The province of Ontario is ready to resume live harness racing this week, after finalizing its ‘Roadmap to Reopen’ plan sooner than expected. Local racetracks, including Woodbine Mohawk Park, will reopen this week after Woodbine Entertainment announced the good news on June 7, 2021.

Following the occurrence of the unusual circumstance, the horse racing industry has faced an extremely difficult period for the past 15 months. The live season in Ontario was put on hold in early April, and it was just recently allowed to begin in June. This is due to the province’s rapid vaccine rollout as well as improved health indicators.

Racing Can Resume

Woodbine Entertainment announced on Monday that its Woodbine Mohawk Park would reopen for the standardbred season on Friday, June 11 at 7 p.m. Races at the track will now continue to their usual five race day weekly, with live Standardbred Racing on Monday, June 14. However, spectators would still not be allowed at the property.

Woodbine Entertainment CEO Jim Lawson thanked the Ontario government for its support during a difficult time for the industry. He thanked Premier Doug Ford in particular for his understanding of the horse racing industry, which has been greatly affected by the continued lockdown restrictions. He also expressed gratitude towards the sport’s many horse people for the patience and professionalism that they demonstrated in such times.

Action-Packed Qualifiers

The track has previously provided more information on its end-of-May set of qualifiers.  A three-day qualifier session was held at the oval, with 44 events and over 377 horses competing. The first session was scheduled for Thursday, May 27, with 14 exciting qualifiers, followed by 15 on Friday, and the remaining qualifying segments on Saturday.

Earlier Start Request

Mr. Lawson, the company’s CEO, announced at the end of May that he will apply for an earlier start to the live racing season. Horse people at the tracks, he claims, are ready to begin since they have made the necessary arrangements. Woodbine Racetrack’s thoroughbred season began on June 14, while Woodbine Mohawk Park’s standardbred season began on June 18. It is safe to say that the request has been successful.

More Reopenings

Several other tracks in the province have also announced their official reopening. The season at Clinton Raceway will begin on June 13, 2021. Georgian Downs is also welcoming back harness racing in the Barrie area but on June 15. The schedule will be similar to last season, with Tuesday and Saturday games starting at 7:15 p.m. and Sunday games starting at 6 p.m.

Kawartha Downs has also announced its reopening.  Races at the track will officially return on Saturday, June 12.  The events will start at 4 p.m., with qualifications starting at 1:30 p.m. Spectators are not permitted at this time. Rideau Carleton is also relaunching live races on Sunday, June 13, with a first post time of 6:30 p.m.

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