Skip to content


December 24, 2020

Dear Members,
As this year comes to an end, I wanted to take this opportunity to personally thank you, our members for your continued dedication to the Ontario horse racing industry especially during what has been quite the tumultuous year.
Equally, I want to express my gratitude for the hard work and long hours put in by HBPA Directors and staff. It was an eventful year as we dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, purse redistribution program, EHV-1 outbreak at Woodbine, a cluster of Capsaicin positives and the abrupt ending of the 2020 racing season.
As many returned to Canada from the winter in Florida, they were greeted with quarantine from the COVID pandemic. The HBPA and Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) joined together to help the industry during the 14-day quarantine period. WEG opened their doors for some to stay in the dorms, while the HBPA helped some find and pay for accommodations.
COVID continued to affect our industry, causing the 2020 racing season to be delayed by over a month. To alleviate the financial burden caused by the delay, a purse reallocation program was created by a task force comprised of industry leaders steered by Ontario Racing. This program provided eligible owners with $3,000 per horse for the two-month delay.
If COVID was not enough for our members to deal with, Woodbine experienced an outbreak of the EHV-1 virus on the backside. The HBPA and WEG’s health and welfare committee worked diligently to ensure the outbreak was contained. Those horses infected and in the vicinity of the infected were tested, some several times and many quarantined.
On the heels of COVID and EHV-1 there was a cluster of Capsaicin positives in Ontario which involved both Fort Erie and Woodbine. Unaware of the cause of these positives, the HBPA worked co-operatively with the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA) and Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) to investigate the source of these positives. After several months of communication between the HBPA, CPMA and AGCO, the HBPA was able to satisfy our regulator that the trainers involved did not knowingly provide their horses with products that contained Capsaicin; therefore, NO penalty and NO fines were levied against the trainers involved.
Regrettably, our 2020 racing season ended abruptly as the city of Toronto went into lockdown due to rising COVID numbers. The HBPA and WEG both worked around the clock engaging the Provincial government, requesting an exemption from the lockdown to allow our horse people to complete the remaining 12 days of the season. Unfortunately, our efforts were not successful, and the season was over. Ontario Racing, in collaboration with HBPA and Woodbine, has applied to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission for allocation of remaining purse funds to owners. We continue to await their response.
After all the roadblocks that 2020 has offered our industry. we are proud of Ontario horse people. You have shown your dedication, determination and the love of your horses.
I want to personally thank you all for the tremendous support you have shown to our association. Thank you for the many calls, notes, and emails of appreciation – they mean a lot to us. On behalf of the Board of the HBPA of Ontario, we would like to wish our HBPA members and your families a safe and healthy holiday. Best wishes for success and happiness this coming year.
Warm wishes,
Sue Leslie, President