TORONTO, April 12 – Woodbine’s 62nd year of Thoroughbred racing kicks off Saturday with a jam-packed 10-race card. First race post time is 1:00 p.m.
Opening Day, highlighted by the six furlong, $100,000 Jacques Cartier Stakes for older horses, featuring 2015 champion sprinter Stacked Deck was drawn, as was the rest of the 80-horse card, on Wednesday.
The highlight of the 133-day season is the 158th Queen’s Plate, North America’s oldest continuously-run stakes event and first jewel in Canada’s Triple Crown of Racing, set for Sunday, July 2. In 2017, fans can celebrate a uniquely Canadian tradition over two days as music, food and fashion will also be prominent on the July 1 Canada Day Holiday at Woodbine offering a festival-like atmosphere for Queen’s Plate weekend.
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Last year’s leading jockey, Eurico da Silva, a three-time Sovereign Award recipient and 2016 finalist, has six mounts on Opening Day, while 2016 leading trainer Mark Casse, an eight-time Sovereign Award winner and once again a finalist, sends out five horses.
Calendar cards highlighting the meet’s biggest events will be given out on Opening Day. Customers will also find Hospitality and ticket offerings attached to the cards, including a 25% off Live Racing Dining deal and a 2-for-1 Queen’s Plate tickets piece.
Jim Mazur and Jim Bannon will be hosting a ‘Winning at Woodbine’ handicapping seminar on the second floor from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. The first 150 people to register will receive a free, ‘Woodbine Handicapper and Blue Chips Trainer Angles’ booklet.
Woodbine’s jockeys will greet fans at the north entrance from 12:15 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. as horseplayers and diners get set to enjoy Opening Day.
Woodbine’s First Bet Is On Us programme, which offers fans a free $2 bet, will be in place again on Saturday.
On the wagering front, Woodbine will have 20-cent Superfectas on each race. To cash a Superfecta, a player must select the top four placings in a race.
As well, Woodbine continues to offer the horseplayer 20-cent Triactor, Pick 3, Pick 4 and Pick 5 minimum bets. There’s also a $100,000 guaranteed pool for the early Pick 4’s each weekend. The 20-cent Jackpot Hi-5 (first five finishers in the day’s last race), inaugurated in 2013, will also continue to be attractive, especially as a carryover, until only a single ticket wins the entire pot.
First race post times for Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays throughout the meet will be 1:00 p.m. Friday racing, also with a 1:00 p.m. first race post, begins on April 21. From July 7 to September 1, Fridays will offer a post-time of 4:00 p.m. Popular Wednesday night racing, beginning at 6:45 p.m., is slated to start on May 17.
Woodbine is also introducing a Derby Day Party, where fans can wear their finest raceday fashion and cheer on local hero State of Honor in the Kentucky Derby, via simulcast, on May 6.
Canadian Thoroughbred racing will honour its brightest stars of last season at the Sovereign Awards dinner, Thursday evening at Palais Royale in west-end Toronto, as a prelude to Opening Day. The Sovereign Awards were established in 1975 to honour Canada’s best each year.
Other major races on the Woodbine calendar include the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, presented by Budweiser, for Canadian-foaled three-year-old fillies, and the $150,000 Plate Trial for Canadian-bred three-year-olds, both at one and one-eighth miles, set for Sunday, June 11.
Other major races at Woodbine include the $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes, the third leg in the Canadian Triple Crown, on August 20 at one and one-half miles over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course; the $800,000 Grade I turf Ricoh Woodbine Mile and the Grade I Northern Dancer Turf on September 16; the Grade I Natalma Stakes on September 17; the $800,000 Pattison Canadian International and the $500,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes, also both Grade 1 turf events, on October 15.
Woodbine’s 2017 Thoroughbred season comes to a close on Sunday, December 10.