WELCOME TO THE OHIO HARNESS HORSEMEN'S ASSOCIATION
The OHHA will provide updates regarding Ohio Racing during the coronovirus crisis throughout the state and nation on all media outlets.
For immediate updates, subscribe to the O.H.H.A. Text Blast Service: Text OHHA to 1-888-808-1507 for Ohio’s standardbred industry updates and emergency messages.
For the most up-to-date information on Coronovirus in Ohio, please see:
COVID-19 Waiver and Commencement Racing Protocol
COVID-19 Ohio Financial and Health Asset Links
Statewide Partner Equine Discount Feed Program
Equine or Human Benevolent Fund Application
OHHA Participant Notices and Press Releases
3.27.20 Health Insurance Credit
4.1.2020 Emergency Benevolence Fund
4.6.20 Benevolence Portal
4.30.20 OHHA Benevolent Distribution
4.30.20 OHHA Press Release
5.8.20 OHHA Press Release
5.12.20 OHHA Information Release
5.13.20 OHHA Update
5.14.20 OHHA Back to Race
March 27, 2020 O.H.H.H.I.T. Health Plan Credits: The Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association and Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Health Insurance (O.H.H.H.I.T.) Trustees as administrators of the Harness Horsemen’s Health Insurance Trust would like to announce financial relief for all Harness Horsemen’s Health Insurance Plan Participants. As-of the date of the first Order cancelling racing (March 20, 2020), each Self-Pay Plan Participant will automatically receive a credit for two months of health insurance plan premiums at their existing coverage level. For example, if a horseman has paid their April premium costs for family coverage, they will receive a credit for their May and June family coverage premiums. If the April family coverage premium has not been paid, the credit will apply to family coverage for their April and May premium costs. There is no need to do anything to receive the credit. It will automatically be applied to all self-pay coverage classes. Note that if there are changes in coverage to a higher level of coverage (i.e., single to family coverage) during the credit time-period, the credit for the lower level of coverage will apply and the difference between the higher and lower premium cost will have to be paid. In addition, during this time, existing Breeding Farm Employees and Racetrack Grooms that are employed and active in the Plan, will continue to receive their premium costs covered. Separation for or from any covered employer will be handled as-per the Plan’s rules.
April 1, 2020 Direct Emergency Benevolent Initiatives for Horsemen and Horses: The OHHA would like to remind Ohio’s standardbred racing participants that the Standardbred Equine or Human Benevolent Fund that has been in place since 2015 continues to be available upon application. The Fund is and has been available for case-by-case application, whether it be an Owner, Trainer, Groom, Breeding Farm Worker or Standardbred Racehorse. The stated purpose is to provide grant-based assistance or aid to standardbred horses, owners, trainers, and grooms or breeding farm workers in distress or under threat of imminent harm. OHHA Benevolent Aid is available on a case-by-case basis. Funds are distributed solely in the OHHA’s discretion for the use and manner deemed most beneficial. Eligibility Requirements: Equine relief limited to racing or breeding standardbreds. Human Benevolence limited to owners, trainers, grooms, and breeding farm workers. You must be an Ohio Resident and OHHA Member in good standing. All circumstances must be substantiated and verified for a distribution of funds. Requests: All requests must be made on the Standardbred Equine or Human Benevolent Fund by the person requesting aid. The form must be completed in its entirety. If grooms or breeding farm workers are requesting support, the Owner, Trainer, or Farm they work for must verify and sign.
OHHA Establishes Donation Portal to Assist Ohio Horsemen
Grove City, Ohio – The Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association has set up a PayPal donation portal for those that want to help Ohio horsemen in need during the COVID-19 crisis.
All money donated will go to the OHHA Horsemen’s Benevolent Fund. Those that donate will be able to earmark their donation for either the Equine Benevolent or Human Benevolent fund.
Horsemen can complete an Equine or Human Benevolent Fund application and submit it to the OHHA Fund Trustees for consideration.
OHHA President Steve Bateson says the Human and Equine Benevolent Funds have been there since 2015 to help horsemen that are having a significant financial hardship or that have horses in peril. “OHHA Trustees for the funds will go through the applications as quickly as possible. The Trustees have a simplistic and fair across the board system in place to expedite the process.”
The Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association has created a webpage to combine its COVID-19 resources. The page is located at https://www.ohha.com/covid19.html
The page, includes links to:
• The PayPal Donation Portal
• The Equine and Human Benevolent Fund Application
• COVID-19 Ohio Financial and Heath Assets which include: Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Health Insurance Trust information, State of Ohio governmental updates, Federal CARES Act relief package information, City of Columbus information and resources for Ohio businesses and workers including information about unemployment aid and foreclosure information.
The Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association and Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Health and Retirement Plan (H.H.H.R.P.) Trustees as administrators of the Harness Horsemen’s Retirement Trust announce direct benevolent relief for all 2019 Ohio H.H.H.R.P. Plan Participants. Due to the April 2, 2020 Order canceling racing until May 15, 2020, each 2019 Qualified Retirement Plan Participant, which includes Breeding Farm Workers, Grooms, Trainers, and Drivers will automatically receive a two-payment benevolent distribution. The distribution will be based upon their full-time employment status with a Breeding Farm or Racing Stable, or individual full-time qualified status and number of starts in 2019 as a driver or trainer. In addition to the 2019 benevolent distribution, all participants will continue to receive a contribution from the statewide breakage fund into their retirement trust account.
Breeding Farm Workers, Grooms, Trainers, and Drivers will receive an equally calculated benevolent distribution in two payments. Distribution of the first payment will commence May 1, 2020, the second distribution will occur by June 1, 2020. Grooms and Breeding Farm workers will receive approximately $500, each payment, trainers’ and drivers’ distribution will vary based upon total starts from the base minimum. Note, all participants will be treated the same and cannot opt-out of the distribution. Seek the advice of your financial professional for individual guidance and financial planning.
Various different rumors regarding qualifying and opening have circulated back to us from a lot of different sources. Please be advised that at this time that all stakeholders have asked for definitive authorization to both qualify and race live. The stakeholders would like to have confirmation from the Governor's office to commence any operations whether it be qualifying or race live dates and to be sure they are not in violation of any Orders that are currently in place. As advised prior, we will update as soon as we have factual information to release and definitive plans. In advance of that, be advised that serious protocols will be put in place to resume. That includes mandatory masks, severe limitations on personnel, and altered racing schedules. The current plan is for a "soft opening" to permit horses to qualify in advance of a "go live" date and prevent interstate travel in accordance with 14-day quarantine restrictions in place across state lines. Please understand that we know how much anxiety this pandemic has caused and are sympathetic to all. We are working as hard and as quickly as possible to get benevolence handled and everyone back to racing in a safe environment. We ask that you please be patient and permit us to do our best on behalf of the industry, which we have been doing since the March 3rd ramp-up date with this, with the goal as always to keep on racing.
We are disappointed to report that despite multiple plans submitted and meetings since April 1st forward, we are nearing the close of another week in Ohio without a clear path forward to resume racing. With each week comes a new challenge that prevents a factual announcement or final plan. During the last several weeks various rumors regarding qualifying and opening have circulated back to us from a lot of different sources. This process ebbs and flows regularly. Currently the Associations, Racing Commission, and all Permit Holders have been trying to work towards a final plan without success. The general tenor from the Permit Holders is a desire to continue down the path of uncertainty, without a definitive plan to resume racing, unless assurances and guarantees are received for all casino and racino operations, racing or not. Due to this dynamic, the Ohio State Racing Commission has scheduled a series of meetings moving forward to resolve the impasse in accordance with the Governor’s Office and all Orders in place. Our expectation is this will continue to fuel the rumor mill, likely more than ever. As advised prior, we will update as soon as we have factual information to release and definitive plans. We are working as hard and as quickly as we can to continue to roll out benevolence and get everyone back to the business of racing. In regards to Benevolence, all benevolence announced or requests received within the last three days has been processed and sent. We thank you for your patience as we continue to do our best on behalf of the industry, with the goal as always to resume racing.
Meeting, Directive, and Resolution Information released this morning from the Ohio State Racing Commission verifies that a potential "spectator-less racing" Plan will be considered at a meeting scheduled at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. A Directive circulated and under consideration provides that, "Scioto Downs Racetrack and Northfield Park Racetrack MAY open their facilities for horsemen and horses to move in including dormitories and to conduct training and qualifiers starting on May 16, 2020. Scioto Downs Racetrack and Northfield Park Racetrack MAY resume live horse racing starting on May 21, 2020." Both Racetracks are subject to and shall comply with Standardbred Protocols as provided for in a Plan that will be concurrently considered. Please be aware that this is all pending approval by the Ohio State Racing Commission and subsequent resumption by the Permit Holders. Even-if passed, any dates are likely to be fluid until we have final passage and concrete information. We ask that you continue to enable us to do our jobs and if you have an interest in the meeting, that you be mindful of the fluid and sensitive nature of this matter, and are fully aware that as always we are pursuing your best interests to resume racing as expeditiously as possible.
The Ohio State Racing Commission met at 10:00 a.m. this morning (5.13). Ohio is one step closer to approval to move forward, pending two more meetings that have been set by the Racing Commission. The two meetings will occur later tonight and another tomorrow morning (5.14). Standardbred Permit Holders represented that Qualifiers can be scheduled to go-live May 16th at Eldorado Scioto Downs and May 18th at MGM Northfield Park. Live racing is pending approval to commence May 22nd at Eldorado Scioto and May 26th at MGM Northfield Park. Thanks to the Standardbred Racetrack Management Teams for the push to go live in Ohio, which pushed us over the edge on the rapid start dates. Health Department Orders and protocols that are a mandatory condition of this re-opening, were also not approved, but are scheduled to be final and heard tomorrow, May 14th. All horsemen must follow the stringent protocols and a continuation of live racing depends upon this strict compliance. We will continue to update with any news as this progresses.
After technical issues with the Ohio State Racing Commission's 7:00 p.m. 5.13 meeting and adjournment, this morning the Ohio State Racing Commission has finalized a Resolution and Statewide Protocol Plan to commence racing live. Ohio has been cleared to start live racing on May 22, 2020. Ohio's Standardbred Permit Holders have represented that Qualifiers can be scheduled to go-live May 16th at Eldorado Scioto Downs and May 18th at MGM Northfield Park. Live racing on May 22nd at Eldorado Scioto and May 26th at MGM Northfield Park. Health Department Orders and Protocols that are a mandatory condition of this re-opening were also approved. All horsemen must read, acknowledge receipt, and follow the stringent protocols that are outlined. These protocols will be modified as the COVID-19 landscape changes, whether added restrictions are necessary or lifted. Racing's resumption and successful continuation is now in the hands of the Horsemen to carry forward. The Associations have done all they can do to provide the opportunity to race for Ohio's horsemen. We need you to successfully and safely execute to continue racing. We will provide any additional details as they become necessary. Safe and prosperous racing to everyone.
Ohio State Notices and Press Releases
3.13.20 COVID Update
3.14.20 COVID Racing Order
3.12.20 COVID Update
3.20.20 COVID Update
3.22.20 Stay at Home Order Issues
3.31.20 Racing Cancellation
4.10.20 Racing Cancellation
This afternoon Governor DeWine’s Press Conference referenced Ohio’s Casinos as not exempt under the Order that Dr. Acton issued 3.12.20 from the Department of Health on mass gatherings of over 100. In response, at 7:11 p.m. tonight, the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) clarified via Order that, “Each casino is to be in compliance with the directive by midnight. In addition, properties must submit to the Commission their plans to maintain compliance.” In response Ohio’s four casinos will close as-of midnight tonight to reevaluate compliance with the Order.
In response, the Racing Industry and the Ohio State Racing Commission have sought clarification from the Governor and Dr. Acton on the Order for compliance on mass gatherings regarding spectator sports as applied to live racing. The clarification is a request to authorize the continuation of racing with simulcast-only wagering in place, racing personnel to de minimis levels of only those required, the closure of racing locations to live spectators, and a reduction of horsemen in their paddock workplace to only those that are necessary and essential to race.
Our goal is to continue to do everything we can to help you keep your racing operations up and running and everyone safe during this unique and changing situation. We will immediately text any updates to all racing social media outlets and OHHA Emergency Text Blast at 888-808-1507. To subscribe to the Text Blast, send a text with OHHA to that number. Once again, The OHHA would like to thank everyone for their patience and cooperation as we continue to work through this extraordinary crisis.
By Ohio State Racing Commission Order issued tonight, all Ohio Racing has been canceled until April 6, 2020 pending further instructions from the Governor and the Ohio State Racing Commission. Until further notice, Permit Holders were also directed to continue to leave statewide backsides open. Additionally, Permit Holders were directed to continue to maintain and make the track available for training. Horsemen are directed to continue to take all necessary precautionary measures possible in accordance with the COVID-19 Health Orders in place.
The OHHA would like to thank everyone for their patience and cooperation as we continue to work through this extraordinary crisis. We wanted to personally share an update on our efforts to help keep your operations up and running, participants and personnel safe during the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The OHHA is closely monitoring the latest reports from Governor DeWine, the State of Ohio Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO). We are also taking precautionary measures for the health and safety of our horsemen and Team Members. Our goal is to do everything we can to help you keep your racing operations up and running and everyone safe during this unprecedented and evolving situation. We are asking everyone to continue to diligently follow the advice provided by the State Department of Health. First and foremost, if you are ill, please do not go to work. If you are ill or at-risk, self-quarantine. And in all cases, immediately seek medical attention if you experience any of the symptoms outlined in the COVID-19 links. < https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/>
Effective from 3.9.20, all Ohio Standardbred Racetracks have permitted entry on out-of-state horses only from those geographical locations that have not shown an elevated COVID-19 risk, see attached OSRC notice. Ohio racetracks have and will continue to deny entry in their discretion to any horse or participant that shows a past-performance line from any geographic region where COVID-19 has had a direct link to racing participants. That may include horses and participants from, Yonkers Raceway, Freehold, the Meadowlands, Monticello, Harrah’s Philadelphia, Mohegan Sun Pocono, Dover, Saratoga, Woodbine Mohawk, and other racetracks. The OHHA has asked all OHHA personnel not to travel outside of their minimum working functions, have cancelled all in-office meetings, and have canc elled all outreach, marketing, and promotions directly tied to spectators and attendance. In addition to those factors already in place, we have extended the offer to race with simulcast-only wagering in place, if necessary to support closure of racing locations to live spectators, with a reduction of racing personnel to de minimis levels of only those required, necessary, and essential to race.
