Ontario Racing today announced an additional boost of $2.375 million in funds to the 2019 Standardbred Horse Improvement Program (SIP) as part of the $10 million of Horse Improvement Payment (HIP) funds earmarked for the horse racing industry by the Ontario government.
On March 21, 2019, the Ministry of Finance announced that it would provide an additional $10 million per year to support HIP programs for Standardbred (SIP), Thoroughbred (TIP) and Quarter Horse (QHRIDP) horsepeople in Ontario.
In the aftermath of the announcement, meetings were held with Ontario Racing’s Thoroughbred, Standardrdbred and Quarter Horse HIP Administration Committees to discuss plans for the allotment of the new funds.
Following those initial meetings, the Board of Directors of Ontario Racing met on April 26, 2019 and determined that the SIP program will receive $2.375 million in additional funding. When coupled with the existing SIP program, there is approximately $14 million available for Standardbred horsepeople in 2019.
This year, the enriched SIP will now contribute $200,000 (an increase of $20,000) to each Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Gold Series Leg, to be divided evenly between the number of divisions required for that event.
The HIP contribution to OSS Grassroots divisions in 2019 will now be $20,000 (an increase of $4,000), while the Grassroots Championships will see a purse bump to $75,000, up from $50,000.
Therefore, effective immediately, the Grassroots OSS purses will be increased to $20,000 per Division plus starting fees, and the Gold OSS purses will be $200,000 per event (divided by the number of required Divisions) plus starting fees.
It should be noted that these additional funds are a contribution from the government, and are not derived from wagering, as is the case with the current HIP funds.
One of the most heralded and successful programs of its kind in North America, SIP provides the opportunity for Ontario Sired and Ontario Bred Standardbreds to compete and win against the best in the sport, through OSS series races contested at racetracks throughout the province.
“A healthy and strong Standardbred Improvement Program and OSS Series is crucial to supporting current owners and the breeding of racehorses, as well as introducing new owners to horse racing and seeing the breeding side of the sport grow throughout the province,” said John Hayes, Ontario Racing Chair. “As always, Ontario Racing remains committed to working with our horsepeople and stakeholders to see our industry prosper.”
The current allocation of enriched HIP for all three breeds is in place for the 2019 season only. It is the intention of the Ontario Racing Board of Directors to create a Committee to determine appropriate parameters for the allocation going forward; in addition, Ontario Racing is having a Value for Money audit conducted with respect to the use of the HIP funds, which will assist in this determination. The allocation of the new funds will be re-assessed on this basis for 2020 and beyond.