TORONTO, March 3 – Woodbine’s 2017 Thoroughbred stakes schedule, featuring the $1 million Queen’s Plate, was released today by Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG).
“We’re proud of our 98-race stakes calendar,” said Jim Lawson, WEG’s CEO. “We are excited at the prospect of having both new and core racing fans witnessing Queen’s Plate history and presenting some of the best horses in the world during our autumn turf events like the Ricoh Woodbine Mile and Pattison Canadian International."
The 158th Queen’s Plate, North America’s oldest continuously-run stakes event and first jewel in Canada’s Triple Crown of Racing, is set for Sunday, July 2.
The Plate programme will be enhanced by four graded turf stakes events, including the Grade 2, $250,000 Highlander Stakes, which has been added to Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” (WAYI) program for 2017. The winner of the six-furlong race will receive a berth into the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, set for Del Mar Racetrack in Del Mar, California, November 4 and 5, 2017.
Also on the card are turf staples, the Grade 2, $175,000 Dance Smartly Stakes and the Grade 3, $125,000 Singspiel Stakes. The Grade 2, $175,000 King Edward Stakes has also been added to the blockbuster summer racing card. Sir Dudley Digges won the 2016 Queen’s Plate.
The Grade 1, $800,000 Ricoh Woodbine Mile, won in 2016 by the popular Tepin, is set to for Saturday, September 16. It is also a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In event, part of two other WAYI events contested over the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course on the mid-September weekend. On Sunday, September 17, the Grade I, $250,000 Natalma Stakes for juvenile fillies and the Grade 2, $200,000 Summer Stakes for two-year-olds will be highlights.
The venerable Grade 1, $800,000 Pattison Canadian International, won last year by Erupt, is set for Sunday, October 15. The 1 1/2-mile grass event headlines an outstanding card that includes the Grade 1, $500,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes, the Grade 2, $250,000 Nearctic Stakes and the Grade 3, $125,000 Ontario Derby.
“As part of our core mandate, Woodbine Entertainment Group is committed to achieving the highest quality of horse racing,” said Jamie Martin, WEG’s Executive Vice-President of Racing. “We’re proceeding with an initiative to rebalance our overall Thoroughbred purse program, committing another $1 million to ‘overnight’ purses, which will substantially benefit our local horsepeople. This reorganization towards overnight purses and resulting stakes purses reflects WEG’s $68 million overall purse contribution in 2017.”
Over $233 million has been committed to Thoroughbred purses at Woodbine from 2013 to 2017. This represents $10 million over mandated purse levels. The reset of the purse structure also reflects the depletion of a purse surplus WEG has been deploying since the introduction of the Ontario Sires bonus program in 2014.
“We continue to commit to working with our industry partners, who understand the challenges Woodbine faces in balancing the pressures of offering quality horse racing product to our loyal fans and the significant expense attached to conducting our business," said Martin.
The 133-date start of Woodbine’s 61st season is set for Saturday, April 15, with a first-race post of 1:00 p.m. and concludes on Sunday, December 10.
A detailed 2017 thoroughbred stakes schedule is available at this link.