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Woodbine announces 2013 racing events
Thursday, January 24, 2013 - by John Siscos, WEG media

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Toronto, ON --- Woodbine Entertainment Group today confirmed that it will once again be the home of the iconic Queen's Plate as part of Woodbine's 2013 Thoroughbred racing season, which opens on April 20.

WEG will be making an application for 133 Thoroughbred racing days at Woodbine, along with a total of 183 Standardbred race days at Woodbine (99 dates) and Mohawk (84 dates).

The Woodbine backstretch will re-open on March 1.

The announcement followed a two-year transitional funding agreement reached this week with the government of Ontario, and an agreement-in-principle with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. over leases for continuing slots operations at Woodbine and Mohawk Racetracks.

"I am delighted that at long last, we have been able to provide our fans, industry partners and the horsemen and women of Ontario with more clarity about our 2013 schedule," said Nick Eaves, President and CEO of Woodbine Entertainment Group. "We will continue to work hard to achieve an industry model that will sustain and grow our industry, and this sport, for the long haul."

Major events for the upcoming racing season include:

The 154th running of the Queen's Plate: The first jewel in Canada's Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing and the longest continuously run stakes race in North America.

The Pattison Canadian International: Traditionally, competitors from all over the world have competed in Woodbine's famed 1-1/2 mile turf classic and 2013 will be no different. All-time greats, including Secretariat, Youth, Chief Bearhart and Sulamani captured the autumn time event.

The Ricoh Woodbine Mile: Has featured star-stacked international fields of older horses including the 2012 edition, which spotlighted eventual multiple Eclipse Award-winning Horse of the Year, Wise Dan. Launched in 1997, the race is contested over Woodbine's world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course.

The Pepsi North America Cup (Mohawk): Staged for the first time in 1984, it has become one of the standards of excellence in harness racing. The continent's finest 3-year-old pacers and dramatic finishes have factored into establishing the Pepsi North America Cup as a world-class sporting event.

Mohawk will also host the traditional Standardbred Summer Meet from late spring through to the fall.

These agreements ensure the continuation of live horse racing at Woodbine and Mohawk Racetracks for the next two years. They take effect after the Slots-at-Racetracks program ends on March 31.

While the agreements will result in significant changes to WEG's operating model, the average daily purses for Thoroughbreds will be comparable to those of 2012, and Standardbred purses will continue at existing 2013 rates.

"The uncertainty around racing this year has been very difficult," said Sue Leslie, President of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. "Confirmation of a 2013 racing season and a commitment to the long-term sustainability of horse racing is critical for horsemen."

Eaves noted that while the agreements provide short-term stability, a long-term, sustainable model for WEG and the Ontario horse racing industry could only be achieved by integrating horse racing into the province's overall gaming strategy. He added that a core element of that strategy must be permanent, expanded casinos at Woodbine and Mohawk Racetracks.

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