Ontario Racing has officially announced that Standardbred horsepeople who have been impacted by the recent suspension of live harness races would get financial assistance. The funds are available through the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s Funding Agreement, and the horse racing leader has revealed the eligibility requirements.

The horse racing sector in the province was put on pause at the beginning of April when the provincial government issued a new stay-at-home order. The lockdown was supposed to last only 28 days at first, but it was eventually extended until May 20. Due to the sport’s multiple suspensions from the start of the unprecedented situation, this has put all horsepeople at a disadvantage.

Benefit Payments for May

John Hayes, the Chair of Ontario Racing, indicated that the company and the Crown Corporation are committed to assisting the industry in such difficult times. He continued by saying that the last 14 months have been extremely grim for the live harness industry and its thousands of workers.   Both institutions are aware of their responsibilities to the industry and will provide more benefits.

horse must fulfil specific standards in order for their horsepeople to be eligible for benefit payments. For the month of May, the payment is $1,000 per horse. This applies to any horse that is stabled in Ontario with a charting line in 2021 and is not currently racing outside of Ontario, as well as horses that are training outside of the province without returning before April 5.

The second requirement applies for horses that are currently preparing to race and are stabled in the province for the month of May, who will also be eligible to apply for the CA$1,000 relief payment. This includes unraced in 2021 three and four-year-olds. Any horse that started in Ontario between September 1 and December 23, 2020, that was stabled in Ontario at the time of the start and remained in Ontario until December 23, 2020.

Horsepeople who registered for April benefits do not need to reapply for the month of May to get the new payments, according to Ontario Racing. All horses that meet the three requirements must stay in the province in May, and their first start must also be in the province once live harness racing resumes. Before June 2, 2021, all application forms must be submitted.

Earlier Start

It’s worth remembering that live horse racing was only recently permitted to resume following the provincial government’s announcement of an economic restart plan. Woodbine Entertainment has set June 18 and June 14 as the new start dates for its thoroughbred and standardbred seasons, respectively. However, because most horsepeople are already at the tracks and ready to go, the equine leader is considering applying for an earlier start day.

Jam-Packed Qualifiers

This week Woodbine Mohawk Park is scheduled to have an action-packed set of qualifiers, divided into three days. The horse racing track will host 44 exciting qualifying sessions from Thursday, May 27 to Saturday, May 29, with over 377 horses participating. There will be a lot of fan favorites and well-established fillies running against each other, so be sure to watch.

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