The funk/rock band Earth, Wind & Fire sang about September and Ontario horse racing fans will also be singing the month’s praises this year. For the first time in the history of Woodbine Racetrack, The Queen’s Plate (Sept. 12) and the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Sept. 19) are scheduled for September, on back-to-back weekends, […]Queen’s Plate and Ricoh Woodbine Mile to be run on back-to-back weekends in September — Toronto Sun
By Steve Buffery
For the first time in the history of Woodbine Racetrack, The Queen’s Plate (Sept. 12) and the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Sept. 19) are scheduled for September, on back-to-back weekends, in fact — changes necessitated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Queen’s Plate, North America’s oldest continuously run horse race, was originally scheduled for June 27.
Woodbine Entertainment announced a revised 2020 stakes schedule on Wednesday. The thoroughbred season is now scheduled to open on June 6 and will run through Dec. 13.
The 2020 stakes program includes $13.8 million in purses across 75 stakes and features.
“It’s been an unprecedented year which has led to a unique stakes schedule that we are very excited about,” said Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment. “The summer stakes schedule will build the anticipation for a very busy and exciting fall at Woodbine Racetrack highlighted by the running of our two biggest stakes races on back-to-back Saturdays.”
However, with the promise of a 2020 Woodbine season also came some bad news on Wednesday. WE also announced that due to complications with international travel, the Pattison Canadian International (Grade 1) has been cancelled for the 2020 season.
Some highlights of this year’s Woodbine stakes schedule include:
— The Canadian Triple Crown will get underway with the 161st running of The Queen’s Plate on Sept. 12, followed by the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie racetrack on Tuesday, Sept. 29, and concluding on the turf at Woodbine Racetrack with the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes on Oct. 24.
— Designated as Breeders’ Cup “Win And You’re In” races, the Ricoh Woodbine Mile will be followed by the Grade 1 Summer Stakes and the filly companion Grade 1 Natalma Stakes for two-year-olds on Sept. 20.
— The Woodbine Cares and Ontario Racing Stakes, new juvenile inner turf stakes that launched in 2019, will be contested on Sept. 19 with purses increased to $135,000 each.
— The $600,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes (Grade 1), the $300,000 Northern Dancer (Grade 1) presented by Pattison and the $250,000 Nearctic Stakes (Grade 2) will be featured on Oct.18.
— Woodbine’s Ladies of the Lawn Series, which provides the winner with a $75,000 bonus, returns in 2020 with the first leg on June 27 with the $175,000 Nassau Stakes (Grade 2), followed by the $175,000 Dance Smartly Stakes (Grade 2) on Aug. 15, the $250,000 Canadian Stakes (Grade 2) on Sept. 12, before culminating with the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes. The inaugural winner of the 2019 Ladies of the Lawn Series was Starship Jubilee.
— The $500,000 Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser, first leg of the Canadian Triple Tiara, headlines another major race card on Aug. 15 which will include the $150,000 Plate Trial, which is one of six Canadian-foaled classics to receive a purse boost for 2020.
— The Greenwood Stakes has been shifted to Aug. 1 and is one of three Ontario-bred stakes on the calendar with purses increased from $125,000 to $150,000.
— The other classics for horses foaled in Canada with purse increases, from $225,000 to $250,000, are the Bison City (Sept. 12), Cup & Saucer (Oct. 10), Wonder Where (Oct. 25), Princess Elizabeth (Oct. 31) and Coronation Futurity (Nov. 1).
— This year’s Yearling Sales Stakes set for Aug. 30 will feature four stakes including a pair of two-year-old events (Simcoe and Muskoka) with purse increases to $250,000 and a pair of three-year-old events (Elgin and Algoma) with purses of $135,000.