The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has given approval for Ajax Downs to host a pair of ‘Battle of the Breeds’ racing meets, which will pit Thoroughbreds against the speedy resident Quarter Horses. The races are tentatively scheduled for October 4 and 18 and will be run as 870-yard ‘hook’ races around one bend.

A similar Battle of the Breeds was held as part of the Friendship Festival at Fort Erie Racetrack in 2011, where a pair of $35,000-added stakes saw Quarter Horses compete against Thoroughbreds, sprinting short (440 yards) and long (870 yards) with the QHs coming out on top. Details of the 2023 races are still up in the air as organizers reach out to Thoroughbred owners to see who might be up for the challenge, according to Ajax Downs General Manager of Racing Operations, Emilio Trotta. “We have to see who is interested first. Whether we get five entrants or more we don’t know yet. But we’re making some phone calls.”

The distance may suit the Thoroughbreds better, as 660 yards is more typical for the more powerfully-built quarter-horses. “The longer the distance, the more it favours the Thoroughbreds,” said Trotta.

Racing writer, analyst and host/live commentator for Ajax Downs Racetrack, Jennifer Morrison, called it “exciting news” for the Ajax track, whose racing season ends October 25. For more information on racing a Thoroughbred in the Battle of the Breeds, contact [email protected].

~ with files from Glenn Hendry/