With a government-enforced 28-day lockdown set to take effect in the province of Ontario Thursday, Apr. 8 at 12:01 a.m., officials at Woodbine Racetrack announced late Wednesday that the planned opening of the 2021 meet would be delayed.
Woodbine will continue to engage in dialogue with government officials and local health authorities in an effort to gain permission to operate a live meet during a lockdown situation in which they would try to begin operations once the stay-at-home order is lifted May 6.
“This is very difficult news to share with our horse people, horse players and fans throughout North America and the world,” said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. “Since the beginning of the pandemic more than a year ago, we have supported the Government of Ontario every step of the way and will continue to do so.
“However, if we do not receive permission to safely operate live racing during a lockdown situation after the stay-at-home is lifted, our industry and business could be greatly impacted, as trainers will not bring their horses to Woodbine Racetrack and more horses will be shipped out to the United States where there are plenty of racing opportunities. This situation has the potential to have a devastating and long-lasting impact on the Thoroughbred industry in Ontario.”
The backstretch at Woodbine will continue to operate as an essential service for the stabling, training and care of the horses. Active training, including times workouts, will also be allowed to continue, but starting gate and receiving barn training operations will be suspended for 10 days.