What we do: Horse racing

Learn more about the AGCO's role in regulating horse racing.


The AGCO licenses and regulates the province’s racetracks and teletheatres. The AGCO also appoints racetrack officials and other persons whose duties relate to the actual running of horse races.  

The AGCO’s regulatory objectives in regulating horse racing are to ensure that horse racing is conducted in accordance with the law, and with integrity, honesty and in the public interest, and to ensure fairness and safety in racing. The AGCO has established rules that focus on integrity and safety in horse racing. The AGCO also establishes and enforces the Rules of Racing.  

AGCO’s Horse Racing Regulatory Functions

The core regulatory functions of the AGCO with respect to horse racing are:  

1. Officiating at all races  

The AGCO provides officials (Judges or Stewards) to supervise races conducted at Ontario’s licensed racetracks. The duties of a racing official include:  

  • enforcing the Rules of Racing  
  • determine regulatory action for rule violations  
  • conducting reviews of regulatory matters as required.  

2. Compliance  

This function is performed by AGCO inspectors and includes, among other things:

  • administering human drug testing and breathalyzer programs  
  • conducting searches for prohibited items (e.g., drugs, syringes)  
  • enforcing racetrack security standards.  

3. Inspections and investigations.  

The AGCO’s Regulatory Compliance Branch and the Investigation and Enforcement Bureau are responsible for:  

  • investigations of the more serious racing violations, such as fraud and hidden ownerships  
  • due diligence investigations on licence applicants or licensees  
  • investigations into illegal gambling activities  
  • investigations related to animal welfare, race fixing or other racing and rule infractions, as well as investigating horse deaths  
  • monitoring and enforcing equine medication control programs  
  • liaising between the AGCO, the police community and other civilian regulatory bodies within and outside of Ontario  
  • enforcement of Judges/Stewards’ orders and rulings.    

4. Licensing  

The AGCO issues licences to individuals and businesses involved in the horse racing industry. AGCO licensing agents are available during live racing for the convenience of licensees, to help with online transactions. The licensing process includes applications from new racetrack owners, teletheatre locations and individuals involved in the industry (e.g., grooms, trainers, etc.).  

5. Regulation of Racetracks  

The AGCO annually licenses racetracks and reviews racetrack business plans, backstretch improvement and fire safety plans and health and safety improvements as part of this process. The AGCO also has the authority to approve the race dates applied for by racetracks.  

The AGCO conducts out-of-competition drug testing and inspections to ensure appropriate use of therapeutic drugs. The AGCO collaborates with the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA) who oversees the post-race equine drug testing program, in order to prevent the misuse of equine drugs. Services of the program include: