Woodbine Racetrack logo
|Location||555 Rexdale Boulevard|
|Owned by||Woodbine Entertainment Group|
|Date opened||June 12, 1956|
|Course type||Flat thoroughbred/harness|
|Notable races||Canadian International Stakes (Grade I)|
Woodbine Mile (Grade I)
E.P. Taylor Stakes (Grade I)
Nearctic Stakes (Grade I)
Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (Grade I)
Woodbine Racetrack is a racetrack for thoroughbred horse racing in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Owned by Woodbine Entertainment Group, Woodbine Racetrack manages and hosts Canada's most famous race, The Queen's Plate. The track was opened in 1956. It has been extensively remodeled since 1993, and since 1994 has had three racecourses.
- 1 History
- 2 Physical attributes
- 3 Casino
- 4 Horse racing
- 4.1 Standardbred races
- 4.2 Thoroughbred races
- 5 References
- 6 External links
The current Woodbine carries the name originally used by a racetrack which operated in east Toronto, at Queen Street East and Kingston Road, from 1874 through 1993. (While the Old Woodbine Race Course was at the south end of Woodbine Avenue, the current Woodbine is nowhere near it.) In 1951, it was operated by the Ontario Jockey Club (OJC) and held the prestigious King's Plate, but competed with several other racetracks in Ontario and was in need of modernization.
During the 1950s, the OJC, under the leadership of Canadian industrialist and horse breeder E. P. Taylor began a program of racetrack acquisitions aimed at becoming the biggest and most profitable operator in Ontario horse racing, similar to Taylor's earlier acquisitions and consolidations in the Canadian brewing industry. In 1952, the OJC purchased and closed the money-losing Thorncliffe Park, purchased and closed the Hamilton Racetrack, and purchased the Fort Erie Racetrack for CA$780,000. Renovations began immediately at Fort Erie and at Woodbine, financed by a public offering of stock for CA$2 million. In 1953, the OJC bought Stamford Park in Belleville. It was closed and redeveloped. In 1955, Taylor himself purchased the competing Orpen-owned Dufferin Park Racetrack and Long Branch Racetracks for CA$4 million ($37.8 million in 2018 dollars). The Orpen tracks were closed and redeveloped and the Orpen race charters transferred to the OJC. The OJC continued the Canadian International and Cup and Saucer stakes races that had been held at the Orpen tracks. The racing charters acquired from the other tracks enabled the OJC to run 196 days of racing, more than double its allowed total of 84 days in 1952.
All of the efforts at racetrack acquisitions and closures were designed to support a new "supertrack". In 1952, the OJC identified the new location of the racetrack at Highway 27 east of the Toronto airport and bought over 400 acres (160 ha). The architect chosen was Earle C. Morgan. Although Morgan had not designed a racetrack, he spent the next two years developing the design in conjunction with Arthur Froelich who had designed Hollywood Park Racetrack and Garden State Park Racetrack in the United States. The new track was designed to hold 40,000 spectators, have ample parking, three race courses and two training tracks. It had stable space for 1,000 horses and rooms for 700 employees. The grandstand, designed to get as many people as close to the finish line as possible, included several restaurants and cafeterias. Construction on the new supertrack began in 1955.
The new racetrack opened on June 12, 1956, built at a cost of CA$13 million ($121 million in 2018 dollars). It was initially known as the New Woodbine Racetrack. It dropped the "New" in 1963. The old track was converted to a combined thoroughbred and standardbred track known thereafter as Old Woodbine or, for most of the rest of its history, as Greenwood Raceway (during standardbred meets) and Greenwood Race Track (during thoroughbred meets). The two thoroughbred and two standardbred meets conducted at Greenwood were transferred to the new Woodbine in 1994, which was until then exclusively devoted to thoroughbred racing. On July 4, 2010 Queen Elizabeth II visited the Racetrack as part of her state visit to Canada, viewing the 151st running of The Queen's Plate Stakes, as well as taking part in the presentation of trophies.
