TORONTO, December 9, 2019 – Woodbine Entertainment unveiled its stakes schedule today for the 2020 Thoroughbred racing season, which will run from April 18 to December 13 at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario.
The 2020 Thoroughbred stakes program will offer more than $16.5 million in purses across 87 stakes and features three $1 million races including The Queen’s Plate (Saturday, June 27), Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Saturday, Sept. 19) and Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International (Sunday, Oct. 18). These signature race days will be supported by strong stakes-filled undercards.
“Announcing our stakes schedule this early was important so we can provide our horsepeople with as much information as possible as they head into the Woodbine off-season,” said Jonathan Zammit, Vice President of Thoroughbred Racing Operations for Woodbine Entertainment. “The 2020 stakes schedule has plenty to be excited about including increasing the Pattison Canadian International to a $1 million purse and other changes that we believe will help drive quality of racing, horse supply, and ultimately, wagering on our product.”
The Toronto racetrack will host the first and third legs of the Canadian Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, beginning with the 161st running of the historic Queen’s Plate and concluding with the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes on Saturday, Aug. 15.
Designated as a Breeders’ Cup “Win And You’re In” races, the Ricoh Woodbine Mile will be followed by the Grade 1 Summer Stakes and the filly companion Natalma Stakes for two-year-olds on Sunday, Sept. 20. The Woodbine Cares and Ontario Racing Stakes, new juvenile inner turf stakes that launched in 2019, will be contested on the same Sunday with purses increased to $135,000 each.
The Pattison Canadian International will offer an enhanced purse of $1 million this year and shift to the Sunday afternoon race date in mid-October. The $600,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes (Grade 1) is among the usual supporting features that day and will serve as the final leg of Woodbine’s Ladies of the Lawn Series, which offers $75,000 in bonuses to the top performers based on points accumulated in the designated graded turf routes for fillies and mares. The series also includes the $175,000 Nassau Stakes (Grade 2), $175,000 Dance Smartly Stakes (Grade 2) and $250,000 Canadian Stakes (Grade 2). The inaugural winner of the 2019 Ladies of the Lawn Series was Starship Jubilee.
The $500,000 Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser, first leg of the Canadian Triple Tiara, headlines another major race card on Saturday, June 6 that will include the $150,000 Plate Trial, which is one of six Canadian-foaled classics to receive a purse boost for 2020. The Greenwood Stakes has been shifted to the same day and is one of eight Ontario-Bred stakes on the calendar with purses increased from $125,000 to $150,000.
In addition to increasing the purses and the number of Ontario-Bred stakes races from six to eight, Woodbine will offer 11 Ontario Sired Stakes with purses of $100,000 each. Half of these events are scheduled toward the end of the year, when Woodbine will host an Appreciation Week for Ontario-sired and Ontario-bred horses.
“The expansion of the Ontario Bred program is important in strengthening our racing by making it more appealing to Ontario horses to run at Woodbine, while our Ontario Sired program continues to be an important aspect of our overall program,” said Zammit.
To further support Ontario sired horses, Woodbine will also be expanding its overnight bonus program which will create more earning opportunities for horsepeople. Full details will be announced in early 2020.
The other classics for horses foaled in Canada with purse increases, from $225,000 to $250,000, are the Bison City (Saturday, June 28), Wonder Where (Saturday, Aug. 8), Cup & Saucer (Saturday, Oct. 10), Princess Elizabeth (Saturday, Oct. 31) and Coronation Futurity (Sunday, Nov. 1).
Woodbine will celebrate Canada Day with a special Wednesday afternoon program on July 1 highlighted by the Grade 3 Dominion Day and Vigil Stakes.
This year’s Yearling Sales Stakes night, set for Wednesday, Sept. 2, will feature four stakes including a pair of two-year-old events (Simcoe and Muskoka) with purse increases to $250,000 and a pair of three-year-old events (Elgin and Algoma) with purses of $135,000.
Woodbine will offer its Graded Stakes Bonus Program again in 2020 as well as popular additional competitions such as the Turf Endurance Series, Turf Sprint Series on the inner turf, and the Early Bird and Grey Handicaps.
New for 2020, Woodbine and Turfway Park have partnered to offer the All-Weather Winners Challenge, with the winners of designated stakes at each track earning automatic entry and nomination fees paid to key cross-border companion events. The winner of the listed Bourbonette Oaks (March 14) at Turfway will earn a spot in Woodbine’s Grade 3 Selene Stakes (May 10) while the champion of Turfway’s Grade 3 Jeff Ruby (March 14) will receive entry into the Grade 3 Marine Stakes (May 9) at Woodbine. Later in the season, the Grade 3 Grey Stakes (December 5) at Woodbine will serve as a stepping stone to the 2021 Jeff Ruby (Date TBA) and the Grade 3 Mazarine winner will be awarded a starting spot in the 2021 Bourbonette Oaks (Date TBA). As part of the new All-Weather Challenge Series, Chapalu, winner of the 2019 Grey Stakes will receive entry into the 2020 Jeff Ruby, and Curlin’s Voyage, winner of the 2019 Mazarine Stakes will receive entry into the 2020 Bourbonette Oaks.
Woodbine’s 2020 stakes schedule is subject to approval by the Graded Stakes Committee.
For more information and to view the complete stakes schedule for Woodbine’s 2020 Thoroughbred racing season, visit Woodbine.com.
PHOTO: Thoroughbred racing at Woodbine Racetrack. (Michael Burns Photo)
Via Woodbine Press Release