23 March 2008

Ontario Horse Improvement Program Not Very Well Thought Out

The HIP recommendations made by a group of self serving individuals was passed earlier this year without any known changes. Notice the committee members. Recognize any claiming trainers or owners on the list? Me neither.

John Bax Jeff Begg Robert Boyce
Dr. J. Glen Brown Jim Bullock René A. Hunderup
Sue Leslie Krista McLean Hugh Mitchell
Glenn Sikura Ted Smith Noreen Taylor
Jim Whelan David Willmot Dr. Michael R. Wilson

I'll say it again, the best way to enhance the value of Ontario breds is to have Ontario bred claiming races. By making the cheapest Ontario bred worth more money because they can run against equals for higher purses at cheaper claiming levels, makes all Ontario breds worth more money. It also creates incentive to claim or buy these horses. The more horses claimed, the more of a chance that new people will become involved. New potential owners and partnerships don't usually go to sales, they usually buy their first horse in a claiming race or buy a current runner privately.
Increasing the purses for Ontario breds is OK, if you own and Ontario bred who is fast enough to beat American breds, but lets face it, our horses are not as good collectively as the ones down south. There was not even one Canadian bred horse in any of the Breeder's Cup races last year. The committee did not take reality into account.

RECOMMENDATION #TB-2: The Thoroughbred Program for the Horse Improvement
Program should include an Ontario-Bred Bonus Program with the following criteria:
• An Ontario Bred Bonus Program for Thoroughbreds racing in Ontario
that will comprise (when fully implemented) a 20% bonus for all
Registered Ontario Bred horses winning 1st through 5th in Open races in
Ontario (where Open is defined as “not-restricted by residency or
• The 20% Bonus will be paid to the current owner at time of racing. The
Bonus will be funded by the Horse Improvement Program budget.
A Registered Ontario Bred will be eligible for the Ontario Bred Bonus in
any Open race until such time as it has been claimed. Once a horse has
been claimed it is excluded from the Ontario Bred Bonus Program for the
rest of its racing career

The idea of not allowing a claimed Ontario bred horse to earn extra money is absolutely moronic and will prove counterproductive to the breeding industry.

Why was this rule put in place? To save money once a horse is claimed? Less money will be paid out to seasoned Ontario breds as time goes on. OK, that is a good excuse, but again, it will hurt the Ontario breeding industry in the long run.

Does this protect the breeder or the person who buys the Ontario bred horse at a sale?
Absolutely not. Most horses usually run for a price higher than they are worth at Woodbine (or else there would be a lot more claims). So if an owner or breeder runs the horse slightly over their head, they are still not likely to win the purse, and even worse, there is little incentive for anyone to overpay for an Ontario bred anymore. With purses still very high, the incentive to average Ontario claiming owner is to buy American, and even bring in US horses to run here. Worse yet, trainers like Asmussen are going to benefit big time from this new rule.

Isn't it a shame that the slot money that keeps most Woodbine execs from the unemployment line is now going to be benefiting US operations?

Why is this bad for the industry long term?

Less claims. Less claims means less owners usually. It means less partnerships. And less new people getting involved. And again, most owners I know get into buying horses at yearling sales and get into breeding AFTER they actually bought or claimed a current runner. New people don't usually get into racing with a yearling.

Again, attracting new people is definitely not Woodbine's forte (yes, Woodbine was very influential when it came to this new program). Just see above, at those on the advisory committee.

According to the Ontario HBPA website, Fort Erie, if I'm reading right, should also have higher purses for Ontario breds in the majority of races written there. Why hasn't Fort Erie promoted this?

The major change in the thoroughbred HIP program which commences in 2008 is the redistribution of the contribution to the overnight purse supplement. With the specific aim of generally promoting and enhancing the Ontario bred horse, the new HIP program will now reward all registered Ontario bred horses in open races who earn a purse at an Ontario thoroughbred racetrack with a bonus paid through the HIP program. The bonus amount will be a percent of the purse which will be phased in over the next couple of years with the 2008 bonus being 10% and climbing up to 20% during the phase in period. All registered Ontario bred horses are eligible for the bonus as long as the horse has not been claimed. Previously claimed horses (2007 and prior) will be eligible for the bonus.

I still have some unanswered questions. Hopefully, Jen Morrison will come through in the next couple of days, as this topic is quite hot right now on her blog in the comment section.

1) If you buy an Ontario bred privately is that horse still eligible for rewards? I know they are if they are bought in a sale, but the wording only says "claimed" horses will not receive rewards. Also, if an original owner sells a piece of the horse, does that make it not eligible?
I wonder if the committee's brain trust even thought that one through.

2) Are Ontario sired horses that are claimed this year still eligible for Ontario sired races? This would at least create some incentive to claim an Ontario sired horse.

3) Are they going to phase out Ontario sired races and replace them with Ontario bred races?

4) Is the TIP program going to be the same this year as it was last year. Unfortunately, the CTHS website doesn't seem to be on the ball when it comes to updating their website when it comes to pertinent information like this. They have the 2007 TIP pamphlet though. What about 2008?


Anonymous said...

What are you talking about??? "There was not even one Canadian bred horse in any of the Breeder's Cup races last year."

Obviously you don't follow racing that closely. Maryfield won the BC Filly/Mare Sprint. She was bred in ON.

It was a very good year for Canadian breds actually. Maryfield, Dahaar, Jambalaya, etc...

Anonymous said...

I was talking about the 8 million dollar or plus races. Not one Canadian bred.

Anonymous said...

The Filly & Mare Sprint was worth $1,030,500.

Still not sure what you're talking about???

2007 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint
Results & Payouts
Next Post 5:04 Off: 4:28 | 6 Furlongs | 3 Year Olds And Up | Stakes | Purse: $1,030,500

# Horse Jockey Win Place Show
4 Maryfield Trujillo E 18.00 9.00 6.00
2 Miraculous Miss Rose J 37.40 17.20
1 Miss Macy Sue Razo E Jr 4.60

Anonymous said...

Anon, thanks for correcting me on the $1million purse. But it still wasn't part of the BIG Eight races. It was an undercard event. Not to be sexist or anything, traditionally there are 8 big Breeders Cup races. There wasn't one Ontario bred or Canada bred for that matter that contested in the Big Eight.

Anonymous said...

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