May 29, 2017

WEG Would Welcome Development Of Mohawk Property

May 2, 2017 – Woodbine Entertainment Group CEO Jim Lawson has said the 440-acre parcel of land home to Mohawk Racetrack could one day be the site of the same kind of entertainment district and massive development being publicly courted on the 684-acre site of its sister track, Woodbine Racetrack.

“We think there is potential for development at Mohawk for all of the same reasons,” Lawson said after WEG announced a master plan has been completed for the Woodbine Racetrack lands.

“We are committed to (Mohawk)… and we would welcome development there in the nature that we just talked about (at Woodbine) as an entertainment district,” Lawson said. “We know the town of Milton is very supportive and they are a great municipality and council to work with. The zoning is there for that sort of thing. Milton is the fastest growing municipality in the country, so it lends itself to this sort of additional food and beverage, music and theatre experience. Right now, the idea is to locate the gaming within the footprint of the building, but we will be in discussion, and certainly open to, having that development go on at Mohawk.”

The release of the master plan for Woodbine is a signal to developers that the Rexdale, Ont. plant located just down the road from Toronto’s Pearson Airport, is open for development, with WEG acting as the landowner. Illustrations WEG released showing a multitude of entertainment options surrounding the racetrack are suggestions about what kinds of development could work well with the racetrack.

“Certainly, we don’t have the capital to do the development and we are risk adverse. Our main mandate is to support horse racing, so I would say that in most cases we will have a land lease and try to generate cash flow for the horse racing business,” he said. “Our role really is as the landowner and what I would call us ‘stewards’ of a great parcel of land to make sure that we do the right thing for the community and the right thing for the horse racing industry.”

Lawson was quick to stress development at Woodbine is likely a 15-to-20-year plan and there won’t be any construction until the Ontario Lottery and Gaming corporation (OLG) names the company that will operate an expanded casino at Woodbine. That announcement is expected in September of this year and the earliest a shovel would likely be in the ground for additional development on the property is the end of 2018, Lawson said.

Lawson said he is confident the development plan will come to fruition because WEG has “a committed gaming partner. We don’t know which gaming partner it will be, but we have a committed gaming partner that will be announced in September and, as we’ve said all along, the amount of development that will come with that is really a catalyst and a trigger for further opportunities to develop with the property,” he said.

Beyond being the site of an expanded casino and a top-tier horse racing venue, Lawson said what should also be attractive to developers about the Woodbine property is the fact that it is the “largest undeveloped piece of land in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area)… we’re in a unique position, really, of being a single landowner with that size of parcel of land that lets you phase it the way you want.”

He said improved public transportation to Woodbine would be a further inducement to developers.

“Developers are keenly interested in public transportation to the site. It’s something we are working on and it’s gaining momentum and acceptance. The municipality and the province are committed to public transportation in a way that is unprecedented in this province right now,” Lawson said, adding, there is “a big movement behind public transportation” in Toronto and, “potentially a mega hub in the Rexdale area, perhaps at the airport. Certainly, it would involve us. We have the Union-Pearson Line going right through our property and if the light rail transit goes over to Humber and has to make its way over to the airport, then Woodbine is the logical path, either down through (Highway) 27 or through our property.”

Meanwhile, WEG is continuing to move toward making Mohawk a year-round harness racing facility and leaving Woodbine to the thoroughbreds..

“I can certainly say it’s the direction we’re headed,” Lawson said. “We think the large majority of horsemen will be in favour of it. We talked of the traffic congestion in the GTA and, with a lot of the training centres and shipping in for harness racing, I think a lot of people would rather be at Mohawk. Our customers like watching harness racing at Mohawk better, because they are closer to the action. And part of our deal with the OLG is that we are going to be investing capital into Mohawk and you’ll see some improvements in the near term. We’re headed in that direction. I can’t confirm to you 100 per cent, but that’s a strong consideration of where we’ll be going.”

Those concerned that standardbreds may leave Woodbine just before that site becomes home to a flashy entertainment district need to “stay tuned,” Lawson said.

“Our goal is to make (Mohawk) the number one site for harness racing in North America,” Lawson said. “We are committed to it, to improving it, and I’m personally extremely excited for our contemplations for Mohawk and the way we are going to look at it. So, I don’t have those concerns at all.”

Lawson said a 20-year gaming lease with the OLG over the Mohawk slot hall means WEG is “committed to investing capital there and our goal is to make (Mohawk) – if it’s not already – the premier site. If I was a horseman, I would be thrilled with the direction that we’re going and you’ll be hearing more about it this year.”

He said he wants any development at Woodbine or Mohawk to be done in both a socially- and environmentally-responsible manner.

“We are reaching a whole new era in terms of urban planning and making sure that we have green space, bicycle paths and foot paths. We want to make it a nice community, which is going to take a long time.”

According to the WEG press release, the “‘city within a city’ concept is designed to unlock the value of the undeveloped land, generating long-term revenues that will sustainably support WEG’s horse racing operations, and thousands of farming jobs in rural communities across Ontario… The vision for the plan is for Woodbine to continue to be the ultimate destination for horse racing and gaming, while integrating new expanded entertainment and cultural offerings, food and dining, hotel, shopping, office space, post-secondary education, recreation, health, wellness, and urban residential living.”

Lawson said the key is to make sure development “complements and helps sustain racing for the next 20, 30, 40 years and Woodbine is the focus of that.”

He said the initial development phase “is that the gaming expansion will be a trigger for entertainment — a music venue and entertainment venue that comes with having a gaming experience and a horse racing experience… We’re trying to build the guest experience, restaurants, complementary retail, and all the rest.”

The entire point is to draw people to both the Woodbine and Mohawk sites and try to turn people on to horse racing.

“If we can get people out to Woodbine and Mohawk through these additional amenities and guest experiences, it gives us the chance over the longer term to introduce people to horse racing and introduce people to invest in horse racing and we really need to do that. We need to generate that kind of exposure and that’s what this is all about,” Lawson said.

(Courtesy Ontario Racing)

Jackpot Hi 5 Carryover To $106k

April 6, 2017 – The Jackpot Hi 5 carryover going into Friday’s card of racing at Woodbine Racetrack ballooned to $106,977.51 after Cyrax’s comfortable tally in Thursday evening’s finale at the Rexdale, Ont. oval.

Sent off as the second choice in the wagering at odds of 2-1, the Joanne Pond pupil was a driving away winner in 1:58.4 for driver Jonathan Drury. The gelding held off the late-driving longshot, J J Mystic Storm (13-1), in addition to Sly Baran (9-5), Winning Drive (7-1) and A F F Bigdaddy (6-1).

There were multiple winning tickets sold on the combination of 6-4-5-3-8, and a $1-based ticket returned $1,463.50.

To view results for Thursday’s card of harness racing, click the following link: Thursday Results – Woodbine Racetrack.

Jackpot Hi-5 Mandatory Payout Saturday

March 9, 2017 – Horseplayers can start studying immediately, as the draw is out for this Saturday’s (March 11) Jackpot Hi-5 mandatory payout race at Woodbine Racetrack.

A carryover of $578,231.58 is being brought into the Jackpot Hi-5 mandatory payout, which is offered on Race 10 this Saturday.

A 12-horse field has been put together for the Jackpot Hi-5 race. Overnight pacers meeting the conditions of Non-Winners of $10,500 last five or $18,000 last 10 will battle for an increased purse of $25,000.

All starters in Saturday’s Jackpot Hi-5 race will receive money. The winner of the race will receive 50 per cent of the purse, while horses finishing sixth through 12th will receive one per cent. The remainder of the purse will be split up as usual to the horses finishing second through fifth.

The current Jackpot Hi-5 carryover has been growing since the last mandatory payout on December 23.

On that evening, a carryover of $548,396 was brought into the mandatory payout and horseplayers wagered $2,081,441 of new money into the Jackpot Hi-5 pool.

Gregg McNair trainee The Rev won the Jackpot Hi-5 race on December 23 and once again will be competing in Saturday’s mandatory payout race, starting from Post 9. Dialamara (PP6) and Half A Billion (PP7) join The Rev as the only three horses from the most recent mandatory payout race to compete in Saturday’s event.

A $0.20 winning ticket on the December 23rd mandatory payout returned $4,842.70.

If previous mandatory payouts are any indication, a total pool well over $2 million is very likely on Saturday’s mandatory payout.

This Saturday will be the seventh major mandatory payout on WEG Standardbred racing since the Jackpot Hi-5 was introduced to the wagering menu in the fall of 2013.

An average of $1.7 million in new money has been wagered on each of the previous six major mandatory payouts.

The Jackpot Hi-5 requires horseplayers to select the top-five finishers in order. The minimum wager is $0.20, while the takeout is 15 per cent.

To view early program pages for Saturday’s card, click here.

