03/13/2014 2:30PM

Woodbine announces 2014 stakes schedule worth about $20 million


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The 155th running of the $1 million Queen’s Plate headlines a 2014 Woodbine stakes schedule that includes 102 races worth almost $20 million.

The Queen’s Plate will be the featured race on the July 6 card that also includes three graded stakes: the Grade 2 Dance Smartly, Grade 2 Highlander, and Grade 3 Singspiel.

The $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes completes the Canadian Triple Crown at Woodbine on Aug. 17, while the middle jewel, the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, will be run at Fort Erie on July 29.

A pair of Grade 1 stakes, the $1 million Woodbine Mile and the $300,000 Northern Dancer Turf, will be run Sept. 14 and will cap a quality weekend of turf racing. Along with the Woodbine Mile, three other fees-paid berths into the Breeders’ Cup will be awarded that weekend in the Grade 2 Natalma Stakes and the Grade 2 Summer Stakes on Sept. 13 and the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes on Sept. 14. The Woodbine Mile will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1.

The final two Grade 1 races of the meet, the $1 million Canadian International and the $500,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes, will be run Oct. 19. The Grade 2 Nearctic Stakes also will be run that day but will not offer the winner a fees-paid berth into the Breeders’ Cup this year.

The stakes schedule is slated to kick off April 13 with the running of the $125,000 Jacques Cartier Stakes, a six-furlong sprint for older males.

Purse amounts for several open listed stakes were reduced from $150,000 to $125,000 for 2014. The Grade 2 Kennedy Road and Grade 2 Bessarabian were the only races to get a purse increase – up to $200,000 from $150,000 in 2013 – while all other graded stakes, along with statebred stakes, saw their purse levels maintained at 2013 levels.

Some minor scheduling changes also were made. Among the minor changes:

◗ The Display Stakes has been moved to Nov. 1 and will be run before the Coronation Futurity, which has been moved to Nov. 29.

◗ The $500,000 Woodbine Oaks and the $150,000 Plate Trial Stakes will be run June 15, three weeks before the Queen’s Plate instead of four weeks before, as it was in 2013.

◗ The Grade 2 Eclipse Stakes has been moved to June 1 to give four weeks between it and the Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes on July 1.

◗ The Grade 2 Play the King Stakes has been moved up two weeks to Aug. 10 to give five weeks between it and the Woodbine Mile.