Any individual or business actively involved in horse racing must be licensed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) in order to participate in racing in the province. This includes owners of race horses, trainers, drivers and jockeys, grooms, anyone requiring access to the backstretch or paddock of the racetrack, pari-mutuel clerks and management staff of the racetrack. The business that operates the racetrack must also be licensed and must apply to license any off-track sites, otherwise known as teletheatres.
All AGCO horse racing licences are issued on an annual basis.
Horse racing licences are issued through the office of the Registrar of Alcohol, Gaming and Racing. In assessing the suitability for licensing, issues of honesty and integrity are considered.
Individuals can obtain a licence through one of the following methods:
- Visit an operating AGCO Racetrack Licensing Office and complete an application with an AGCO Horse Racing Licensing Agent.
- Download the applicable licensing form(s)
- Mail the completed application form(s) to the AGCO Head Office, accompanied by the appropriate licensing fee to:
Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
90 Sheppard Avenue E, Suite 200
Toronto ON, M2N 3A1
Attn: Licensing & Registration – Horse Racing
By Fax or Email
- Download the applicable licensing form(s)
- Fax the completed application form(s) to the AGCO Head Office at 416-326-5555. Attn: “Horse Racing” OR
- Scan and email the completed application form(s) to the AGCO Head Office at: email@example.com
- Fees can be paid by Visa or Mastercard over the phone with AGCO Head Office at 416-326-0863.
Horse Racing Licence Card
AGCO horse racing licences are used as verification of identification and licence status at Ontario racetracks. They are also used, by applicable licensees, to gain access to the secure areas of racetrack facilities. AGCO Horse Racing Licence Cards require a photo of the licensee to be taken and are only issued to licensees in person. You can have your photo taken and AGCO Horse Racing Licence Card issued at an AGCO Racetrack Licensing Office.
AGCO Racetrack Licensing Offices are located at every racetrack across the province and are open on race days. Please check the hours of operation of the AGCO Racetrack Licensing Office to confirm availability of Horse Racing Licensing Agents. Horse racing licences can also be obtained at AGCO Head Office, located in Toronto; please call ahead to set up an appointment.
Whenever a licensee is in the backstretch or stable areas of the racetrack association or needs to gain access to the paddock when their horse is racing, the licensee must carry their valid and current AGCO Horse Racing Licence Card on their person. A licensee is required to produce their AGCO Horse Racing Licence Card upon request by an authorized representative of the racetrack association, a Racing Official or a representative or member of the AGCO.
A “guest” of a licensee is allowed in the backstretch, stable or paddock area when accompanied by a licensee, once the guest has been signed in with racetrack association security and approved.
If an AGCO Horse Racing Licence Card is lost, a replacement can be applied for at an AGCO Racetrack Licensing Office. Fees for a replacement card will apply.
What should I bring with me to complete the licence application process?
- Personal details and information to complete the application form(s), including birthdate, address and emergency contact information.
- Picture Identification (e.g. Ontario Drivers Licence).
- Certain categories of licence may require the submission of additional documentation or certification (see the Thoroughbred - Individual Licensing page for more information)
A new licensee can expect to undergo a due diligence investigation to determine their suitability for licensing. The total fee amounts for a licence will vary depending upon the category(s) being applied for. For more information on Thoroughbred licensing fees see: Thoroughbred - Licensing Fees Schedule page.
Licences issued to individuals participating in Thoroughbred racing in Ontario expire, and should be renewed, annually with the start of the Thoroughbred racing season. Thoroughbred licences must be renewed annually and expire on March 1st of the year. An exception is made for Owners and their related licences, which expire on March 31st of the year. A person wishing to renew their licence can take a completed application form to any operating AGCO Racetrack Licensing Office for processing. A licensee can obtain an application form at any operating AGCO Racetrack Licensing Office or download the form here. Licensees are reminded it is their responsibility to have their licence renewed.
Change of Address
A licensee must provide written notification of any change in permanent address within five (5) days of any change.
To claim a Thoroughbred racehorse in Ontario, an individual must be an active licensee, meaning they hold a valid and current AGCO owner licence and have started a racehorse during the current racing season. An individual not meeting these requirements should apply for an Initial Claim Permit.
An Initial Claim Permit can be used at any time during the Thoroughbred racing season, except for the first and last 30 days of the meet. An individual should apply for the Initial Claim at the AGCO Racetrack Licensing Office by completing an individual application form and submitting the fees for the Initial Claim Permit and licensing fees for an owner licence. Approval of the Initial Claim Permit and owners licence application will be held pending a due diligence investigation of the applicant. An Initial Claim Permit allows an individual to claim one horse. For additional information, please refer to Rule 12.29 of the Rules of Thoroughbred Racing.
Lessors and Lessees
When a horse is programmed to race under a Lessee Owner, the owner of the horse, as well as the person or entity leasing the horse, must be licensed. Any individual leasing a horse for racing must be identified as the lessee on the horse’s registration papers.
Registration of Colours
In Thoroughbred racing, the colours worn by the jockey help the betting public identify the horses during the race. The colours, also known as silks, refer to the unique combination of colours on the jacket and cap worn by the jockey.
Each owner, or multiple ownership (stable name, corporation, partnership), is required to register their own unique set of colours with a Thoroughbred AGCO Racetrack Licensing Office and, once they are approved, have the jacket and cap made to be used by the jockey when their horse races. Colours are registered in the Colours Registry which currently holds over 3,000 sets of colours.
Colours can be renewed annually, or owners can choose to register their colours as lifetime colours.
Who can I contact if I have questions or require assistance?
Questions about licensing or requests for assistance can be directed to the AGCO Head Office horse racing licensing staff during office hours (Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
- By phone: 416-326-8700
- By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions can also be directed to the AGCO Horse Racing Licensing Agents at operating racetracks during hours of operation.
Definitions of Licensing Status
In Good Standing
- There are no outstanding issues regarding the licensee.
- The licence is no longer valid for a specific length of time. If the suspension is longer than the expiry date of the licence, the licensee must reapply to be licensed when the suspension is finished.
- The licence is no longer valid and the individual cannot reapply to the AGCO for a licence for 2 years from the date of revocation.
- The application to become a licensee is not granted. The individual cannot reapply for a licence until 2 years from the date of refusal.
Note that a horse will be ineligible to race when:
- An owner, stable or estate does not have a valid licence;
- A temporary licence has expired; or
- A reciprocal licensee has not supplied proof of a valid licence from a recognized racing jurisdiction.