March 5, 2021

As outlined in the Announcement: Revisions to Thoroughbred & Standardbred Rules of Racing, the AGCO will make a broad set of rule changes to the Standardbred Rules of Racing, effective April 6, 2021.

To see the complete set of rule revisions, including additions and deletions, please go to Standardbred Winter 2021 Rule Revisions.

Please note that while the information in this bulletin provides a summary for your convenience, it remains the responsibility of all licensees to read and follow the up-to-date Rules as published online.

Registrar’s Authority and the Right of Appeal

The AGCO is updating and clarifying which aggrieved persons can appeal, and what can be appealed to the Horse Racing Appeal Panel (HRAP), to align the Rules with the Horse Racing Licence Act, 2015 (HRLA).

Specifically, the changes clarify that:

  • The Registrar’s absolute discretion to waive the breach of a rule is not subject to appeal (See 1.09.01)
  • A person aggrieved by a decision or ruling may appeal the decision to HRAP unless otherwise specified in the Rules (See 24.01)
    • In the case of a ruling or decision affecting purse distribution, eligibility or placing, only drivers, owners and trainers associated with a horse that is entered in the race referred to in the ruling or decision may appeal that decision (See 24.01 a))
    • In the case of a ruling or decision regarding a licensee’s conduct, only the licensee named in the ruling or decision may appeal that decision. (See 24.01 b))
  • Several rules pertaining to administrative matters such as the appointment of Association Officials or the approval of testing laboratories will no longer be subject to appeal.

Note that the majority of rulings that are currently appealed, relating to in-race violations, conduct and positive tests, will continue to be appealable to HRAP.

Racetrack Association Obligations

Chapter 7: Racing Associations will be revised in its entirety and should be reviewed closely by Association staff and other impacted licensees. Some key changes are intended to:

  • Clarify the viewing, storage and other obligations related to race video (see 7.12.01 to 7.12.03)
  • Reflect current practice regarding how purse funds are managed (see 7.10.01 to 7.10.03)
  • Prohibit Associations from collecting biological samples from a horse without the Registrar’s prior approval (see 7.11.02)
  • Rescind Policy Directive No. 2 – 2012 Track Rules and embed equivalent provisions in the Rules (see 7.13.01 to 7.13.08)

Other Key Operational Changes

The AGCO would like to acknowledge the work by Standardbred Canada and other Canadian racing jurisdictions to streamline rules across the country with the aim of making rules more consistent when moving between Canadian jurisdictions. Several changes outlined below are the result of that work.

Qualifying Races

  • Any horse that is qualified to race with or without hopples will be permitted to be declared to a race with or without hopples as an equipment change without having to qualify with the equipment change (see 12.07.02)
  • Any race where a horse that makes a break in stride on anything but a fast track will be considered a clean line. Any horse charted with 3 consecutive breaks must qualify regardless of track condition (see 12.10.03)
  • Any horse participating in a qualifier while currently qualified will remain eligible even if it was charted with a break in that qualifier (see 12.10.04)

 Claiming Races

  • Under specific criteria, including that a horse has not raced for 120 days in any jurisdiction, owners or their designates have the option to enter a horse in its first claiming race in Ontario in a given season without it being eligible to be claimed (see  15.06.02)

Racing Rules

  • Specific criteria regarding pylon location and design standards have been established (see 18.08.02)
  • Permission of the Judges is no longer needed for people other than the starter, the driver and a patrol judge to ride in the mobile starting gate (see 22.02)
  • If a horse is not on its proper gait, in a race, for 25 consecutive strides or more (extended break), that horse shall be placed last unless interference caused the break, at the Judges’ discretion (see 22.27.02)
  • Protests must be made no later than 48 hours following the race in question (see 23.02)

Driving Rules

  • Driving rules regarding setting the pace, conversing and turning the horse after the race have been revised (see 22.05.01 (i) (k) (m) and (n))
  • Rules prohibiting kicking or hitting a horse with the foot while in stirrup have been clarified (see 22.19 and 22.19.01)

General Language and Other Clean-up

As part of its ongoing effort to modernize and streamline the Rules of Racing, the AGCO is updating the language throughout the Rules to reflect current practice and terminology, and this rule change announcement includes several such instances.

Helpful Resources

For More Information

  • Refer to the Race Day Contact List to connect with AGCO racing staff at an open racetrack about the changes in this announcement
  • Contact AGCO anytime via the iAGCO online portal
  • Call AGCO Customer Service Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (ET) at 416-326-8700 or toll free in Ontario at 1-800-522-2876
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