As Ontario nears the long-awaited return of live harness racing, the industry’s leader, Woodbine Entertainment, is optimistic that the sport will resume even sooner. As part of the province’s latest economic recovery strategy, the company’s Woodbine Racetrack and Woodbine Mohawk Park will be able to open their doors on June 18 and 14, respectively.
Unfortunately for many horse racing fans and hundreds of thousands of industry workers, all live races were halted at the start of April due to a problem that arose following the previous stay-at-home order. However, Ontario’s provincial government recently announced a new restart of the economy plan, which will eventually allow live harness racing to return.
Eyeing Earlier Launch
The horse racing leader was quick to announce its new schedule shortly after the provincial government finally approved live harness races. The thoroughbred season at the corporation’s Woodbine Racetrack officially begins on June 18. The standardbred season at Woodbine Mohawk Park begins on June 14th, which is a day earlier than the standardbred season.
However, the company’s CEO recently stated in a public interview that he will be contacting the local government about a possible earlier start to the seasons. He confirmed that he will be submitting an official request to the government about the earlier start as all horses, trainers, and staff members are already present and ready.
Mr. Lawson clarified that horsepeople are dissatisfied because they were expecting live racing to begin immediately but will have to wait for three weeks. Their disappointment is intensified now that other outdoor sporting events, such as golf and tennis, have been granted permission to resume, while live harness races must wait.
The CEO further added that his intention is to have the horse racing industry receive the same treatment as other sporting jurisdictions in the province such as the NHL and the AHL. Mr. Lawson mentioned that the track would enforce even stricter health and safety measures, such as testing jockeys and jockey valets for the dangerous virus, and that the backstretch at Woodbine has been vaccinated to the tune of 80 percent.
Despite the fact that there had been no live horse racing events in the province for two months, Woodbine Mohawk Park was still open to some degree. Starting May 6, the venue will be able to host training activities. In order to avoid the spread of the unprecedented crisis, even stricter health and safety policies were implemented.
The racing track also announced a payment deadline of May 15, 2021 for those interested in participating in the annual summer two-year-old series. The Dream Maker, Whenuwishuponastar, Millard Farms, and Pure Ivory will compete in this year’s edition of the exciting event, which has been the starting point for many potential champions.