Horse racing is a major sport in North America, especially Canada. The Great White North has a rich history in horse racing, known for race tracks such as Woodbine in Etobicoke, Ontario.
It seems that the popularity of horse racing in the USA crossed the Canadian border in the early eighteenth century. The first official horse race in Canada took place in 1767. It was won by a mare called Modesty, which befits the modest nature of horse racing in Canada at the time. Over the years, the sport grew bigger and bigger, eventually reaching the status it holds today.
Besides horse racing, horse race betting is very popular in Canada. You can try horse racing on Sportsbet.io if you’re looking for a great coverage of all races and the best odds, including Woodbine Race Track. Of course, other races will be covered, too, from the UK and Ireland’s major racetracks to the US derbies.
Canadian Horse Race Types
There are two types of horse racing in Canada. Flat racing, where Thoroughbreds race around a dirt or synthetic surface or turf (grass) course, is the most popular with bettors. The second type is called harness racing, where Standardbreds pulling carts called ‘sulkies’ with a driver race around a track. While somewhat less popular among bettors, harness racing still generates a lot of betting interest.
Major Canadian Race Tracks
Canada has a number of important Thoroughbred races throughout the season at tracks in BC, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario.
Woodbine Race Track, located west of Toronto, is owned by Woodbine Entertainment. The track was opened in 1956 and has been remodeled a few times since 1993. From 1995 to 2019, it was the only race track to hold both thoroughbred and standardbred racing, and on the same day. It remains the only race track outside of the United States to host the annual Breeders’ Cup World Championship in 1996 ‒ an extremely high honour. Woodbine features three racecourses ‒ the Tapeta track, the E.P. Taylor Turf course and the Inner Turf course ‒ and hosts Canada’s top horse races. Major stakes run at Woodbine every year include:
- The Queen’s Plate
- Woodbine Oaks
- Northern Dancer Turf Stakes
- Breeders’ Stakes
- Woodbine Mile
- Canadian International
- E.P. Taylor Stakes
The Queen’s Plate is a particularly important Woodbine race since it’s the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown. It’s the major trifecta of races open to three-year-old horses foaled in the country and the most important betting event, too.
The Fort Erie is another important Canadian race track. It hosts the annual Prince of Wales Stakes ‒ the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown ‒ and is one of the most attractive race tracks in the world, not just in Northern America. It’s one of the earliest in Canada as well, having been built in 1897.
When it comes to standardbred harness racing tracks, the most important in Canada include Woodbine Mohawk Park, Flamboro Downs, and Western Fair Raceway. As mentioned, this is a very specific type of horse racing, but a fun one nonetheless. Smaller flat and harness racing tracks are spread across the country and are an important stepping stone to greatness in the major races.
If you’re a horse racing fan from Canada, you have a bunch of options to enjoy. The schedule has races all throughout the year with massive prize pools for the horses involved. Canucks bet over $1.2 billion annually on horse racing, making it an important market from a bettor’s perspective. With so many options to pick from at Woodbine, it’s easy to make a pick and possibly win loads of cash.