Woodbine Entertainment has announced its stakes schedule for the 2018 Thoroughbred racing season with 96 stakes highlighted by the 159th running of the $1 million Queen's Plate, the first jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown.
In addition to the prestigious Queen's Plate on Saturday, June 30 and Breeders' Stakes, the third Triple Crown leg on Saturday, Aug. 18, the 2018 Thoroughbred meet will feature four Breeders' Cup 'Win and You're In' stakes.
The $800,000 Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Grade 1), a Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ event won by Eclipse Award Champion Turf Male World Approval in 2017, is set for Saturday, Sept. 15. Contested over the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course, the Ricoh Woodbine Mile will be part of an action-packed weekend of stakes racing that also includes two other Breeders' Cup Challenge Series races. The Sunday, Sept. 16 program will include the $250,000 Natalma Stakes and Summer Stakes, which has been upgraded this year and joins the Natalma as a Grade 1 event with a purse increase to $250,000.
Another one of Woodbine's signature races, the $800,000 Pattison Canadian International (Grade 1), won last year by Bullards Alley, will headline a spectacular stakes card set for Saturday, Oct. 13. The $500,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes (Grade 1) along with the $250,000 Nearctic Stakes (Grade 2) and $125,000 Ontario Derby (Grade 3) will be featured on the undercard.
"We are looking forward to presenting another exciting season of Thoroughbred racing at Woodbine for our loyal fans and horsepeople," said Jonathan Zammit, Vice President, Thoroughbred Racing Operations. “With 41 graded races as well as four Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ stakes, Woodbine remains one of the premier tracks to compete at in North America.”
2017 Queens Plate field, picture WoodbineRacetack.com and Michael Burns Photography
The 133-day race meet will offer a total of $67.6 million in purses, consistent with 2017 amounts, including $16.6 million allocated towards Woodbine’s stakes program.
The Highlander Stakes, a Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ turf sprint to be contested on the Queen’s Plate program, has been upgraded to Grade 1 status with a purse of $250,000. The Royal North (Grade 2) and Trillium Stakes (Grade 3) have also been upgraded by The Jockey Club of Canada’s Graded Stakes Committee with purses set at $175,000 and $125,000, respectively.
Purses for Ontario Sired Stakes have been adjusted from $125,000 to $100,000, with the Yearling Sales Stakes' Simcoe and Muskoka set at $175,000 for the 2018 season.
"We are committed to offering world-class horse racing at Woodbine with a strong stakes program, including numerous premier turf opportunities," said Zammit. "With a reduction in funding from the Thoroughbred Improvement Program and after consultation with the HBPA, Woodbine has allocated financial resources to overnight purses to maintain bonus amounts at 2017 levels and provide for a slight increase to overnight purses through new investment and utilization of unused 2017 purse funds to help offset the shortfall."
“Given the reduction in TIP, we are pleased with the Thoroughbred program Woodbine Entertainment is offering in 2018 and are appreciative of the co-operation between Woodbine and HBPA as we sought solutions to minimize the effect on owners and trainers,” said Sue Leslie, President of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA).
Woodbine Entertainment and the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association have spearheaded a new Health and Welfare Committee in cooperation with Fort Erie Racetrack for the 2018 season. The committee has implemented a new policy that will require all horses shipping into both Woodbine and Fort Erie to have current vaccinations for Flu and Rhino in addition to the mandatory Coggins.
"This policy is meant to protect the health and welfare of the horses," said Leslie.
To view a detailed stakes schedule for Woodbine's 2018 season, which runs from April 21 to December 16, visit WoodbineRacetrack.com.