ascot aug08
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Saturday, January 19, 2008


I have no idea why I put that Smiley on there. Anyway, yes, it's a light weekend, lots of stakes here and there but most are sprints without any big names.

Only 2 news items this morning but more analysis of what's going on in racing later today or 1st thing tomorrow.

Thanks to those who have been commenting about:

- jockeys at Woodbine and the Woodbine webstite

- Horse slaughter and Bo Derek (Please be aware that an important note to all this is that there are HUMANE ways of euthanasia folks! )

- Picks for the FRESHMAN DRAFT!!

ALSO, a shout out to the gal who wrote in that used to groom it possible you can write back into THOROUGHBLOG? A reader has pictures for you.

Later - Jen



According to THE BLOOD-HORSE this morning (no evidence of the news being made available anywhere else, hmmmm, this is the ONTARIO HBPA yes?), the board of directors of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association of Ontario has unanimously approved the extension of its current contract with Woodbine Entertainment Group for an additional three years.

After several years of whispers that perhaps the Woodbine season would be cut right down to Kentucky Derby day to Breeders' Cup day, well, 3 more years of the same contract is now intact.

The current agreement, which horsemen indicated is satisfactory, will now run through March 31, 2011.

“The contract extension will provide Thoroughbred horsemen a secure live race meet of 167 days at Woodbine over the next several years,” HBPA of Ontario president Sue Leslie said in a statement. “Additionally, we felt that our current agreement and working relationship with Woodbine management has been exceptional, and we wanted to continue our joint efforts to ensure growth and prosperity by committing to this additional period within the same framework as set forth in our current agreement.”

Leslie did note there are “several areas that we need to address together, such as simulcast wagering and future gaming expansion, and the stability of a written relationship allows us to move forward in a positive manner on these and other daily issues.”

The HBPA of Ontario represents more than 2,500 owners and trainers in the province. It also holds the contract at Fort Erie Race Track & Slots.

Woodbine’s 2008 meet of 167 days runs from April 5-Dec. 7. Fort Erie is scheduled to race 80 days from May 3-Oct. 28.


Fired Magna officer wins $1.6 million

Judge labels Stronach's testimony `problematic'

Jan 18, 2008 04:30 AM

Business Reporter

A former top executive at Magna International and Magna Entertainment has won a $1.6 million award for wrongful dismissal in a case in which the judge described the evidence of company chair Frank Stronach as "problematic."

Graham Orr, an executive vice-president at both Aurora-based firms for 17 years, will also receive about 4 1/2 years' interest.

The award represents two years of salary and bonus while Orr worked at Magna Entertainment Corp., or MEC, as chief financial officer, minus his earnings after he shifted to another job at Magna International Inc.

Madam Justice Gloria Klowak of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that MEC breached Orr's employment contract as chief financial officer by pushing him out to Magna International for a similar job that never materialized and then dismissing him several months later in 2003 without fulfilling severance provisions.

"The fact remains that the defendant MEC did not give notice, and is consequently left with the only other method of payment under the contract, namely, the preceeding two years' salary and bonus," Klowak said in a 26-page decision.

Orr, 61, said yesterday that more than four years was a long time to wait for his pay from Magna Entertainment, whose fortunes in the racetrack and gambling industry have deteriorated in recent years.

"It is unfortunate when you have to sue to have an agreement honoured," Orr said in an interview.

"My faith in the justice system is confirmed and it is reassuring to see that there continues to be integrity in the system."

The 11-day trial last year featured testimony from Stronach in the midst of Magna's high-profile effort to try to buy Chrysler Corp.

Former Magna chief executive officer Belinda Stronach, now a federal MP, and other senior company executives also testified.

"Legal battles aren't fun for anybody," said Orr, who retired last year from Tomkins PLC. "I don't expect they were fun for Frank and his team. They certainly weren't fun for me."

Klowak said she found inconsistencies and a lack of clarity in the testimony of Magna International chief financial officer Vince Galifi, executive vice-president Brian Colburn and Frank Stronach.

"I also considered the evidence of Mr. Colburn and Mr. Stronach problematic," she said. "Mr. Stronach had what appeared to be a remarkably convenient lack of memory and an extraordinary ability to skirt around or evade inconvenient answers."

Orr, a chartered accountant, had worked in increasingly senior positions since joining Magna International in 1987 and then moved to Magna Entertainment in 2000 after Stronach made a request and offered a bonus of $2 million.

But evidence at the trial showed that by mid-2002, Stronach and MEC president Jim McAlpine thought Orr was not meeting expectations and would be replaced.

Galifi had already analyzed the cost of firing Orr versus the expense of keeping him at MEC.

MEC told Orr about its plans in March 2003, identified a replacement in June and offered him a temporary "special projects" posting at Magna with the intent of a senior job and a new contract, according to evidence.

MEC argued that after Orr's work moved from MEC, his employment relationship ended there along with any company obligations.

But the trial heard Stronach had no "appetite" for a new contract. That upset Orr, who indicated he would trigger the severance provisions of his deal.

Other evidence also revealed Stronach agreed to honour a two-year "retiring allowance" in the summer of 2003 for Orr if Magna could not find a suitable position.

But Magna, which never found him a similar job, finally told Orr not to report for work in June 2004 and paid him a "one-year working notice."

"I find that Mr. Orr's employment with MEC was terminated by it on July 28, 2003, thereby triggering his termination entitlements under his contract," Klowak said.

"It seems to me patently unreasonable to find the plaintiff risked what appeared to be a sure thing for a vague and uncertain maybe."

Klowak said Magna "knew full well" that Orr's job was an interim arrangement and he continued to rely on his rights for the two-year allowance.

The trial pitted top employment lawyers Christopher Riggs and Roy Filion for the Magna companies against Jim Hodgson, a veteran Bay Street litigator for Orr.


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