The Woodbine facility is also home to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
In 2018, the track began using a GPS-based timing system.
The outermost E. P. Taylor turf course for thoroughbreds, completed in 1994, is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) long with a chute allowing races of 1.125 miles (1.811 km) to be run around one turn. It is irregularly shaped, the clubhouse turn departing from the traditional North American oval, and the backstretch is from 2.5 feet (76 cm) to 3 feet (91 cm) higher than the homestretch. The Taylor turf course and the main dirt course at Belmont Park on New York's Long Island are the only mile-and-a-half layouts in North American thoroughbred racing. In 2016, Woodbine will contest up to 40 turf races running clockwise (right-hand turns) in what are being billed as "EuroTurf" races.
Inside the Taylor course is the 1 mile (1.6 km) synthetic course for Thoroughbreds. As of 2016, the surface is Tapeta; it was Polytrack between 2006 and 2015, and a natural dirt surface prior to that. Two chutes facilitate races at seven furlongs [.875 miles (1.408 km)] and at 1.25 miles (2.01 km).
The innermost oval was originally a 7/8-mile [.875 miles (1.408 km)] grass oval until the E. P. Taylor turf course opened in 1994. It was then converted to a crushed limestone dirt course and was used for harness racing until April 2018. It was then converted back to a second turf course for the 2019 thoroughbred racing season. The first race on the new Inner Turf was run on June 28, 2019 and was won by Bold Rally with Eurico Rosa da Silva aboard.
Portions of the current E. P. Taylor turf course (the backstretch and far turn) originally formed part of a long turf chute that crossed over the dirt course to the inner turf oval at the top of the stretch. This was used for several major races, including Secretariat's final race in the 1973 Canadian International, until the entire E. P. Taylor course was completed in 1994.
Woodbine has been a regular host for the Breeders Crown. Since the event changed to a one-night format in 2010, the facility has hosted three times—2011, 2012, and 2015.
Woodbine was also the host of the CA$1,500,000 North America Cup for three-year old pacing colts and geldings from 1994–2006. That race along with the Elegant Image Stakes for three-year old filly trotters and the Good Times Stakes for three-year old colt and gelding trotters, have been moved to Woodbine's sister track, Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Starting in 2018, all standardbred racing has been moved to Woodbine Mohawk, as the 7/8 standardbred track is being converted into a 2nd turf course.
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The record for most wins by a jockey on a single raceday at Woodbine is seven, set by Richard Grubb on May 16, 1967, and twice equaled by the legendary Canadian jockey Sandy Hawley, first on May 22, 1972 and then again on October 10, 1974.
Major Stakes races for Thoroughbreds run annually at Woodbine include the:
- Queen's Plate, a stakes for three-year-old Canadian-bred thoroughbreds, first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown. Because the race is restricted to Canadian-bred horses, it is not eligible for grading, despite being one of Canada's most prestigious races
- Northern Dancer Turf Stakes, a turf mile-and-one-half Grade 1 stakes run in early fall as the final prep for the Canadian International or Breeders' Cup Turf
- Breeders' Stakes, a stakes for three-year-old Canadian-bred thoroughbreds, third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown
- Woodbine Mile, a grade I thoroughbred turf stakes
- Canadian International, a grade 1 thoroughbred turf stakes
- E. P. Taylor Stakes, a grade 1 Thoroughbred turf race for fillies and mares
