TORONTO, December 18, 2020 – Woodbine Entertainment (Woodbine) announced today a trio of initiatives designed to support the 130 people living on the backstretch at Woodbine Racetrack during the winter months.
First, Woodbine has partnered with the Horses First Fund, which will sponsor a nutritious, hot meal each week. The program will start on Wednesday, December 23 with a roast beef lunch then continue Fridays after that. This generous offering will be incorporated into a larger effort from Woodbine to engage backstretch workers over the course of the winter months through activities, shuttles to local malls and product giveaways.
The Horses First Fund assists Thoroughbreds and their caretakers in need of emergency aid due to large scale neglect, natural disaster, or other catastrophes. Horses First Fund founder Jaime Roth of LNJ Foxwoods said, “I was especially moved by the misfortune caused by the pandemic on the Woodbine backstretch workers. Throughout this challenging year, the Horses First Fund has provided emergency funding to seven aftercare organizations, four backstretch organizations, and contributed to two equine feed assistance programs.” The Horses First Fund is administered by the Thoroughbred Charities of America.
Additionally, Woodbine has reduced the rent for those living on the backstretch by 50 per cent. Both the sponsored meal program and the Woodbine rent program will support workers until the reopening of the backstretch in February 2021.
Finally, in addition to its regular annual donation, Woodbine will make a $4,000 donation to the Race Track Chaplaincy of Canada to help ensure proper resources, programming and support for those remaining on the Woodbine Racetrack backstretch throughout the winter.
“This year has been tremendously difficult for so many people, including those that contribute to our world-class racing at Woodbine Racetrack,” said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. “We know that due to circumstances beyond their control, many are unable to be with their friends and family this winter. I would like to thank our partners the Horses First Fund and the Race Track Chaplaincy of Canada, whom together with us will help ensure that everyone here at Woodbine has the support they need this holiday season and beyond.”
Earlier this month, Lawson was on-site to personally hand out holiday gifts to impacted backstretch workers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for the Woodbine Thoroughbred community. Due to government restrictions, the season started late and ended early, denying the community their ability to earn money from the final three weeks of racing.
Woodbine thanks those involved in the training and care of Thoroughbred horses and wishes the entire Thoroughbred community a healthy and safe holiday season.