02/22/2006 1:00AM

Northern Dancer gets stakes recognition


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - A stakes race has been named in honor of Canadian idol Northern Dancer, and Bell Canada is taking over as sponsor for the erstwhile Atto Mile. Those are the most noteworthy changes to Woodbine's 2006 stakes schedule released by the Woodbine Entertainment Group on Wednesday. A total of 101 stakes worth almost $21.85 million will be run at the 168-day meeting, which runs from April 1 through Dec. 3.

Woodbine's stakes program also will be undergoing a general overhaul, with handicaps being eliminated, entry-day supplementary nominations available for the vast majority of stakes, and all stakes purses being guaranteed rather than added-money offerings.

The recognition of Northern Dancer, the 1964 Kentucky Derby winner, on the local stakes front will come in the form of the Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup Turf, a 1 1/2-mile turf race that will be run July 23 with Grade 2 status and a $700,000 purse that included $100,000 from the Breeders' Cup Fund.

"He is the key horse in Canadian racing history," said Chris Evans, Woodbine's vice-president, Thoroughbred racing. "We never wanted to use his name on a minor stake - it had to be major."

The Northern Dancer essentially replaces the $300,000 Niagara Handicap, inheriting that race's distance and Breeders' Cup stipend.

The Nijinksy, another newly named stakes over 1 1/2 miles on turf, takes over the Niagara's late-summer slot and offers a purse of $300,000 and Grade 2 status.

Meanwhile, Woodbine's Grade 1, $1 million turf mile feature for 3-year-olds and upward that had been run for the past seven years as the Atto Mile now will be known as the Bell Woodbine Mile.

Bell Canada, a Canadian telecommunications giant with extensive media holdings, has inked a marketing sponsorship program with Woodbine Entertainment.

"The Mile is one of our top priorities, and we are thrilled to have Bell aboard," said Glenn Crouter, Woodbine's vice president of media and community relations and sponsorship.

The Sept. 17 Bell Woodbine Mile will be one four seven-figure races at the meeting.

The $2 million Pattison Canadian International, a 1 1/2-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward, and the $1 million E.P. Taylor Stakes, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for fillies and mares, share top billing on the Oct. 22 card.

The $1 million Queen's Plate, the 1 1/4-mile race that is the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, will be run June 25.

Handicaps a thing of the past

While 22 of Woodbine's stakes were run as handicaps last year, their transformation into allowance stakes is unlikely to be mourned by many.

"I think the day and age of handicaps is history," said Evans, noting that competition between tracks for stakes horses has led to generous weight assignments and that weight concessions have lost much of their impact, with the riders of lightly weighted horses generally posting overweight.

Eliminating handicaps also facilitates the introduction of supplementary nomination fees for all except early-closing stakes. Weights for handicaps had been issued a week before the race, and having to weight a supplementary entrant on entry day would present logistical problems.

Evans also said Woodbine will be standardizing almost all of its stakes fees, with nomination fees set at one-tenth of a percent, entry fees at 1 percent, and supplementary fees at 2 percent.

The exception will be the early-closing stakes, consisting of the Canadian Triple Crown and the Labatt Woodbine Oaks for 3-year-olds and the Cup and Saucer, Coronation, and Princess Elizabeth for 2-year-olds. The final supplementary nomination stages for those early-closing stakes, which require a series of sustaining payments, fall well before entry days.

But those early-closing stakes also are on their last legs, with the 2-year-old events of 2007 bringing an end to that era. Beginning next year, there will be no stakes nominations closing in any prior calendar year.

Base purses remain intact

While the elimination of added money will have an impact on the purses, there are no actual cuts to the base purses of any stakes.

One existing stakes will benefit from a $50,000 boost, as the Ontario Derby, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds, will be worth $200,000.

Changes in conditions involve the Hill 'n' Dale, which previously had been restricted to 3-year-old fillies but now is for fillies and mares, and the Halton, a yearling sales turf stakes that has been shortened from 1 1/8 miles to one mile.

There also are another two sponsorship changes. The Chinese Cultural Centre, formerly sponsor of a 1 3/8-mile turf race run at about the time of the new Northern Dancer, will now lend its name to the 1 1/16-mile Seagram Cup, and the Barbados Department of Tourism will now be allied with the 1 1/16-mile Steady Growth.

