Located west of downtown Toronto, Woodbine Racetrack has been Canada’s premier horse racing facility since opening its doors way back in 1956. Most famously, Woodbine is known as the home of the $1.5 million dollar Queen’s Plate, the oldest continuously run stakes race in North America, and the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing.
In 1996, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships were held at Woodbine, the one-and-only time the event has been held outside of the continental United States.
Betting Woodbine Racing
As the only throughbred racing facility in Canada that could be considered on par with US tracks such as Santa Anita, Churchill Downs or Gulfstream Park, the purse money offered at even the lowest level of Woodbine horse racing is relatively large, and the betting pools are even bigger.
From a betting point of view, these large pools mean there is more money to be paid out to bettors, and since all of the top-rated online racebooks offer Woodbine track odds, anyone with an account at an online racebook like those listed below can benefit from a very good return on their wagering dollar.
The Track at Woodbine
Woodbine is actually comprised of three tracks, with the main one-mile racing track an artificial surface called Tapeta, rather than the standard dirt surface you find on almost all other North American tracks. In the mid-2000s many tracks in the US converted to artificial surfaces, as various studies have indicated it is a safer footing for both horses and jockeys.
However, for a number of reasons (the cost of maintenence being the main one) almost all of those tracks reverted back to dirt, leaving Woodbine as one of the few artificial surfaces still in use. This is an important aspect of handicapping at Woodbine, as horses that have become used to successfully racing on the Tapeta often have an advantage over horses that are shipping in for races from elsewhere and are not used to the artificial footing.
Most famously, Woodbine is home to the E.P Taylor Turf course, which along with Belmont Park in New York is the only 1.5 mile turf course in North America. The E.P Taylor is often described as a “European-style” course, as it is not a perfect oval, with a slight straight section on the far turn.
It is also not as perfectly flat as other turf courses at North American race tracks, as the long homestretch on the E.P Taylor turf is slightly elevated as compared to the backstretch, another feature you often find at European turf tracks.
Up until 2018, Woodbine was the only race track in North America that could offer thoroughbred and standardbred racing on the same day, due the fact Woodbine also featured a 7/8 mile standardbred track inside the main artificial track.
However, at that time a decision was made to move all standardbred racing to Woodbine Mohawk Raceway, a “sister” track located in Milton, Ontario, about 30 kilometres away. With that move, in the summer of 2018 work was undertaken to convert the standardbred track surface at Woodbine into a second 7/8 mile turf course to be used for shorter sprint races of under one mile, or two-turn mile races.
The Races at Woodbine
Thanks in part to the all-weather Tapeta surface at Woodbine, the track hosts a fairly long racing season, running from mid-April to early December each year. Live racing is typically held on Wednesdays and then Friday through Sunday, with occasional holiday Monday racing as well.
The simulcast racing facility at Woodbine is open year-round, seven-days-per-week.
As mentioned earlier, the centre-piece event at Woodbine is the 158 year-old Queen’s Plate, held every year in late June or early July. In mid-August the track also plays host to the third and final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, that being the Breeders’ Stakes which is run on the E.P Taylor Turf.
The second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Prince of Wales Stakes, is held at Fort Erie Racetrack in nearby Fort Erie, Ontario.
In the fall, international turf racing becomes the focus at Woodbine, including such races as the $800,000 Woodbine Mile; the $500,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes; the $250,000 Nearctic Stakes; and the $300,000 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes.
The Woodbine Mile and the E.P Taylor Stakes are both ‘Win and You’re In’ qualifying races for the Breeders’ Cup Mile and the Breeders’ Cup Turf, respectively.
In addition to these races, all of which except for the Nearctic being rated as Grade 1 stakes races, the racing schedule at Woodbine includes another 32 graded-stakes races and 21 ungraded stakes races throughout the season.
The Casino at Woodbine
In addition to the live horse racing at Woodbine, the track is also the location of a year-around casino, offering live table games, slots, e-table games and stadium games.
There are a half-dozen full service restaurants, bars and lounges at Woodbine, and numerous fast-food outlets.