Post time for Saturday’s card at Woodbine is 7:30 p.m.

Below is the field for Saturday’s Jackpot Hi-5 mandatory payout race.

Race 10 – Saturday, March 11 – Purse: $25,000


1. Machal Jordan (Roger Mayotte – Kenneth Switzer)
2. Casimir Overdrive (Doug McNair – Carmen Auciello)
3. Panedictine (Colin Kelly – Laurie Bako)
4. Single White Sock (James MacDonald – Ted MacDonnell)
5. Erle Dale N (Doug McNair – Ron Adams)
6. Dialamara (James MacDonald – Pat Fletcher)
7. Half A Billion (Louis Philippe Roy – Corey Giles)
8. Champagne Phil (Paul MacDonell – Dean Nixon)
9. The Rev (Doug McNair – Gregg McNair)
10. Mach On The Beach (Louis Philippe Roy – Richard Moreau)
11. Darcee N (Travis Cullen – Travis Cullen)
12. Bank Shot Hanover (Trevor Henry – Victor Puddy)


Jackpot Hi-5 Mandatory Payout Date

March 1, 2017 – The Woodbine Entertainment Group has announced a mandatory payout date of Saturday, March 11 for the current Standardbred Jackpot Hi-5.

Horseplayers will have three more opportunities to wager on the Woodbine Racetrack Jackpot Hi-5, which currently has a carryover of $476,469, before the wager is suspended following this Saturday’s card (March 4) in preparation for the mandatory payout.

The current Jackpot Hi-5 carryover has been growing since January 7, which was the first card to offer Hi-5 wagering following a mandatory payout on December 23.

The most recent mandatory payout (December 23) had more than $2 million of new money wagered into the pool, which featured a carryover of $548,396, to create a total pool of $2.6 million.

A winning 20-cent ticket on the December 23 Jackpot Hi-5 returned $4,842.70.

The December 23 mandatory payout was not the first time the total pool exceeded $2 million.

A mandatory payout on October 24, 2015 at Woodbine generated a total pool of more than $2.2 million, with $1.6 million of new money wagered into the Hi-5 that evening. The 20-cent payout was $12,746.60

On August 30, 2014 at Mohawk, the Jackpot Hi-5 total pool was $2.5 million, while a mandatory payout on May 17, 2014 at Woodbine had a total pool of $2 million.

The Jackpot Hi-5 requires horseplayers to select the top-five finishers in order and features a $0.20 minimum wager with a 15 per cent takeout.

More details regarding the mandatory payout on March 11 will be distributed following this Saturday’s card. Post time for live racing Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Woodbine is 7:30 p.m.



HPItv To Remain In TV Lineup

February 27, 2017 – On Monday, February 27, the Woodbine Entertainment Group announced that HPItv, the Woodbine Entertainment Group’s CRTC licensed digital television channel, will remain on the air.

“After receiving feedback from horseplayers and racing fans expressing their desire to find a way to keep the channel on the air, we started to explore more alternative solutions,” said Sean Pinsonneault, WEG’s executive vice-president of strategy and wagering. “We believe we have come up with a practical solution that will work and as a result, have decided to continue with the main HPItv channel without disruption under an exciting new model.”

Last month, WEG announced plans to shut down the HPItv multi-track channel in April.

A new version of HPItv will launch on March 1, 2017. The live feed of up to four tracks will be displayed simultaneously on a new quad-split screen format throughout the racing day and evening. The audio will be offered on race calls.

“HPItv’s new quad display, which will provide a teletheatre style view of the racetracks, has received positive feedback when tested with customers,” said Pinsonneault.

Fans can continue to enjoy one track at a time via HPItv’s Pay-Per-View (PPV) channels, HPItv Canada, HPItv International and HPItv West, on select cable and satellite platforms, while the odds channel, which offers similar betting information as the multi-track channel, will go off the air on May 1.

WEG has been broadcasting racing to homes across Canada though HPItv and its predecessor, The Racing Network (TRN), since 2001.

“We have had to be strategic in addressing the economic realities of this, but our customers have been reasonable and clearly just want HPItv to remain in their TV lineup,” said Pinsonneault. “We believe we have found a practical solution that meets the core needs of our players and we’re excited to launch the fresh look and technologies of our new format.”, WEG’s online betting platform, will continue to service all of the wagering and handicapping needs for customers using HPItv at home.


WEG Stakes Noms Due Wednesday

February 13 – The due date for nominations to all Woodbine Entertainment Group’s (WEG) stakes events in 2017 is this Wednesday (February 15).

