Less than two months after being appointed to Ontario Racing’s Board of Directors, Thoroughbred breeder representative Bernard McCormack has resigned.

“[Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society] needs to be there,” said McCormack of his departure. “Any decision that comes down when they aren’t there will fall heavily on the one thoroughbred person that is. I tried to bring them together but despite best efforts it didn’t work.”

After devastating the Ontario racing industry by cancelling the Slots-at-Racetrack-Program, this spring the provincial government announced a Long-Term Funding Agreement to support racing in Ontario. The Agreement will be administered by Horse Racing Ontario with various industry associations and racetracks named to its board of directors.

Although CTHS-Ontario president, Peter Berringer, was originally included on the board as representing Thoroughbred breeders in the province, the organization’s board unanimously voted not to sign the Agreement. Rather than leave the seat vacant, OR opted to appoint McCormack to the position to represent the Thoroughbred breeders interests. The decision was controversial with many thoroughbred breeders feeling that only the CTHS should represent its members, while others felt that a voice from the Thoroughbred community was necessary.

In their official statement, the CTHS board noted that they were concerned that the contract did not provide enough assurance of the CTHS’s continued involvement in the development of the Thoroughbred improvement Program (TIP). They did note, however, that if the contract was amended to include the CTHS’s oversight of that program that they would sign the Membership Agreement.

“Our concerns remain the same for the breeders of Ontario,” commented CTHS-Ontario president Peter Berringer. “The CTHS is open to discussions with OR and willing to negotiate an amendment to the membership agreement at any time. After numerous attempts to resolve any issues OR has expressed no interest in any amendment to address breeders’ concerns. We remain troubled that the existing contract doesn’t have enough provisions to ensure the future of Ontario breeders.”

“The CTHS has played an integral role in the development of the TIP program since its inception in the 1970s,” said Berringer. TIP, now worth $12.74 million, provides, among other things, $2.6 million in breeder awards and $320k in stallion awards and the CTHS is concerned about losing oversight of this money which is critical for Ontario breeders.

The Executive Director of Ontario Racing, Katherine Curry, has said that OR is working on finding a replacement for McCormack.

“We thank Bernard for his service on the Ontario Racing board in this transformative time in its history,” said Curry. “His passion and broad vision for horse racing in the province provided insight across all sectors in the industry. We are actively involved in the process of seeking someone who will represent the interests of the province’s thoroughbred breeders in collaboration with John Hayes, our independent chair, and the rest of the Ontario Racing board, to make Ontario Racing a customer focused entity and singular voice for the industry.”