Woodbine Entertainment announced today that its Board of Directors has appointed long-time executive in the horse racing industry Hugh Mitchell as Chair, effective immediately. Mitchell was appointed to the position during Woodbine Entertainment’s Annual General Meeting earlier Friday.
As Chair of the Board of Directors, Mitchell will provide leadership, guidance and governance as Woodbine Entertainment fulfills its mandate to sustain and grow horse racing in Ontario. This includes further strengthening the racing product at Woodbine and Woodbine Mohawk Park. Mitchell will also play a critical role in advancing Woodbine Entertainment’s community plan to develop the surrounding lands at Woodbine Racetrack to be world-class entertainment destinations while creating new revenue streams that will support the horse racing industry and the 25,000 jobs it directly and indirectly supports throughout the province.
“As we continue to emerge from the global pandemic, our Board, organization, and the horse racing industry will substantially benefit from Hugh’s knowledge, relationships and experience,” said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. “We have a tremendous opportunity to grow the sport of horse racing in Ontario in the coming years with exciting and transformative initiatives and we look forward to leveraging Hugh’s business and horse racing experience to help realize and maximize those opportunities.”
Mitchell, who has been on Woodbine Entertainment’s Board of Directors since 2018, was most recently the President and Chief Executive Officer of Western Fair District in London, Ontario, a position he held from 2009 to 2018. He has also served as Chair of Woodbine Entertainment’s Standardbred Racing Committee since 2020.
Throughout his successful career, Mitchell has led the horse racing industry in various prominent roles including as the Chairman of the Board of Harness Tracks of America (HTA) and as a member and Chair of the Ontario Racing Board of Directors.
In addition to his role as a current member of the Board of Governors at Fanshawe College where he was a past Vice-Chair, Mr. Mitchell is also a past President of Tourism London, as well as Director of both the London Chamber of Commerce and Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions. Earlier in his career, Mr. Mitchell worked for Woodbine Entertainment as the company’s Senior Vice President of Racing from 1998 to 2005.
“I have been extremely fortunate to work in the horse racing industry for many years which makes this appointment very special and motivating for me personally,” said Mitchell. “The industry in Ontario is full of hardworking people who are extremely passionate about our sport and equine athletes. I very much look forward to working with the Board and Mr. Lawson on growing our sport and industry to the benefit of the thousands of families who earn a living in horse racing.”
Mitchell replaces Christine Magee who was the Chair of Woodbine Entertainment’s Board of Directors since 2020 and a Director since 2015. Magee was appointed Chair at a critical time as the organization and industry were managing through a global pandemic and ensuing government restrictions which significantly impacted the organization, its employees and the Ontario horse racing industry and the tens of thousands of jobs it supports throughout the province.
“Having Christine’s steady hand, leadership and stewardship was instrumental in managing and navigating the impacts of the pandemic,” said Lawson. “Her guidance also helped lead us to a position of stability during unstable times to ensure we were well-positioned for growth and transformation as our organization and industry emerge from the first two years of the pandemic.
“On behalf of our organization, and the Board of Directors, I would like to thank Christine for her many contributions to Woodbine Entertainment and the horse racing industry over the last seven years.”
“My time on the Board, both as Chair and previously a Director, has been an absolute honour,” said Magee. “Woodbine Entertainment is so much more than just an organization – it’s the economic engine of an industry that provides a way of life for tens of thousands of people and an institution that leads the great responsibility of managing a beloved sport that has been a part of Canadian culture and society for hundreds of years.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow Board members and the leadership team for their support and exceptional efforts. I would also like to congratulate Hugh Mitchell on his appointment to Chair and acknowledge that Woodbine Entertainment and the industry will be well-served as he steps into this role.”
Long-serving member Ben Hutzel is also retiring from the Board of Directors, effective today.
“On behalf of our Board, I would like to thank Ben for his countless contributions and lengthy service to our organization and industry as a Director, horse owner, and breeder,” mentioned Lawson.
An Ontario corporation without share capital, Woodbine Entertainment operates a multi-dimensional entertainment business with a core mandate of sustaining and growing the horse racing industry in Ontario.