Overview

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.

Licensing Process

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 Information page.   

Horse Racing Licence Card

AGCO horse racing licences are used as verification of identification and licence status at Ontario racetracks. They are also used, by applicable licensees, to gain access to the secure areas of racetrack facilities. AGCO Horse Racing Licence Cards are issued at time of licence application registration/renewal.

Whenever a licensee is in the backstretch or stable areas of the racetrack association or needs to gain access to the paddock when their horse is racing, the licensee must carry their valid and current AGCO Horse Racing Licence Card on their person. A licensee is required to produce their AGCO Horse Racing Licence Card upon request by an authorized representative of the racetrack association, a Racing Official or a representative or member of the AGCO.

A “guest” of a licensee is allowed in the backstretch, stable or paddock area when accompanied by a licensee, once the guest has been signed in with racetrack association security and approved.

If an AGCO Horse Racing Licence Card is lost, it can be reprinted by the licensee.

What do I need to complete the licence application process?

  • Personal details and information to complete the application, including birthdate, address, email address and emergency contact information.
  • Standardbred Canada or United States Trotting Association (USTA) membership number (individuals who are involved in Standardbred racing must be members of one of these organizations).
  • Certain categories of licence may require the submission of additional documentation or certification (see Standardbred - Individual Licensing for more information).

Licensing fees

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 licensing fees see: Horse Racing Licensing Fees.

Renewals

Standardbred licences for an individual expire on the individual’s birthdate and must be renewed before that date for the licence to stay active. Standardbred licences for Stable Names (including Corporations) expire on December 31st of the calendar year and must be renewed before that date for the licence to stay active.

Renewal reminders for individuals who hold a Standardbred licence are sent out as a courtesy, however it is the licensee’s responsibility to ensure their licences are renewed by the expiry date(s). Renewal applications must be made online through the iAGCO portal.

Change of Address

A licensee must provide written notification, online through the iAGCO portal, of any change in permanent address within five (5) days of any change.

Claiming Certificate

A claiming race is a race in which all of the horses are for sale for more or less the same price (the “claiming price”) up until shortly before the race. An individual who does not have a valid AGCO licence must obtain a Claiming Certificate to claim a racehorse.

A Claiming Certificate can be applied for at an AGCO Racetrack Licensing Office and is valid for 30 days. Once a horse is claimed using the Claiming Certificate, the new owner must then apply for a permanent licence as an Owner with the AGCO.

An individual, who already possesses a valid AGCO Owner licence, need not apply for a Claiming Certificate to claim a racehorse.

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.

Who can I contact if I have questions or require assistance?

Questions about licensing or requests for assistance can be directed to the AGCO Head Office horse racing licensing staff during office hours (Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)

Questions can also be directed to the AGCO Horse Racing Licensing Agents at operating racetracks during hours of operation.

Definitions of Licensing Status

In Good Standing

  • There are no outstanding issues regarding the licensee.

Suspended

  • 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.

Revoked

  • 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.

Refused

  • 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.

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