After Governor DeWine's Press Conference this afternoon, all gaming entities and interested parties are requesting clarification from the Governor and Regulatory Bodies on the Order that Dr. Acton issued from the Department of Health on mass gatherings regarding spectator sports. Until that clarification, scheduled racing and operations with the above precautionary measures in place, will continue until further notice. If any changes occur, we will immediately text updates to social media outlets and OHHA Emergency Text Blast at 614-924-8072. To subscribe to the Text Blast, send a text with OHHA to that number.
Please be advised that by Order (attached) all Ohio Racing has been canceled for the week (March 20-27) pending further instructions from the Governor and the Ohio State Racing Commission. Until further notice, Permit Holders are directed to leave statewide backsides open. Additionally, Permit Holders are directed to maintain and make the track available for training. Horsemen should take all measures possible to continue social distancing practices.
Thank you for your patience as we have continued to navigate these unprecedented and challenging times. Please know that we appreciate everyone’s effort to continue onward with a grit and resilience that only horsemen can show.
Although we are furloughed at this time I am always encouraged by the can-do spirit of horsemen and know we will come out the other side of this a stronger and more unified industry.
In the meanwhile, those of us at the Association continue to work for you as before. We have modernized our offices over the last five years and as of right now can provide full service, whether inside or outside the office working remotely. However, please give us a little extra time to respond, because we are swamped as everyone else is right now.
As always, we will provide updates via our social media outlets and Emergency Text Blast Service: 888-808-1507.
The Ohio Department of Health has issued a "Stay at Home" Order effective from midnight March 23rd to midnight April 6, 2020 unless modified by a later Order. After review of the Order, all non-essential, non-critical infrastructure individuals are required to Stay at Home. The Order provides exemptions for critical infrastructure workforce, which includes agriculture, animal care, and permits outdoor activity and travel related to taking care of agricultural animals and pets for "animal agricultural workers". It provides for those that manufacture and sell animal feed, bedding and products, veterinarians, and other agricultural support businesses to remain open. Maintaining your racing businesses and the services that support your business, are critical infrastructure, and exempt under the Order. Please continue to exercise COVID-19 health protocol, quarantine if ill, use proper hygiene, and exercise social distancing.
As always, we will provide updates via our social media outlets and Emergency Text Blast Service: 888-808-1507.
From: Bill Crawford, Executive Director- Ohio State Racing Commission
Date: March 31, 2020
Subject: Cancellation of Racing
You are hereby directed:
1. Horse racing is cancelled at your facility through April 30, 2020;
2. If your backside (including dormitories) is open, it SHALL remain open and operational until further notice;
3. If your track is available for training, it SHALL remain open for reasonable equine exercise until further notice.
The intent of this directive:
1. Prevent horse abuse/abandonment;
2. Allow for consolidated feed operations;
3. Prevent homelessness for those who temporarily/seasonally reside on the backside;
4. Provide adequate exercise for horses on property needed to prevent injury potentially caused by confinement
It is incumbent on the horsemen organizations in the State of Ohio and the racing permit holders operating as Racinos in the State of Ohio to submit a 30-day and a 60-day plan to comply with this directive (including financials) to the Ohio State Racing Commission (Commission) not later than midnight April 2, 2020.
The Commission considers themselves a partner with the horsemen and permit holders in reaching a solution to the issues and stand ready to assist the parties in compromise.
You should take all reasonable measures possible to continue social distancing practices.
The Commission will continue to update you as pertinent information becomes available.
Thank you for your patience as we all deal with this unprecedented and very fluid situation. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at 614-466-2758.
If you need further information on COVID-19, please visit, coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-427-5634.
Good Afternoon. By Order of the Ohio State Racing Commission issued today (4.10.20), please be advised that all Ohio Racing has been cancelled through May 15, 2020. If your backside (including dormitories) is open, it SHALL remain open and operational until further notice; If your track is available for training, it SHALL remain open for reasonable equine exercise until further notice. In conjunction with that cancellation, the Ohio Sires Stakes, Buckeye Stallion Series, and other Stakes Series races that were scheduled within this time frame will be postponed with the intent to schedule at a later date. Thank you for your patience as we work through these very difficult times. Click Here for the OSRC Directive