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 Thoroughbred Rules of Racing, effective April 6, 2021.

To see the complete set of rule revisions, including additions and deletions, please go to Thoroughbred 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.

All changes described in this announcement apply to Quarter Horse racing except where noted.

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 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 24.03.02)
  • A person aggrieved by a decision or ruling may appeal the decision to HRAP unless otherwise specified in the Rules (See 41.01)
    • In the case of a ruling or decision affecting purse distribution, eligibility or placing, only jockeys, 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 41.01 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 41.01 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 3: 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 3.18.01 to 3.18.03)
  • Reflect current practice regarding how purse funds are managed (see 3.17.01 to 3.17.04)
  • Prohibit Associations from collecting biological samples from a horse without the Registrar’s prior approval (see 3.16.02)
  • Increase to 4 hours prior to post, the time required for a horse not stabled on the Association grounds to arrive at the track (see 3.13 and 3.14. Note that the time prior to post that a Quarter Horse must arrive at the track remains 2 hours.)
  • Rescind Policy Directive No. 2 – 2012 Track Rules and embed equivalent provisions in the Rules (see 3.19.01 to 3.19.08)
  • Relocate the weather-related rules, including the Extreme Temperature Standard, to Chapter 14: Safety and Security

Other Key Operational Changes

Claiming Races

  • Under specific criteria, including that a horse has not raced for 150 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 12.01.02)
  • Owners who were licensed and stabled in Ontario in the previous year will be eligible to claim in the first 30 days of the current meet (see 12.01.03)

Entries and Starters

  • Any horse that is scratched after entering the paddock will maintain its original entry or run date under all conditions (see Rule 6.20 (m)).
  • If a Thoroughbred horse, other than a first-time starter, has not started in 90 days, it will need 2 works, one of at least a half-mile and another of at least a 3/8 mile that takes place within 30 days of  the race for which it is entered. (see 6.35 (a). Note that this rule change does not apply to Quarter Horses.)
  • First-time starters and 2-year-old Thoroughbred horses will require 3 works to start, one that must be from the gate within 45 days of entry, and one of at least a 3/8 mile within 30 days of entry. (see 6.35 (b). Note that this rule change does not apply to Quarter Horses.)

Colours Registration

  • As announced in a January 17, 2020 Industry Notice, the AGCO no longer administers the registration of colours and sets out racetrack Association obligations if they opt to require the submission or registration of colours. (See Rule 3.20 and the deletion of Chapter 5: Colours)

Jockey Agents

  • A jockey agent may enter the winner’s circle without first obtaining permission of the Stewards if he or she is an owner of the winning horse. (See Rule 10.05)

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
  • To inquire about submitting or registering colours, please contact the Association race office at the racetrack(s) where you intend to race
  • 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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