Woodbine Mohawk Park Announces Pop-Up Series, Yearling Buying Spree

Written By Jose Colorado on December 1, 2021 - Last Updated on November 26, 2021

Woodbine Mohawk Park (WMP) will be rounding out 2021 with a trio of pop-up events.

The announcement – made earlier this month – urges pacing horses, pacing mares and trotters to enter.

However, those horses must have a minimum of 10 starts and have won less than $25,000 in 2021. With the turf season reporting solid numbers recently, contestants should expect more modest earnings for the pop-up.

Each division will be racing for a $17,000 purse with $30,000 on the line for the grand finale. A $20,000 consolation prize could potentially be available as well (participation dependent). There will be two preliminary legs and a final leg for each division.

The series begins on Nov.22 with the pacing horses.

Mohawk Park owners among yearling sale’s top buyers

Off the race track, Canadian owners who regularly compete at Mohawk Park have also been busy.

Case in point came: Nov.1 – Nov.10 when a handful of Canadians attended the Standardbred Horse Sales Company yearling sale.

Harrisburg, PA, hosted the event.

But Canadians Determination (Montreal, Que.) and Steve Heimbecker (Waterloo, Ont.) topped the buyers’ list for total purchases.

Meanwhile, Brad Grant (Milton, Ont.) also spent a pretty penny – US$850,000 to be exact.

US$750,000 of that went towards the sale topper – Italian, the full sister to Grant’s prized trotting filly, Atlanta.

“It is beyond encouraging to see the local owners as active as they were this past week,” said Bill McLinchey, Woodbine Mohawk Park director of standardbred racing.

“It really shows their confidence in racing in Ontario, and we look forward to seeing their recent purchases race at Mohawk next summer and fall.”

Determination’s deep pockets

Serge Godin and his Determination stable came away as the biggest spender at US$1,695,000.

Their average expenditure also led all buyers with a healthy US$282,500 apiece. That price tag earned them six yearlings, including the third-most-expensive horse, a trotting colt named Craft Made.

“Nice-looking horse, good page. He was perfect,” said Luc Blais, Determination’s stable trainer.

“I know we paid lots of money, but it’s tough to buy right now this year.”

When looking at the bigger picture, though, Heimbecker dropped even more coin.

In Harrisburg, he paid US$1,390,000 to land 14 yearlings.

But just a month earlier – at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale – he shelled out more than US$2.3 million for 32 yearlings. In total, he has spent roughly US$3.7 million on yearlings this fall alone.

Meanwhile, Grant’s US$850,000 bill pegged him as the sixth-biggest spender. He spent an additional US$450,000 in Lexington.

Canadian owners spending despite pandemic

The Standardbred Horse Sales Company yearling sale timing couldn’t have been any better.

Opening day saw loosened COVID-19 restrictions allowing for a flurry of Canadian owners to attend beyond those associated with Mohawk Park.

In total, Canadians spent US$8,743,000 to land 181 yearlings at the event. That figure accounted for roughly 27% of total yearling purchases.

Woodbine Entertainment – owners of Woodbine Mohawk Park – have had to get creative during the pandemic. The company re-launched its Dark Horse Betts app this summer to attract a new generation of sports bettors.

McLinchey is hoping that the extra effort pays off as the horse racing industry becomes increasingly more competitive.

Photo by Shutterstock/JL IMAGES
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Jose Colorado is a British Columbia-based writer. He lives in Burnaby and loves sports, anime, writing, business, and the occasional walk on the beach.

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