Woodbine‘s 2021 Thoroughbred Meet will open June 12, with Ontario entering Step One of the ‘Roadmap to Reopen’ plan earlier than originally expected, Woodbine Entertainment announced June 7.
Saturday’s card will have a first post time of 1:20 p.m. ET. Live racing at Woodbine will operate without spectators due to government restrictions.
“While it has been a very frustrating period, I would like to thank the government of Ontario for the recent attention it has given the horse racing industry,” said Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment. “In particular, I would like to thank Premier Doug Ford for his understanding and interest in the plight of the horse racing industry that has been so greatly impacted by the global pandemic and ensuing government restrictions.”
After opening day, the meet will continue June 13, with a 1:20 p.m. post time, followed by live racing June 18-20 (Friday-Sunday) before continuing with its typical schedule of four race days a week (Thursday-Sunday). To help make up for some of the lost race days, Woodbine plans to add additional races to its cards during the first two weekends of racing.
“Although our industry has been substantially impacted, I do very much remain confident in the future of horse racing in Ontario and look forward to getting back on track later this week,” Lawson added. “On behalf of Woodbine Entertainment, thank you to our horse people for their patience, professionalism, and resiliency they continue to demonstrate, especially in face of adversity.”
Woodbine was originally scheduled to open April 17, but the province of Ontario remained under a stay-at-home order put in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. The 2021 Thoroughbred meet is scheduled to continue through Dec. 5.
The first stakes of the meet will take place the weekend of June 19-20, according to the track’s current stakes schedule, and include the Whimsical Stakes (G3) for female sprinters and the Jacques Cartier Stakes (G3), another sprint race.
The Queen’s Plate, the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown run on Woodbine’s Tapeta course, is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 22, a day that also includes the Highlander Stakes (G1T) for turf sprinters.
Woodbine will host its premier race, the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1T) on Saturday, Sept. 18. The Woodbine Mile is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1T). On the following day at the track, the Natalma Stakes (G1T) for 2-year-old fillies and the Summer Stakes (G1T) for juveniles will award the respective winners berths in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1T) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T).
Woodbine will also conduct the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Breeders’ Stakes, on its turf course Sunday, Oct. 3. The second leg, the Prince of Wales Stakes, will be run on the dirt at Fort Erie Tuesday, Sept. 14.