With the start of 2023, Woodbine Entertainment and Ontario are strapping in the reins for another riveting year of horse racing across the province. On the last working day of last week, the leading equine racing operator published its 2023 Standardbred calendar. It is set to be more than exciting one, with over CA$15 million in stakes event at the group’s Woodbine Mohawk Park.
This year’s season is slated to be the most lucrative one at the Campbellville track with the CA$15 million in stakes events. Some of the most anticipated races this year are the 40th Pepsi North America Cup, the fourth running of the Mohawk Million, the Metro Pace and a brand-new one. It has the potential to improve on the 2022 season, which was a record-setter.
Another Action-Packed Season Ahead
Starting with the most anticipated card, the Pepsi North America Cup for three-year-old pacers will be contested on Saturday, June 17, 2023. Eliminations for the event will be held a week earlier. The card will feature the CA$450,000 Fan Hanover, the CA$330,000 Roses Are Red, the CA$250,000 Armbro Flight, the CA$250,000 Goodtimes and the CA$100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup Invitational.
Meanwhile, the Mohawk Million will be held on Saturday, September 23, 2023. Again, the CA$1-million race for two-year-old trotters will come under the buy-in format with nine slots available for purchase. Each costs CA$100,000, while the tenth and final slot will be decided by the winner of the CA$665,000 Willian Wellwood Memorial. Deadline for purchases is February 15, 2023.
It should be specified that the CA$650,000 William Wellwood Memorial for two-year-old trotters and the CA$350,000 Peaceful Way for two-year-old trotting fillies will be on Saturday, August 26, 2023. Then next week on September 2, 2023, the CA$600,000 Canadian Pacing Derby for three-year-old and up pacers and the CA$600,000 Maple Leaf Trot for three-year-old and up trotters will take place.
For this season, the horse racing operator will introduce the new Ontario Sired Graduate series in April and May 2023. These three series will be for Ontario sired four-year-old pacing mares, Ontario sired four-year-old pacing horses and geldings, and Ontario sired four-year-old trotters. Each of them will have three legs and finals, while the CA$75,000 OSS Graduate Finals will be on May 6, 2023.
Record-Breaking Handles in 2022
For both its Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing seasons in 2022, Woodbine Entertainment posted record-breaking all-sources handle numbers. Last year, Woodbine Mohawk Park generated an all-time record handle of CA$444 million for Standardbreds, which was accumulated over the course of 218 racing cards. Each card saw an average handle of CA$193,707.73.
Meanwhile, at its Woodbine Racetrack, which hosts the Thoroughbred races, the group saw an all-source single-season handle with CA$621,782,346. These numbers were massively boosted by the track’s strong foreign market performance and saw a record-setting amount in the foreign handle of CA$515 million. Also, the Thoroughbred track saw an average CA$519,016 handle per race.
Source: “Woodbine releases schedule for 2023 Standardbred stakes season”, Woodbine Entertainment, January 13, 2023