Horse racing has been present in Canada for a couple of centuries now. Unlike other sporting events that have gone through many changes and adaptations, horse racing has always been the same. The only difference is that horse racing has become a top entertainment for the upper class nowadays.
In Canada, horses were primarily bred for transport and work purposes. However, some horse racing events of smaller proportions were held from time to time. Officially, the first big horse racing event was organized on July 17, 1767, in Quebec City.
The horse who won the race was a mare named Modesty. The prize money of the race held on the Plains of Abraham was $40. In 2017, the Canadian horse racing industry celebrated the 250th anniversary of the first horse racing event.
In the late 18th century, horse racing events started happening in Ontario, but the participants belonged to the military in most cases. However, in 1837, things took a turn with the creation of the Upper Canada Turf Club. A series of horse races were held on a Garrison Common Course in Fort York. As time passed, the Turf Club continued to grow, and various courses were formed all over Canada.
While the horse racing industry continued to grow, there wasn’t enough high-quality breeding stock. It all changed in 1860 when the Queen’s Plate was established. The sizable prize motivated breeders from all over the world to travel to Canada. Thankfully, that improved the quality of horses participating in Canadian races.
Even today, the Queen’s Plate remains the oldest annual run race in North America.
Most Popular Horse Racing Events in Canada
As far as the Canadian horse racing calendar is concerned, the biggest event is the Triple Crown. Similar to the American Triple Crown, the Canadian one also features three events held annually where three-year-old horses participate in races.
The first leg of the Triple Crown is the Queen’s Plate, a race that’s long 1 ¼ mile. The second leg is the Prince of Wales Stakes, a thoroughbred race with a distance of 1 3/16 mile, and the final jewel of the Crown is the Breeders’ Stakes, a flat racing event 1 ½ mile long.
Unlike the American Triple Crown, the races in Canada are all held on different surfaces. The first one, the Queen’s Plate is run on Polytrack, the Prince of Wales Stakes takes place on dirt, and the Breeders’ Stakes is run on turf.
Woodbine International, also known as the Canadian International Stakes, is another race held annually in October. It’s a Thoroughbred Grade 1 race held on turf for three-year-olds and up. These are the leading horse racing events in Canada that keep the struggling horse racing industry afloat.
When Canadian horse racing events are concerned, two main racetracks host all big events. The first and the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown are held at the Woodbine Racetrack, while the middle one is organized at the Fort Erie Race Track.
The Woodbine Racetrack was opened in 1956, and it hosts flat thoroughbred and harness horse races. Apart from the Queen’s Plate, the Breeders’ Stakes, and the Canadian Internationals, other notable races are held at the Woodbine Racetracks — Woodbine Mile, Northern Dancer Turf Stakes, E.P. Taylor Stakes, Nearctic Stakes.
Fort Erie Race Tracks is also known as the border oval due to its proximity to the US border. Apart from the Prince of Wales Stakes, the second jewel of the Triple Crown, there aren’t that many other races run on this track. Most of them were moved to the Woodbine racetrack.
Betting on Horse Racing in Canada
With the rise of online gambling sites, betting on horse racing events has become a popular activity. Numerous platforms offer various betting opportunities on horse races, not only in Canada but also in countries worldwide.
If you take any interest in thoroughbred or any other type of race, you will see that sites such as Sportsbet horse racing have a good selection of events you can bet on. Feel free to browse through the wide range of horse racing events covered by this and other betting sites that cover important horse racing events in Europe, Australia, Asia, and North America.