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© John Watkins
By Jennifer Morrison
AJAX, ONT—SEPTEMBER 10, 2020—This is a great time to join in the excitement of owning, breeding and racing Quarter Horses in Ontario with innovative new programs to the Quarter Horse Racing Industry Development Program (QHRIDP) in 2020 paving the way for a strong future for the industry.
"The new incentives created this year focus on expanding the programs," said Bob Broadstock, who represents Quarter Horse racing on the Ontario Racing board. "We took away some of the barriers in some of the initiatives for people investing in the Quarter Horse industry."
The QHRIDP is a multi-year strategy developed to build a strong sustainable Quarter Horse racing and breeding industry in Ontario. The objectives are to boost racing, breeding and industry development.
Introduced this year were added bonuses for owners to the Third-Start Program, purse increases for races such as the Alex Picov Memorial Futurity for 2-year-olds, renewing the popular Princess Derby Stakes for fillies, and the Quarter Racing Owners of Ontario Inc.'s successful Horse Purchase Program.
This Princess Breeding Incentive enables the connections of the 10 participating fillies in the Princess Derby Stakes to receive a certificate for $2,500, redeemable upon producing a live foal in Ontario.
Third Start Bonus
If an owner or trainer buys a horse to race at Ajax Downs and that horse makes at least three starts, both the owner and trainer are eligible for a $1,000 stipend. The bonus previously was granted only to trainers.
"Also, 2-year-olds who make three starts, or 3-year-olds who did not get in their three starts as juveniles are eligible for the bonus," said Broadstock. "Plus, all the horses bought through the Horse Purchase Program new to Ajax are eligible."
Stakes Race Boosts
The Princess Derby was welcomed back in 2020, a race for 3-year-old fillies that is intended to encourage investment in quality fillies to be bred and produce foals in Ontario. The race was immediately popular with Quarter horse racing people as more than two dozen fillies were nominated this spring and there were two Trials.
The final, held on August 5, was won by Ontario-bred One Kool Dynasty, owned by Belinda Taggart and bred by Bill Taggart.
The Alex Picov Memorial Futurity, one of Ajax Downs' most famous races, had its purse boosted to $100,000-added for 2020. There have been over 40 nominated 2-year-olds and Trials will be held September 14 with the final on October 5.
"Increasing the purse of the Futurity was very much targeted on getting new investment in Quarter Horses since the race is offered in a horse's first year of racing," said Broadstock.
Horse Purchase Program
Some 25 horses arrived at Ajax Downs to race in 2020 thanks to the Horse Purchase Program. An interest free-loan of up to $5,000 was offered to buyers who registered, providing funds for the purchase of a horse.
"It worked very, very well," said Broadstock. "It will be back for 2021 as it's seed money and we should be able to retrieve the money back to keep using it for next year."
If you breed a mare in Ontario, when she is confirmed in-foal after the 60-day mark, the breeder can apply to receive a $1,000 Mare Breeding Incentive cheque. Broadstock said numbers of mares bred in 2020 showed an increase over 2019 and says 2021 numbers should also be on the rise.
The Embryo Transfer aspect of the QHRIDP was also expanded in 2020. Embryo Transfer has been permitted in Quarter Horse racing for many years but Ontario breeders were only allowed to receive bonuses on one foal per mare.
"We removed the limitation of the number of embryo transfers so that people who have less broodmares can produce more Ontario bred and sired foals," said Broadstock. "More foals help race field size."
Broadstock is encouraged by how well the 2020 racing season has progressed despite being restricted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"This year, the purse money has been spread out to many different owners and breeders. I really believe there is a lot more positivism from owners and breeders who are already talking about going to a sale in the winter to buy more horses, even with the difficulty of the COVID-19 pandemic."
Broadstock noted the advancement of the QHRIDP has been made possible by the Ontario government's pledge to invest in the future of Quarter Horse racing by keeping Ajax Downs open for racing and funding through Ontario racing.
"I think these programs are intended to stick around and hopefully expand even more over the years as things start to get better in the industry," said Broadstock.
That would be great news for the dedicated members, and the newest members of the fastest equine sport in the world.
Courtesy Ontario Racing