03/03/2017 11:56AM

Woodbine Mile, Canadian International get purse reductions


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Woodbine has cut the purses for an array of stakes this year, most notably the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile and the Grade 1 Canadian International.

The purses for the Mile and International have been reduced to $800,000 from $1 million, leaving the Queen’s Plate as the lone $1 million event on the calendar. The purse for the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Breeders’ Stakes, has been chopped from $500,000 to $400,000. Numerous other stakes received $25,000 decreases.

The reductions were made to offset a shortfall in the purse account.

“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 horsepeople,” said Jamie Martin, the Woodbine Entertainment Group’s executive vice president of racing. “This reorganization towards overnight purses and resulting stakes purses reflects WEG’s $68 million overall purse contribution in 2017.”

The 158th Queen’s Plate heads the spectacular July 2 card that features four graded turf stakes, including the Grade 2 Highlander, a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In qualifier for the first time this year.

For the second straight year, the Woodbine Mile will be run on a Saturday instead of a Sunday. It is the centerpiece of the Sept. 16 card that boasts three other stakes, most notably the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf. The Grade 1 Natalma and Grade 2 Summer Stakes will be contested the next day.

The Canadian International is scheduled for Oct. 15. The purse for the supporting feature on that popular program, the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor, remains $500,000. The Grade 2 Nearctic and Grade 3 Ontario Derby also will be run that day.

The Woodbine Oaks remains at $500,000. The purse for the Plate Trial Stakes, on the same June 11 card, has been lowered to $125,000 from $150,000.

There are 98 stakes on the 2017 schedule, including a new one, the $100,000 Trillium, a 1 1/16-mile route for fillies and mares June 18.

Four stakes that traditionally lured small fields have been scrapped: the Deputy Minister, Fanfreluche, Swynford, and Vandal.

The 133-day Woodbine meet goes from April 15 to Dec. 10.