Stakes races restricted to horses foaled in Canada
Stakes races restricted to horses foaled in Ontario
Ontario Sire Stakes
- Ballade Stakes
- Bold Ruckus Stakes
- Bull Page Stakes
- Bunty Lawless Stakes
- Classy 'N Smart Stakes
- Deputy Minister Stakes
- Frost King Stakes
- Kingarvie Stakes
- Lady Angela Stakes
- La Prevoyante Stakes
- Nandi Stakes
- New Providence Stakes
- Overskate Stakes
- Shepperton Stakes
- Sir Barton Stakes
- Steady Growth Stakes
- Vice Regent Stakes
- Victoriana Stakes
CTHS Yearling Sales Stakes
- Bold Venture Stakes
- Dominion Day Stakes
- Durham Cup Stakes
- Eclipse Stakes
- Hendrie Stakes
- Kennedy Road Stakes
- Marine Stakes
- Mazarine Stakes
- Natalma Stakes
- Ontario Derby
- Ontario Fashion Stakes
- Royal North Stakes
- Seagram Cup Stakes
- Seaway Stakes
- Selene Stakes
- Singspiel Stakes
- Summer Stakes
- Valedictory Stakes
- Vigil Stakes
- Whimsical Stakes
- Bessarabian Stakes
- Colin Stakes
- Display Stakes
- Duchess Stakes
- Glorious Song Stakes
- Jacques Cartier Stakes
- La Lorgnette Stakes
- Maple Leaf Stakes
- My Dear Stakes
- Ontario Colleen Stakes
- Ontario Debutante Stakes
- Ontario Jockey Club Stakes
- Ontario Matron Stakes
- Star Shoot Stakes
- Swynford Stakes
- Toronto Cup Stakes
- Victoria Park Stakes
- Victoria Stakes
- Wando Stakes
- Woodstock Stakes
- Zadracarta Stakes
- Rohmer, Richard (1978). E. P. Taylor : the biography of Edward Plunket Taylor. McClelland & Stewart. ISBN 0-7710-7709-2.
- Rohmer 1978, p. 250.
- Rohmer 1978, p. 248.
- Canadian inflation numbers based on Statistics Canada tables 18-10-0005-01 (formerly CANSIM 326-0021) "Consumer Price Index, annual average, not seasonally adjusted". Statistics Canada. January 18, 2019. Retrieved March 6, 2019. and 18-10-0004-13 "Consumer Price Index by product group, monthly, percentage change, not seasonally adjusted, Canada, provinces, Whitehorse, Yellowknife and Iqaluit". Statistics Canada. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
- "E. P. Taylor Bids For Orpen Tracks". The Globe and Mail. October 8, 1955. p. 20.
- "OJC to Continue Cup and Saucer, Other Fixtures". The Globe and Mail. October 22, 1955. p. 23.
- Rohmer 1978, p. 249.
- Rohmer 1978, p. 251.
- "Liquor Drought Faced By New Woodbine Track As Licenses Neglected". The Globe and Mail. June 12, 1956. p. 1.
- Hegarty, Matt (October 11, 2018). "Woodbine, Laurel, Pimlico officially adopt GPS timing system". DRF. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
- "EuroTurf Series launches in Woodbine's Friday opener" (Press release). Toronto, ON: Woodbine Entertainment. 2016-06-07. Retrieved 2016-06-07.
- "Training begins on Woodbine's new Tapeta surface" (Press release). Toronto, ON: Woodbine Entertainment. 2016-03-18. Retrieved 2016-03-19.
- "Woodbine Celebrates Milestone for New Turf Course" (Press release). Toronto, ON: Woodbine Entertainment Group. 13 June 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
- Ferguson, Paul (28 June 2019). "Queen's Plate favourite Avie's Flatter not worried about starting from the outside post". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
Da Silva also made history on Friday, becoming the first rider to win on the new inner turf course. He rode Bold Rally to a narrow victory over Badjeros Boy in the $37,500 claiming race.
- "Join Our Team". One Toronto Gaming. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
- "Table Games". One Toronto Gaming. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
- "Woodbine's new Turf Course on Track". Woodbine Entertainment Group. May 28, 2018. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
- Official website
- Casino Woodbine
- Woodbine Racetrack at the NTRA
- Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections, York University – Archival photographs of Woodbine Racetrack from the Toronto Telegram fonds.