Woodbine reducing purses in some stakes races during 133-day 2017 meet

Woodbine reducing some stakes purses in '17

TORONTO — Woodbine Entertainment Group has reduced the purses in a number of its stakes races this year, including the Woodbine Mile and Canadian International.

The purses of the two Grade 1 events has been cut from $1 million to $800,000, leaving the Queen’s Plate as the lone $1 million event.

The purse of the Breeders’ Stakes, the third and final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown was cut $100,000 to $400,000. The 1 1/2-mile turf race is scheduled to be run Aug. 20.

The moves were made to offset a purse account shortfall.

“We’re proceeding with an initiative to rebalance our overall Thoroughbred purse program, committing another $1 million to overnight purses, which will substantially benefit our local horse people,” Jamie Martin, Woodbine’s executive vice-president of racing, said in a statement. “This reorganization towards overnight purses and resulting stakes purses reflects WEG’s $68 million overall purse contribution in 2017.

“We continue to commit to working with our industry partners, who understand the challenges Woodbine faces in balancing the pressures of offering quality horse-racing product to our loyal fans and the significant expense attached to conducting our business.”

A date for the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, at Fort Erie Racetrack hasn’t been announced.

The Queen’s Plate will be run July 2 and highlight Woodbine’s 133-day meet, which begins April 15 and runs to Dec. 10. For the second straight year, the Woodbine Mile will go on a Saturday (Sept. 16) rather than a Sunday.

The Canadian International is scheduled for Oct. 15. A total of 98 stakes events will be on this year’s schedule.

The Woodbine Oaks’ purse remains at $500,000 and the race will run June 11. The Plate Trial Stakes is also on the same card but its purse was reduced from $150,000 to $125,000.

The Canadian Press