As Ontario is one step closer to the long-awaited return of live harness racing, the industry’s leader Woodbine Entertainment is hopeful to see the sport recommence even earlier. It was previously announced that the company’s Woodbine Racetrack and Woodbine Mohawk Park will be able to start their seasons on June 18 and June 14, as the province enters a new economic recovery plan.
Unfortunately for the many horse racing fans and the hundreds of thousands of workers of the industry, all live races were suspended at the start of April with the issue after the previous stay-at-home order. But, most currently the provincial government of Ontario revealed its new restart of the economy plan, which will finally allow the return of live harness racing.
Eyeing Earlier Launch
Not a while ago, the horse racing leader was quick to announce its new schedule shortly after live harness races are finally allowed by the provincial government. The official start for the corporation’s thoroughbred season at its Woodbine Racetrack is on June 18. And the start for the standardbred season at Woodbine Mohawk Park is slightly earlier on June 14.
However, most recently the CEO of the company made a public statement in an interview, that he will be contacting the local government about a potential earlier start of the seasons. He stated that he will be filing an official request to the government imminently about the sooner start as all horses, trainers, and staff members are already at the tracks and are ready.
Mr. Lawson explained that horsepeople are quite disappointed over the fact that are prepared for the start of live racing but will have to wait three whole weeks more. Their disappointment is even greater now when other outdoor sporting events such as golf and tennis are given the green light to restart, and live harness races must wait.
The CEO further added that his intention is to have the horse racing industry receive the same treatment as other sporting jurisdictions in the province such as the NHL and the AHL. Mr. Lawson stated that the track will even impose stricter health and safety measures, such as testing jockeys and jockey valets for the dangerous virus, and said that 80% of the Woodbine backstretch has been vaccinated.
Despite having two months without any live horse racing events in the province, Woodbine Mohawk Park was still operational to a certain degree. The venue was allowed to host training activities starting from May 6. Additionally, even stricter health and safety protocols were put in place in order to prevent the spread of the unprecedented situation.
A week ago, the racing track also informed of its May 15, 2021 payment deadline date for all willing to participate in the annual summer two-year-old series. The exciting event has been the starting point for many future champions, and this year’s edition will feature the promising The Dream Maker, Whenuwishuponastar, Millard Farms, and Pure Ivory.
Source: Buffery, Steve “Woodbine asking the province to be able to start sooner”, Toronto Sun, May 22, 2021