Three renowned racing surfaces, a pair of $1 million classics, 37 graded stakes, Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series ‘Win and You’re In’ events, and a special Canada Day weekend card featuring five grade stakes, highlight a spectacular season of Thoroughbred racing at Woodbine.
With nearly $17 million in stakes events, the 2022 campaign at Canada’s Showplace of Racing, showcases a full complement of world-class horse racing, including the 163rd running of the Queen’s Plate, slated for Sunday, August 21.
“We are proud to once again provide the very best in Thoroughbred racing,” said Tim Lawson, Woodbine’s Director of Thoroughbred Racing. “After a highly successful 2021 season, we are looking forward to another fantastic year of racing, which features a wealth of phenomenal stakes offerings for horsepeople and fans.”
In 2021, Safe Conduct, owned by WellSpring Stables, trained by Phil Serpe, bred by Mitchell Kursner, and ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr., took all the spoils in another thrilling renewal of the Queen’s Plate, North America’s oldest continually run Thoroughbred race.
This year, the road to the Plate will once again produce several intriguing storylines, as three-year-old Canadian-breds look to deliver their connections with one of the most coveted victories on the North American racing calendar.
The “Path to the Plate” includes four key races leading up to the big day, including the Woodstock (May 1), Queenston (June 12), Grade 3 Marine (July 2) and Plate Trial (July 24).
The Queen’s Plate launches the 2022 Canadian Triple Crown, which is followed by the $400,000 Prince of Wales on Tuesday, September 13 over the Fort Erie dirt track, and the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes, to be run on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course on Sunday, October 2 at Woodbine.
The Canadian Triple Tiara for three-year-old fillies gets out of the gates on Sunday, July 24 with the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, presented by Budweiser, won last year by Munnyfor Ro. The series also features the $250,000 Bison City (August 14) and $250,000 Wonder Where (September 11).
Fans will no doubt want to circle September 17 on their calendars.
The prestigious $1 million Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile will once again be part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series ‘Win and You’re In.’ The major turf event of the campaign is joined by the Grade 1 Pattison Summer Stakes (Albahr won in 2021) and Grade 1 Natalma Stakes (Wild Beauty won in 2021) for two-year-olds. The events, also part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, have each received purse increases to $500,000 for 2022.
Last year, hometown hero Town Cruise, trained by Woodbine-based Brandon Greer, who owns and co-bred (along with his father Terrance) the son of Town Prize, pulled off the front-running upset to win the Mile.
Pizza Bianca, owned by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, finished second to Wild Beauty in the Natalma, but used the race as a launching pad to Breeders’ Cup success, taking the Grade 1 Juvenile Fillies Turf at Del Mar in November.
The added-money action continues in October with the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor, which has also received a significant purse bump, from $600,000 to $750,000 for the 2022 running. The mile and a quarter Grade 1 for fillies and mares is set for Saturday, October 8, a day that also includes the Grade 2 Nearctic and Grade 3 Durham Cup.
Trainer Christophe Clement went one-two in the 2021 E.P. Taylor, with Mutamakina and La Dragontea. The former went on to take the Grade 3 Long Island Stakes last November, for owner Al Shira’aa Farms, with La Dragontea finishing third in the race.
The E.P. Taylor is also the final leg of the returning Ladies of the Lawn Series. The popular point-based three-race series consists of the Grade 2 Dance Smartly (July 24), Grade 2 Canadian Stakes, presented by Japan Racing Association, (August 21) and the E.P. Taylor.
Another highlight of the season is a handful of graded stakes to be run over Canada Day weekend. The Grade 3 Dominion Day is on Friday, July 1, followed by the Grade 2 Highlander, Grade 2 Nassau, Grade 3 Selene and Grade 3 Marine on Saturday, July 2.
Due to insurmountable international travel challenges, the Grade 1 Canadian International will be put on hold for 2022. The Canadian International was also put on hold in 2020 due to travel challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic but was run in 2021.
The 133-day Woodbine meet, which begins Saturday, April 16, kicks-off with a pair of $100,000 overnight stakes. The Long Branch, set at 5 ½ furlongs on the main track, for fillies & mares, four-year-olds and upward, launches the stakes season on Saturday, April 16. One day later, the Thorncliffe, at 5 ½ furlongs on the main track, for four-year-olds and upward, takes the spotlight.
“I think Woodbine is the best horse racing facility out there,” said Woodbine-based trainer Bill Tharrenos. “I really do. I’m looking forward to another great season of racing there and I can’t wait to get started.”
The 2022 Thoroughbred season runs through Sunday, December 11. For more news, notes, information, and feature stories, visit www.Woodbine.com.
Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications