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Harness racing driver Phil Hudon has been red-hot to start 2016 and Thursday evening he reached a career milestone. The Guelph, Ontario resident entered Thursday's card just $769 shy of $50 million in career earnings. In Thursday's second-race, Hudon guided Charlie Badlands to a third-place finish to surpass the $50 million mark. Hudon, 41, is currently the leading driver at Woodbine with 27 wins in 2016. Last season, the veteran reinsman drove the winners of 156 races and over $2.3 million. Hudon also surpassed 4,000 career victories in 2015. This season, Hudon has driven the winners of more than $320,000 in a little over a month of racing action. The Woodbine Entertainment Group will recognize Hudon in the winner's circle following his next victory. Also on Thursday, a field of eight three-year-old pacing fillies squared off in the second leg of the Miss VeraBars. Cracklin Rosie, who won the first leg, was a race-day scratch, leaving the door open for a new winner heading into next week's final. Bad As Leader, one of three Victor Puddy trainees in the field, went gate-to-wire for a 1:55.4 victory. Driven by Trevor Henry, the daughter of Badlands Hanover got her own way through fractions of :29, :58.2 and 1:27.3 before pacing home in :28.1 to win by two-lengths. Windsun Glory finished second, while Im In Luv was third. Bad As Leader now has three wins in five starts this season and five victories overall in her young career. She is owned by Bill Manes and William Cripps. Friday's victory pushes her career earnings over $47,000. Bad As Leader paid $10.10 to win. The Miss Vera Bars Series will wrap next Friday (February 19) with the $41,600 final. Live racing continues Friday night at Woodbine with The Count B and Ontario Girls Series highlighting the 10-race card. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, February 2 - The month of February has arrived and the deadline to make nomination payments to major Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) harness racing stakes events is approaching. Nominations to several major stakes, including the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup, close on Tuesday, February 16. The 32nd Pepsi North America Cup for the continent's finest three-year-old pacers will take place on Saturday, June 18 at Mohawk Racetrack. Nominations also close on February 16 for the $700,000 Canadian Trotting Classic, $480,000 Fan Hanover, $400,000 Elegantimage, $235,000 Goodtimes, $225,000 Somebeachsomewhere and $150,000 Casual Breeze. The nomination fee to the Pepsi North America Cup and Canadian Trotting Classic is $500 ($370 USD). The five other events carry a nomination fee of $300 ($225 USD). New in 2016, the Woodbine Entertainment Group will host a leg of the Graduate Series for four-year-old pacers and trotters on Saturday, June 4 at Mohawk. The Graduate Series offers harness racing's newest aged competitors the opportunity to race in a stakes event restricted to four-year-olds. A purse of $75,000 USD will be offered up for both the pacing and trotting divisions during the Mohawk leg of the Graduate. The Mohawk stop of the Graduate Series is the second of three preliminary legs. The top point earners from the preliminary legs are eligible for the $250,000 finals on July 9 at The Meadowlands. The Graduate Series is administrated by Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment. Returning to the WEG stakes calendar in 2016 is the "Fall Four" Stakes. The "Fall Four" Stakes for two-year-olds offer lucrative purses for harness racing's rookies and will take place on Saturday, November 19 at Woodbine Racetrack. The "Fall Four" is made up of the $565,000 Governor's Cup for pacers, $525,000 Valley Victory for trotters, $465,000 Goldsmith Maid for filly trotters and $425,000 Three Diamonds for filly pacers. The nomination fee to the "Fall Four" Stakes is $350 ($260 USD). To view the nomination sheet for the events closing February 16, click here. To view the 2016 WEG Stakes booklet, click here. To make nomination payments online, click here. If sending nominations by mail, envelopes must be clearly post-marked no later than February 16 or payment will not be accepted. Registered mail is recommended. Any questions or concerns regarding the February 16 closing can be directed to the Mohawk Race Office, 905-854-7805. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, January 11 - Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) today revealed its $14 million-plus 2016 harness racing stakes schedule. The 33rd edition of the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup for three-year-old pacers will highlight the stakes calendar. Canada's richest harness race will be held on Saturday, June 18 at Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville, Ontario. The eliminations for the Pepsi North America Cup will take place a week prior on Saturday, June 11. The Pepsi North America Cup card on June 18 features a stacked undercard. The $480,000 Fan Hanover (three-year-old pacing fillies), $350,000 Roses Are Red (pacing mares), $275,000 Armbro Flight (trotting mares), $235,000 Goodtimes (three-year-old trotters) and $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup Invitational will all take place on 'Cup' night. Total purses for the Pepsi North America Cup card are expected to exceed $2.5 million. Over $2.2 million will be up for grabs on Labour Day weekend, as the Canadian Pacing Derby and Metro Pace take their usual end of summer spot on Saturday, September 3. The $685,000 Canadian Pacing Derby is Canada's oldest stakes race and will feature the very best pacers in harness racing, while the $685,000 Metro Pace is the premier event for two-year-old pacers. The $455,000 Shes A Great Lady Stakes for two-year-old pacing fillies and $220,000-plus Simcoe Stakes for three-year-old trotters and filly pacers will make up the 'Pacing Derby' and Metro undercard. Following the Labour Day weekend bash, the Canadian Trotting Classic and Maple Leaf Trot will take place on Saturday, September 17. The $700,000 Canadian Trotting Classic for three-year-olds is Canada's richest trotting event, while the $680,000 Maple Leaf Trot has annually attracted the best trotters from around the world. The All-Star trotting card will also feature the $410,000 Peaceful Way for two-year-old filly trotters, $400,000 Elegantimage for three-year-old filly trotters and the $370,000 William Wellwood Memorial for two-year-old trotters. Once again in 2016, WEG will continue to distribute purse money to all finishers in major stakes events. The winner of the finals will receive the traditional 50% of the total purse, while those finishing sixth through last will take home 1% of the purse. The horses finishing second through fifth will receive 50%-24%-16%-10% of the remaining purse. Returning to the stakes calendar in 2016 is the Fall Four Stakes for two-year-olds on Saturday, November 19 at Woodbine Racetrack. Last held at Woodbine in 2014, the Fall Four consists of the $565,000 Governor's Cup (pacers), $525,000 Valley Victory (trotters), $465,000 Goldsmith Maid (filly trotters) and $425,000 Three Diamonds (filly pacers). The entire 2016 stakes schedule can be viewed by clicking here. Once again in 2016, WEG will continue to handle administrative duties for all Standardbred Alliance stakes events. Payments to all WEG and Alliance stakes are payable and should be mailed to the Woodbine Entertainment Group. Stakes payments can also be made online. Mark McKelvie - WEG Communications

TORONTO, January 7 - Woodbine Entertainment Group dedicated Thursday evening's card of harness racing to the equine lives lost in Monday night's barn fire at Classy Lane Stables.   Horsepeople gathered in the Standardbred paddock to watch a tribute video created by the Woodbine Broadcasting Department and pay their respects.   A moment of silence was also held in honour of the horses lost in Monday's fire.   Donations can be made to help those affected by the fire through the Central Ontario Standardbred Association GoFundMe page‚Äč.   A video tribute to the equine lives lost in the fire at Classy Lane Stables.        

TORONTO, December 16 - Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) today announced the date of the 2016 $1 million Pepsi North America Cup. The 33rd edition of the Pepsi North America Cup for the finest three-year-old pacers will take place on Saturday, June 18 at Mohawk Racetrack. The eliminations for Canada's richest harness race will be contested a week prior on Saturday, June 11. The Pepsi North America Cup was first staged in 1984 and throughout its more than 30-year history has been captured by the likes of Precious Bunny, Gallo Blue Chip, Rocknroll Hanover and Somebeachsomewhere. The 2016 Pepsi North America Cup will be the tenth edition hosted at Mohawk Racetrack. Since being moved from Woodbine Racetrack to Mohawk in 2007, the Pepsi North America Cup has grown to record heights. A 'Cup' record $4,292,777 was wagered on last year's card, while an attendance of close to 12,000 watched Wakizashi Hanover captured the 32nd Pepsi North America Cup. The 2016 Pepsi North America Cup undercard will once again feature several top Grand Circuit events, including the Fan Hanover, Goodtimes, Roses Are Red and Armbro Flight Stakes. Nominations to the Pepsi North America Cup close on February 16, 2016. More information regarding the 2016 Pepsi North America Cup will be made available in the coming months.   Mark McKelvie

As the 2015 live season comes to a close at the Toronto plant, new CEO Jim Lawson gives his take on the year that was and what the future may hold for Canada's largest racetrack. In May, a little over a month after becoming the chief executive officer of Toronto's Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG), Jim Lawson was busy setting up a satellite office in the stable area and professing a love for the backside of a racetrack first stoked as a boy on visits to the Woodbine barns with his father. "There's nothing better that being around a racetrack in the morning and seeing everyone," he said at the time. "They love their job. They just love being around the horses, but they love being part of the community. That's what means a lot to me." Six months later, a few days before Woodbine will bring an end to both the 2015 racing season and its 9-year-old Polytrack surface, Lawson laughed when asked if being in the backstretch regularly was still good for his soul. "It’s definitely challenging," he said carefully. "It's an interesting business in that the complaints far outweigh the praise … but that's okay. I understand that and that's why we're back there. If we can make this a better place as a result of that, that's what it's all about." In a nearly hour-long interview just before yesterday's season-ending card at Woodbine, Lawson spoke candidly and passionately about the state of horse racing at Canada's largest racetrack less than two years after the province pulled the plug on the lucrative Slots at Racetracks Program. Lawson, who is also the chair of the Canadian Football League and was the league’s interim commissioner when he took the job at WEG, is the son of the late Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Famer Mel Lawson, who established the Jim Dandy Stable in the 1960s. Being more accessible to the horsepeople is one part of Lawson’s efforts to institute a significant culture change at WEG, one of seven positive indicators — including a 14 percent increase in wagering — that Woodbine may have a bright future. 1. Culture Change "We’re working at a transformation that's consistent with getting more people interested in the game," Lawson said of the culture change he began leading shortly after April 1, when he took over for outgoing CEO Nick Eaves. "What we're faced with in this industry is just a challenging landscape in terms of the competition for that sports and entertainment dollar. I think what we need to do is become better as an organization in terms of attracting people and showing people what horse racing can do, how people can come out and enjoy themselves. That starts with having a happy workplace. People who are excited about what they do, they pass on that excitement to the customer." Lawson said increasing employee investment in the operation requires removing some of the hierarchy in an organization that has nearly 2,000 employees and operates both Woodbine Racetrack just down the road from Toronto’s Pearson Airport and its Standardbred-only sister track, Mohawk Racetrack, 30 miles west of the city in Campbellville. "Part of our cultural change is challenging people for that new vision to give them the empowerment to do things differently," Lawson said. “I think that’s the way horse racing is going to survive in this province - by being new and innovative - and that's part of our cultural vision and our vision, generally, as a company." 2. Turf is King One example of different thinking involves experimenting with racing the opposite direction — clockwise — to better utilize Woodbine’s celebrated, European-style turf course, named for the track’s founder, E.P. Taylor, the man who brought the world the incomparable Northern Dancer. "Why not run clockwise? What’s wrong with that? We never thought of it before. Let’s try something different. Let's build some innovation and excitement back in this game," Lawson said. "The idea really relates to the fact that we've got this world class turf course and a good part of it doesn't get used unless we’re running a mile-and-a-quarter or a mile-and-a-half on the grass. "We’ve been looking at ways to add chutes to our turf course and different approaches. We are likely going to experiment in the spring with running horses clockwise. We've already worked horses clockwise successfully. It doesn’t seem to impact the horses at all. I appreciate from a handicapping angle that some horses may turn right better than they turn left, but that’s a handicapping angle. I don’t think, from the experts we talked to, the horses notice the difference. "I can see us running 25 races or more next year clockwise." Lawson said one of Woodbine’s biggest selling points is its turf course. The plant could even add a second turf course in the future. Currently, Standardbreds race at Woodbine in the winter on a dirt track that was a Thoroughbred turf oval prior to harness racing coming to the facility in 1994. WEG is exploring the possibility of Standardbreds racing at Mohawk year-round, which would allow the company to put in a new turf track where the harness racing oval is now. A lot of that is dependent on casino expansion at both facilities, but more on that in a second. For the time being, WEG is concentrating on replacing its Polytrack surface. 3. Ditching the Poly for Tapeta Shortly after racing ends on Nov. 29, construction crews will begin tearing out Woodbine’s Polytrack surface in favour of a new synthetic cushion — Tapeta. Weather permitting, the hope is to have the new track installed in December so it can settle over the winter. Lawson predicts there will be business advantages to Tapeta being installed." It's a very consistent surface, so people coming up here or shipping up here to run know what they’re going to run on," Lawson said. "Our numbers show us that our biggest selling point is our turf course. We're looking at ways of increasing our turf racing. Horses that ship in to run on our turf, they at least have the luxury of knowing that if there's a rainstorm… and the race comes off the turf, they will run on a Tapeta surface. That way they're not faced with scratching the horse on a sloppy or muddy track. "We will average a fewer scratches when a race moves from a grass surface to a Tapeta surface." Lawson said field size is critical to WEG’s bottom line. "There's such a direct correlation between field size and wagering," he said. "Across North America, every racetrack is struggling with horse supply and field size. Part of the challenge here is to try and increase wagering faced with not only the competition for the entertainment and wagering dollar, but also in our own world, even if we have the wagers there, they're just not going to wager the same amount of money when field sizes are down." 4. Business numbers are up Despite struggling, at times, to card full fields, Lawson was proud to announce betting at Woodbine was up almost 14 per cent in 2015 over 2014. "That's a substantial increase in a period where it’s been difficult with all the competition for the wagering dollar. We’re pleased," Lawson said, indicating the numbers are slightly inflated because the Canadian dollar is currently trading around 75 cents compared to the U.S. dollar. "But it's also indicative, I think, of our product being very well received in the United States, in particular, and the Woodbine brand being recognized," Lawson said. "I think a credit to our marketing people, who work very hard on those U.S. relationships." Woodbine smashed betting records on its three biggest event days this year — the 156th running of the Queen’s Plate on July 5, the Ricoh Woodbine Mile on Sept. 13 and the Pattison Canadian International on Oct. 18. The Queen's Plate card produced an all-time record Woodbine handle of $11.06 million (excluding the 1996 Breeders’ Cup held at the track). The previous, non-Cup Woodbine record was the $9.7 million wagered in 2013. Lawson said he is "boldly predicting" that at next year’s Queen’s Plate, Woodbine will exceed both the $11 million in wagering and this year's Plate crowd of 36,000. That's the good news. However, betting at Woodbine on the Breeder' Cup at Keeneland was not without its challenges. Higher commissions imposed by the Breeders’ Cup forced Woodbine to increase its takeout rates for the day, which, despite being well-publicized, rankled some of Woodbine's customers. "We were faced with some tough decisions. Do we not carry the Breeders’ Cup, which our customers would not have appreciated? Do we go ahead and take a loss? To me there’s something terribly wrong about operating a business of this size and having a Breeders' Cup weekend where we’re going into it knowing we’re going to take a loss on the wagers, or, thirdly, do we try and increase, at least for the day, our pari-mutuel commission takeout? That is the route we took and had to take in order to avoid a loss on those pools." 5. Double the number of Off-Track Betting facilities Thanks to changes in the post-slots era, Woodbine has also nearly doubled the number of Off-Track Betting (OTB) locations it manages in Ontario from 27 in 2013 to 53 today. A five-year, $500 million funding package from provincial government that began April 1, 2014, gave WEG authority over all of the province’s teletheatre locations. WEG now pools the OTB revenue and returns a percentage of it to Ontario's smaller tracks. "We've been working hard at it. The truth is, it’s such a difficult, competitive and, I don’t mind saying, low-margin environment. We need to work very hard to make any gains, particularly any net gains," Lawson said. 6. Casino expansion Woodbine is already home to one of Canada’s most successful slot machine operations, with 3,000 machines on its gaming floor. Though the track no longer gets direct revenue from the slots, it does get money for leasing the gaming space to the province. In July, Toronto City Council voted 25-19 in favour of a full casino expansion at Woodbine that would add 300 table games and 2,000 electronic gaming machines. An outside casino company picked by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) will operate the casino. Lawson said the latest is the OLG, "has now short-listed to seven bidders, but we don’t know who they are… The OLG appears anxious to move (the casino expansion) along." Though no plans have yet been approved at WEG's Mohawk Racetrack, Lawson said, “my goal, quite frankly, is to duplicate (casino expansion) at Mohawk". Mohawk is located in the municipality of Milton, which has already approved the zoning for a potential casino expansion. WEG just needs the go-ahead from the OLG. 7. Extensive property development Casino expansion is critical to unlocking a sustainable future because WEG plans extensive property development to go along with it. "We have a large land development opportunity and between the two sites we have 1,000 acres of land that we hold," Lawson said. Lawson is a big proponent of bringing a wide range of entertainment, hospitality, retail and residential tenants to Woodbine's 700-acre property, which features terrific access by surrounding highways, more than 7,000 parking spots and the possibility of a light-rail or subway stop in the future. Pearson Airport just added a rail link to downtown. It is one of the largest parcels of undeveloped land in the city of Toronto. "We're keen on what it will mean to the community and the jobs in the community. In effect, once that process gets secure, we have entered into an arrangement or a negotiated agreement for a long-term development at Woodbine Racetrack. "To me, what that does for the entire industry, Thoroughbred and Standardbred, certainly puts some long-term economics into this organization ,whose sole mandate is horse racing," Lawson said. Dave Briggs  

