Immediate Future of Racing at Woodbine Unclear Following Lockdown Declaration

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Woodbine | Michael Burns

During a Friday afternoon briefing, Doug Ford, the Premier of Ontario, Canada, announced a mandatory 28-day lockdown in the city of Toronto and the suburb of Peel, beginning at 12:01 a.m. Monday, Nov. 23. It was not immediately clear how the decision would impact racing operations at Woodbine Racetrack, though the Toronto Star reported that while training can continue, racing will cease.

“With the numbers rising rapidly in certain regions, we have to make the tough, but necessary decisions now to protect our hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes, and every person in this province,” said Premier Ford. “We cannot afford a province-wide lockdown, so we are taking preventative action today by moving Toronto and Peel into Lockdown level restrictions and other regions into higher levels of restrictions. We need to take decisive action to stop the spread of this deadly virus.”

Late Friday, Jamie Dykstra, Director of Communications and Content for Woodbine Entertainment, issued a statement that read: “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 racing season at Woodbine was delayed from its usual mid-April start to June 6 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. As recently as Nov. 19, track officials announced that they were managing a COVID positive in an active jockey, but that live racing would be able to proceed. Woodbine was scheduled to conclude its 2020 season Sunday, Dec. 13.

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