time;
- Horses’ finishing positions in a specified number of previous races or during a specified period of time;
- Number of starts during a specified period of time;
- Special qualifications for foreign horses that do not have a representative number of starts in the United States or Canada;
- The exclusion of schooling races; or
- Ontario Sired, Ontario Bred, or Ontario Sired Stakes eligible;
- A combination of any one or more of the qualifications listed under this section
- Horses who have raced for a specific claiming price in one of their last three (3) starts.
Standardbred Added Money Events – Payments and Fees:
Associations will have the discretion to revise the dates, conditions and starting payments for Added Money Events.
Summary of Changes:
- Advertised purses may be adjusted due to cancelled or waived sustaining payments.
- Associations may write into the conditions of the event that the starting fee and all postponed or waived sustaining fees are due before declaring for the event.
- These fees are forfeited once the horse has been declared to start.
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.
16.08 The Registrar may require the sponsor or presenter to file with the Commission a surety bond in the amount of the fund to ensure faithful performance of the conditions, including a guarantee that the event will be raced as advertised or for the adjusted purse, due to waived sustaining payments, and all funds will be segregated and all premiums paid. Registrar’s consent must be obtained to transfer or change the date of the event, or to alter the conditions. In any instance where a sponsor or presenter furnishes the Commission with substantial evidence of financial responsibility satisfactory to the Registrar, such evidence may be accepted in lieu of a surety bond.
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.
Standardbred Added Money Events – Scheduling Events:
Associations will have the discretion to determine the schedules, including the time and location of postponed Added Money Events, and all stakes and futurities.
Summary of Changes:
- Associations will have the discretion to determine whether events will be raced in divisions or conducted in legs/elimination heats, depending on the scheduling and time constraints.
- Associations will have the discretion to reschedule events to a later date, meeting or racetrack.
- Associations will have the discretion to determine the date, with the approval by the Registrar.
16.04 (d) Conditions for added money events must specify: (d)
Whether the event will be raced in divisions or conducted in elimination heats, depending on scheduling and time constraints.
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.
21.03 An early closing event or a late closing event that cannot be raced during the scheduled meeting shall be declared off 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 eligible 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.
Standardbred Added Money Events – Nominations:
Summary of Changes:
Since nomination payments were taken prior to the shutdown of racing, the new agreement will be subject to these rules and any amended rules. This may include revised dates, payments and purse amounts, where events are rescheduled. Disputes and questions arising out of a nomination will be submitted to the Registrar, whose decision shall be final.
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.
Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse Rule Amendments:
Maintaining Social Distancing:
In order to uphold social distancing at the racetrack:
- Jockeys will be required to carry their own equipment, instead of passing it to the jockey valet;
- Jockey valets will not assist jockeys in weighing out;
- Only one designate will accompany a horse in the retention area;
- *Urine inspectors will have 30 minutes, instead of two hours, to obtain a urine sample.
- In order to limit the use of pens and physical contact, verbal confirmation will be required in the place of a written statement in instances where a blood sample is requested and denoted on the test card.
TB 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.
Only jockeys’ valets shall be permitted to assist jockeys in weighing out
QH 8.05.04 After unsaddling a jockey shall
pass their equipment to a valet or will carry their own equipment to the scales to be weighed in.
TB 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 by him/her as witness to the taking of 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. signed by him/her as witness to the taking of specimen or the examination is completed. Failure to present the licence may result in a monetary penalty and/or suspension.
*TB 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.
Summary of Changes:
- An owner or trainer can request a one time exemption from their horse being claimed if they meet the meet the following criteria:
- The claiming race in question is the horse’s first Ontario race of the 2020 season
- The horse has not raced in any jurisdiction in 2020
- The horse is entered for a claiming price equal to or greater than the price in which it last started (horse must have started in a claiming race in the previous start to qualify).
- Racetracks will be required to note any exemptions from claiming in in the official program.
12.01.01 In claiming races, any horse is subject to be claimed for its entered price by any owner who:
- Is the holder of an owner’s licence, in good standing from the Commission;
b. Has started a horse in Ontario, either on his/her own behalf or in a multiple ownership during the racing season in which the claim is being made;
- Is eligible to claim under Rule 12.29.;
A claimed horse, regardless of ownership, must race only at tracks in Ontario for the next ninety days or until the end of the track’s meet where the horse was claimed, whichever of the two that occurs first. Exceptions will apply only by permission of the Stewards.
Temporary One Time Exemption
A horse may be exempt from rule 12.01.01 from its first 2020 start in Ontario if it meets the following criteria:
i. The horse has not started in 2020 in any jurisdiction.
ii. The horse is entered for a claiming price equal to or greater than the price it last started for (horse must have started in a claiming race in the previous start to qualify).
iii. At the time of entry into a claiming race an owner/trainer has advised the Race Secretary that they are opting to declare a horse exempt from being claimed. Any failure to declare an exemption may not be remedied.
An Association shall note a declaration of exemption in the official program.
How to Get In Touch:
Maintaining social distancing guidelines to ensure the safety of racing participants, racetrack staff, and AGCO Racing Officials and staff is a priority as racing resumes in Ontario.
As a precaution, Racing Officials and other AGCO staff may not be stationed in their regular areas. In order to facilitate virtual communication in the place of in-person visits, the list below has been developed. AGCO staff will be available to respond to inquiries by phone or by email.
- Licensing Agents: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Veterinarian Clerks:
- Racing Officials:
- Race Day Contact List
- Rob McKay: (289) 339-2380
- Dave Stewart: (289) 244-5268
- Fenton Platts: (289) 407-5245
- Customer Service: 416-326-8700 or 1-800-522-2876; email@example.com
Effective Dates for AGCO’s May 15, 2020 Horse Racing Welfare Announcement
On May 15, 2020 the AGCO released a Horse Racing Welfare Announcement. Four initiatives were announced, in order to advance the health and safety of equine and human athletes. All four initiatives, outlined below, will go into effect on:
- June 2, 2020 for Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse Racing; and,
- June 5, 2020 for Standardbred Racing.
- Information Bulletin No. 80 – Concussion Protocol to be Implemented at Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse Racetracks
The AGCO is implementing a Concussion Protocol across all Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racetracks for all jockeys and exercise riders.
- Information Bulletin No. 81 – AGCO Launches Equine Medication Use and Awareness E-Learning Course
The AGCO is launching an Equine Medication Use and Awareness Program to raise awareness of horse racing licensee obligations related to the use of equine medication and help prevent equine medication misuse by horse racing participants,.
- Information Bulletin No. 82 – Revision to Racing Under Saddle (RUS) Rules within the Rules of Standardbred Racing
The AGCO is revising the existing licence renewal process for Racing Under Saddle (RUS) races outlined in 25.01.01 of the Rules of Standardbred Racing.
- Information Bulletin No. 83 – Revision to Urging Provisions for Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse and Standardbred Racing
The AGCO is expanding the 2019 revised urging provisions for Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing and is reiterating the penalty guidelines for all racetracks in Ontario.