TORONTO — The first race kicking off the 30th Anniversary season of the Ontario Sires Stakes is still about six weeks away and there is already cause for a celebration. For the fourth time in as many years, the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) has announced major funding increases for the OSS program.

Purses for Gold elimination and Grassroots events in 2003 have been raised by a total of $600,000. In addition, the minimum purse for a Grassroots division has been increased to $18,000 from $15,000 in 2002.

Starting fees for Gold eliminations have been set at a flat fee of $500 per entry, regardless of the number of divisions.

There is also good news for Ontario’s horse breeders. Funding for Breeders Awards has been increased from 8.5% of added money to 10%, an increase of about $200,000. For the first time in 2003, Breeders Awards will be distributed evenly among all OSS events, including Grassroots races.

With these changes, it is anticipated that the total value of the OSS program in 2003 will exceed $22 million. Since the beginning of the 2000 season, OSS purses have been increased by more than $8 million.

“This is just more great news for every participant in the Ontario racing industry,” said OHRIA Acting Executive Director George Kelly. “This announcement follows a 2002 season in which all kinds of records were broken and the great Sir Luck became the first Ontario sired two-year-old ever to win $1 million in a single season. And, for the 10th consecutive year, the OSS produced more $100,000 winners in a single season than any other sires stakes jurisdiction in the world.”

The Ontario Sires Stakes, which began in 1974, is for two and three-year-old trotters and pacers sired by a stallion standing in the province of Ontario. Horses compete in OSS races in separate colt and filly divisions at the province’s 16 harness racing tracks.

The first Gold Series event of the 2003 season is on Saturday, May 10 at Mohawk Racetrack. A total of 40 Gold Final events, each with a purse of $130,000, will be featured during the year. The season for the Gold Series horses culminates with Super Final Night at Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday, Nov. 8 when a total of $2.4 million in purses will be up for grabs.

The popular Grassroots Series, which is raced at many of the province’s smaller tracks, begins on Saturday, May 17 at Woodstock Raceway. The Grassroots Championship Night for two-year-olds will be held on Friday, Oct. 31 at London’s Western Fair Raceway. Flamboro Downs will host the sophomore Championships on Sunday, Nov. 2. Each Grassroots Championship division features a $100,000 purse.

For more information contact:

George Kelly

Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA)

905) 812-0168