2006 stakes schedule

Sat.,April 15JACQUES CARTIER4YO & Up6 furlongs$125,000
Sun.,April 16WHIMSICAL (G3) F&M, 4YO & Up6 furlongs125,000
Sat.,April 22 WOODSTOCK3YO6 furlongs125,000
Sun.,April 23STAR SHOOT3YO F6 furlongs125,000
Sat.,April 29VIGIL (G3)4YO & Up7 furlongs150,000
Sat.,May 6QUEENSTON3YO**7 furlongs150,000
Sun.,May 7FURY3YO F**7 furlongs 150,000
Sat.,May 13NEW PROVIDENCE3YO & Up 6 furlongs 125,000
Sun.,May 14GEORGE C. HENDRIE (G3) F&M, 4YO & Up 6.5 furlongs 150,000
Sat.,May 20MARINE (G3)3YO1 1/16 miles150,000
Sun.,May 21SELENE (G3)3YO F1 1/16 miles250,000
Mon.,May 22ECLIPSE (G3)4YO & Up1 1/16 miles 150,000
Sat.,May 27 LADY ANGELA3YO F 7 furlongs125,000
Sun.,May 28CONNAUGHT CUP (G3)4YO & Up1 1/16 miles (T)150,000
Sat.,June 3NASSAU (G2) F&M, 3YO & Up 1 1/16 miles (T)300,000
Sun.,June 4 PLATE TRIAL3YO*1 1/8 miles150,000
Wed.,June 7BALLADEF&M, 3YO & Up 6 furlongs125,000
Sat.,June 10STEADY GROWTH3YO & Up 1 1/16 miles125,000
Sun.,June 11LABATT WOODBINE OAKS3YO F*1 1/8 miles500,000
Sun.,June 11VICTORIA PARK3YO1 1/8 miles125,000
Wed.,June 14BOLD RUCKUS3YO 6 furlongs (T)125,000
Sat.,June 17 HILL 'N' DALE F&M, 3YO & Up 1 1/16 miles 100,000
Sun.,June 18VICTORIA2YO5 furlongs125,000
Sun.,June 25QUEEN'S PLATE3YO* 1 1/4 miles1,000,000
Sun.,June 25 SCOTTS HIGHLANDER (G3) 3YO & Up6 furlongs (T)200,000
Sat.,July 1 DOMINION DAY (G3) 3YO & Up1 1/4 miles200,000
Sat.,July 1 ACHIEVEMENT 3YO**6 furlongs150,000
Sun.,July 2 MY DEAR2YO F5 Furlongs125,000
Mon.,July 3 KING EDWARD BC (G2) 3YO & Up 1 1/8 miles (T)300,000
Sat., July 8CLARENDON2YO** 5 1/2 furlongs150,000
Sun.,July 9 ONTARIO DAMSEL 3YO F** 6 1/2 furlongs (T)150,000
Sat.,July 15 DANCE SMARTLY (G2) F&M, 3YO & Up 1 1/8 miles (T)300,000
Sat.,July 15TORONTO CUP 3YO1 1/8 miles (T)150,000
Sun.,July 16 SHADY WELL2YO F**5 1/2 furlongs150,000
Wed.,July 19DEPUTY MINISTER 3YO 7 furlongs 125,000
Sat.,July 22BOLD VENTURE 3YO & Up6 1/2 furlongs125,000
Sat.,July 22 COLIN2YO6 furlongs125,000
Sun.,July 23 NORTHERN DANCER BC TURF (G2) 3YO & Up 1 1/2 miles (T)700,000
Sat.,July 23 ONTARIO MATRONF&M, 3YO & Up 1 1/16 miles125,000
Wed.,July 26PASSING MOOD3YO F 7 furlongs (T)125,000
Sat.,July 29 WONDER WHERE 3YO F* 1 1/4 miles (T)250,000
Sat.,July 30 CHINESE CULTURAL CENTRE (G3)3YO & Up 1 1/16 miles150,000
Sat.,Aug. 5NANDI2YO F 6 furlongs125,000
Sun.,Aug. 6BREEDERS' 3YO*1 1/2 miles (T)500,000
Sun.,Aug. 6SHEPPERTON3YO & Up 6 1/2 furlongs125,000
Mon.,Aug. 7 ROYAL NORTH (G3) F&M, 3YO & Up 6 furlongs (T)150,000
Sat.,Aug. 12DUCHESS 3YO F7 furlongs150,000
Sun.,Aug. 13VANDAL2YO**6 furlongs150,000
Sat.,Aug. 19ONTARIO DEBUTANTE2YO F6 furlongs125,000
Sun.,Aug. 20 VICTORIANAF&M, 3YO & Up 1 1/16 miles (T)125,000
Sat.,Aug. 26PLAY THE KING (G2) 3YO & Up 7 furlongs (T)200,000
