TORONTO — Live horse-racing in Ontario will resume June 14.
Woodbine Entertainment announced Thursday it has received confirmation to resume live horse racing without spectators next month.
Woodbine's announcement coincided with the Ontario government's unveiling of its three-step plan to gradually ease restrictions across the province during the course of the summer.
That will be based on vaccination rates and key public health and health-care indicators.
Golf, tennis, basketball and other outdoor sports are set to reopen across Ontario on Saturday.
The 2021 standardbred season will restart June 14 at Woodbine Mohawk Park and continue its usual schedule of racing on five days weekly (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday).
The '21 thoroughbred campaign will open June 18 at Woodbine racetrack and continue through June 20 for the opening weekend.
Then racing will be held four days per week (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday).
Woodbine Entertainment also said it's prepared to accelerate the resumption of live racing sooner if the Ontario government enters the first step of its reopening plan earlier than expected.
"On behalf of the horse racing industry and the thousands of families who depend on it, I would like to thank the premier’s office and local health authorities for providing this much needed clarity,” Woodbine CEO Jim Lawson said in a statement. “While the timing is not ideal, we can now prepare for the resumption of live racing with certainty.
"I would also like to acknowledge Ontario horse people for their patience and resiliency during the past several months."
Woodbine Entertainment also confirmed it has received permission from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to host qualifier races at Woodbine Mohawk Park starting May 27.
However, it's unclear what impact the postponement of racing will have on Woodbine's stakes schedules. The $1-million Queen's Plate, for example, had been scheduled to be held Aug. 22, three weeks after the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks and $150,000 Plate Trial, two key prep events.
Woodbine Entertainment said updated stakes schedules will be released shortly.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2021.
The Canadian Press