RACEHORSE owners in Ontario, Canada are being given access to unused prize-money to help pay for the upkeep of their horses during the state’s racing shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Racing has been suspended in Canada since March 23, with Woodbine, Ontario’s premier racecourse, already postponing the prestigious Queen’s Plate, the first leg of the nation’s Triple Crown, on June 27. 

However, with prize-money already allocated to the state by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), Ontario Racing (OR) has agreed to make the funds available to owners instead to maintain the horse population for when racing is given the go ahead to restart.

Owners can access C$1,500 a month (app ZAR19,500), roughly half the fees for a horse in training, from OR provided the horse is at least three years old, is trained in Ontario and has its first start in the state after restrictions are lifted.

The scheme is likely to be extended to the owners of two-year-olds should the lockdown go on past the end of next month, OR added.

In a statement, Ontario Racing said: “These funds were already committed to the industry through the Funding Agreement for Live Horse Racing between Ontario Racing and OLG. 

“In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Ontario Racing created a task force to address the financial impacts on the horseracing industry. The Ontario Racing Task Force has worked closely with OLG to structure the [payments].” 

OR added it will continue to pay the 1.5 per cent of purses to the racing associations to allow them to continue to offer benefits and additional assistance to those in need. -Racing Post.

Pic: Ontario Racing.