TORONTO — The thoroughbred racing season at Woodbine Racetrack might end next month after all.
Woodbine Entertainment said Tuesday it continues to have “productive conversations with senior levels” of the provincial government about being able to complete its revamped 2020 thoroughbred racing schedule.
“We are continuing to have discussions with the government of Ontario about our request to safely complete the balance of the season ending Dec. 13,” Woodbine Entertainment said in a statement issued on its Twitter account. “We will provide an update as soon as we can.”
Based upon the timing of these conversations, Woodbine stated that racing Thursday and Friday nights would be cancelled. If the government decided to permit live racing, the earliest it could resume would be Saturday, which would require entries to be submitted Thursday morning.
And if racing is allowed, Woodbine said it will attempt to reschedule the cancelled events.
On Sunday, Woodbine Entertainment announced that would be the final day of the ’20 season. Several races that were planned for then were cancelled due to weather, including snow, fluctuating temperatures and mixed precipitation.
News of the truncated season came two days after the Ontario government revealed its new COVID-19 measures.
On Friday, the government moved Toronto and Peel Region — two COVID-19 hot spots — into lockdown. That means the shutdown of businesses such as salons and gyms, while restaurants would move to takeout only and retail to curbside pickup.
The new restrictions came into effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on Monday.
Woodbine Entertainment has said it has about 1,300 employees either temporarily or permanently laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It added this shutdown would also negatively impact the about 2,000 horsepeople on the Woodbine backstretch, putting many of them out of work.
Under the new restrictions, horses could train only without spectators and not run in actual races. While there’s been racing at Woodbine since June, all events have been conducted without fans in the stands.
The start of Woodbine’s 2020 racing seasons — standardbred and thoroughbred — were delayed for several weeks due to the global pandemic before being allowed to begin June 5 with harness racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
The ’20 thoroughbred card began June 6 at Woodbine.
Standardbred racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Campbelleville, Ont., will continue. That track is located roughly 64 kilometres west of Toronto and outside of the lockdown boundaries.