Industry Reports

Woodbine Entertainment Bids Farewell to April 18 Live Racing

Woodbine Entertainment is taking into account the constantly changing situation in Ontario and it is acting accordingly. The latest announcement makes it clear that the 2020 Thoroughbred season is going to be postponed indefinitely due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. The news comes only days after Woodbine Entertainment’s Chief Executive Officer attempted to protect the operation on both racetracks.

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Ontario continues despite the measures taken by the government recommending social distancing, as a way to flatten the curve of the outbreak. More than 20,000 individuals have been tested for COVID-19 since the beginning of the outbreak. It should also be noted that about 8,000 people are still waiting for the results of their tests. The most recent surge of positive cases confirmed amounts to 78 individuals.

Woodbine Ent. Issues Official Decision

Adding them to the overall number of people contracting the virus, it surpassed the 500 mark. This called for the implementation of draconian measures in accordance with Quebec, mandating that non-essential business shuts down by midnight Tuesday. In the meantime, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, announced the new online assessment tool that would aid COVID-19 identification process.

Woodbine Entertainment takes into account the changing situation, which led to the recent announcement of the 2020 live season postponing. Thoroughbred racing would not launch on April 18, as it was initially planned, as non-essential businesses would have to support the social distancing practice. This decision means that there would be no live races taking place at Woodbine Racetrack for the foreseeable future.

However, the horses need to be taken care of on a daily basis, including feeding, grooming, etc. This work would still have to be done on the premises of the racetrack, as it had been pointed out previously. Jim Lawson, Chief Executive Officer of Woodbine Entertainment, made it clear that the work at the backstretch cannot come to a halt, due to the animals’ constant need for support.

Ontario Government Mandates Lockdown

Despite the hopes of handling the situation better and the eventual end of the lockdown before the start of 2020 Thoroughbred live season, things would have to change. Mr. Lawson has already addressed the issue with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. They would be able to decide what to do next with the purse money available at the moment.

Training of the racehorses is also projected to resume once the government deems it appropriate, given the constantly changing situation. Once the relaunch of non-essential businesses comes, Woodbine Entertainment would have the chance to make the estimations and pinpoint a new date for the start of the 2020 Thoroughbred racing season. The horse racetracks follow the example set south of the border.

Last week, a worker associated with Aqueduct Racetrack in New York State was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, after developing symptoms mid-March. Live horse racing was immediately suspended by New York Racing Association, overseeing Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga racetrack. Earlier this month, Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey closed indefinitely, suspending both live racing and simulcasting.