Woodbine Entertainment unveiled its stakes schedule for the 2021 Thoroughbred racing season at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario, set to open Apr. 17 (subject to the latest Ontario Government COVID-19 protocols).
“Last year was obviously a challenging year for the industry due to COVID-19,” said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. “While Woodbine Entertainment and the horse racing industry continue to be impacted, we are hopeful that the pandemic in Ontario improves in the coming months, allowing businesses and industries to safely re-open, including our ability to start our 2021 meet as planned on Saturday, Apr. 17.”
The 2021 Thoroughbred stakes program will offer more than $16.5 million in purses across 87 stakes and feature a pair of $1 million events, including the Aug. 22 Queen's Plate, as well as the Sept. 18 GI Ricoh Woodbine Mile, a Breeders' Cup “Win And You're In” race. The GI Pattison Canadian International, cancelled in 2020 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, will be featured on the Woodbine Mile card along with the GII Canadian S. The GI Natalma S. and GI Summer S., both designated as Breeders' Cup “Win And You're In” races, have each received a purse hike in 2021 to $400,000 from $250,000. The Woodbine Cares and Ontario Racing Stakes, juvenile Inner Turf stakes introduced in 2019, will be contested on the same Sunday with purses of $125,000 each.
The GI Highlander S., with an increased purse of $350,000 (up from $300,000), also returns after a year hiatus due to the pandemic and will be featured on The Queen's Plate undercard. The GI E.P. Taylor S. headlines the Oct. 17 card, serving as the final leg of Woodbine's Ladies of the Lawn Series, which offers $75,000 in bonuses to the top performers based on points accumulated in the designated graded turf routes for fillies and mares.
Purses for all Grade III Stakes races at Woodbine Racetrack will receive a 20% increase to $150,000 this season. Also of note for 2021, Listed races have increased purses to $125,000, boosted from $100,000.
“We are excited to bring back the Pattison Canadian International as part of our world-class stakes schedule for the 2021 Thoroughbred meet at Woodbine Racetrack,” said Lawson. “The 2021 stakes schedule includes several significant purse increases, including the G I Natalma S. and GI Summer S., as well as all Grade III stakes. These increases, along with a strong complement of stakes races for all ages, and robust Ontario-bred stakes offerings, will deliver exciting racing, competitive fields, and an abundance of wagering options available on Woodbine's outstanding live racing product.”
For the complete stakes schedule, visit www.woodbine.com.