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E.P. Taylor's Promise and Premier Wynne's Commitment

Ontario horse racing legend E P Taylor
 
Sixty years ago, E.P.Taylor ​renewed the Articles of Incorporation for The Ontario Jockey Club as a lead up to the opening of the new Woodbine Racetrack on June 12th 1956. And, although the head of the HPBA Sue Leslie was recently quoted as saying, "it is their (WEG's) track," Mr Taylor's vision was that the business of Woodbine be carried out as a not-for-profit corporation that existed as a means to manage and market ​breeding and ​horse racing​ in​ Ontario.
 
The Articles of Incorporation were unchanged until 2001 when The Ontario Jockey Club was renamed Woodbine Entertainment Group. At that time, Mr. Taylor’s original goals and mission for the track were re-stated:
 
The objects for which the Corporation is incorporated are:
 
(a)    the breeding and development of the trotting and pacing horse and the thoroughbred horse, the giving of matinees and public race meetings, the encouragement of pleasure driving and riding and for social and intellectual purposes;
 
(b)    to advance the knowledge of and to promote better knowledge about horses, horse-breeding and horse-racing;
 
(c)    to foster and encourage an interest in and participation in and appreciation of horses, horse-breeding and horse-racing;
 
 
Over the past fifteen years, much of what  ​Mr. Taylor envisioned has been altered.​ ​This year a plan to change race types for Ontario-sired horses was put forward by Woodbine​.​​ Even though Woodbine consulted with the HPBA Executive there was no consultation with Ontario breeders.​​ ​Their representative body, the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society (CTHS), noted in their press release,
 
“The CTHS Ontario had no participation in the construction of these changes and was only advised of them very recently. . . The CTHS unanimously opposes the changes to the Ontario Sired Races as proposed."
 
In response to these changes, a group of Ontario breeders met with Minister of Agriculture Jeff Leal, Parliamentary Secretary of Agriculture Arthur Potts, and representatives from the Ministry of Finance. Minister Leal expressed concern and surprise at the lack of consultation and transparency.
 
As a follow up to this meeting, Ontario breeder Brian O'Leary recently hosted a gathering at his facility, Hogan’s Inn in King City. Sixty five breeders, representing approximately 1,000 horses, united to share their concerns. A decision was taken to communicate with more MPPs​ for the purpose of educating them on the ​economic value of the horse industry to rural Ontario. 
 
Ontario horse racing announcement Premier WynneSince 2014, Premier Kathleen ​Wynne ​asked OLG President and Chief Executive Officer Stephen Rigby, OLG Chairman of the Board Philip Ols​s​on, and Executive Director of Ontario Racing John Snobelen to integrate horse racing into the overall gaming strategy. Breeders and owners continue to hope for that commitment to become a reality. 
 
As Ontario horse breeders and owners continue to hope for better racing and support of the horse industry, the E.P. Taylor promise and Premier Wynne's commitment will be the focus of their communications in the coming weeks.​ ​As we head into a new season​ of breeding and racing in Ontario, let us re-commit to open consultation and transparency with all industry stakeholders.​ 

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