A pair of $30,000 Maiden Stakes, restricted to horses stabled or which have worked at Fort Erie this spring, highlight an eight-race card that opens the track’s 126th season on May 23. First race post time is 4:30 p.m.
Fort Erie racetrack, where the great Northern Dancer won his maiden in 1963, has 40 race dates this season. It opens on Tuesday with a t-shirt giveaway, food trucks and its popular post-racing concert. The track also begins in the midst of a battle with Woodbine Entertainment over the ban once again implemented by Woodbine that horses may not return to Woodbine if they ship to Fort Erie to race, with some exceptions. The Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium has filed a grievance with the Canadian Trade Commission which also includes a dispute that its banner race, the Prince of Wales, has been pushed to late September once again.
Race 5 is the Maiden Stakes for fillies and mares, three-year-olds and upward at five furlongs. Hopefield Farms’ JIMMY IS A BREEZE, trained by John Simms, makes her Fort Erie debut with blinkers off and Brandon Boulanger on board. The four-year-old has placed several times at Woodbine in maiden races. First-time starter CHARMING AFFAIR, owned and bred by Chiefswood Stables and trained by Layne Giliforte, is a daughter of Lemon Drop Kid and Chris Husbands rides.
Race 8 is the Maiden Stakes for colts and geldings and it has a full field of 11. GUS’S GAMBLE, a four-year-old by Gamble’s Exchange, came close to winning his maiden at Fort Erie last year and Leo Salles is named to ride.
Fort Erie has also carded the first grass races in Ontario for the opening day card.