The horsepeople are speaking up.
Tuesday, the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association of Ontario and Woodbine Entertainment confirmed they finally heard back from senior levels of the Government of Ontario regarding the possibility of being permitted to complete the 2020 Thoroughbred meet at Woodbine Racetrack.
Discussions took place Tuesday and in the evening the HBPA informed its members that while there is still no definitive answer following talks, it hopes for good news Wednesday.
“Productive discussions are continuing with the Provincial Government and we are reassuring them that we can safely return to live racing. We anticipate and hope that we will have a definite answer from the Province no later than [Wednesday].”
As per the Grey (Lockdown) phase of the Government’s COVID-19 restrictions which went into effect on Monday, November 23 at 12:01 a.m., the stabling and training of horses is permitted at Woodbine Racetrack, but live horse racing is not.
Woodbine also issued a statement Tuesday evening:
“Since being permitted to race without spectators in early June, Woodbine Entertainment has demonstrated that live racing poses no greater health risk to participants than training. Furthermore, it believes it has clearly demonstrated an ability to safely operate live racing without spectators during that time.”
Both the HBPA and Woodbine included details that should the 2020 season be allowed to finish the 2020 season, Saturday, November 28 would be the earliest date. This would require entries to be submitted on Thursday morning. Thursday’s card of racing, already drawn, is cancelled as is Friday racing.
If Woodbine Entertainment is permitted to complete the 2020 Thoroughbred meet, it will endeavour to reschedule the cancelled races.
Since Woodbine issued a press release Sunday afternoon during racing that the season would end after that day’s card, the horsepeople have spoken up through a Facebook page called All About the Longshots. They have shared emails that have been sent and phone numbers and addresses.
From the HBPA:
“We completely understand the logistics for help, feed, hay, and vanning, they are quite challenging as this goes on. However, we are doing everything we can, as is Woodbine, to give all of you the opportunity to earn a living and race your horses.
The HBPA is not prepared to throw in the towel.”