(Woodbine Race Course / Photos by Holly M. Smith)

Press Release:

The long awaited 2021 Thoroughbred season kicks off at Woodbine Racetrack this weekend with an 11-race card set to begin at 1:20 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, June 12.

With the Government of Ontario launching the first stage of its ‘Roadmap To Reopen’ plan allowing horse racing to resume, Woodbine will host live racing without spectators. Fans can watch and wager on all the action via HPIbet.com and the Dark Horse app, or tune in to the live stream available on Woodbine.com.

The 2021 meet will get underway with an 11-race card on Saturday that includes a $50,000 guaranteed Pick 5 pool and $100,000 guaranteed early Pick 4. The Jackpot Hi-5 will resume, with a carryover of $117,062.64.

Sovereign Award-winning jockey Rafael Hernandez will be busy on opening day as he looks to defend his Woodbine title after earning a meet-leading 129 victories last season. The multiple graded stakes-winning reinsman is listed on nine mounts, including the Roger Attfield-trained three-year-old filly Speightstown Shirl in the eighth race, a $123,200 maiden allowance over one mile of turf.

A full sister to graded stakes winner Shirl’s Speight, the Charles Fipke homebred will look to break through for her first win following three consecutive runner-up efforts. Speightstown Shirl will face a field of 13 other fillies and mares that includes the debuting Ontario-bred Astrological, who is a Malibu Moon half-sibling to 2018 Woodbine Oaks champion Dixie Moon. Emma Jayne-Wilson is listed to ride Astrological for Woodbine’s top trainer Mark Casse and owners Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gary Barber.

The highly anticipated opening weekend will feature live racing on Saturday and Sunday, with post time also slated for 1:20 p.m. The racing schedule will add Fridays (4:50 p.m. post time) and Thursdays (1:20 p.m. post time) as it expands to its normal schedule in the coming weeks.

Follow @WoodbineTB and visit Woodbine.com for more information.