The 2023 live racing season at Woodbine is set to begin on Saturday, April 22. (Michael Burns photo)
Season Set to Open on April 22
Mark McKelvie, Sr. Manager Communications, Woodbine Entertainment
TORONTO— Woodbine Entertainment and the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association of Ontario (HBPA) jointly announced today that they have reached an agreement for a new two-year deal that commits to $62M in purses for the 2023 and 2024 thoroughbred racing meets.
The deal also includes a 133-race day meet in 2023, and 129 race dates in 2024. Despite the fewer race days in 2024, Woodbine expects the number of races offered to be substantially the same as 2023 through more optimized race scheduling during the meet.
The upcoming 2023 season will kick off on Saturday, April 22. The 2024 season will open on Saturday, April 20.
“We are pleased to reach this new agreement with the HBPA so we can now collectively focus our energy on the incredible season of thoroughbred racing that lies ahead,” said Jim Lawson. “Over the last few years, our industry came together through difficult times and put forward a world-class racing product that continues to grow globally. Now, with a new agreement with the HBPA, and the exciting and transformative initiatives happening around the track, we are poised for one of the most exciting racing seasons in our storied history and can’t wait to get started.
“On behalf of Woodbine and our Board, I would like to thank the HBPA for working diligently towards a result that is positive for all industry stakeholders.”
As part of the agreement, Woodbine Entertainment is also pleased to continue a contribution of $300,000 to the HBPA in each year of the deal for improving working benefits and conditions for those working on the Woodbine backstretch.
“We are also pleased to come to an agreement with Woodbine Entertainment so we can work together and in partnership for the betterment of horse people and the industry,” said Sue Leslie, President of the HBPA. “There is a tremendous amount of opportunity to grow our sport in the coming years and that is best achieved by working together, shoulder to shoulder. We believe Woodbine Entertainment is committed to this partnership. We look forward to this renewed partnership and are equally excited to open the starting gates on April 22.”
The 2023 season at Woodbine Racetrack will be highlighted by the first running of The $1 million King’s Plate in 70 years, which will take place on Sunday, August 20. Overall, the 2023 stakes schedule includes more than $17 million in purses, 39 graded stakes, and features the $1 million Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile, the return of the $750,000 Grade 1 Canadian International, the $750,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes, the $500,000 Grade 1 Summer and Natalma Stakes, and the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks presented by Budweiser.