TORONTO, November 2 - The Mohawk race office would like to inform horsepeople of a change to the harness racing draw schedule for the current Woodbine Fall-Winter meet. Effective immediately, the draw for Saturdays will now take place on Wednesdays. Here is the up to date Woodbine draw schedule. Draw Monday for Thursday Draw Tuesday for Friday Draw Wednesday for Saturday Draw Thursday for Monday. The entry box closes for each draw at 10:30 a.m. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, October 30 - The Woodbine Entertainment Group is pleased to once again offer a wide range of Winter Series events for the upcoming months. A total of 12 events will be raced over the months of December, January, February and March. The series finals will feature nearly $500,000 in added money over the course of the winter. The Niagara for three-year-old pacing fillies and the Valedictory for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings will kick off Winter Series action in December. Both series will wrap up with their finals on the special afternoon Boxing Day card. New in 2015, the and WEGZ series are now four-year-old pacing events. The will be offered for four-year-old pacing mares, who are non-winners of $100,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2015. The WEGZ series carries the same conditions and is for four-year-old pacing horses and geldings. Other Winter Series events include the Blizzard, Snowshoe, Miss Vera Bars, The Count B, Ontario Girls, Ontario Boys, Lifetime Dream and General Brock. To view the nomination form and details for all 12 events, click here. WINTER SERIES WINTER SERIES Nominations Close Tuesday, December 1, 2015 Event # 61 - Niagara - 3 year old pacing fillies in 2015 $30,000 A ... Read more... Each series carries a nomination fee of $200 and will feature two preliminary legs and added money final. All series will be raced at Woodbine Racetrack. Nominations for each event close on December 1st. To pay the $200 nomination fee online, click here. If sending nominations by mail, envelopes must be clearly post-marked no later than December 1st, 2015 or payment will not be accepted. Registered mail is recommended. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, October 15 - Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) today announced the mandatory payout for the harness racing Jackpot Hi-5 is set for Saturday, October 24 at Woodbine. October 24 is none other than the night of the Breeders Crown, Harness racing's championship event. The Breeders Crown, worth over $6 million in purses in 2015, will offer 12 title races in each of harness racing's divisions. A 13th race will also be carded which will be the opportunity to wager on the Jackpot Hi-5. The final opportunity to wager on the Jackpot Hi-5 before the mandatory payout date will be the night of Saturday, October 17, the second of two evenings offering Breeders Crown eliminations. The carryover will continue to build through that date, provided there is not a single winner. The wager will then be suspended for the Monday, October 19 and Thursday, October 22 and Friday, October 24 cards of racing, allowing customers to prepare for the mandatory payout prize. The Jackpot Hi 5, which currently boasts a carryover of $511,002, requires horseplayers to select the first five finishers in exact order on the last race of the card. The Jackpot proviso means that the entire pool pays out only when there is one winning ticket sold that correctly selects the first five finishers in exact order. The Jackpot Hi-5, which has not been won since August 11, has become a popular part of the WEG wagering profile since it launched in 2013. WEG has offered mandatory payout events, with carryover, with much success. On August 30, 2014, the Standardbred Jackpot Hi-5 at Mohawk generated a total pool of $2,522,851. Each 20-cent payout returned $1,347.36 that evening. The 'Hi-5' on May 17, 2014 at Woodbine also generated a large total pool of $2,002,026. That night, the $0.20 cent payout was worth $8,759.15. On a card where there is not a mandatory Jackpot Hi-5 payout, and not just one winning ticket, half of the wagering pool is carried over and offered on the next racing card. The other half is paid out in consolation payouts to those Jackpot Hi 5 tickets which have the correct order of finish. If there are no winners of the wager, the entire pool, minus takeout, carries over. The Jackpot Hi 5, which offers a 20-cent minimum and a low takeout of 15%, has proven to be popular among core and new racing fans. This past Saturday night, $53,177 was wagered into the Jackpot Hi 5 pool. For fans and horseplayers wanting further details on WEG's Jackpot Hi 5, including details, strategy and carryover info visit Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, October 9 - Woodbine Entertainment Group today announced Jeffrey Orridge, Commissioner of the CFL, will be the guest drawmaster at the draw for the Breeders Crown, Harness Racing's $6 million championship event.   The Breeders Crown post position draw will be held on Tuesday, October 20 at Woodbine Racetrack and the CFL Commissioner will be on hand to assist with the festivities. The media event will get underway at noon.   The Breeders Crown finals, featuring 12 title races, will be contested on Saturday, October 24.   Orridge is active on social media and can be followed on Twitter @commish13. John Siscos