WEG has moved to an across-the-board closing date of February 15 for all stakes in 2017.

The new format has pushed the closing date up to February 15 for WEG’s signature two-year-old stakes (Metro Pace, Shes A Great Lady, Wellwood Memorial, Peaceful Way) and older horse stakes (Canadian Pacing Derby, Maple Leaf Trot, Roses Are Red, Milton, Armbro Flight).

Nominations are also due on February 15 for the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup for three-year-old pacers. North America’s richest race for pacers will take place on Saturday, June 17 at Mohawk Racetrack.

Other events to require nominations by February 15 include the $650,000 Canadian Trotting Classic (three-year-olds), $400,000 Elegantimage (three-year-old trotting fillies), $400,000 Fan Hanover (three-year-old pacing fillies), $265,000 Goodtimes (three-year-old trotters), $160,000 Casual Breeze (three-year-old trotting fillies) and the $130,000 Somebeachsomewhere (three-year-old pacers).

Sustaining payments are also due Wednesday for this year’s Simcoe and SBOA Stakes.

A fee of $500 ($360 USD) is due Wednesday to keep three-year-olds (foals of 2014) eligible to this year’s Simcoe Open and Simcoe Filly Stakes. The SBOA Stakes for Ontario Sired three-year-old fillies requires a sustaining payment of $300 ($215).

To view the sustaining payment information, click here.

Similar to recent years, WEG continues to handle all administration duties for Alliance racetrack stakes.

Nominations are due on February 15 for Grand Rivers Raceway’s Battle of Waterloo and Battle of the Belles (Ontario Sired two-year-old pacers), Flamboro Downs’ Confederation Cup (four-year-old pacers), Clinton Raceway’s Kin Pace (Ontario Sired three-year-old pacing fillies) and Hanover Raceway’s Dream of Glory (Ontario Sired three-year-old trotters) and Balanced Image (Ontario Sired two-year-old trotters).

The nomination form for all the events closing on February 15 can be viewed by clicking here.

Nomination fees for all events can be paid online by clicking here.

If sending nominations by mail, envelopes must be clearly post-marked no later than February 15, 2017 or payment will not be accepted. Registered mail is recommended.

All inquires regarding the February 15 closing date can be directed to the Mohawk Racetrack race office, 905-854-7805.

Stakes payments to these stakes can also be made through SC Stakes Online. Click here for more info on how to get started.



No Woodbine Training This Saturday

February 10, 2017 – The Mohawk Racetrack race office would like to inform horsepeople of a change to the training schedule at Woodbine.

Due to poor weather conditions in the Greater Toronto Area, training has been cancelled for Saturday (February 11) at Woodbine Racetrack.

The next training day is scheduled for Saturday, February 18.


Jackpot Hi 5 Carryover Soars To $208K

February 9, 2017 – The Jackpot Hi 5 carryover has climbed to over $200,000 after the popular Casimir Overdrive came through with a front-stepping score in Thursday’s finale at Woodbine Racetrack.

Sent off as the 8-5 favourite, the Victory Puddy trainee and driver Trevor Henry staved off late pressure to win for the favourite players. Casimir Overdrive defeated Highpoint Chip (9-2), Sierra Madre (8-1), Two Of Clubs (11-1) and House Of Terror (5-1).

Multiple winning tickets were sold on the combination of 8-1-5-6-7, with the $1-based ticket returning $1,102.95. The exact carryover number going info Friday evening’s Jackpot Hi 5 wager is $208,464.85.

To view results for Thursday’s card of harness racing, click the following link: Thursday Results – Woodbine Racetrack.


Woodbine Changes Training Schedule

The Mohawk Racetrack race office would like to inform horsepeople of a change to the current training schedule for the month of February at Woodbine Racetrack.

Starting next week, training will no longer be available at Woodbine on Tuesday mornings in February, but instead will be available on Saturday mornings.

The racing surface and paddock will be available each Saturday morning during the month of February (starting February 11) from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

An update with the training schedule for the month of March will be issued later in the month.


No Woodbine Training This Week

January 23, 2017 – The Mohawk Racetrack race office would like to inform horsepeople that there will be no training available at Woodbine Racetrack this week.

Training is not available on Tuesday morning or prior to the races this week at Woodbine.

Due to mild January temperatures and rain, the decision was made to postpone training for a week and allow the track crew an opportunity to perform maintenance on the racing surface.

Training will be available at Woodbine on Tuesday, January 31 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.