Sun.,Aug. 27 NIJINSKY (G2) 3YO & Up1 1/2 miles (T)300,000
Wed.,Aug. 30 ETERNAL SEARCH3YO F 1 1/16 miles125,000
Sat.,Sept. 2 ONTARIO COLLEEN3YO F1 mile (T)125,000
Sun.,Sept. 3 VICE REGENT3YO 1 mile (T)125,000
Mon.,Sept. 4MUSKOKA2YO F*7 furlongs125,000
Mon.,Sept. 4SIMCOEC&G,2YO*7 furlongs125,000
Mon.,Sept. 4ALGOMAF&M, 3YO & Up* 1 1/16 miles125,000
Mon.,Sept. 4 ELGINC&G, 3YO & Up*1 1/16 miles125,000
Mon.,Sept. 4 KENORA3YO & Up*6 furlongs125,000
Mon.,Sept. 4 HALTON3YO & Up*1 mile (T)125,000
Sat.,Sept. 9 SEAWAY (G3) F&M, 3YO & Up7 furlongs150,000
Sun.,Sept. 10 NATALMA (G3)2YO F1 mile (T)150,000
Sat.,Sept. 16LA PREVOYANTE3YO F 1 mile (T)125,000
Sat.,Sept. 16 SWYNFORD 2YO 7 furlongs125,000
Sun.,Sept. 17 BELL WOODBINE MILE (G1) 3YO & Up1 mile (T)1,000,000
Sun.,Sept. 17 CANADIAN (G2) F&M, 3YO & Up 1 1/8 miles (T)300,000
Sun.,Sept. 17 SUMMER (G3)2YO1 mile (T)250,000
Wed.,Sept. 20OVERSKATE3YO & Up 7 furlongs125,000
Sat.,Sept. 23 LA LORGNETTE 3YO F1 1/16 miles125,000
Sun.,Sept. 24SKY CLASSIC (G2) 3YO & Up1 3/8 miles (T)300,000
Sat.,Sept. 30 MAZARINE BC (G3) 2YO F 1 1/16 miles250,000
Sun.,Oct. 1 ONTARIO DERBY (G3) 3YO1 1/8 miles200,000
Wed.,Oct. 4VICTORIAN QUEEN2YOF 6 furlongs125,000
Sat.,Oct. 7 CAROTENE3YO F** 1 1/8 miles (T)150,000
Mon.,Oct. 9GREY BC (G3) 2YO1 1/16 miles250,000
Mon.,Oct. 9CLASSY 'N SMARTF&M, 3YO & Up 1 1/16 miles125,000
Sat.,Oct. 14DURHAM CUP (G3) 3YO & Up1 1/8 miles150,000
Sat.,Oct. 14BULL PAGEC&G, 2YO 6 furlongs125,000
Sun.,Oct. 15CUP AND SAUCER2YO*1 1/16 miles (T)250,000
Sat.,Oct. 21 PRINCESS ELIZABETH2YO F* 1 1/16 miles 250,000
Sun.,Oct. 22PATTISON CANADIAN INT'L (G1)3YO & Up1 1/2 miles (T)2,000,000
Sun.,Oct. 22E.P. TAYLOR (G1) F&M, 3YO & Up 1 1/4 miles (T)1,000,000
Sun.,Oct. 22NEARCTIC (G2)3YO & Up6 furlongs (T)500,000
Sat.,Oct. 28FANFRELUCHE2YO F**6 furlongs150,000
Sat.,Oct. 29BUNTY LAWLESS 3YO & Up 1 mile (T)125,000
Sat.,Nov. 4ONTARIO FASHION F&M, 3YO & Up 6 furlongs 125,000
Sat.,Nov. 5 CORONATION FUTURITY2YO* 1 1/8 miles 250,000
Wed.,Nov. 8SOUTH OCEAN2YO F 1 1/16 miles125,000
Sat.,Nov. 11MAPLE LEAF F&M, 3YO & Up 1 1/4 miles 175,000
Sun.,Nov. 12JAMMED LOVELY3YO F**7 furlongs150,000
Wed.,Nov. 15FROST KING2YO 7 furlongs 125,000

Sat.,Nov. 18WOODBINE SLOTS CUP (G3)3YO & Up1 1/16 miles150,000
Sun.,Nov. 19 KENNEDY ROAD3YO & Up6 furlongs125,000
Sun.,Nov. 19GLORIOUS SONG2YO F7 furlongs125,000
Sat.,Nov. 25 DISPLAY2YO1 1/16 miles125,000
Sat.,Nov. 26BESSARABIANF&M, 3YO & Up 7 furlongs 150,000
Sat.,Dec. 2ONTARIO LASSIE2YO F**1 1/16 miles150,000
Sat.,Dec. 2KINGARVIE2YO 1 1/16 miles125,000
Sun.,Dec. 3VALEDICTORY 3YO & Up1 3/4 miles125,000
Sun.,Dec. 3 SIR BARTONC&G, 3YO & Up 1 1/16 miles125,000

* Foaled in Canada; ** Foaled in Ontario; Ontario-sired