TORONTO — The Pattison Canadian International has been included on Woodbine's 2021 thoroughbred stakes schedule.
The turf race was postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic but is scheduled to be run Sept. 18 on a card that will also include the $1-million Woodbine Mile. Woodbine Racetrack's '21 thoroughbred season is slated to open April 17, subject to Ontario government COVID-19 protocols.
This year's stakes program will offer over $16.5 million in purses and include two $1-million races: The Mile and Queen's Plate (Aug. 22). The Grade 1 Natalma and Grade 1 Summer — whose winners secure automatic Breeders' Cup berths — will both see their purses increased to $400,000 from $250,000.
The purse for the Grade 1 Highlander Stakes will also go up $50,000 to $35,000. After not being run last year due to the global pandemic, the Highlander Stakes will be featured on the Queen’s Plate card.
Woodbine Entertainment also announced the purse for all Grade 3 Stakes races will increase 20 per cent to $150,000.
Woodbine will stage the $400,000 Breeders' Stakes — the final leg of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown — on Oct. 3. The second leg, the $400,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, goes Sept. 14 at Fort Erie Racetrack.
The $500,000 Woodbine Oaks — the opening event of the Triple Tiara — and $150,000 Plate Trial — a key prep event for the Queen's Plate — will both be run July 25 at Woodbine.
“Last year was obviously a challenging year for the industry due to COVID-19," Woodbine CEO Jim Lawson said in a statement. "While Woodbine Entertainment and the horse racing industry continue to be impacted, we are hopeful that the pandemic in Ontario improves in the coming months, allowing businesses and industries to safely re-open, including our ability to start our 2021 meet as planned."
The '21 stakes schedule is pending approval by the Graded Stakes Committee.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 29, 2021.
The Canadian Press