COVID lockdown forces Woodbine to postpone spring meet

COVID lockdown forces Woodbine to postpone spring meet
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

As a result of the provisional state of emergency declared Wednesday by the government of Ontario, including a province-wide, 28-day, stay-at-home order effective Thursday at 12:01 a.m. EDT, Woodbine Entertainment announced the 2021 Thoroughbred meet at Woodbine Racetrack has been postponed.

Woodbine Entertainment also confirmed it is continuing its efforts with government officials and local health authorities to be permitted to safely operate live racing during a lockdown situation, which would allow the Thoroughbred season to commence after the stay-at-home order is lifted Thursday, May 6. The season was scheduled to begin Saturday, April 17.

“This is very difficult news to share with our horse people, horse players and fans throughout North America and the world,” said Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment. “Since the beginning of the pandemic more than a year ago we have supported the government of Ontario every step of the way and will continue to do so.

“However, if we do not receive permission to safely operate live racing during a lockdown situation after the stay-at-home is lifted, our industry and business could be greatly impacted as trainers will not bring their horses to Woodbine Racetrack, and more horses will be shipped out to the United States, where there are plenty of racing opportunities. This situation has the potential to have a devastating and long-lasting impact on the Thoroughbred industry in Ontario.”

During the stay-at-home order, Woodbine will continue to operate the backstretch at Woodbine Racetrack as an essential service for the stabling, training and care of horses. Active training, including timed workouts, will continue, but starting-gate and receiving-barn training operations will be temporarily suspended for 10 days.

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