Letter to Woodbine horsepeople from Woodbine Entertainment

Thumbnail for Woodbine Trainers Asked to Have Back-Up Plans Going Forward

Letter to Woodbine horsepeople from Woodbine Entertainment

Dear Horse People:

Woodbine is doing everything we can to avoid a case of COVID-19 on the backstretch including daily screening and taking temperatures between the hours of 4:00 am – 10:00 am and screening again 3:00 pm – 9:00 pm of all people entering the backstretch area. Thank you for your cooperation to date.

There are no known cases to date.

We are learning more each day about the spread of this virus, and the existence of people carrying and spreading the virus, without exhibiting any symptoms.

As such, the concept of staying 6 feet (2m) away from another person is critical to lower the chances of infecting everyone in your barn.
Frequent handwashing is also critical.
Disinfecting door knobs, stall latches, any metal and frequently touched areas

We must ask each of you to do your part: “See something, say something.” Examples: exercise riders walking too closely on horseback to and from the track. People gathering around a horse in the stall, gathering or standing together in a tack room etc. Gathering is a natural behavior for everyone, but we cannot let our guard down. The 6 foot minimum will help preserve the health our workforce.

If you need access to hand sanitizer, cleaning etc, please call or email the Stall Office at stalloffice@woodbine.com.

With the currently modelling of the virus released today by the experts and the Province, it may only be a matter of time until we have a COVID-19 case on our backstretch.

Woodbine, with the support of the HBPA, is asking for the following from Trainers:

Step 1: Trainers, please be the eyes and ears with your staff, and to report anyone with any illness immediately to East Gate Security. Security will perform a secondary assessment and provide your staff with access to Telehealth Ontario by phone 1-866-797-0000, where their symptoms can be screened. If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in your barn, your entire team and those that have been in close contact, will be subject to a mandatory 14 day isolation at home. Containing the spread will be mandatory, and the only way to continue operations.

Step 2: We are asking ALL trainers to create back-up horse care plans for their operations. This may include a ‘helping hand’ system within your barn or amongst other trainers’ staff to get through the 14 day isolation period.

Should the COVID-19 patient (or person exposed ie; roommate, coworker) be a current Dormitory resident, Woodbine has created a set of procedures to service the resident during this 14+ days of mandatory isolation, including daily meal delivery, basic care and personal care as required.

Step 3: In the unlikely event of an outbreak on the backstretch, where the cases become too difficult to manage, we are asking ALL TRAINERS to develop an Emergency Back-Up Plan for your operations including off-site stabling and care for your horses. It is Woodbine’s intention, with the support of the HBPA, to continue keeping the backstretch operating for the daily care of horses. However, during this Pandemic, you must make a plan for your horses, for every scenario, including Evacuation.

These plans do not need to be presented to us, but you need to have taken the time to think through a plan, and find potential alternative stabling, should this be required. Hopefully these plans will never have to be enacted, but the process is critical.

We understand the difficulties and worries each of you are facing. We are all doing our best to keep our horse people, all suppliers and essential Woodbine staff safe during this pandemic so that we can get back to racing, as soon as possible based on the government guidelines.

We are all dependent upon one another on a good day, and during these tougher days, this is the truest statement of all. Stay vigilant, and stay well so we can thrive again together as soon as possible.

Thank you and take care,


We Will Be Back and Be Back Strong”; Woodbine CEO

Thumbnail for “We Will Be Back and Be Back Strong”; Woodbine CEO on DTS Podcast

Between Woodbine Entertainment’s CEO Jim Lawson and the board of directors, the HBPA of Ontario and Ontario Racing, strategies are being sought to help out horsepeople at Woodbine Mohawk and Woodbine who have, or will not have, the chance at purse money because of the postponement of racing.

Standardbred horsepeople, who have been idle for a few weeks since Woodbine Mohawk racing was suspended, are already in line to receive a financial assistance,  a total of $300 per horse,  to those involved with Standardbred racehorses who were in-to-race at operational racetracks from March 19 to March 24.

