Woodbine’s 2020 Thoroughbred racing season continues this weekend with 24 races, 6 stakes with some of the best horses of the year in action.

There is some nervousness in the industry once again, however, as the predicted lockdown of Toronto and Peel could end the meeting after Sunday’s card with just 12 racing dates remaining.

Woodbine Entertainment and the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association will today (Saturday) be seeking an exemption from the Ontario Government and City of Toronto from the framework of the lockdown which states (on the Ontario Government website) that horse racing must shut down, allowing for training only and no racing, no spectators.

Since new colour-coded area alerts for Ontario were introduced, the Toronto and Peel areas have been ‘red’, with the strictest protocols applied (other than lockdown) to attempt to control the spread of COVID-19.

The lockdown announcement Friday by Premier Doug Ford brings this part of the province right back to where we were in April. Horse racing was delayed and only training was allowed for a month. Woodbine’s season lost some 30 dates when it began June 10.

It seems possible that once the government and health officials are made aware that racing in Ontario has carried on under strict protocols with only the people who care for the horses every day taking them over to race and that there are only 12 racing dates left in the 2020 season, the races will be allowed to continue to closing day on Dec. 13.

From Woodbine:

Since the beginning of our province’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year, our commitment to public safety has not wavered. We are extremely supportive of the Government’s efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 throughout our community. Furthermore, we are very proud of our safety record at Woodbine Racetrack and Woodbine Mohawk Park in this regard.

To that end, we are currently working to understand the implications this recent news will have on Thoroughbred racing at Woodbine Racetrack and the thousands of people it supports throughout the province.

We will provide further updates at the appropriate time.

The news this past week that jockey Sunny Singh was the first confirmed case of a positive CPVID-19 test might not help but it has been stated that Singh did not get infected at Woodbine.

News of the status of the remainder of the season should come Saturday.

Meanwhile, the re-scheduled FROST KING STAKES, cancelled last Sunday due to high winds, was a crowning moment for youngster RED RIVER REBEL, a son of first crop sire RELOAD (Hard Spun) who also sired third-place finisher CANDY OVERLOAD and fourth place finisher ALL CANADIAN.

RED RIVER REBEL and CANDY OVERLOAD are both bred and owned by Denny Andrews of Alberta and Sherry McLean of Northern Dawn Stable in Hillsburgh who also stands Reload,

Red River Rebel with jockey Steve Bahen tracked a trio of early leavers in fourth-place while Forest Survivor established the lead through a :22.76 quarter-mile and was pressed by All Canadian into the turn. Red River Rebel chased along the rail into the stretch and took the inside path to victory, surging by despite Forest Survivor drifting in down the lane.

Making just his second career start, Red River Rebel was victorious in 1:16.05 for trainer Rachel Halden with Forest Survivor finished 2-1/2 lengths behind in second, with Candy Overload overtaking All Canadian, who edged out Bull Page Stakes winner Avoman in a photo finish for fourth-place. The popular Simcoe Stakes champion, Dragon’s Brew, finished sixth, followed by Souper Classy, De Only Solution and Blind Trust.

Sent postward at odds of 6-1 after finishing third in his October 23 debut, Red River Rebel returned $14.90 to win.

“He ran real good his first start, but he did get a little tired,” said Bahen. “He came back and he trained real good. I’ve been galloping him and he’s been training really well so I knew he was good today.

“I think he can be any kind of horse; he’s just learning now,” added the veteran reinsman. “He was kind of a little silly guy and he’s learned a lot since we’ve had him and he’s doing well. He’s moving forwardly and hopefully he gets even better.”

RED RIVER REBEL is the 8th winner and first stakes winner for Reload. The 2-year-old is also the first foal of unraced SPANI LOU, a half sister to Horse of the Year Lexie Lou.

In other Friday night action, favourite The Boss Factor ($5.70) trounced his grey rivals, winning the 2020 edition of the $50,000 Grey Handicap in rein to Patrick Husbands and giving trainer Martin Drexler back-to-back victories in the event.

Owned by Bruno Schickedanz, the four-year-old gelded son of The Factor opened up an insurmountable 10-length lead down the backstretch in the 1-1/16-mile main track race, which favoured inside speed, and cruised home to score in 1:44.26. His leading margin diminished to one length near the wire with Coleyville closing from the backfield in second. Suitedconnected checked in third, another 3-1/4 lengths behind.

The Grey Handicap is for registered grey and roan horses, three-year-olds and up, that have started for a claiming price of $25,000 or less in 2019-20.

The Boss Factor takes the $50,000 Grey Handicap under jockey Patrick Husbands on Friday, Nov. 20 at Woodbine Racetrack. (Michael Burns Photo)