Lockdown restrictions in Ontario have been extremely tough for the live harness industry since races were suspended once again. But there is good news for the horse racing sport as the provincial government has just announced its Roadmap to Reopen economy reopening plan, scheduled to begin around June 14, ergo horse racing can restart too.
The live harness sport in the province has been tremendously affected by the unprecedented situation. Even since the beginning of the first lockdown rules in March 2020, the live racing season was suspended and relaunched several times. The sport was shut down again at the start of April with the new initial 28-day-stay-at-home-order, which was later extended to May 20.
Restart in June
The Ontario Racing team was quick to release a statement on the new economy reopening plan with Independent Chair John Hayes saying a few words on the restart. Mr. Hayes first thanked the Premier, the health department, and all of the company’s partners for their tireless efforts put into seeing the return of live horse races in the province of Ontario.
The Chair stated that the organization is now looking forward to welcoming back the horse racing industry and its thousands of workers finally return to their occupations. Mr. Hayes also directed special thanks to all the horsepeople of the province for their support, patience, and resilience they have shown over the course of the last extremely turbulent few months.
Woodbine Entertainment was also quick to issue a response to the tremendous news. Previously, the CEO of the horse racing leader Jim Lawson stated that June 5 was considered as a potential restart date for the standardbred season at Woodbine Mohawk Park. However, the date was not official, and now it has been set for June 14. The track will continue to its regular five race day schedule with events on Monday Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Additionally, the company informed that its Thoroughbred season at its other provincial property Woodbine Racetrack will start on Friday, June 18. The season will then resume on Saturday, June 19, and Sunday, June 20. Then, the events will be scheduled to four per week with races from Thursday to Sunday. Also, the company received the green light to host qualifiers at its Woodbine Mohawk Park starting on Thursday, May 27
Training Can Recommence
Despite Woodbine Mohawk Park being closed down due to the lockdown restrictions from the start of April, the race track was allowed to restart training practices. The park welcomed staff members and trainers for its first in a while training session on May 6, 2021. All involved personnel had to comply with the strict health and safety protocols in order to contain the spread of the unprecedented situation.
Previously, the park reminded all of its owners, trainers, and horsepeople that plan on participating in the track’s annual summer two-year-old series. As all nominations payments for the event must be completed by May 15. The fee for each two-year-old horse is CA$500. The stake nominations for the 2022 Champlain and 2023 Simcoe events is also May 15.
Source: “Ontario Racing To Resume In June”, Standardbred Canada, May 20, 2021