Woodbine Entertainment today unveiled its updated stakes schedule for the 2021 Thoroughbred racing season at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario.
The commencement of the 2021 Thoroughbred season, originally scheduled for April 17, at Woodbine Racetrack has been delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions in the province of Ontario. Based on recent Government announcements, Woodbine Entertainment is targeting June 18 as a start date for the Thoroughbred season, with the possibility of the start date occurring earlier.
The lucrative 2021 Thoroughbred stakes program offers more than $16.5 million in stakes purses, 39 graded stakes and two $1 million classics, The Queen’s Plate and Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Grade 1).
The delayed start of the 2021 Thoroughbred season has forced Woodbine Entertainment to restructure the dates for the majority of its stakes races. Despite the delay, Woodbine was able to maintain the original dates for most of its marquee races.
“We are pleased that we were able to avoid major changes to our stakes schedule, setting up for an exciting 2021 Thoroughbred season at Woodbine,” said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. “As a result if the delayed start, we expect our season to start strong and build momentum as it heads into the summer with The Queen’s Plate and its prep races, followed by a really exciting stakes schedule in the fall, including an unprecedented Ricoh Woodbine Mile weekend that includes two other Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ races, and the return of the Pattison Canadian International.”
The Queen’s Plate remains on its original date of Sunday, August 22, with this year’s running marking the 162nd edition of the iconic race. The Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Grade 1), a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race, returning $600,000 Pattison Canadian International (Grade 1) and $250,000 Canadian Stakes (Grade 2) will be contested on Saturday, September 18. The Natalma (Grade 1) and Summer (Grade 1), each with boosted purses of $400,000 and part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, will run on Sunday, September 19. The $600,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes (Grade 1) and $250,000 Nearctic Stakes (Grade 2) remain slated for Sunday, October 17 and will be contested on the world-renowned mile and a half E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
With most marquee events remaining untouched on the schedule, the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser and $150,000 Plate Trial, a key prep race for the Queen’s Plate, have been moved back a week from Sunday, July 25 to Sunday, August 1.
The dates for the Canadian Triple Crown legs remain intact, with the $1 million Queen’s Plate on August 22, $400,000 Prince of Wales at Fort Erie on September 14 and $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes on October 3.
Throughout the recent shutdown of racing in Ontario, Woodbine Entertainment has remained committed to offering as much of its 2021 stakes program as possible through rescheduling and strategic planning. The majority of Woodbine’s original stakes schedule has received a facelift to accommodate the new starting date and racing opportunities.
The entire updated 2021 Thoroughbred stakes schedule can be viewed here.
Earlier this year, Woodbine Entertainment announced all Grade 3 stakes would receive a purse increase of 20 per cent, while Listed races would be boosted from $100,000 to $125,000. This announcement was made in conjunction with news of the returning Pattison Canadian International and purse increases for the $400,000 Natalma Stakes (Grade 1), $400,000 Summer Stakes (Grade 1) and $350,000 Highlander Stakes (Grade 1).