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Standardbred Canada announces ‘Return to Racing’ blueprint

April 27, 2020
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In early April, Standardbred Canada’s Board of Directors appointed a 'Return To Racing' task force to develop a blueprint for the return of Standardbred racing.

Today (Monday, April 27), SC’s Board has approved the plan and will be releasing 'The Return to Standardbred Horse Racing in Canada Blueprint' to industry stakeholders to assist them in the planning and preparation of racing resuming at racetracks across the country.

The goal of the blueprint is to provide guidelines for all facets of the industry to consider in the preparation of the return to racing, with minimal risk to participants, and proper internal controls. The guidelines incorporate resources and recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Canada and provincial health agencies. In addition, policies and procedures from racetracks that have been racing and operating successfully and spectator free during the COVID-19 crisis were also reviewed and incorporated.

This initiative was presented to the Board by Blair Corbeil (Western Region Active Director), who chaired the task force consisting of fellow directors along with further consultation from others within the industry.

“I think this blueprint is timely, as provinces begin discussing ways to relax restrictions to ready the country for the ‘new normal,’” commented Dan Gall, President and CEO of Standardbred Canada. 

“We are quite clear on what we hope that this document will be to the industry, and that is a resource for any and all jurisdictions in Canada who would like to reference it as they prepare for the return of horse racing in Canada. 

“I would like to commend the board, the task force, Darryl Kaplan and Kathy Wade Vlaar in assisting in putting this blueprint together, as it furthers Standardbred Canada’s vision of being an essential support to the horse, industry and the sport. SC is of course available to help any horse association or racetrack in getting our sport up and running again as quickly as possible."

In creating the blueprint, the task force identified the following priorities:

  • The importance of getting the Standardbred horse racing industry back in operation.

  • To ensure the health and welfare of our Standardbreds.

  • A strong focus and emphasis on risk mitigation to assure the safety of all participants.

  • The commitment to work with and follow government and public health direction.

The blueprint features three main components with details and considerations in the areas of:

  • Stakeholder Engagement

  • COVID-19 and the Resumption of Racing

  • Communication Strategy and Public Relations

The first phase of the blueprint is for racing to resume without spectators on site. Several Canadian racetracks had operated this way for several racecards prior to closing, and many Thoroughbred racetracks in the United States continue to race without spectators in attendance.

“We sincerely appreciate the hard work of the task force and SC Management in the creation of this plan under extremely tight timelines,” stated Ann Straatman, Chair of Standardbred Canada. “We are hopeful that industry associations and racetracks will work together and use this comprehensive blueprint in whole, or in part, to facilitate the safe and successful return of Standardbred racing in their jurisdictions.”

Returning to Standardbred racing requires a coordinated effort for all industry stakeholders with consistent accepted policies and procedures for all participants. Because of the nature of the industry, including transportation of horses to the racetracks, and overlap of horsepeople working at different facilities and racetracks, it is critical that the industry has a plan that all participants can follow. This plan facilitates the coordination and execution of a nationwide effort with robust monitoring systems identified that are critical to navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, and how it evolves.

The return to racing will be on a racetrack-by-racetrack basis, as determined by government and health agencies, and the blueprint incorporates different steps and options available depending on the characteristics of the racetrack and the racing community.

The blueprint is now being released to industry stakeholders and will be made available on standardbredcanada.ca in the near future. (SC)

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