Michael Burns

Woodbine 2012 Stakes Schedule Unveiled

A 102-race, $23 million stakes calendar highlights Woodbine's 2012 meet.

A 102-race, $23 million stakes calendar, will highlight Woodbine's 167-day Thoroughbred meet in 2012.

The Woodbine stakes schedule, released Feb. 22 by the Woodbine Entertainment Group, is highlighted by the 153rd running of the Queen's Plate. The 1 1/4-mile classic, which carries a $1 million purse, is set for June 24.

The Plate, North America's oldest continuously-run stakes and first jewel in Canada's Triple Crown of Racing, will be complemented by three turf stakes events, the King Edward Stakes (Can-II), presented by TVG, the Highlander Stakes (Can-II), the Singspiel Stakes (Can-III), plus the My Dear Stakes, contested on the Polytrack.

Woodbine's richest race, the $1.5 million Pattison Canadian International (Can-IT), is set for Oct. 14. The 1 1/2-mile grass event headlines a card in which the E.P. Taylor Turf Course is in the spotlight. The E.P. Taylor Stakes (Can-IT), for fillies and mares, the Nearctic Stakes (Can-IT), a six-furlong turf sprint, and the Durham Cup Stakes (Can-IIIT), at 1 1/8 miles on the Polytrack, are also slated for International day.

The International, E.P. Taylor, and Nearctic continue to be key events in the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series which features a lucrative "Win and You're In" incentive. A triumph in the International, the E.P. Taylor, or the Nearctic (Regally Ready won the 2011 edition and then took the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint) guarantees the victor a berth in the corresponding championship event at the Breeders' Cup (Nov. 2-3) at Santa Anita Park.

"Last year was once again a strong one in terms of the quality and quantity of European horses that competed in our marquee events,” said Steve Lym, Woodbine's director of racing and racing secretary, in a release. “The filly, Sarah Lynx, wowed the fans with her magnificent showing in the Pattison Canadian International.”

The Woodbine stakes listing also features three other "Win and You're In" events, all turf contests carded on the same September weekend.

On Sept. 15, racing’s freshmen turf talents take the spotlight, with the running of the Summer Stakes (Can-IIT) presented by TVG and the Natalma Stakes (Can-IIT).

The weekend's third Breeders' Cup Challenge race is the $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Can-IT), the highlight of a $2 million-plus day of racing Sept. 16. The Northern Dancer Turf (Can-IT), presented by VTech, the Canadian Stakes (Can-IIT) for turf fillies and mares, as well as the Ontario Derby (Can-III) will also take place on Mile day.

“Turallure was impressive in winning the Ricoh Woodbine Mile, before losing by a nose to 2010 Woodbine Mile winner Court Vision  in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT),” noted Lym in a statement. “The decision by the connections of Sarah Lynx and Turallure to race at Woodbine and their outstanding results speak volumes of how Woodbine is regarded by the entire racing community.”

June 3, will be another big day at the Toronto oval. The Woodbine Oaks, presented by Budweiser, the first leg in Canada's Triple Tiara of Racing, is scheduled for that day. Also slated is the Plate Trial, the country's top prep race for the Queen's Plate.

“Last year, the Oaks gave racing fans a look at what was to come from the talented Inglorious, who would also win the Queen’s Plate in similarly impressive fashion,” said Lym. “These races are a perfect complement to one another on what will be an outstanding card of racing for the fans.” 

The Breeders' Stakes on turf, third gem of Canada's Triple Crown, is set for Aug. 5 at Woodbine. The 1 1/2-mile turf race carries a purse of $500,000.

Added-money features, the Summer, presented by TVG, Natalma, and Hendrie Stakes were upgraded from grade III to grade II status, while the Bold Venture, Ontario Fashion, Ontario Derby, and Mazarine Stakes are now grade III races.

Woodbine’s 2012 meet launches April 6, with a first-race post of 1 p.m.