Horsepeople Return to Woodbine; Horses Arrive Feb. 26

Set-up on the Woodbine backstretch can begin Monday morning for the return of horses to Toronto's track for the 2020 season.

Thumbnail for Horsepeople Return to Woodbine; Horses Arrive Feb. 26

By: Jennifer Morrison |

Back to work!

Monday, Feb. 24 is the first day that horsepeople can begin setting up their barns on the Woodbine backstretch in anticipation of the arrival of horses for training on Feb. 26.

A bright, sunny mild day greeted the early birds on Feb. 24 following a winter that was a bit snowy (might still be) but overall, not as brutal as winters past.

Monday, February 24 – set up

Tuesday, February 25 – set up

Wednesday, February 26 – ship in

And while a lot of horsepeople have been enjoying a couple of months off, catching up on R & R, industry members have been hard at work preparing for another new racing season.

Woodbine noted that for the first two days of set-up, upgrades to transformers will mean the power will be shut down to the backstretch at 4:00 p.m. and will be turned back on at 6:00 a.m. the following day. Woodbine has been upgrading sprinkler systems in the main barn area and tack rooms and barn offices have been upgraded during the winter as well.

The Stakes schedule (end of post) for the new season has been released as has a list of additional competitions for horses.

These competitions include the Ladies of the Lawn, the Royal Ascot, Grey Handicap and more.

The HBPA Ontario website lists all these events here

Woodbine’s Horse Acquisition Program, announced during the winter, has led to horsepeople picking up a few more horses to bring to Toronto. The program deets are here.

A significant change with regards to housing horses at Woodbine is that four sales barns, located at the southern-most ended of the Woodbine property (there are six in all) will not be used for permanent stabling. In years past, the sales barns have been populated with smaller stables. The two sales barns that will be in use will house overflow and shippers (notice to horsepeople is below).

This announcement led to some owners and trainers being disgruntled with the number of stalls they were allocated at the outset of the backstretch opening.

Ultimately, the Board of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (Ontario) scrambled to initiate talks with Woodbine last week while opening communication lines with concerned owners and trainers.

From all accounts, exhaustive hours of discussions were held in an attempt to accommodate what certainly are more horses and stall requests than there are stalls available.


















More stuff:

Opening day is APRIL 18, two days following the SOVEREIGN AWARDS. The Queen’s Plate is June 27.

Woodbine stakes schedule here.