The Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association (SBOA) continues to have grave concerns for the future of Ontario’s Standardbred breeding industry. The release of the Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel’s five-year plan fails to address the immediate needs of Ontario’s breeding sector.
After having experienced record losses in 2012 and again this season, Ontario’s Standardbred breeders require a much stronger commitment from our current government in order to transition to long-term sustainability. An increase in HIP funding in the short-term is critical to the viability of Ontario’s Standardbred breeding industry.
The Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel states in their five-year plan that with the reduction of racing opportunities in Ontario, an oversupply of yearlings has been created in 2013. The Panel does not acknowledge in its report that this oversupply has been created due to the government’s ill-planned decision to end the mutually beneficial partnership of the Slots-At-Racetracks Program.
Ontario’s Standardbred breeders have not been given adequate time to restructure their operations in order to align with the reduction in race opportunities, therefore resulting in a detrimental effect on yearling prices.
The Transition Panel’s assumption that yearling prices should be positively affected in 2014-2019 due to a likely undersupply of yearlings provides little confidence to Ontario’s Standardbred breeders in the short term. The Ontario Sires Stakes will not experience the full effects of a reduced number of eligible participants due to the ending of SARP until 2016.
For many breeders, the financial losses that they have incurred over the past 18 months have been so substantial that it is difficult, if not impossible, for them to survive to a point where the industry can see it's way through to a five-year plan. In order for success and sustainability to once again be achieved by Ontario’s Standardbred breeders in the long term, the Government must be willing to increase HIP funding in the short term.