MILTON, December 9, 2021 – Staking horses can be an expensive proposition — particularly in the big-money, high-profile events — but Jim Inglis of Ontario-based Joanne’s Staking Service, believes the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) provides tremendous value in many of its smaller, late-closer style standardbred events being held now through the spring.
“What (WEG is) really good at promoting are these late closers. Right now going on are legs of the Harvest Series,” Inglis said. “Those are $200 to go in. You’re going to race for about $80,000 with your eliminations and your final. You can’t beat that kind of money.
Inglis said while Woodbine Mohawk Park’s chief competitor, The Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey, has eliminated a plethora of winter stakes series in recent years, Woodbine has been added more smaller stakes that carry a relatively low cost to enter.
“They’re bringing a lot more out. This winter series used to be, basically, four events. They’ve got, 10 events here now. It used to be, basically, the Blizzard, Snowshoe, Valedictory and then Niagara… Now they’ve got a New Year claiming pace, it’s a $40,000 claimer for trot and pace that’s going to go here in the New Year. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen this stake. They’ve got a Wine and Roses trotting series on Family Day for colts and fillies and then the Ontario Girls and the Ontario Boys, which is Ontario-sired only, which really helps out the guys here. They’re really promoting our own breed here in Ontario.
“Some of the stakes are open, your Valedictory and your Blizzard. We call them open to the world and American-breds can race in that if they like, but they put out a lot of Ontario-sired only stakes. For $200 going for $80,000, you can’t beat that. They’ve started a new thing, too, these Pop Up Series. There’s actually no payment for that at all.”
Inglis said not only do the late closers tend to support local horsepeople which in turns help to fill fields and drive handle, but the way the stakes are scheduled and written allows some horses to roll from one series right into the next.
“The way they’ve laid them out, some people will go in the Valedictory, which is in December — starts December 11th — and if they fit it with money, they can go in the Blizzard, as well. So, you can roll right through one onto the other,” he said.
“New Jersey used to have all these (winter) series and they don’t really have them so much, but WEG’s been right on the ball with this. They also have, which is new in the last two years — we didn’t have it last year, I believe, because of COVID-19 — the Ontario Spring Series. It’s Ontario-sired only, non-winners of a ham sandwich. Cheap to get in, $200, and away you go, it goes for $50,000 or $60,000. They’ve done a fantastic job of doing that here.”
Dave Briggs for Woodbine Communications