04/13/2004 12:00AM

Woodbine ready to open


Woodbine's 2004 Thoroughbred meeting is set to begin Saturday, with entries for the first of 167 cards to be drawn Thursday.

The opening is later than usual this year because of a $9 million construction project that included renovation of seven barns and the installation of sprinklers in most structures. There will be no change in the number of days raced, as the meeting will end on the relatively late date of Dec. 12.

David Willmot, president and CEO of Woodbine Entertainment, the track's owner, said that a similar opening date can be expected in years to come as work on the backstretch continues during the off-seasons.

Woodbine is reverting to a 48-hour draw this year, with no scratch time. For the past five years, entries had been taken on a 72-hour basis with scratch time the next morning.