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Second Season of Horsemanship Training Program set to begin at Woodbine Racetrack

March 7, 2017

​TORONTO, March 7 – After a successful inaugural season where 14 passionate individuals completed the Horsemanship Training Program at Woodbine Racetrack, Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) and the Horsemen’s Benevolent Protective Association of Ontario (HBPA), along with partner Groom Elite ( are excited to launch a second season of the program.

The program offers development opportunities for those who are currently working with horses in some capacity or those who wish to work alongside horses for the first time. Due to the uniqueness of the program, both groups will be able to learn vital skills and develop a path to potential employment in Woodbine’s backstretch.

“We were extremely happy with the outcome of the 2016 training program and are proud to continue to support the development of caring, qualified people to work with the world-class equine athletes that compete at Woodbine Racetrack,” said Jessica Buckley, Vice-President Corporate Affairs and Community Relations.

Graduates of the program will have the necessary skills to immediately gain employment as a Groom (caring for the horses and facilities) or a Hotwalker (assisting horses cool down after a race or training session) in the Woodbine backstretch.

With more than 2100 horses living and competing at Woodbine annually, the need for qualified people to assist in the training and care increases every year.

“Working with horses is so rewarding,” said HBPA President, Sue Leslie. “With an acute shortage of qualified workers on the backside it is imperative we do all we can to develop skilled workers for our members. The HBPA, partnering with WEG, is committed to the Elite program.”

This year’s edition of the program expands by offering a two-week hotwalker program (Grooming 099) as well as a three-week groom program (Groom Elite 101). Once again the program is supported by Dr. Reid McLellan, Executive Director of the Elite Program Inc., who will guide participants through in-class on hands-on training.

“I’m looking forward to returning to Woodbine as I enjoyed watching the transition of wary, inexperienced participants as they gained confidence with each practice day,” said Dr. C. Reid McLellan. “Last year’s inaugural class introduced local citizens to jobs available at Woodbine and at over half of that first class had jobs in the Woodbine stable area after that program."

The program runs on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00 pm to 4:00pm beginning on April 24th (Introduction to Grooming 099) and May 15th (Groom Elite 101). Those interested are encouraged to apply online at prior to the April 1st deadline.

About Woodbine Entertainment Group
With roots dating back to 1881, Woodbine Entertainment Group is the largest horse racing operator in Canada, showcasing world-renowned horse racing at Woodbine Racetrack (Toronto), home of the iconic Queen’s Plate, and Mohawk Racetrack (Milton), host of the storied Pepsi North America Cup. WEG is the leading member of the Standardbred Alliance and the single operator of Teletheatres and Account Wagering, available through, in Ontario. Woodbine Entertainment is designated as a Caring Company with Imagine Canada, and gives back through WEGcares Community Investment Program.

About Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association of Ontario
The Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association of Ontario (HBPA) has represented Owners and/or Trainers of thoroughbred racehorses since 1950. Membership in the HBPA of Ontario begins when you become licensed with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) as an Owner and/or Trainer. There is no membership fee.

About Groom Elite
The Elite Program was started by Susan O’Hara, an owner of racehorses who believed that her horses would have a better chance of competing effectively and retiring reasonably sound if the people that spent the most time with them, the grooms, were not discounted as necessary evils, but were provided with knowledge and skills training that would enable them to more effectively take care of their assigned horses. Through 2006, Groom Elite 101 was taught over 25 times at 17 tracks in 12 states and indirectly influenced thousands of grooms, hot walkers, and exercise riders that attended short courses and observed one or more Elite Program classes. Dr. C. Reid McLellan, PhD was appointed Executive Director in August 2005 after serving as the program’s volunteer National Director of Instruction since 2002. Dr. McLellan received a B.S. degree in Animal Science from Louisiana State University and a M.S. and PhD from Oklahoma State University.

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