Woodbine’s 63rd year of Thoroughbred racing bursts from the gate on Saturday, April 21 with a talent-laden 10-race card. First race post time is 1 p.m.
Opening Day is highlighted by the six-furlong, $100,000 Jacques Cartier Stakes for older horses, featuring Pink Lloyd, who ran the table while undefeated in eight stakes starts in 2017. The 81-horse card, drawn on Wednesday, also includes Sovereign Award finalist Archaggelos, who competes in the co-featured $100,000 Wando Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile route for sophomores.
The highlight of the 133-day season is the 159th Queen’s Plate, North America’s oldest continuously-run stakes event and first jewel in Canada’s Triple Crown of Racing, set for Saturday, June 30. This year, fans will be treated to the three-day Queen’s Plate Festival featuring three-time GRAMMY® Award-winning country music superstar Brad Paisley as the concert headliner.
Paisley will kick off the three-day Festival on Friday, June 29. The $1 million Queen’s Plate will be featured on Saturday, June 30 as well as extensive attractions such as the beloved Hats & Horseshoes Party presented by Stella Artois and a post-race concert to close out the day with more artists to be announced. The Festival will continue on Sunday, July 1 with free Canada Day celebrations and fun for the whole family.
Woodbine will be offering a Queen’s Plate Festival ticket promotion over Opening Weekend, with 20 per cent off the price of all festival passes. Tickets can be purchased at the New Player Zone on the second-floor grandstand from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
There will be $2,000 in instant cash prizes up for grabs on Opening Day. When fans place a bet through any self-serve wagering terminal at Woodbine, they will have a chance to win instantly.
Fans will have the opportunity to meet Woodbine’s jockeys in an Opening Day meet and greet session before the first race from 12 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Gate 11 entrance.
Live music will be provided by Jerry Jerome and the Cardells from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the second floor of the grandstand. This Toronto-based steel pan band brings the warm, welcoming vibe of the Caribbean to Woodbine to kick off the 2018 season.
On the wagering front, Woodbine continues to offer the horseplayer 20-cent Triactor, Superfecta, Pick 3, Pick 4 and Pick 5 minimum bets. Rolling doubles, with a $1 minimum and low 15 per cent takeout, will be featured throughout the meet. There’s also a $100,000 guaranteed pool for the early Pick 4s each weekend. The 20-cent Jackpot Hi-5 (first five finishers in the day’s last race), inaugurated in 2013, will also continue to be attractive, especially as a carryover, until only a single ticket wins the entire pot.
First race post time for Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays throughout the meet will be 1 p.m. Friday racing, also with a 1 p.m. first race post (except for a 3 p.m. post time on Friday, June 29), begins on May 4. Popular Wednesday night racing, beginning at 6:45 p.m., is slated to start on May 16.
Woodbine also welcomes the return of the Derby Day Party, where fans can sport their finest race day fashion and cheer on Canadian-bred Flameaway in the Kentucky Derby, via simulcast, on May 5.
Canadian Thoroughbred racing will honour its brightest stars of last season at the Sovereign Awards dinner, Thursday evening at Palais Royale in west-end Toronto, as a prelude to Opening Day. The Sovereign Awards were established in 1975 to honour Canada’s best each year.
The Woodbine calendar includes the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, presented by Budweiser, for Canadian-foaled three-year-old fillies, and the $125,000 Plate Trial for Canadian-bred three-year-olds, both at 1-1/8 miles, set for Saturday, June 9.
Other major races at Woodbine include the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes, the third leg in the Canadian Triple Crown, on August 18 at 1-1/2 miles over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course; the $800,000 Grade I turf Ricoh Woodbine Mile and the Grade I Northern Dancer Turf on September 15; the Grade I Natalma and Summer Stakes on September 16; the $800,000 Pattison Canadian International and the $500,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes, also both Grade 1 turf events, on October 13.
Woodbine’s 2018 Thoroughbred season comes to a close on Sunday, Dec. 16.