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Woodbine Entertainment Seeks Local Authorities Approval

Woodbine Entertainment has officially submitted two letters in search of permission from Ontario’s and Toronto’s local governments to allow the return of the upcoming horse racing season in April. Speaking on behalf of the horse racing industry, CEO of the live harness leader Jim Lawson contacted both government organs in order to seek permission for the start of the horse racing season with no spectators.

Currently, Ontario is in the Grey zone of the government’s color-based framework, meaning that lockdown restrictions are in order. Not long ago the province was in the Red tier of the framework, which saw the horse racing industry restart and make preparations for the new season. According to the corporation’s CEO, Mr. Lawson believes that cancelation of the season would lead to severe damages to the sector.

Formal Request

That is why speaking on behalf of the province’s horse racing industry leader of Woodbine Entertainment Jim Lawson has formally contacted Mayor of Toronto John Tory and Ontario’s government. According to Mr. Lawson, the current grey tier would not worsen the conditions of the unprecedented situation, since last time when the province was in the Grey tier, horse racing training was allowed to recommence.

According to the CEO, live harness racing is not significantly different compared to training which was previously allowed by the government. Mr. Lawson states that the actual races involve only an additional set of people such as broadcaster operators, and officials, meaning that there will be no huge social gatherings of individuals.

In addition, he claimed that live harness races operate mainly outdoors with a small portion of essential personnel. He believes that staff that has access to the indoor areas like the paddock, for example, can still do their job and comply with the government’s health and safety protocols. Meaning that according to the rules workers will have up to 12 minutes in a large open-air property.

On top of that, Mr. Lawson stated that the corporation already has a record-breaking number of horses at its backstretch amounting to 1,190 horses, and even more are expected to arrive in the coming weeks. He claimed that if the upcoming Thoroughbred season does not start on April 17, all of the horses will be transported to the United States thus costing many horsepeople their occupations.

In conclusion, the CEO of the company stated that the live races at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Halton have been successful in terms of protecting everyone from the unprecedented situation. In his words, the official request was made in order to protect the welfare of both horses and the industry in its entirety. And over the course of the last 12 months, the corporation has shown its commitment to the health and safety of all parties involved, and if that was not the case, the corporation would not resort to such a request.

Diamond Creek Farm Deal

Latest activity from the horse racing leader saw the company’s Woodbine Mohawk Park agree on a deal with Diamond Creek Farm as a sponsor for the new Standardbred season, which future is now the balance. Diamond Creek has established as one of the best horse breeding organizations around, and over the years has developed an impressive roster of regal bloodlines.


Due to the ever-changing scenario of the unprecedented situation and its surrounding set of rules, the live harness racing leader announced amendments to its racing calendar. Races were added to the Woodbine Mohawk Park’s schedule, the first of the new events being set for March 25, 2021. Then two more on March 26 and 27, and the last one for the month on March 29.

Source: “Woodbine Asks For Clearance To Race”, Standardbred Canada, March 20, 2021