02/10/2003 12:00AM

Woodbine barn area opens


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The Woodbine backstretch reopened last Saturday, one week behind the original target date. The opening was pushed back because of delays in off-season barn construction caused by the cold weather. The the meeting still is scheduled to begin March 22.

The extensive renovation of Barn 1, which includes new wiring and a sprinkler system, now is scheduled to be completed by mid-March, a couple of weeks later than initially planned. The retrofitting of 21 other existing barns, which was to begin immediately after the completion of Barn 1, now has been put on hold until the end of the 167-day meeting, Nov. 30

The projected completion date for the rebuilding of Barns 7 and 7A, which were destroyed by fire last August, has been put back a month to May 1. The completion date for the new Barn 24, originally set for May 1, now is June 1.

More than 300 horses were on the grounds as of Monday, and the training track and sand ring were open for business. Tom Cosgrove, Woodbine's director of backstretch operations, said timed workouts are set to begin Sunday.

Chris Evans, Woodbine's director of Thoroughbred racing, said 224 trainers had submitted applications for almost 3,800 stalls. The current stall capacity here is 1,935.