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. 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 Information page. Please make sure the AGCO always has your current mailing address.
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 to licensees at time of licence application registration/renewal. Horse racing licences must be obtained onlice through the iAGCO portal.
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.
- Certain categories of licence may require the submission of additional documentation or certification (see the Thoroughbred - Individual Licensing page 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 licensing fees see: Horse Racing Licensing Fees page.
Licences issued to individuals participating in Thoroughbred racing in Ontario expire, and should be renewed annually. Renewals must be completed online through the iAGCO portal. Licensees are reminded it is their responsibility to have their licence renewed.
As per Info Bulletin No. 67 released on February 19, 2019, the expiration date of 2019 Thoroughbred licences will be extended to expire on the applicant’s birthdate in 2020. This is a one-time extension; from thereon in, licences will revert back to expiring on an annual basis.
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.
To claim a Thoroughbred racehorse in Ontario, an individual must be an active licensee, meaning they 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 an Initial Claim Permit.
An Initial Claim Permit 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 Initial Claim at the AGCO Racetrack Licensing Office by completing an individual application form and submitting the fees for the Initial Claim Permit and licensing fees for an owner licence. Approval of the Initial Claim Permit and owners licence application will be held pending a due diligence investigation of the applicant. An Initial Claim Permit allows an individual to claim one horse. 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 Thoroughbred 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 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.
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.)
- By phone: 416-326-8700
- By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
- 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.