Jim Lawson

With Woodbine Continuing To Compile Admirable Safety Numbers, Lawson Remains Big Fan Of Synthetic Surfaces

When it comes to breakdowns, the Tapeta surface at Woodbine isn't perfect. But it might be as close to perfect as any surface on the continent. While horses throughout North America broke down on the dirt at a rate of 1.44 per 1,000 starts in 2022, the rate of breakdowns over the synthetic surface at Woodbine was 0.42. This year, after about 4,500 starts over Tapeta there have been only two fatalities during races. Also, there have been about 14,000 published workouts over Woodbine's synthetic tracks and only two fatalities...

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Return of King's Plate Generates Largest Handle in Woodbine History

The 164th King's Plate generated the largest single-card handle in Woodbine Racetrack history on Sunday afternoon. A total of $18,127,049.67 was wagered on Sunday's 13-race King's Plate card, eclipsing the previous record of $18,005,973.60 from the 2019 Queen's Plate. The record handle is also a significant increase from last year's Queen's Plate handle of $13.6 million. "It's exciting to have ushered in a new era for the Plate in record-breaking fashion," said Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment. "We felt good about the buzz surrounding the first King's Plate in...

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Woodbine And Bet365 Bring Horse Racing To Ontario Bettors

Woodbine Entertainment and bet365 have made horse racing now available to Ontario sports bettors, the track said in a release Friday. "This a great day for Ontario sports bettors and especially for the horse racing industry in the province," said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. "For over a year, we have been working hard with regulators, government agencies and our partners at bet365 to develop the technology and satisfy all requirements to allow players to access pari-mutuel horse racing betting products using accounts with legal gaming operators in Ontario with...

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Woodbine Entertainment Adds New Board Members

Standardbred owner and breeder Brad Grant and Canadian sports business executive Scott Mitchell were named to the Woodbine Entertainment Board, the organization said in a release Wednesday. Also, Mark Saunders has been re-elected to Woodbine Entertainment's Board of Directors after taking a short leave of absence to run in the recent By-Election for Mayor of the City of Toronto. "We are very pleased to welcome Brad and Scott, and welcome back Mark, to our Board," said Hugh Mitchell, Chair of Woodbine Entertainment's Board of Directors. "Their diverse wealth of business...

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Copeland Named Next Woodbine CEO

Michael Copeland was unanimously chosen to be the next Chief Executive Officer of Woodbine Entertainment by the company's board of directors. Copeland will take over from Jim Lawson--who announced he would be stepping down earlier this year--effective Oct. 1. Copeland, who is currently President, Commercial, joined Woodbine Entertainment in 2021 after holding various  leadership roles in sports and entertainment, including President and CEO of the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts from 2015 to 2018, and President of the CFL's head office from 2006 to 2015. He has a law degree...

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Lawson to Step Down at Woodbine

Jim Lawson will step down from his role as chief executive officer at Woodbine Entertainment this fall, the company announced Tuesday. Lawson has held the position since 2015. "Being CEO of Woodbine Entertainment has been a great honor and passion for me," Lawson said. "On a personal level, I have truly enjoyed my time leading the organization and I am so grateful for the incredible people that I have had the honor of working with, but it's now time to spend more time with my family. "On a professional level,...

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Woodbine And HPBA Agree To Two-Year Deal

Woodbine Entertainment and the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association of Ontario (HBPA) have reached an agreement for a new two-year deal that commits to $62m in purses for the 2023 and 2024 Thoroughbred racing meets, both released in a statement Friday. The deal also includes a 133-raceday meet in 2023 and 129 race dates in 2024. Despite the fewer race days next year, the track expects the number of races offered to be substantially the same as 2023 through more optimized scheduling during the meet. As part of the agreement,...

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Record All-Sources Handle at Woodbine

Total all-sources handle for the 2022 Thoroughbred meet at Woodbine was $621,782,346, by a wide margin the largest single-season total in the history of the track. The previous record was $533 million set in 2018. For the first time since 2019, Woodbine was able to hold a full season of racing. Over the course of 132 live dates, a total of 1,198 races were staged. The 2020 and 2021 seasons were delayed and interrupted to varying degrees by the COVID-19 pandemic. "We're very happy with the results of our 2022...

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The Queen's Plate Renamed The King's Plate

The historic Queen's Plate, North America's longest continuously run stakes race, will be renamed The King's Plate. Woodbine will run the next edition of the Canadian Classic Sunday, Aug. 20. Entry conditions for the 2023 King's Plate are unchanged with the race remaining open to all 3-year-old Thoroughbreds foaled in Canada. "The Plate is one of the most celebrated events in horse racing, and we're proud to celebrate its history while starting a new chapter under the banner of The King's Plate," said Jim Lawson, Woodbine Entertainment's CEO. "Those who...

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Woodbine Aftercare Day to Feature TAA

For the second consecutive year, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) will be promoted at Woodbine Racetrack's Aftercare Day Oct. 8. TAA will be recognized throughout the race day, including in the presentation of the GII Nearctic Stakes. Patrons can support the organization during a day of racing that includes jockey pledges, and TAA Best Turned Out Horse Awards. Riders will have the opportunity to designate their earnings to the TAA for any races won Saturday, Oct. 8. The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Best Turned Out Horse Awards will be conducted in...

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Michael Copeland and Tom Via Promoted at Woodbine

Woodbine Entertainment has made some changes to its senior leadership team, promoting Michael Copeland to President, Commercial and Tom Via to President, Operations. Both will report to CEO Jim Lawson. "We have a tremendous amount of opportunity before us to grow our business and the horse racing industry in Ontario," said Lawson. "I strongly believe we have the right leadership and people in place--and now we have the right structure that will enable us to maximize and fully leverage those opportunities." Copeland, who joined Woodbine Entertainment in 2021 as Chief...

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Hugh Mitchell Appointed to Chair of Woodbine Entertainment's Board of Directors

Woodbine Entertainment's Board of Directors has appointed long-time executive in the horse racing industry Hugh Mitchell as Chair, effective immediately. Mitchell was appointed to the position during Woodbine Entertainment's Annual General Meeting earlier Friday. As Chair of the Board of Directors, Mitchell will provide leadership, guidance and governance as Woodbine Entertainment fulfills its mandate to sustain and grow horse racing in Ontario. This includes further strengthening the racing product at Woodbine and Woodbine Mohawk Park. Mitchell, who has been on Woodbine Entertainment's Board of Directors since 2018, was most recently...

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