Toronto, ON — Woodbine Entertainment announced today the appointment of Michael Lay, Mark Saunders and Ann Straatman to its Board of Directors.
“Woodbine is proud to announce the appointment of three new members to our Board of Directors,” said Christine Magee, Chair, Woodbine Entertainment Board of Directors. “The Board is excited to work with such outstanding leaders to help fulfil Woodbine’s mission to grow the sport of horse racing in Ontario while making a positive impact on the communities that we operate in.”
Michael Lay is a Managing Partner and Co-Head of ONCAP, the middle market private equity platform of Onex, who invests and manages capital on behalf of shareholders, institutional investors and high net worth clients from around the world. Prior to joining ONCAP in 2000, Lay was head of the Private Equity Group at Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Additionally, Lay is an experienced board member having served on numerous corporate and not for profit boards.
Lay is passionate about Thoroughbred racing and has owned and raced horses at Woodbine since 2013. He has a strong interest in working with the board and management team at Woodbine to grow horse racing throughout the province.
“As Woodbine continues to unlock the value of the lands that surround our racetracks, Michael’s leadership experience will greatly benefit our efforts as we continue to take the prudent steps on our pathway towards self-sustainability,” said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment.
Mark Saunders is a retired police officer and most recently, the Chief of Police for the Toronto Police Service. As Chief of Police, Saunders successfully led the largest municipal police service in Canada and fourth largest in North America, helping to keep Toronto safe. As Deputy Chief, Saunders created and operationalized the “C3” Unit, a unit whose mandate is to investigate cybercrime and provide technology based investigative support throughout the service.
As a Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal for Outstanding Community Contributions recipient, Saunders’ impact within Toronto communities was immense and includes serving on the Board of Directors at Covenant House Toronto, as a Co-Chair of the United Way Campaign Cabinet, Vice-patron of Haven Toronto (formerly The Good Neighbours’ Club) and the Honourary Chair of the 2019 Special Olympics Ontario Invitational Youth Games.
“Mark ’s passion for creating safe, inclusive spaces, along with his leadership and community engagement expertise will help Woodbine continue to be an active, responsible and valued member of the communities in which we operate,” commented Lawson.
Ann Straatman is one of the most prominent people involved in Canadian Standardbred racing. As reproduction manager at Seelster Farms, the largest Standardbred breeding farm in Canada, Straatman uses her 25 years of industry experience to skillfully guide the highly successful operation, including directly overseeing stallion acquisition, syndication and management; mare reproductive management; mare contracts and client liaison. Additionally, she is the current sales manager of London Selected Yearling Sale and president of Forest City Standardbred Sales Inc. since 2006.
Straatman additionally provides leadership to the industry as Chair of the Board of Directors at Standardbred Canada, Chair of the Board of Governors at Western Fair District, Director of the Hambletonian Society, a member of the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association and a member of the Central Ontario Standardbred Association.
“Few people contribute to the horse racing industry to the degree that Ann does,” said Lawson. “Having her broad expertise on our Board of Directors will greatly benefit our organization by having another industry leader offer her expertise and experience to our strategic planning and decisions.”