Despite a global pandemic, Woodbine Racetrack appears to be galloping into the new year.
The venue posted steady numbers for its turf racing season in 2021, with 241 races contested over its two turf courses. Races run on its premier location, E.P. Taylor, generated an average handle of $577,895 per race. Its average field size was 9.5.
Meanwhile, Woodbine’s Inner-Turf Course – opening in 2019 – held 99 races. Its pull was $459,637, with a field size of 8.8.
Overall, the numbers are down from 2019. But all things considered, Woodbine’s CEO Jim Lawson seems happy.
“Despite our season being delayed by two months due to the pandemic, we had another terrific year of turf racing at Woodbine Racetrack,” said Lawson, via a press release.
“We are really looking forward to starting our 2022 season on time and running the most turf races in a single season in our history.”
Woodbine Racetrack sets record card handle in 2021
Currently, Woodbine’s single-season turf race record for a single meet is 363. That was in 2019 when E.P. Taylor and the Inner Turf combined for the total.
This past year E.P. Taylor saw 26 stakes races. Six were Grade 1 events.
The Inner Turf had eight-stakes runs.
It was the Ricoh Woodbine Mile and the Pattison Canadian International that highlighted the year, however. Town Cruise captured the former while Walton Street (GB) won the latter.
Both events were part of the Woodbine Turf festival weekend held on Sept. 18. And together, they combined for $3.9 million in wagers, pushing a Woodbine Mile card record handle of $13.8 million.
“Woodbine is a premier turf destination in North America, and the best is yet to come,” said Lawson.
Woodbine announces four new events to Winter Series
While turf races may be over for the year, there is still more to come in other categories.
Woodbine recently added four new events to its Winter Series late-closing program. Those include a pair of claiming series for Ontario sired four-year-olds.
In total, ten events will go down between December and March.
Woodbine Mohawk Park – another property of Woodbine Entertainment – will be hosting these events, however.
Other competitions in the Winter Series include the Niagara, Valedictory, Blizzard, Snowshoe, Wine & Roses and Family Day.
Winners can receive up to $40,000.
Woodbine active off the racetrack
Woodbine Entertainment has also been very active this past year outside the racetrack.
The company re-launched its Dark Horse Bets app ahead of the 162nd Queen’s Plate in the summertime. The update simplified the app to attract a new generation of sports bettors.
Perhaps that move went hand-in-hand with the company’s decision to double down on its vaccination requirements.
It required all race participants, Woodbine guests, staff and contractors to be fully vaccinated.
With fewer people at the race track, the company had to get creative in its fan engagement and revenue streams.