Horse racing regulator Woodbine Entertainment is eyeing a new starting date for its thoroughbred live harness season as Ontario is nearing the end of its latest lockdown protocols. CEO of the company, Jim Lawson, has made a public statement on the matter as he sees June 5, as a potential date for the start of the racing season.
All horse racing competitions were suspended at the start of April with what was first going to be 28-day-stay-at-home order in an effort to stop the spread of the unprecedented situation in the province. Now, the order is about to expire on May 20, but there is a growing expectation that it will be further extended.
This week in an email discussion CEO Jim Lawson stated that June 5 will be the potential starting date for the new thoroughbred live harness season. However, he warned the horse racing industry that this date remains tentative since there are many variables concerning the lockdown order. Additionally, the company will release its first condition book, and revise its stakes schedule Saturday.
In the email, Mr. Lawson explained that the proposed starting date, along with the condition book, are only provided to help horsepeople in order to prepare for the potential start of the season. He made it clear that the company has not yet received official information from the provincial government on whether racing will be allowed to resume at the said date.
The CEO stated that the horse racing company continues to have positive discussions with the public health authorities and it has recently made requests on meetings with the Ministry of Health and Premier’s Office. The horse racing leader will continue to provide updates on the subject as soon there is some development, stated Mr. Lawson.
Mr. Lawson even admitted that he himself has become quite exhausted of consistently promising horsepeople that live racing will return shortly. He urged all involved in the industry to remain patient amidst the uncertainty and assured that the company is doing everything in its power to return live harness racing to the province as soon as possible.
In the middle of April, the CEO of the horse racing leader has officially contacted the mayor of Milton Gordon Krantz with a formal letter of request. In the letter, Mr. Lawson explains how tough of consequences the latest lockdown orders can have on the long-term wellbeing of the horse racing industry. He stated that the sport was unfairly treated in comparison with other outdoor sports that were allowed to continue.
Woodbine Entertainment had all of its Ontario properties closed down after the latest government-issued stay-at-home order. But the horse racing corporation was able to partially reopen its Woodbine Mohawk Park. Races at the venue are still prohibited, but since May 6, the property is allowed to host training exercises but under strict health and safety protocols.
Source: “Woodbine Entertainment CEO puts tentative June 5 start to ’21 thoroughbred campaign “Toronto Star, May 12, 2021