On the most recent edition of the DOWN THE STRETCH PODCAST (March 30), Lawson spoke to Toronto Mike (one of the city’s most popular podcasters with over 600 Toronto podcasts, also hosts DTS podcast, hosted by Peter Gross, on his site) about the current status of Woodbine’s two tracks. Woodbine Thoroughbreds are in light training on the backstretch but the season has been delayed. April 18 was the opening day and 25 race dates (of 133) were set to run between that day and the end of May.

While the immediate future is uncertain for the thousands of people and horses in horse racing, Lawson is optimistic the industry will get back on track when the pandemic ends.

Some excerpts:

“We’re on hold, it’s the best way to describe it,” said Lawson.

“In light of the announcement from the provincial government that only essential businesses can operate for the next two weeks, and it is looking like longer than that. It was just going to be too hard to keep going; not just the internal and external input to put on live racing of any kind without without spectators. We had to make a decision that not only was racing not an essential business, it would not be practical to attempt it without external help such as CPMA, AGCO which are  required to run racing.”

“I am very concerned for people in this industry without access to purse money.”

Lawson noted that the board of Woodbine approached the AGCO and OLG in an effort to discuss the possibility of diverting potential purse money into a relief fund. There is reportedly another meeting this week with the OLG.

“We have tried to impress upon on government that this is a desperate situation for people working in the industry. On the Thoroughbred side people have gone a long time without a paycheque.”

“But when we get past this [pandemic], we are going to turn this around and we will be back and be back strong. Mohawk will be the top standardbred track in North America and Woodbine will continue with its strong brand. I’m optimistic for that.”

The Queen’s Plate will be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lightbox image placeholder

April 1, 2020

TORONTO, April 1, 2020 – Woodbine Entertainment announced today that the 161st running of The Queen’s Plate will be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The event was originally scheduled for Saturday, June 27. While a new date has not been confirmed, Woodbine Entertainment intends to host The Queen’s Plate at Woodbine Racetrack this year, subject to recommendations and restrictions from government and health officials related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Queen’s Plate is the oldest continuously run race in North America and we have every intention of keeping it that way,” said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. “Once we postponed the start of our season, it likely meant that The Queen’s Plate would also be postponed as certain races are required leading up to it so the three-year-old horses competing are ready for the longer distance. As soon as we receive clarity on when the season will start, we will create a new stakes schedule and finalize a new date for The Queen’s Plate.”

On March 23, Woodbine Entertainment announced that it was postponing the start of the 2020 Thoroughbred meet, which was scheduled to open on April 18. The decision was made to follow the Government of Ontario’s orders to close all non-essential businesses to help stop the spread of Covid-19. Due to the postponement of the start of the season, a new stakes schedule is required and will be announced at the appropriate time.

All ticket purchasers have the option of keeping their purchased seats or receiving a full refund (including fees) at any time between now and the new date of the event through Ticketmaster.ca. Fans are encouraged to visit QueensPlate.com for the latest information and updates regarding The Queen’s Plate.


Woodbine Backstretch Update: Trainer’s Must Submit Essential Staff List

Stricter protocols introduced for horses and horsepeople arriving from outside of Ontario and from the United States as Canadians head north.

Thumbnail for Woodbine Backstretch Update: Trainer’s Must Submit Essential Staff List

By: Woodbine Communications |

We are doing what we can to reduce the number of people on the backstretch each day to ensure that only Essential Staff and Deliveries are coming through the East Stable Gate.

As such, we are keeping a list of each Trainer’s essential and current staff – grooms, hot walkers, exercise riders. Only those on the list will be permitted to enter the backstretch until further notice.

If you have not already, please email your list to Karl Lagerborg kal@woodbine.com or call the Stall Office as soon as possible to provide your list of names. Newly hired staff can be added going forward, however, the names must be added by the employer (Trainer). As the Stable Gate is very busy each morning, please wait until after 8:00 am each day to add new employee names.

This Essential Staff list will come into effect on Tuesday, March 31 at 3:00 am.

Anyone not on the list will not be permitted in the backstretch, until the employer (Trainer) has added the name to his/her staff list.

Additionally, we are adjusting hours for entry at the East Stable Gate.

The backstretch will be closed for entry from 12 Noon – 3:00 pm each day. EMS and Woodbine Security will continue screening each day checking temperatures from 4:00 am – 12 Noon. The backstretch will reopen each day from 3:00 pm – 9:00 pm. In case of emergency during the closure times of 12 Noon – 3:00 pm, Veterinarians and Trainers/Assistants may gain access by visiting the Security Office at the East Stable Gate.

We will also be instituting a new protocol for all horses arriving from the USA and outside of Ontario.

Horses Shipping in from USA and out of Ontario – Mandatory Use of South Sales Barns

Any horse vans arriving from the USA or out of Province, must follow the protocol as outlined below:

*All Horse Vans will be instructed to call their respective Trainer/Assistant to advise on estimated time of arrival to Woodbine. All horse vans will need to contact their respective Trainer/Assistant prior to arrival

*Trainer/Assistant will call the Security Gate with no less than 30 minutes before arrival in order to provide for adequate time to open the South Sales Gate. All vans will drive to the area near the location of the ramp and will stop there to allow horses to off load.

*After the Van arrives, drivers will be permitted to open van doors and remove barriers for horses to be off loaded. Only essential and screened personnel from Trainer’s staff may off load horses and take directly to assigned barn.

*All paperwork will be handed to Trainers staff. It must be in a clear package, sealed so that the package may be disinfected before access to papers. Trainers staff will use proper PPE.

*Any equipment that is accompanied from out of province must be kept to a minimum and must, must be offloaded immediately in this area and disinfected as quickly as possible, prior to entry to backstretch.

*Once horses are fully off loaded, the van will close up immediately, depart the South Sales area and leave the property. Security personnel will clear the area and lock the gate.

*NO vans arriving from USA or out of province will be allowed to access the backstretch for any reason or circumstance without prior approval from Security Lead.

*Please note if you have a staff member that lives in the Dormitory and is feeling unwell, please report details to Security ASAP.

Woodbine Community Rallies Together To Keep Horses in Training

Strict measures and awareness working at the barn area at Woodbine racetrack as everyone in the Thoroughbred industry hopes for opening day.

Thumbnail for Woodbine Community Rallies Together To Keep Horses in Training

Santino DiPaola photo

By: Jennifer Morrison |

Horsepeople on the Woodbine backstretch are banding together to protect their livelihood as training for the 2020 racing season continues.

As can be seen by Woodbine’s continued updates to its horsepeople (below), track management and the HBPA are doing everything to keep measures strict and in turn, convince government that the “best place for Ontario’s racehorses” is the Woodbine backstretch. The horses keep their people employed.

From all reports from provincial medical experts, it is possible as COVID-19 testing and results catch up to an early delay, that numbers of people testing positive will spike in the coming days. A mass exodus of people returning from March break this week, plus horsepeople filtering back from the US, will have to be carefully managed.

It is the SPREAD of the virus that is front and centre. People could harbour it and never have symptoms but pass it on unknowingly by going out in public.

JIM LAWSON will be on a FACEBOOK livestream Q and A on the Central Ontario Standardbred Association page at 4 p.m. today – (Sunday Mar. 22).


Trainer Santino DiPaola made signs for his Woodbine barn to keep his horses and people distanced – Santino DiPaola photo








Woodbine Operations emails:

Our intention is to keep the Woodbine backstretch open indefinitely for training and we are currently planning on opening the season on time (April 18). However, even with restricted access and safety measures in place, if COVID-19 is found in a critical part of the backstretch it would likely lead to a shutdown of active training.

We believe that with the safety measures in place, including the self-isolation requirements imposed, the Woodbine backstretch is the best place for your horses. We have made this point clear to the government. To date, there has been no sign of COVID-19 at Woodbine.

In addition to a spread of COVID-19 in the backstretch, there is significant public and government pressure not to race, and we may have to carefully consider the ramifications of moving forward. We adamantly share the public’s and government’s concern and the safety of everyone involved is our priority. Please know that while times like these are unprecedented, Canadians are a kind, understanding people who would not want to see harm come to our community.

Unfortunately, at this time, any firmer position on the start of the Thoroughbred racing season is not available. Please be assured that any decision impacting the start date will not impact the Woodbine’s ability to provide space for horses to be cared for.

As this pandemic evolves daily, we are following the Government guidelines to reduce the risk of exposure to people on the backstretch at Woodbine. We must each do everything we can to limit the risk, so that we can continue operations. If you are returning from the U.S. or another country, please understand the following:

You must self-isolate for 14 days at home or off-site accommodation

Upon arrival in Ontario, we ask that you call Robert Jordan – Senior Manager Security at 416-675-3993 ext. 12532 so that a record may be added to the Security Self Isolation Form. You must then keep, for our records, a boarding pass or slip from the border that shows your return date to Canada. Security will give you a return date to Woodbine on Day 15 from your date of entry to Canada. You will be asked to show this as proof once able to access Woodbine backstretch. If you do not reach us, please leave a message and you will receive a phone call back as early as possible.

Individuals in self-isolation will NOT be permitted to come onto our backstretch to provide care for their horses until the 14-day self-isolation period is completed.

  • Your horses will be permitted on the backstretch, but must be under the care of a Canadian-based staff or those that have already completed the 14 day isolation period.
  • The horses will still be allowed to train under the care of the staff listed above.
  • Horses are not required to be isolated: horses coming from the U.S. can return to their “regular” barns as they are completely under the care of locally based grooms, assistant trainers, exercise riders, etc.
  • “Locally based” people are those who have not traveled outside Canada or have already completed a 14-day self-isolation period.
  • Dormitory residents will NOT be permitted to return to the dorms until the 14-day isolation period is complete and have passed the health screening test at the East Stable Gate. Please help make alternate accommodation arrangements for your staff to complete the 14 day isolation period.

We recognize that horses require essential care and arrangements must be made accordingly for this 14-day period. We have implemented these rules to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and continue our training operations during these difficult times; however, we need everyone’s cooperation. There is an onus on each individual to self-police and respect the rules above for the well-being of the entire Thoroughbred community on the Woodbine backstretch.

Should you be in a situation where you do not have adequate staff that are not in self-isolation, you may have to consider sending some of your team home ahead of the others. HBPA can assist in finding ‘helping hands’ here on the ground in Canada for this short time period.



Considering today’s news that the Government of Ontario is mandating that all non-essential businesses be closed by 11:59p.m. on Tuesday, March 24th, we are making immediate changes to the Woodbine backstretch operations effective Tuesday, March 24th at noon.

These changes to our backstretch operations (which are described below) also impact our ability to open the 2020 meet on April, 18th. Until further notice the start of the 2020 season will be postponed. Once the Government of Ontario allows non-essential businesses to re-open, regular season training operations will resume and at that time will determine an appropriate new start date for the 2020 season.

It goes without saying that these are very uncertain and difficult times. We cannot thank you enough for your support , cooperation and understanding. Please know that we are everything we can to be a socially responsible business while also not losing sight of the interests of horse people and the entire industry in the Province.

Please see below for how our backstretch operations will be impacted starting tomorrow.

Updated Woodbine Backstretch operations ( in consultation with the HBPA)

The essential daily care of the horses will be maintained as it is on farms throughout Ontario. The safety and welfare of the horses continues to be of the highest priorities for Woodbine Entertainment and the entire horse person community.

Essential animal care workers will continue to be provided with access to our backstretch under the current screening and safety protocols we have in place today to feed and care for their horses.

Essential daily care includes light exercise (jogging and galloping) but does not include workouts.

Training operations including workouts and starting gate will no longer be offered until further notice.

The Main track will be open from 5:30 a.m. til 9:00 a.m.

The dormitories will remain open for residents.

The Backstretch kitchen operations are suspended until further notice.

Essential security personnel will remain on site along with essential track surface and stall office personnel only.

Jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva

TORONTO, December 15, 2019 – Jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva put the finishing touches on his distinguished career during Woodbine Racetrack’s 16-race season finale on Sunday, adding one more stakes win and a sixth meet title to his achievements.

In a fitting final stakes ride, Da Silva guided defending champion Pumpkin Rumble to a 5-1/4 length triumph in the featured $125,000 Valedictory Stakes (Grade 3).

The eight-year-old English Channel gelding completed the 1-3/4-mile marathon in 2:57.67 for trainer Kevin Attard and owners Al and Bill Ulwelling.

“For you to be successful, you need to hang around people like Kevin,” said Da Silva. “I’ve been very lucky to ride for all these great trainers, great horsepeople, great owners, and when you are together with them, all you are doing is winning.”

Da Silva settled Pumpkin Rumble mid-pack and improved to third-place down the backstretch the second time before closing three-wide to take the lead in the final turn. Fearsome and Theregoesjojo came on to finish second and third, respectively.

“He’s a super, super easy horse to ride,” said Da Silva. “He has a little soft mouth. You give him a chance to relax and you can do anything you want with him. Like you see today, I had a little bit of trouble relaxing him in the beginning, but once I tucked in behind, he was so relaxed. At the three-eighths, I really did not want to take the lead there but, you know what, he said ‘Eurico, I’ll handle this’ and he took over. From there, it was over.”

Of course, Da Silva concluded with one final statement: “Good luck to everybody!”

Pumpkin Rumble, who last raced on October 12 in the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International finishing fifth, was sent postward as the 4-5 favourite and paid $3.50 to win.

“He’s coming out of the International and when the prep failed to fill, I thought ‘wow, it’s going to be a couple months [between races],’” said Attard. “We gave a good mile work into him and the exercise riders, Nikki Alderson and Robert Stuart, who joined them at the half-mile pole, did a great job. I think that was a big benefit to get him ready and just keep that fitness in him. He’s an older horse and older horses usually look after themselves.”

Attard said the 11-time career winner, who got a late start to the 2019 season, will head south to race in Florida this winter.

Da Silva, who first won the Woodbine jockey title in 2010, led all jockeys for the fifth straight year winning 182 races at the 2019 meet. Da Silva recorded 19 stakes wins in his final Woodbine season and topped the standings for earnings with his mounts banking more than $9.8 million. He finished the season with an 18-win lead over Rafael Hernandez (164 wins) while Kazushi Kimura rounded out the top three with 146 victories.

Norm McKnight took the trainers title for the third consecutive year with his stable sending out 103 winners during the 2019 meet, which ran from April 20 to December 15. Hall of Famer Mark Casse, who won 92 races, was the leading money-earning trainer with his stable amassing more than $6.7 million in purses. Martin Drexler edged out Kevin Attard for third-place in the win column (63-61).

Chiefswood Stables was the leading money-winning owner of the meet with more than $2.3 million in purses and, with 28 wins, was runner-up to Bruno Schickedanz, who topped the standings with 54 victories.

Woodbine’s 2020 Thoroughbred meet is scheduled to begin on April 18.

For more information, visit Woodbine.com.

Pumpkin Rumble and jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva winning the $125,000 Valedictory Stakes (Grade 3) during Sunday’s 16-race season finale at Woodbine Racetrack. (Michael Burns Photo)
(Michael Burns Photo)
(Michael Burns Photo)

Woodbine Daily Results and Activity – Woodbine’s final day of live for 2019


Sunday, December 15
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Maiden Claiming – $15,000 $20,800 Overnight Overnight
Race 2 Maiden Claiming – $25,000 $32,500 Overnight Overnight
Race 3 Maiden Special Weight $71,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 4 Maiden Claiming – $7,500 $16,600 Overnight Overnight
Race 5 Maiden Optional Claiming – $40,000 $40,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 6 Claiming – $40,000 $45,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 7 Starter Optional Claiming – $15,000 $23,500 Overnight Overnight
Race 8 Allowance Optional Claiming – $62,500 $72,500 Overnight Overnight
Race 9 Valedictory S. $125,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 10 Optional Claiming – $40,000 $42,500 Overnight Overnight
Race 11 Starter Optional Claiming – $15,000 $23,500 Overnight Overnight
Race 12 Claiming – $15,000 $23,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 13 Allowance $67,500 Overnight Overnight
Race 14 Allowance $67,500 Overnight Overnight
Race 15 Claiming – $7,500 $16,500 Overnight Overnight
Race 16 Claiming – $7,500 $16,600 Overnight Overnight


Woodbine Daily Results and Activity


Friday, December 13
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Claiming – $5,000 $12,500 Overnight Overnight
Race 2 Claiming – $10,000 $21,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 3 Claiming – $15,000 $23,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 4 Maiden Optional Claiming – $40,000 $40,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 5 Maiden Claiming – $10,000 $18,700 Overnight Overnight
Race 6 Optional Claiming – $40,000 $42,500 Overnight Overnight
Race 7 Optional Claiming – $40,000 $42,500 Overnight Overnight
Race 8 Maiden Special Weight $65,000 Overnight Overnight

Final Entries

Sunday, December 15
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Maiden Claiming – $15,000 $20,800
Race 2 Maiden Claiming – $25,000 $32,500
Race 3 Maiden Special Weight $71,000
Race 4 Maiden Claiming – $7,500 $16,600
Race 5 Maiden Optional Claiming – $40,000 $40,000
Race 6 Claiming – $40,000 $45,000
Race 7 Starter Optional Claiming – $15,000 $23,500
Race 8 Allowance Optional Claiming – $62,500 $72,500
Race 9 Valedictory S. $125,000
Race 10 Optional Claiming – $40,000 $42,500
Race 11 Starter Optional Claiming – $15,000 $23,500
Race 12 Claiming – $15,000 $23,000
Race 13 Allowance $67,500
Race 14 Allowance $67,500
Race 15 Claiming – $7,500 $16,500
Race 16 Claiming – $7,500 $16,600

Woodbine Daily Results and Activity

Early Entries

Sunday, December 15 Overnight
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Maiden Claiming – $15,000 $20,800
Race 2 Maiden Claiming – $25,000 $32,500
Race 3 Maiden Special Weight $71,000
Race 4 Maiden Claiming – $7,500 $16,600
Race 5 Maiden Optional Claiming – $40,000 $40,000
Race 6 Claiming – $40,000 $45,000
Race 7 Starter Optional Claiming – $15,000 $23,500
Race 8 Allowance Optional Claiming – $62,500 $72,500
Race 9 Valedictory S. $125,000
Race 10 Optional Claiming – $40,000 $42,500
Race 11 Starter Optional Claiming – $15,000 $23,500
Race 12 Claiming – $15,000 $23,000
Race 13 Allowance $67,500
Race 14 Allowance $67,500
Race 15 Claiming – $7,500 $16,500
Race 16 Claiming – $7,500 $16,600

Final Entries

Saturday, December 14
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Allowance Optional Claiming – $75,000 $67,500
Race 2 Maiden Claiming – $25,000 $32,500
Race 3 Display S. $100,000
Race 4 Claiming – $7,500 $16,500
Race 5 Maiden Optional Claiming – $40,000 $40,000
Race 6 Maiden Special Weight $71,000
Race 7 Optional Claiming – $40,000 $42,500
Race 8 Maiden Special Weight $65,000
Race 9 Allowance Optional Claiming – $62,500 $72,500
Race 10 Claiming – $7,500 $16,600
Race 11 Maiden Claiming – $7,500 $16,600
Race 12 Claiming – $5,000 $12,500