Woodbine and the HBPA of Ontario have extended their contract.

Woodbine and the HBPA of Ontario have extended their contract.

Vic Zast

Woodbine, Horsemen Extend Contract

Woodbine and the HBPA of Ontario have extended their contract.

The board of directors of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association of Ontario has unanimously approved the extension of its current contract with Woodbine Entertainment Group for an additional three years, the organization announced Jan. 18.

The current agreement, which horsemen indicated is satisfactory, will now run through March 31, 2011.

“The contract extension will provide Thoroughbred horsemen a secure live race meet of 167 days at Woodbine over the next several years,” HBPA of Ontario president Sue Leslie said in a statement. “Additionally, we felt that our current agreement and working relationship with Woodbine management has been exceptional, and we wanted to continue our joint efforts to ensure growth and prosperity by committing to this additional period within the same framework as set forth in our current agreement.”

Leslie did note there are “several areas that we need to address together, such as simulcast wagering and future gaming expansion, and the stability of a written relationship allows us to move forward in a positive manner on these and other daily issues.”

The HBPA of Ontario represents more than 2,500 owners and trainers in the province. It also holds the contract at Fort Erie Race Track & Slots.

Woodbine’s 2008 meet of 167 days runs from April 5-Dec. 7. Fort Erie is scheduled to race 80 days from May 3-Oct. 28.

Woodbine and the horsemen’s group, like others in North America, are attempting to generate more revenue from pari-mutuel handle. Woodbine and the HBPA of Ontario split 20% of revenue from province-authorized slot machines.

In 2007, Woodbine raced 169 days and offered $85.6 million in purses, an average of $506,482 per day, according to The Jockey Club Information Services. In 2006, for 162 days of Thoroughbred racing, the Toronto-area track paid $75.2 million in purses, an average of $464,327 per program.

Fort Erie last year raced 84 days. Total purses were $8.7 million and the daily average $104,419. In 2006, the border track raced 101 days with total purses of $12 million (a daily average of $119,601).