Edited press release
The 150th edition of the Queen's Plate (Can-I) on June 21 is one of the highlights of the 2009 stakles schedule at Woodbine Racecourse in Canada. The stakes schedule released Feb. 6 includes 103 races with purses of more than Can$22 million.
The 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate, worth $1 million, is Canada's most renowned horse race, North America's oldest continuously-run stakes event and the first jewel in Canada's Triple Crown of Racing.
The $200,000 Scotts Highlander Stakes and the $150,000 Singspiel Stakes, both Canadian grade III turf races, will complement the Queen's Plate day program.
The Toronto oval's richest event, the grade I, $2 million Pattison Canadian International, will take place on Saturday, Oct. 17. The 1 1/2-mile grass event headlines a stellar autumn card during which the world renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course takes centre stage. The grade I, $1 million E.P. Taylor Stakes, for fillies and mares, and the grade II, $500,000 Nearctic Stakes, a six-furlong turf dash, are also slated for International Day.
All three added-money events, like in 2008, are part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series, with automatic "Win and You're In" berths to Breeders' Cup races.
A score in the International, the E.P. Taylor or the Nearctic guarantees the victor a berth in the corresponding championship event, three weeks later, at the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California.
"We are excited with our 2009 stakes schedule," said Steve Lym, Woodbine's director of racing and racing secretary. "Our turf stakes have always been popular with fans and horsemen. Our scheduling gives stars crowned on International day the opportunity to go for glory in the Breeders' Cup."
ESPN will again broadcast all three International day "Win and You're In" events, live from Woodbine.
The Woodbine stakes calendar also features three other "Win and You're In" events, all turf contests carded on the same September weekend.
On Saturday, Sept. 19, the sport's 'young guns' receive their own day to showcase their turf talents in the $300,000 Summer Stakes, a grade III grass test for 2-year-olds, and the grade III, $150,000 Natalma Stakes, for 2-year-old fillies.
The weekend's third Breeders' Cup Challenge race is the $1 million Woodbine Mile, the highlight of a lucrative $2-plus million racing day on Sunday, Sept. 20. The grade I, $750,000 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes and the grade II, $300,000 Canadian Stakes, for turf fillies and mares, will also be contested on Mile day.
"The Mile has always been an attractive event on our calendar," Lym said. "With the Northern Dancer fully entrenched as a grade I race and the two 'Win and You're In' two-year-old races on Saturday, it makes for a tremendous weekend of racing."
The grade II, $250,000 Sky Classic Stakes is slated for Sunday, Aug. 23. With the new date, the Sky Classic, in combination with the Northern Dancer, creates a natural two-race, $1 million route to the Pattison Canadian International.
The $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, presented by Budweiser, the first leg in the Canada's Triple Tiara of Racing, is scheduled for Sunday, June 7.
The grade III, $250,000 Selene Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, traditionally a prep for the Oaks, will now take place on Saturday, Sept. 26. "We moved the graded Selene to give it more prominence on the schedule. It should get plenty of attention as a signature fall race for 3-year-old fillies with its big purse," Lym said.
The Breeders' Stakes, third and turf gem of racing's Triple Crown, is set for Sunday, Aug. 2 at Woodbine. The 1 1/2-mile event carries a purse of $500,000.
The Woodbine meet runs for 167 dates from Saturday, April 4 to Sunday, Dec. 6.