The 2018 Woodbine stakes schedule, highlighted by the 159th running of the $1-million Queen's Plate June 30, features 96 races worth $16.6 million. Woodbine will host the $800,000 GI Ricoh Woodbine Mile, a Breeders' Cup Win and You're In event, Sept. 15 and the Sept. 16 program will include a pair of Grade I events: the Natalma S. and Summer S., which are both worth $250,000 and are both Breeders' Cup Win and You're In races. The Summer has been upgraded this year.
The $800,000 GI Pattison Canadian International will headline an action-packed Oct. 13 card, which also will include the $500,000 GI E.P. Taylor S., the $250,000 GII Nearctic S. and $125,000 GIII Ontario Derby.
“We are looking forward to presenting another exciting season of Thoroughbred racing at Woodbine for our loyal fans and horsepeople,” said Jonathan Zammit, Vice President, Thoroughbred Racing Operations. “With 41 graded races, as well as four Breeders' Cup 'Win and You're In' stakes, Woodbine remains one of the premier tracks to compete at in North America.”
The Highlander S., a Breeders' Cup 'Win and You're In' turf sprint to be contested on the Queen's Plate program, has been upgraded to Grade I status and will carry a purse of $250,000. The GII Royal North and GIII Trillium S. have also been upgraded by The Jockey Club of Canada's Graded Stakes Committee, with purses set at $175,000 and $125,000, respectively.
Purses for Ontario Sired Stakes have been adjusted from $125,000 to $100,000, with the Yearling Sales Stakes' Simcoe and Muskoka set at $175,000 for the 2018 season.
“We are committed to offering world-class horse racing at Woodbine with a strong stakes program, including numerous premier turf opportunities,” said Zammit. “With a reduction in funding from the Thoroughbred Improvement Program and after consultation with the HBPA, Woodbine has allocated financial resources to overnight purses to maintain bonus amounts at 2017 levels and provide for a slight increase to overnight purses through new investment and utilization of unused 2017 purse funds to help offset the shortfall.”
In addition, Woodbine and the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, in cooperation with Fort Erie Racetrack, have created a new Health and Welfare Committee for the 2018 season. The committee has implemented a new policy that will require all horses shipping into both Woodbine and Fort Erie to have current vaccinations for Flu and Rhino in addition to the mandatory Coggins.