The field at the start of the Canadian International in 2021, won by #2 Walton Street (Michael Burns)
TORONTO— One of the most beloved and iconic races on the Woodbine Thoroughbred calendar has a date in the 2023 starting gate.
The news spread quickly on social media soon after Woodbine recently unveiled its lucrative stakes schedule for the upcoming season: the Grade 1 Canadian International has returned.
Not run in 2022 due to challenges from COVID-19, the International will take centre stage at Canada’s Showplace of Racing on Sunday, October 8, at a new distance of a mile and a quarter on the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
The purse for this year’s 84th running of the Canadian International will be $750,000.
“We were certainly focused on bringing back this world-renowned race,” said Tim Lawson, Director of Thoroughbred Racing, Woodbine. “We believe the distance change fits the current demands of our industry and the North American stakes calendar well. Having a mile and a quarter turf race in the fall will stand out and continue the legacy of this great race.”
A race whose winner’s list includes some of the sport’s greatest equine athletes. Secretariat (1973), Dahlia (1974), Snow Knight (1975), Youth (1976), Mac Diarmida (1978), All Along (1983), Singspiel (1996) and Chief Bearhart (1997) have all laid claim to victory in the turf classic.
Other winners include three-time victor Joshua Tree (IRE) (2010, 2012-13), Desert Encounter (IRE) (2018-19), and Bunty Lawless (1941). In 2021, Walton Street (GB) strode to an impressive 5 ¾-length score as the 4-5 choice.
The Canadian International has undergone modifications several times since its inaugural running in 1938. Originally contested at a mile and sixteenth on dirt, the International moved to turf in 1958 and has been held at multiple distances. The International had been run at a mile and a half since 1987.
It has no doubt been an international affair over its 80-plus year history, attracting celebrated horse people from across the world.
Frankie Dettori has ridden the most winners at four (2000, 2004, 2012, 2021), while several trainers hold the record for most wins at three, including Sir Michael Stoute and Maurice Zilber.
The return of the Canadian International in 2023 will also mark the 50th anniversary of Secretariat’s magical victory in the 1973 edition.
Making his final career start, Secretariat dazzled on a near-freezing October 28, 1973, by posting a stakes-record 6 ½-length victory in front of a thunderous crowd. The iconic Canadian sports memory is recognized by many to be the most memorable moment in Woodbine Racetrack’s storied history.
“It’s only fitting that we bring new life to the Canadian International during the 50th anniversary of Secretariat’s victory,” said Lawson. “This race holds a special place in the heart of many at Woodbine and we’re excited to see what the future has in store.”
The Canadian International will also be joined on Sunday, October 8, by the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes for fillies and mares on the turf. The $750,000 race is recognized as one of the sport’s premier turf events for fillies and mares.