Horses prepare for opening day at Woodbine.

Horses prepare for opening day at Woodbine.

Michael Burns

Woodbine's 2013 Season to Begin April 20

The 133-day meet has a 10-race opener, highlighted by the $150,000 Star Shoot Stakes.

The 2013 live Thoroughbred racing season at Woodbine begins Saturday, April 20, the first of 133 programs slated for the year.

A total of 87 horses were entered for the opening day 10-race card, which begins at 1 p.m. EDT. The program is highlighted by the featured $150,000 Star Shoot Stakes at six furlongs for 3-year-old fillies at 4:36 p.m.

Woodbine’s 2012 season leaders will be in action on Saturday. Trainer Mark Casse, who has won six straight training titles at the Toronto oval, is saddling two horses. Casse set a Woodbine meet record of 119 victories in 2011, while last year he saddled 94 winners en route to stable earnings of more than $6.8 million.

Jockey Luis Contreras captured his second straight Woodbine crown in 2012 with 195 wins and more than $9.2 million in purses, slightly off his 2011 totals of 212 wins and $11.5 million in purses. He has seven mounts on Saturday’s card, including a ride aboard well-regarded Leinan in the Star Shoot.

Regulars Patrick Husbands, a seven-time Sovereign Award winner as Canada’s top jockey, along with other champion riders such as Emma-Jayne Wilson, the 2005 Sovereign and Eclipse Award winner as the continent’s top apprentice, and the popular Eurico Rosa da Silva, will also be busy on Saturday.

In addition, jockey Gary Boulanger, who won the 2001 Woodbine Oaks and Queen’s Plate with Sam-Son Farm’s Dancethruthedawn, will make a welcome return to Canada for the season. Boulanger suffered what were believed to be career-ending injuries in 2005, but impressively resumed riding earlier this year in Florida. Boulanger has one mount on opening day, Miss Tatey Cat, trained by Casse, in the second race.

For the upcoming meet, Woodbine has lowered the win takeout rate to 14.95%, the lowest of any racetrack in North America, meaning better payoffs. 

There is also a $100,000 pool guarantee for the early Pick 4 on weekends, plus 20-cent bet minimums on all Trifecta, Pick 3, Pick 4, and Superfecta pools, and $1 minimums on win, place, and show wagers.

Presentation of the 2012 Sovereign Awards, established in 1976 to honor Canada’s best in Thoroughbred Racing, will be held Friday night during a special dinner at Woodbine on the third floor as a prelude to opening day.

First race post time for Saturday and Sunday of opening weekend is 1 p.m. EDT. Friday racing returns on April 26. Post time for all Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and holiday Monday (May 20, July 1, Aug. 5, Sept. 2 and Oct. 14) programs will also be 1 p.m.

Wednesday night racing, with a 6:45 p.m. post, starts June 5 and will be conducted throughout the season, except on July 3, Aug. 7, Sept. 4, and Oct. 16, which follow holiday Monday cards.

Canada’s most famous horse race, the $1 million Queen’s Plate for Canadian-foaled 3-year-olds, will be held July 7.

As always, general parking and admission are free at Woodbine.