As Ontario’s current lockdown protocols come to an end, horse racing regulator Woodbine Entertainment is eyeing a new start date for its thoroughbred live harness season. Jim Lawson, the company’s CEO, has made a public statement on the matter, predicting that the racing season will begin on June 5.
All horse racing events were halted at the beginning of April, with a 28-day stay-at-home order in effort to avoid the spread of the province’s unprecedented situation. The order is currently set to expire on May 20, although there is an increasing likelihood that it will be extended.
In an email discussion this week, CEO Jim Lawson confirmed that the new thoroughbred live harness season could begin as early as June 5.
However, he informed that the horse racing industry that this date is still subject to change due to the lockdown order’s several variables. On Saturday, the company will also release its first condition book and make changes to its stakes schedule.
Mr. Lawson explained in the email that the proposed starting date, as well as the condition book, are only given to assist horsepeople in preparing for the season’s potential start. He made it clear that the company has yet to obtain official information from the provincial government on whether racing will be permitted to start on the scheduled date.
According to the CEO, the horse racing company is continuing to have positive talks with public health officials and has recently requested meetings with the Ministry of Health and the Premier’s Office. Mr. Lawson indicated that the horse racing leader will continue to provide updates on the subject as soon there is some development.
Mr. Lawson even admitted that he himself has become quite exhausted of consistently promising horsepeople that live racing will return shortly. In the midst of the uncertainty, he urged all involved in the industry to be patient and assured that the company is doing everything possible to bring live harness racing back to the province as soon as possible.
The CEO of the horse racing ruler officially contacted Milton Gordon Krantz with a formal letter of inquiry in the middle of April. Mr. Lawson describes in the letter how serious the new lockdown orders can be for the horse racing industry’s long-term survival. He stated that the sport was unfairly treated in comparison with other outdoor sports that were allowed to continue.
Following the new government-issued stay-at-home order, Woodbine Entertainment had to close all of its Ontario properties. But the horse racing corporation was able to partially reopen its Woodbine Mohawk Park. While races are still prohibited at the venue, it has been permitted to host training exercises since May 6, but only under strict health and safety guidelines.