Any individual or business actively involved in horse racing must be licensed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) in order to participate in racing in the province. This includes owners of race horses, trainers, drivers and jockeys, grooms, anyone requiring access to the backstretch or paddock of the racetrack, pari-mutuel clerks and management staff of the racetrack. The business that operates the racetrack must also be licensed and must apply to license any off-track sites, otherwise known as teletheatres.
Horse racing licences are issued through the office of the Registrar of Alcohol, Gaming and Racing. In assessing the suitability for licensing, issues of honesty and integrity are considered.
Effective March 2, 2020 all transactions with the AGCO must be completed online through iAGCO. Paper applications are no longer accepted for horse racing-related licenses and registrations. For more information, visit the iAGCO Guide for Horse Racing. Please make sure the AGCO always has your current mailing address by calling Customer Service Monday - Friday 8:30 am - 5:00 pm at 1-800-522-2876 or by updating your iAGCO online account.
Use of iAGCO Online Services for Horse Racing Licensing
To participate in racing in Ontario, licensees must:
- Ensure they hold a valid licence
- Print out and carry a printed copy of their licence or retain an image of their licence on their phone so their licence status can be verified in iAGCO
- Be prepared to provide government photo identification to verify their identity
With the launch of iAGCO services, the AGCO no longer issues AGCO horse racing photo licence cards or validation stickers.
Licensees who wish to access their licence certificate or wallet-size cut out online at www.agco.ca/iAGCO must first create an iAGCO account. For more information, please see the iAGCO Tutorial: How to create an account at www.agco.ca/videos-and-webinars
What should I bring with me to complete the licence application process?
- Personal details and information to complete the application form(s), including birthdate, address and emergency contact information.
- Picture Identification (e.g. Ontario Drivers Licence).
- Certain categories of licence may require the submission of additional documentation or certification (see Quarter Horse - Individual Licensing for more information).
A new licensee can expect to undergo a due diligence investigation to determine their suitability for licensing. The total fee amounts for a licence will vary depending upon the category(s) being applied for. For more information on Quarter Horse licensing fees see: Quarter Horse - Licensing Fees Schedule.
Licences issued to individuals participating in Thoroughbred racing in Ontario expire on their birthday, and must be renewed online through the iAGCO portal for either one or two years. Licences which have expired within 5 years are considered to be renewals, not new licences. Renewals must be completed online through the iAGCO portal. Licensees are reminded it is their responsibility to have their licence renewed in good standing. With the launch of iAGCO, licensees can look up their licence status, along with the month and year of expiry.
Change of Address
A licensee must provide written notification of any change in permanent address within five (5) days of any change.
To claim a Thoroughbred racehorse in Ontario, an individual must be an active licensee, or hold a valid and current AGCO owner licence and have started a racehorse during the current racing season. An individual not meeting these requirements should apply for a Claiming Certificate.
A Claiming Certificate can be used at any time during the Thoroughbred racing season, except for the first and last 30 days of the meet. An individual should apply for the Claiming Certificate online on the iAGCO portal. For additional information, please refer to Rule 12.29 of the Rules of Thoroughbred Racing.
Lessors and Lessees
When a horse is programmed to race under a Lessee Owner, the owner of the horse, as well as the person or entity leasing the horse, must be licensed. Any individual leasing a horse for racing must be identified as the lessee on the horse’s registration papers.
Registration of Colours
In Quarter Horse racing, the colours worn by the jockey help the betting public identify the horses during the race. The colours, also known as silks, refer to the unique combination of colours on the jacket and cap worn by the jockey.
Each owner, or multiple ownership (stable name, corporation, partnership), is required to register their own unique set of colours with a Quarter Horse AGCO Racetrack Licensing Office and, once they are approved, have the jacket and cap made to be used by the jockey when their horse races. Colours are registered in the Colours Registry which currently holds over 3,000 sets of colours.
Colours can be renewed annually, or owners can choose to register their colours as lifetime colours. Email email@example.com for more information.
Who can I contact if I have questions or require assistance?
Questions about licensing or requests for assistance can be directed to the AGCO Customer Service during office hours (Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
- By phone: 416-326-8700
- By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Definitions of Licensing Status
In Good Standing
- There are no outstanding issues regarding the licensee.
- The licence is no longer valid for a specific length of time. If the suspension is longer than the expiry date of the licence, the licensee must reapply to be licensed when the suspension is finished.
- The licence is no longer valid and the individual cannot reapply to the AGCO for a licence for 2 years from the date of revocation.
- The application to become a licensee is not granted. The individual cannot reapply for a licence until 2 years from the date of refusal.
Note that a horse will be ineligible to race when:
- An owner, stable or estate does not have a valid licence;
- A temporary licence has expired; or
- A reciprocal licensee has not supplied proof of a valid licence from a recognized racing jurisdiction.