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A note from Woodbine’s Thoroughbred Racing Department

April 29, 2023

Woodbine Horse Racing Community,

As we embark on our 2023 season at Woodbine Racetrack, we believe it’s important to provide clarity on the following matters regarding our racing program.

Woodbine’s bottom claiming price until the end of October is $7,500. This has been in place since 2021. Woodbine does not run $5,000 claiming races during this time in an effort to prevent any interference with Fort Erie’s racing program. At the conclusion of Fort Erie’s meet, Woodbine offers $5,000 claiming races to accommodate all horses and horse people in Ontario and provide extra racing opportunities for six weeks.

Woodbine will again offer over $70M in purses for the 2023 season. This includes funds allocated from the Thoroughbred Improvement Program (TIP) to Woodbine’s restricted stakes program, as well as Ontario sired and Ontario bred overnight bonuses. In 2022, the TIP fund contributions were over budget in excess of $3.5M. This overage was covered wholly by Woodbine. As a result, Woodbine has made an adjustment to the Ontario bred bonus structure in its maiden allowance category to stay on the full TIP budget in 2023 but also ensure that an excessive amount of purse money is not taken from other conditions to supplement it.

With these changes, it is still projected that Woodbine will cover $1.5-$2M of its own money to support the TIP budget. The bonus percentage for this condition is still higher than all other races offered at Woodbine. This adjustment has allowed us to redistribute funds and boost purses at all other levels. This includes a minimum 2.5% increase on all races. Most notably, Woodbine has contributed a major boost to other components of its quality race program. This includes a 10% increase for first level allowance races, a 5% increase on second level allowances, and a 4% increase on third level allowances.

It was the suggestion of the TIP Committee for Woodbine to cut all Ontario bred bonuses in claiming races. While Woodbine strives to promote the highest quality of racing in this country and across North America, we also appreciate the need to accommodate all stakeholders that support our industry. Woodbine recognizes that a horse running in claiming events costs the exact same to raise and maintain as a stakes horse. It is our obligation to accommodate owners and breeders at all levels and acknowledge their efforts of supporting an industry that employs tens of thousands of people in this province. As a result, we strongly believe in providing a standard bonus structure for all race conditions. With these changes, our overall purse money distributed is unchanged from 2022.

Finally, Woodbine’s decision to keep the King’s Plate in August is one aimed to benefit the entire racing community in Canada. The task of preparing a horse to run a distance of 1 ¼ miles can be very demanding and we would like to ensure all participants are given maximum and equal opportunity to reach this prestigious event. With Woodbine’s opening day held at the end of April and less local horses running in the winter months, an August King’s Plate gives all participants extra time to graduate to the distance.

We hope this helps clarify some facts and explain some of our recent decisions. We appreciate that there is a lot going on, on and off the track, and we will endeavour to better communicate, explain our decisions, and clarify questions about our racing programs and other initiatives.

As a final note, we will be releasing the latest condition book later today. While there are no major changes expected, we are hopeful we will be able to start turf racing in the coming weeks. The first turf races will be carded on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course, while the Inner Turf racing will not begin until June.

Thanks and good luck this weekend. We will see you around the track.


Thoroughbred Racing Department

Woodbine Entertainment

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