Canada’s Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) has rescheduled the Queen’s Plate to 22 August due to the ongoing pandemic.
Queen’s Plate Rescheduled to August
Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) has announced that its iconic Queen’s Plate event will be postponed this year as well, again due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic. The Queen’s Plate race was to be held at the end of June – as is customary – but it has since been rescheduled for 22 August.
Last year’s Queen’s Plate also had to be rescheduled – from 27 June to 12 September. Furthermore, no fans were allowed to attend all three legs of the Triple Crown. This includes the $400,000 Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie Racetrack and the Breeders’ Stakes at Woodbine.
WEG CEO Jim Lawson hopes that the availability of COVID-19 vaccinations would help loosen the restrictions and allow some spectators to attend the Queen’s Plate races. This is contingent on hitting a critical mass of vaccinated individuals, something that Mr. Lawson also noted.
That being said, Mr. Lawson has also preemptively dampened expectations as to the size of the event. The Queen’s Plate is a prestigious event and as such it never fails to draw in a massive crowd. Mr. Lawson stressed that this year’s event will be comparatively humbler, due again to the pandemic.
The Best Option
In regard to the rescheduling, Mr. Lawson explained that the move is motivated by three primary factors: public health, additional preparation time for trainers and profitability.
According to Mr. Lawson, WEG has been advised not to host the event during the peak summer months due to the heightened risk of COVID-19 infections. Therefore, the event would have to be held in late August or early September.
Secondly, the rescheduling gives Canadian trainers two more months to condition their male horses for the 1 1/4-mile race distance. Typically, this conditioning happens on the American tracks. However, the pandemic has prevented many Canadian trainers from heading out, sources claim.
The issue of profitability is ultimately what sealed the final date. The Queen’s Plate traditionally takes place on a Saturday, but this year’s race will be conducted 22 August – a Sunday. Mr. Lawson explained that WEG did not want to compete with Saratoga, which takes place on 21 August.
He also noted that September was also not a viable option, due to competition from the NFL, among other things. Mr. Lawson stressed that while conducting the race on 22 August comes with several compromises, but it simply offers the best balance of important factors.