CAMPBELLVILLE, September 30 - Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) today announced wagering numbers were up for the 2015 Mohawk Standardbred meet, which concluded on Tuesday, September 29. The 2015 Mohawk meet, which began on April 9, featured 118 race cards and an "all-sources" betting total of $181,432,431, an 18.9 per cent increase over 2014. The average per race handle of $138,603 showed a 4.2 per cent increase over the 2014 average of $132,958. The 2015 meet, which featured 16 more race dates than 2014, was highlighted by wagering increases on several of Mohawk's signature race dates. The Pepsi North America Cup card on Saturday, June 20 generated the highest-handle in North America Cup history, as $4,292,777 was wagered on the 15-race card. Wagering on the 2015 Pepsi North America Cup card was up 24.9 per cent in comparison to the 2014 edition. A crowd of over 11,000 helped raise the on track handle for the event 20.6 per cent. Canadian Trotting Classic night on Saturday, September 19 also saw an increase in wagering in 2015. A total of $2,664,628 was wagered on the Canadian Trotting Classic card, a 12.3 per cent increase in comparison to the 2014 total of $2,372,215. "We had another successful Mohawk meet," said Jamie Martin, Executive Vice-President of Racing. "We were pleased with our big race nights, which featured strong attendance and wagering numbers. Beginning the meet in April went well and we offered a high quality product to our customers and racing opportunities to our horsepeople over the course of the six-month meet." Sylvain Filion led all drivers in wins with 160 victories during the meet. Carmen Auciello, last year's leading trainer on the WEG Circuit, sent out 55 winners to lead all trainers. The Woodbine Fall-Winter Standardbred meet kicks-off on Thursday, October 1. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, September 1, 2015 - Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) today announced the 2015 edition of WEGCares, a celebration and recognition of the numerous Woodbine-supported community organizations and causes that contribute to the life, health, vibrancy and vitality of our neighbourhoods. Launching at the Woodbine Mile Post Position Draw on September 10, WEGCares will showcase special announcements, events and an online charity challenge. The 11-day campaign will culminate on September 20 with the annual Woodbine Turf Races, the popular fund-raising event where WEG employees and their families, along with business partners, and community organizations, participate in a series of races, contested on the world-famous E.P. Taylor Turf Course, to raise money for United Way Toronto & York Region. The goal of WEGCares is to amplify and spotlight the spirit that drives Woodbine Entertainment Group's "Strong Community Partner" program, a multi-faceted initiative that invests in organizations and programs whose mandate is in building healthy and prosperous communities, educating, engaging and empowering children and youth, protecting the welfare of race horses, while preserving, promoting and celebrating diverse cultures and heritages, among others. "We are extremely proud of our longstanding relationship with the people and organizations who work tirelessly and unselfishly to improve the quality of life within our communities," said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment Group. "WEGCares embodies our commitment and support of the fantastic work being done by our coveted partners. We hope all fans and supporters join us throughout the 10 days to celebrate these wonderful causes and charities." As part of WEGCares celebrations, Woodbine will once again offer the popular "Charity Challenge" event online at Through WEGCares Week, 17 of WEG's cherished charitable and community partners will be profiled and spotlighted on the site. Racing fans and customers, along with charitable supporters, will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite cause. The charity that gets the most votes by September 18 will be awarded a $7,500 donation by Woodbine Entertainment Group. The cause that garners the second-most votes will receive $2,500. Fans can take to social media for updates and to show their support by following @WEGCares, using the hashtag #WEGCares on Twitter throughout the campaign, or on Woodbine Racetrack's Facebook page. About Woodbine Entertainment Group ( WEG is the largest horse racing operator in Canada offering world class horse racing at both Woodbine (Toronto) and Mohawk (Milton) racetracks. WEG also operates off-track wagering through its Champions teletheatre network throughout Ontario, which includes WEGZ Stadium Bar in Vaughan, and Greenwood in the Beach area of Toronto. Remote wagering is also available to customers through HPIbet (formerly HorsePlayer Interactive), the company's telephone, internet