Woodbine Entertainment unveiled its revised stakes schedule for the 2020 Thoroughbred racing season which is now scheduled to open on Saturday, June 6 and will run through Sunday, December 13 at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario.
The 2020 stakes program includes $13.8 million in purses across 75 stakes and features The Queen’s Plate (Saturday, September 12) and the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Saturday, September 19) scheduled on back-to-back weekends for the first time in Woodbine’s storied history.
“It’s been an unprecedented year which has led to a unique stakes schedule that we are very excited about,” said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. “The summer stakes schedule will build the anticipation for a very busy and exciting fall at Woodbine Racetrack highlighted by the running of our two biggest stakes races on back-to-back Saturdays.”
Here are some key highlights of this year’s stakes schedule:
• The Canadian Triple Crown will get underway with the 161st running of The Queen’s Plate on Saturday, September 12, followed by the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie racetrack on Tuesday, September 29, and concluding on the turf at Woodbine Racetrack with the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes on Saturday, October 24.
• Designated as 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 Grade 1 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 Saturday, September 19 with purses increased to $135,000 each.
• Sunday, October 18 will feature the $600,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes (Grade 1), the $300,000 Northern Dancer (Grade 1) presented by Pattison and the $250,000 Nearctic Stakes (Grade 2).
• Woodbine’s Ladies of the Lawn Series, which provides the winner with a $75,000 bonus, returns in 2020 with the first leg on Saturday, June 27 with the $175,000 Nassau Stakes (Grade 2), followed by the $175,000 Dance Smartly Stakes (Grade 2) on Saturday, August 15, the $250,000 Canadian Stakes (Grade 2) on Saturday, September 12, before culminating with the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes. 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, August 15 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 Saturday, August 1 and is one of three Ontario-Bred stakes on the calendar with purses increased from $125,000 to $150,000.
• The other classics for horses foaled in Canada with purse increases, from $225,000 to $250,000, are the Bison City (Saturday, September 12), Cup & Saucer (Saturday, Oct. 10), Wonder Where (Saturday, October 25), Princess Elizabeth (Saturday, Oct. 31) and Coronation Futurity (Sunday, Nov. 1).
• This year’s Yearling Sales Stakes set for Sunday. August 30 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.
Due to complications with international travel, at this time the Pattison Canadian International (Grade 1) has been cancelled for the 2020 season. For this season, Pattison Outdoor will be the presenting sponsor of the Northern Dancer.