03/18/2013 11:53AM

Woodbine releases partial stakes schedule through Queen's Plate Day


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Woodbine has released the first phase of its stakes schedule, consisting of 37 stakes covering the period from opening day, April 20, through Queen’s Plate Day, July 7.

“We release this 12-week calendar with guaranteed purses to provide confidence for horsemen as they plan their racing season,” said Steve Koch, Woodbine’s vice president of Thoroughbred racing. “We will release a full-year stakes schedule after the industry has finalized funding projections.”

The base purses for Ontario-foaled, Ontario-sired, and Canadian-bred races are bolstered by the Thoroughbred Improvement Program (TIP). The complete breakdown for this year’s TIP has yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, the purses for several Woodbine stakes have been cut, with the Grade 2 Nassau and Dance Smartly reduced from $300,000 to $200,000, the Grade 2 King Edward dropping from $250,000 to $200,000, and the Grade 3 Selene down $50,000 to $150,000.

The Grade 2 Eclipse and Grade 2 Connaught received purse hikes of $50,000, to $200,000.

“The Grade 2’s now have consistent purses of $200,000, and the Grade 3’s are $150,000,” Koch said.

Woodbine also has converted five $100,000 overnight stakes, which formerly required fields of at least five to be carded, to $125,000 guaranteed stakes.

Those races are the 1 1/16-mile Trillium, for fillies and mares; Alywow, a 6 1/2-furlong turf race for 3-year-old fillies; Zadracarta, a seven-furlong turf race for Ontario-foaled fillies and mares; Sweet Briar Too, a seven-furlong race for fillies and mares; and the Charlie Barley, a one-mile turf race for 3-year-olds.

“These are good-performing races and fit certain needs on our calendar,” Koch said. “Our horsemen are going to benefit from knowing these races are guaranteed to go.”

The $1 million Queen’s Plate, which will be televised nationwide by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., will be one of five stakes run July 7.

The Dance Smartly, Grade 2 Highlander, Grade 3 Singspiel, and listed Clarendon are the supporting stakes.

“These are quality races, and we get a special benefit from having them on the program,” Koch said.

The $500,000 Woodbine Oaks and the $150,000 Plate Trial both will be run June 9, four weeks out from the Queen’s Plate, and will be televised by CBC.