The racing industry doesn’t often see fresh new faces willing to volunteer their time and expertise to better the industry, but one such person was recently elected to the board of the Ontario CTHS in Colleen Dalos.
Dalos has an extensive marketing background that includes years as a brand supervisor for Proctor & Gamble and her own consulting business. Her passion for thoroughbred racing saw her turn her attention full time to her father Ivan’s Tall Oaks Farm, where she is the General Manager of Operations and Marketing. One of Canada’s most successful breeders and owners with 120 horses including four stallions and 36 broodmares, they race predominantly in Ontario. The farm’s most recent accomplishment includes breeding Channel Maker, the 2020 Eclipse Award winner for Outstanding Male Turf Horse.
“My hope is to be a positive influence for change and help swing the pendulum in more a positive direction, and it’s already happening,” enthused Dalos. “We already have a lot of momentum in 2021 that we are just going to keep rolling with.”
Dalos was referencing the recent announcement negotiated over several months by CTHS Ontario President, Peter Berringer, that the group has signed an agreement with Woodbine and Ontario Racing Management that includes office space at Woodbine for the organization along with the use of the sales barn for the Yearling and Winter Mixed Sales. The agreement also includes the creation of a sub-committee (IRSC) that will see Woodbine, Ontario Racing, and Ontario CTHS executives collaborate on industry issues.
“They are coming to our board meetings, so they’ll be participating in meetings where we’ll have a chance to really communicate freely and have more open and direct dialogue.”
The positive momentum is much needed, as the state of Ontario’s breeding industry has Dalos concerned.
“I’m a business person and I look at the data,” she said. “The data is speaking to us clearly with declining foal crops, fewer mares bred and fewer stallions. It’s obvious that our industry is in decline and I think we are at a critical point where we must focus and put new initiatives in place to turn that around.”
In the short-term, Dalos is focusing on creating more racing opportunities for Ontario breeders.
“We need to change the decline of the Ontario-sired stake races and give more opportunity to locals. We used to have 23 stake races and now we have 10,” she explained. “We need to add at least four more opportunities for breeders, but more would be better and each year we need to be adding more not taking away. People get into this game because of the dream and the fun, but when you start taking away those opportunities and make it tough to compete you eventually take away the fun and excitement of it.”
Dalos notes that more money needs to be put back into Ontario races at the Allowance and Maiden levels which will only be accomplished by having breeders play a larger part in developing the programs.
“Woodbine is doing a good job with the racing program, but they need more input from local breeders as their partners when they are putting together their program.”
She is also excited about new plans that are already in the works for the 2021 Yearling Sale.
“We have a new committee working on the sale and we are starting really early and have amazing fresh new ideas for the sale that we are excited to release in the coming months.
“We are here to support the local industry. We are here to support what is best for the industry and what’s best for our local breeders. There is a lot of enthusiasm, new people, strong energy, and there is a lot of good stuff coming.”