and mobile account wagering service. WEG operates HPItv, a CRTC licensed digital television channel that broadcasts its racing product into homes across Canada. A "Caring Company" since 1997, Woodbine Entertainment Group is a member of Imagine Canada, a national program that promotes public and corporate giving, volunteerism and support to the community. Campaign Partners and Charities Pathways to Education Rexdale - Albion Neighbourhood Services - Community MicroSkills Development Centre - Ernestine's Women's Shelter - Rethink Breast Cancer - Arts for Children & Youth - Youth Without Shelter - Horizons for Youth - Trust15 - Arts Etobicoke - Community Association for Riding for the Disabled (CARD) - LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society - Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society - Racetrack Chaplaincy of Canada - Standardbred Race Track Chaplaincy of Halton Women's Place - Conservation Halton Foundation - John Siscos

TORONTO, August 24 - Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) today announced that it is closing its Turf Lounge operation in downtown Toronto, effective Saturday, September 5, 2015. Turf Lounge, located at 330 Bay Street, opened in 2003 with the objective of offering horse racing and off track betting in the financial district in an upscale atmosphere while providing a fine dining experience. "Turf Lounge was a concept that a great number of people worked hard to develop and sustain," said Sean Pinsonneault, WEG's Chief Operating Officer. "We sincerely thank all of those individuals for their efforts and support over the last 12 years." The decision to close the restaurant was made after a careful deliberation of strategic priorities at WEG. "Consistent with our evolving strategy and recent announcements, the focus is to continue building our world-class horse racing and entertainment business," said Pinsonneault. "We are leveraging our tremendous assets and, with our aggressive expansion of the Champions network throughout the province and the strong customer appeal of our live racing products, wagering trends are exceeding our expectations." WEG is working with its loyal racing customers and will be offering an enhanced wagering experience at the Shoeless Joe's Sports Grill, a Champions location at 276 King Street, just a short walk west from Turf Lounge. There will be expanded floor space dedicated to racing, and more terminals, televisions and racetracks available to watch and wager. In addition, there are several other Champions Off-Track Betting locations in the downtown core, as well as the newly redesigned HPIbet internet and mobile offerings, ready to serve our passionate racing fans. WEG will be working with them to ensure that they are comfortable exploring the other available options to continue playing their favourite tracks. About Woodbine Entertainment Group Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) is the largest horse racing operator in Canada offering world class horse racing at both Woodbine (Toronto) and Mohawk (Milton) racetracks. WEG also operates off-track wagering through its Champions teletheatre network throughout Ontario, which includes WEGZ Stadium Bar in Vaughan and Greenwood in the Beach area of Toronto. Remote wagering is also available to customers through HPIbet (formerly HorsePlayer Interactive), the company's telephone, internet and mobile account wagering service. WEG operates HPItv, a CRTC licensed digital television channel that broadcasts its racing product into homes across Canada. John Siscos

TORONTO, August 19 - Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) today announced the appointment of Ms. Christine Magee and Mr. Hugh Mitchell to its Board of Directors. Ms. Magee is the co-founder of Sleep Country Canada, the largest retailer of mattresses in the country. She has spent the majority of her professional life effectively building Sleep Country Canada into a prominent, much-admired brand. A community leader, Ms. Magee is a champion of the many charitable initiatives through Sleep Country Canada's C.A.R.E. platform, including the Donated Bed Program, Give a Kid a Coat, Backpack for Kids. Ms. Magee is an active Mentor for the WXN (Women's Executive Network) and Ivey School of Business and is working directly with Covenant House Toronto to support the newest awareness /intervention program for girls at risk. In addition to her charitable work, Ms. Magee is on the Board of Directors of Sleep Country Canada Holdings Inc., SiriusXM Canada, and Trillium Health Partners. Ms. Magee is also a member of the Mentoring Council of the Province of Ontario Innovation Fund, the Women's President Organization, the Advisory Council for the Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario and recently appointed a Member of the Order of Canada. Mr. Mitchell is the President and Chief Executive Officer at Western Fair District in London, Ontario. Mr. Mitchell has served in many capacities in horse racing throughout his life including a term as WEG's Senior Vice President of Racing from 1999 to 2003. He is the Chairman of the Board of Harness Tracks of America (HTA) and the past president of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA). Mr. Mitchell currently