Spring Season Arrives at Woodbine

(from track release)
Canadian racing fans can wave goodbye to a miserable winter. The beginning of the 2003 spring racing season at Woodbine is on Saturday.

On Wednesday, the track's opening day card was assembled with 88 horses scheduled to compete in 10 races.

The first horse entered for 2003 was Elusive Thought, trained by Reade Baker, who also owns the bay Ontario-bred filly in partnership with Janis Maine. The 3-year-old daughter of Elusive Quality was entered in the day's fifth race, a five-furlong maiden allowance contest. She drew post-position two, with Jim McAleney in the irons, in a field of 12.

Some fans were clearly excited that live Thoroughbred racing is nearly here.

Racing fan Gordy, who comes to Woodbine occasionally through the winter to watch and wager on Standardbred racing, says he specifically came to the track Wednesday knowing the first "overnight" (a one-page list of all the races scheduled for a day of racing) would be available.

"I know I can get a list of races for the first day anywhere," says Gordy, "but I thought I would pop by and get it early to see if any of my favorite jockeys are back."

Most of Woodbine's top jockeys and trainers are indeed back for opening day, which offers the $108,000 Briartic Stakes.

The five-furlong race, which goes as the eighth, spotlights reigning Horse of the Year Wake At Noon and multiple 2003 stakes winners Krz Ruckus and Rare Friends.

Also competing are David's Expectation, Olympian, Colebrook Ruckus, Pop Rocks and Crucible.

The 48th Woodbine meet opens on Saturday. There's racing three days a week (Friday, Saturday and Sunday, post time 12:55 p.m.) until May 7 when Wednesday night racing is added (post time 6:45 p.m.). Thursdays are added on June 5 (post time 12:55 p.m.). The final date of the season is Nov. 30.

There is racing on holiday Mondays as well (May 19, June 30, Aug. 4, Sept. 1, Oct. 13, post time 12:55 p.m.). During those weeks, there is no live racing on Thursday.

The 144th Queen's Plate, the first jewel in the Canadian Triple Crown and worth $1 million, is set for June 22. The Prince of Wales is scheduled for Sunday, at Fort Erie Racetrack with the Crown's third jewel, the Breeders' Stakes, set for Aug. 9.

The Labatt Woodbine Oaks, Canada's top 3-year-old filly race, is on June 8; the $1 million Atto Mile is on Sept. 14; and the Canadian International, the eighth leg of the World Series RacingChampionship, is on Oct. 19.