Woodbine Entertainment is willing to see the start of this year’s thoroughbred racing season in time, but the unprecedented situation seems to be affecting this. This week saw an announcement coming from the Ontario government, making it clear that the next four weeks starting April 3 will see a new shutdown of provincial businesses.
Jim Lawson, Chief Executive Officer of Woodbine Entertainment, expressed his position that the live thoroughbred racing at Woodbine Racetrack should commence as usual, on the previously established date. April 17 was set to see the launch of live races on the premises of the popular racetrack, with 1 p.m. post time. Saturdays and Sundays are set to see live races until May 2.
According to the schedule published online, May 7 will see the first Friday live race at Woodbine Racetrack, starting at 1 p.m. once again, whereas May 13 is set to see the start weekly of races on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The way this schedule looks right now, live thoroughbred races will continue in this fashion all the way until December 12.
However, the recent government announcement might introduce a change. The way officials put it, horse training will be allowed from Saturday on, but no live racing even without spectators. This is expected to be the situation over the next four weeks, leading up to May 1. Mr. Lawson recently pointed out that he is working closely with Toronto Public Health in order to make the April 17 launch possible and safe for the horse people involved.
He made it clear that the projections are optimistic as of now and the discussion is ongoing. For months in 2020, the thoroughbred racetrack continued operation and live horse racing with all safety measures and precautions in place. Woodbine Entertainment would like to see that happen again this spring, placing horse people’s health as its top priority.
Woodbine Mohawk Park
Woodbine Mohawk Park in Campbellville, Ontario is set to see an end of its live harness racing on April 3 too, eyeing the recent government announcement. Mr. Lawson is currently talking with Halton Region officials on harness racing conditions. The local health authority must give its nod of approval before safe horse racing could commence.
Last month, Mr. Lawson spoke on the subject once again, while Ontario was in the Grey zone of the provincial color-based framework. Back then Mr. Lawson believed that cancelation of the season would lead to severe damages to the sector. He also made it clear that live harness racing is not significantly different compared to training. Mr. Lawson stated that the actual races involve only an additional set of people such as broadcaster operators.
Most recently the horse racing regulator Woodbine Entertainment released a statement to the public regarding its new sponsorship partner Diamond Creek Farm for the Standardbred races at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Ontario. This deal will allow the latter to be present in the entirety of the upcoming season and all events at the horse racetrack.
Source: “Woodbine CEO ‘cautiously optimistic’ ’21 thoroughbred season will open on time”, ThompsonCitizen.net, April 1, 2021