Leading Canadian trainer Dustin Jones, who sends out his second Hambletonian starter next Saturday, has issued the following caution to his fellow horse people in Ontario:
After reading the OHRIA plan I have to say that I have mixed feelings about it. Maybe the biggest problem I have is that if accepted, it will be a subsidy no matter how one cuts it.
But having said that I think that this may be horse racing’s best option. Most people know that my family and I moved to Ontario just over a year ago. The Dustin Jones stable is now based near Campbellville. This move was forced upon me by the collapse of the racing industry in Quebec and this is the point people need to consider.
There was a point that a proposal came from the Quebec government to close all of the tracks with the exception of Hippodrome de Montreal. But that was not supported by our organization ATAQ who thought it was doing the right thing and would be able to negotiate a better deal that would support the smaller people in the game.
As it turned out all that decision did was sacrifice everyone. Today there is racing at Hippodrome Trois Rivieres but the purses are nothing and racing is pretty much finished there forever. My wife and I left our farm there ,which we have not been able to sell, to move to Ontario in order to be able to stay in racing.
I caution everyone to consider what happened because if it happened in Quebec it could happen in Ontario. My stable went from as large as 60 horses to 25 that I have today and the farm is just sitting empty.
If this plan comes into effect it will force me to change again. I’m not exactly clear what it will mean for purses at Woodbine/Mohawk but I do know it will make it very difficult for me to sell horses that I want to move on. It is easy to say but the demand for better quality will continue and more work will be needed to find better horses.
All I have to say is remember what happened in Quebec. For those who have been through this once, we do not want to go through it again.