03/03/2016 5:55PM

Woodbine: Queen's Plate tops 2016 stakes schedule worth $20 million


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The 157th running of the $1 million Queen’s Plate highlights the 2016 Woodbine stakes schedule that features 101 races worth more than $20 million.

The first jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown will be contested on July 3, and will be the first Queen’s Plate run on Woodbine’s new Tapeta main track. The Queen’s Plate will be complemented by three turf stakes on the card – the Grade 2 Highlander Stakes, the Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes, and the Grade 3 Singspiel Stakes.

The Canadian Triple Crown will resume on July 26 at Fort Erie Racetrack for the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes on dirt, before returning to Woodbine on Aug. 21 for the $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes on turf.

A pair of key preps for the Queen’s Plate will be run on the June 12 card. The $500,000 Woodbine Oaks for Canadian-bred 3-year old fillies and $150,000 Plate Trial Stakes for Canadian-bred 3-year olds offer Queen’s Plate hopefuls one last tune-up for the 1 1/4-mile classic.

A scheduling change was made to the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile, which has been moved to a Saturday. The Woodbine Mile highlights the Sept. 17 card, which also features the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes, the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes, and the Grade 3 Ontario Derby.

As a result of moving the Woodbine Mile to a Saturday, Woodbine’s newest Grade 1 race, the Natalma Stakes, will be run on the Sunday, Sept. 18 card. Also featured on the Sept. 18 card is the Grade 2 Summer Stakes.

The Woodbine Mile, Canadian Stakes, Natalma Stakes, and Summer Stakes are all part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, which guarantees the winner a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 4- 5. Last year, Catch a Glimpse won the Natalma Stakes before capturing the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

The final two Grade 1 races of the meet will be run on the Oct. 16 card that is highlighted by the $1 million Canadian International. The Canadian International card will also feature the Grade 1 E. P. Taylor Stakes, the Grade 2 Nearctic Stakes, and the Grade 3 Ontario Fashion Stakes.

“We’re excited to once again provide a full slate of world-class races that offers owners a chance to showcase their horses at a variety of distances, both on turf and our brand new Tapeta surface,” said Steve Lym, Woodbine’s director of racing.

The $125,000 Jacques Cartier Stakes, a six-furlong sprint for 4-year-olds and upward, will be the first stakes race of Woodbine’s 60th season and will be a part of the opening day card on April 9.