There is nothing quite like Opening Day. Anticipation and excitement abound for another great season of racing, and at Woodbine, there is every reason in the world for optimism as Woodbine Racetrack kicks off their 2017 season with a ten-race card on Saturday beginning with the standard 1:00 EDT post time. Proving you need not be in the United States to be among the highest quality racetracks in North America, and featuring quite possibly the finest turf course on the continent, the Suburban Toronto oval is Canada's premier race place for thoroughbred racing.
Stacked Deck, the Sovereign Award winner as Champion Sprinter in 2015, and Pink Lloyd headline the opening day feature, the $100,000 Jacques Cartier Stakes for older horses running three-quarters of a mile over the All-Weather Tapeta racing surface. Of course, the highlight of the 133-day season, as it is every year, will be the historic Queen's Plate.
North America's oldest continuously-run stakes event will celebrate its 158th edition on Sunday, July 2. Most famously won by the legendary Northern Dancer back in 1964, the first jewel in Canada's Triple Crown was won last year by Sir Dudley Digges from the powerful combination of Mike Maker and Ken & Sarah Ramsey. Part of the Canada Day holiday weekend, visit Woodbine on Queen's Plate weekend for a fan and family friendly festival-like atmosphere.
Other highlights over the Tapeta surface include the big Sunday June 11 card featuring the half-million dollar Woodbine Oaks, for the fillies, and the Plate Trial, for the boys, with both races feeding many of the top performers into the nation's most prestigious race, the Queen's Plate.
Horseplayers also have plenty to enjoy at Woodbine. Quality and sizable fields are combined with a progressive wagering menu. 20-cent Superfectas are offered on each race. You can also play a 20-cent Trifecta, Pick 3, Pick 4, and Pick 5 at Woodbine, as well as the 20-cent Jackpot Hi-5. Plus a $100,000 guaranteed pool for the early Pick 4’s on Saturday and Sunday, and a $50,000 guarantee on Friday, insure attractive wagering pools.
Other things to keep an eye on during the meet include the first ever Derby Day Party, where fans can dress up, talk Derby, and cheer on local hero, and my personal early Queen's Plate pick, State of Honor, in the 2017 Kentucky Derby, via simulcast, on May 6.
There will be Friday twilight cards during the summer, and don't forget about the special Wednesday evening post times at 6:45 PM, beginning on May 17, and on that first night, there will be a special $100,000 guaranteed early Pick 4 -- Not bad for a Wednesday!
Getting back to the racing, it is the beautiful and expansive E.P. Taylor turf course that sets Woodbine apart from most any North American track.
Highlights on the Woodbine turf in 2017 will include; the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes, on August 20, and the $800,000 Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile and the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf on September 16, won by American stars Tepin and The Pizza Man respectively last year, plus the Grade I Natalma Stakes on September 17.
Closer to the Breeders' Cup, the $800,000 Pattison Canadian International and the Grade 1, $500,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes, will make for a huge afternoon of turf racing on October 15.
Historic racing, great turf, great betting, and a great atmosphere -- you can see while I like Woodbine so much. Enjoy one of my favorite racetracks all season long, as the extended thoroughbred meet at Woodbine runs all the way through Sunday, December 10.