Ontario has officially welcomed horse racing back this month. Last weekend on June 12, fans saw the restart of the highly-awaited thoroughbred season at Woodbine Racetrack. With no live spectators, the track started the season with an 11-race card on Saturday at 1:20 p.m. Fans can still enjoy the races online on Woodbine.com’s live stream, or on HPIbet.com or the Dark Horse app.
The 2020 meet at the track was cut short due to the unprecedented situation and the new lockdown order in November 2020. The season was set for an April start this year, however, another set of Ontario lockdown restrictions prevented it from occurring. The Jackpot Hi-5 wager will continue now with its carryover of CA$117,062.64 in purses.
Reasons for Excitement
CEO of Woodbine Entertainment Jim Lawson stated that the horse racing industry should focus on the future after the difficult periods for the live harness industry. He explained that horse people are not dwelling on the past and what could have been, according to him they are excited to return to the ovals. He added that currently, the horse racing industry enjoys a great atmosphere.
This season sovereign award-winning jockey Rafael Hernandez will be tasked with defending his Woodbine title after his 129 wins last season. He is listed in nine mounts, such as the Roger Attfield-trained 3-year-old filly Speightstown Shirl in the eighth race, which is a CA$123,200 maiden allowance over one mile of turf.
This weekend started off will 120 entries in 11 races on Saturday and 150 on Sunday with 13 races. Over time, the track will add Friday races at 4:50 p.m. post time and Thursdays with 1:20 p.m. post time to the schedule. Horses that arrived at the track for the new season include the 2020 Canadian Horse of the Year Mighty Heart and many more.
During the weekend Shirl’s Speight, which is a Charles Fipke homebred was looking for its breakthrough after her previous three consecutive second places. She faced 13 other fillies and mares such as the debuting Ontario-bred Astrological, a Malibu Moon, which is a half-sibling to 2018 Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser winner Dixie Moon.
Previously, due to the delayed start of the season, the horse racing leader announced that it made some alterations to its thoroughbred stakes calendar. Most major events at the track will keep their starting dates, such as the Queen’s Plate which will still start on August 22. The CA$500,000 Woodbine Oaks sponsored by Budweiser has been shifted with a week from July 25 to August 1.
Last week Woodbine Entertainment has also started its standardbred season at its Woodbine Mohawk Park in Milton. The live harness season has finally started at the track on Friday, June 11, at 7 p.m. The company informed that races at the track will now resume to their usual schedule of five racing days per week. However, at the current time, live spectators are still not allowed.
Source: “Full Fields at Woodbine as Delayed Season Begins”, Bloodhorse, June 10, 2021