TORONTO — The $1-million Queen’s Plate will remain North America’s longest, continuously run stakes race.
According to a source, Woodbine Entertainment will stage the opening leg of Canada’s Triple Crown on Sept. 12 at Woodbine Racetrack.
The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because Woodbine Entertainment has yet to formally announce a date for the race. But the source added that an announcement on the Plate, which began in 1860, is expected to be made later Monday.
Woodbine Entertainment is also expected to divulge its revised stakes schedule sometime next week.
The 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate, which is run on Woodbine’s Tapeta course, is for three-year-olds foaled in Canada. It was originally scheduled to be run June 27 at Woodbine Racetrack but the race was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Woodbine Entertainment was forced to postpone the April 18 start of its ’20 thoroughbred card because of the outbreak. Last week, Woodbine CEO Jim Lawson divulged plans to begin live thoroughbred racing June 6 at the Toronto oval without fans.
On Thursday, the Ontario government included horse racing — again, minus spectators — in the first phase of its reopening of the province’s economy. As a result, horse racing was given the green light to begin as early as Tuesday.
That paved the way for Woodbine to adhere to its plan of starting thoroughbred racing June 6.
While thoroughbred racing at Woodbine will be held without fans, the hope is by September restrictions will have been eased to the point where spectators could be allowed to attend the Plate.
And that’s important to Woodbine Entertainment because the Plate is much more than just a horse race. Woodbine stages a festival around the event that includes outdoor concerts and a variety of social functions.
The Queen’s Plate will be held after the start of the American Triple Crown. The Kentucky Derby, which is traditionally run on the first Saturday in May, will now go Sept. 5.
With the 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate starting later than normal, so too will be the two remaining legs of Canada’s Triple Crown.
The $400,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, a 1 3/16-mile dirt race, is expected to be held Sept. 29 at Fort Erie Racetrack. The $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes, a 1 1/2-mile turf race, will go Oct. 24.
As well, the $125,000 Plate Trial and $500,000 Woodbine Oaks — two key prep races for the Queen’s Plate — will both be held Aug. 15 at Woodbine.
For the first time ever, the Plate and $1-million Woodbine Mile will run on consecutive weekends. The Mile, a Grade 1 turf race, is scheduled to go Sept. 19, also at Woodbine Racetrack.
© 2020 The Canadian Press