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Q & A with CTHS Ontario President Peter Berringer

Peter Berringer has spent a lifetime in the thoroughbred racing industry. Though he was exposed to horses and racing through his family from a very early age, it was after spending a year working as Franz Crean’s assistant that he decided this would be his profession. 40-odd years later, Berringer has trained hundreds of horses, including Grade 2 stakes winner Court of the Realm which he purchased, owned and raced, and has been a director of the CTHS for the last 18 years.
 
Aurora Meadows was originally established by Berringer’s uncle Alfred Mills and his son Dennis Mills, in Aurora, Ontario in the early ‘70s. The farm typically had over 125 horses under Franz Crean’s management, and for many years Berringer worked and learned under his guidance. A multi-faceted operation, the farm was the perfect training ground annually foaling 20+ mares, managing 3-5 stallions, breaking 40+ yearlings, consigning sales yearlings, and more.
 
Years later, Berringer eventually became the farm’s manager and counted among his clients Frank Stronach for whom he stood stallions and boarded broodmares. In fact, Berringer purchased Canadian Factor and Cougar’s Crown from Stronach and stood them at stud for several years with some success.
 
The original farm was sold for development in the mid-‘90s though Berringer stayed until 2003, renting the farm from the purchaser. Berringer then purchased the new home of Aurora Meadows, 100 acres in Rockwood, Ontario which is now home to his many horses, including Court of the Realm who stands at stud.
 
During his time on the board of the CTHS, Berringer has held a number of positions including sales chair and vice-president and he became president in January of this year.
 
What are your short-term goals for the CTHS?
“It is very important to regain the confidence of the breeders in Ontario and bring stability back to the industry.
 
One of the main issues and objectives of the CTHS(ONT) is to strive to increase/improve the market value and interest of our locally produced horses at our local yearling sale, as well as sales elsewhere in Canada and abroad. This will be achieved by stabilizing the race program as purse money drives the industry. Of course, this means that all industry partners need to work together.
 
The structure of the breeder and stallion awards that are so crucial to the breeders of Ontario are also of concern and the CTHS has diligently fought against any reductions to these programs. The funding for these awards comes from the Thoroughbred Improvement Program (TIP), the budget for which gets final approval from the Ontario Racing board of directors. This is why it is imperative that the breeders be a strategic partner in the industry, and a part of the decision making process for the future. This is why it is essential that the CTHS(ONT) continue to have its historical seat on the board of Ontario Racing.
 
As the TIP program is funded by a percentage of the Pari-Mutuel-Tax-Reduction (PMTR), the amount fluctuates. This means that, unfortunately, the only money going directly to the breeders is the only variable rate of funding coming to the industry and leaves breeders reliant on wagering.
 
The PMTR is 3% of the gross wagered in the “home market” and these funds are directed to the Horse Improvement Program (HIP) and split 50-50 between Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds. As the home market wagering has declined the past few years, so has the TIP which was $15M in 2016 and has been reduced to $12.7M in 2018. These funds are distributed to Thoroughbred program with approximately 25% given directly through breeders and stallion awards and Fort Erie bonuses and sales credits. The remaining 75% goes to restricted stakes and overnight races/Ontario bred bonuses and administration.
 
I think that this is a very important area to be analyzed and reviewed to make sure that funding and allocations are best being used and are being distributed equitably to allow our breeders to flourish and make the industry sustainable.
 
What are your long-term goals for the CTHS?
In the long-term, good corporate governance is something the CTHS(ONT) has to continue to strive for; it is important for the board and its members. The system of rules and practices that govern our actions need to be balanced by the needs and interests of our members, customers, partners, Government and our community.
 
There are many other objectives which are important to members that need to be reviewed and discussed including:
 
  • Voting Procedures
  • Term Limits
  • Additional revenue Streams
  • Grow the interest and participation in the horse industry
 
The past president Glenn Sikura, is very passionate and has had an influential voice for the industry during his 23-year tenure as president. He remains committed to the industry as a board member and we will all work together to continue to enhance a strong vision for Ontario breeders.
 

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