serves as President of Tourism London and is the Vice-Chair of Board of Governors at Fanshawe College. He is a past Director of both the London Chamber of Commerce and Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions. "Ms. Magee and Mr. Mitchell are tremendous additions to our board," said WEG Chairman of the Board, Mr. Clay Horner. "Christine has a strong track record in marketing and building an iconic brand, while Hugh is a broadly respected leader in horse racing and breeding circles. Both will be key figures in Woodbine Entertainment Group's pursuit of a secure horse racing and breeding industry in Ontario in the short term and a thriving entity into the future." The appointments come at a vital time for the province's horse racing industry. "We will continue to work with the Government of Ontario on its plan to integrate horse racing into the province's gaming strategy," said WEG Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Jim Lawson. "We are committed to ensuring Woodbine Entertainment Group fulfills its mandate as a provider of high quality horse racing and strengthen our stature as a progressive, innovative, world-class sports and entertainment industry leader." About Woodbine Entertainment Group Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) is the largest horse racing operator in Canada offering world class horse racing at both Woodbine (Toronto) and Mohawk (Milton) racetracks. WEG also operates off-track wagering through its Champions teletheatre network throughout Ontario, which includes WEGZ Stadium Bar in Vaughan, Turf Lounge in the heart of Toronto's financial district and Greenwood in the Beach area of Toronto. Remote wagering is also available to customers through HPIbet (formerly HorsePlayer Interactive), the company's telephone, internet and mobile account wagering service. WEG operates HPItv, a CRTC licensed digital television channel that broadcasts its racing product into homes across Canada. John Siscos

CAMPBELLVILLE, August 12 - As the summer months fly by, the Woodbine Entertainment Group would like to inform horsepeople of the details for this year's Ontario Sired Autumn Series. The Autumn Series will once again be offered for each two and three-year-old division this November. Ontario sired two-year-olds that are non-winners of $30,000 lifetime as of midnight September 30, 2015 are eligible to the Autumn Series. As for the sophomores, Ontario sired three-year-olds that are non-winners of $50,000 lifetime or $30,000 in 2015 as of midnight September 30, 2015 are eligible. Each series will be contested at Woodbine with two preliminary legs and a final. The two-year-old filly trotters and pacers will kick off Autumn Series action on Monday, November 2, while the rookie colts and geldings will start their series on Thursday November 5. The Autumn Series for three-year-old fillies begins on Friday, November 20 and the sophomore colts and geldings will start their series the following night on Saturday, November 21. Nominations close on Thursday, October 1 and the fee is $200 for each category. To view the nomination form, click here. To pay the $200 nomination fee online, click here. If sending nominations by mail, envelopes must be clearly post-marked no later than October 1, 2015 or payment will not be accepted. Registered mail is recommended. Mark McKelvie  

TORONTO, ON, July 8 - The 39th Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Gala Fundraising Dinner on August 5th promises to be an evening of celebration as ten new members join the best of Canadian Horse Racing.  Held at the Mississauga Convention Centre, co-hosting duties will be shared by Jim Bannon, Woodbine Entertainment Group Thoroughbred Racing Analyst and 2015 CHRHF Communicator inductee along with Greg Blanchard, Raceway Manager at the Raceway at Western Fair and former racing television commentator.  The Gala event will feature a cocktail reception, a fantastic line up of silent and live auction items, a four course gourmet dinner and the Induction Ceremony. The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame acknowledges the generous sponsorship support of this year’s event:  Event Sponsor – OLG; Reception and Wine Sponsor – Central Ontario Standardbred Association; Photography Sponsor - Ontario Standardbred Alliance Tracks and Woodbine Entertainment Group for producing the video tributes to each of this year’s inductees. The CHRHF Planning Committee is putting together an impressive list of live and silent auction items including sporting event tickets, racing related memorabilia and art.  All proceeds from the auction will go directly toward helping the Hall of Fame recognize the achievements of those that have built and established the roots of horse racing in Canada. The gala will celebrate the induction of Standardbred honourees H. Charles Armstrong, Bill Gale, Harry Eisen, Artsplace, and J Cs Nathalie.  Thoroughbred honourees include, Robert Anderson, Stewart Elliott, Roger Laurin and Mine That Bird. The event will pay tribute to 2015 Legend honourees Col. K. R. (Rud) Marshall and Harold H.  There will also be a look back to 1965, the year George Royal was named Canada’s Horse of the Year and Armbro Flight made headlines for her racing accomplishments as a three-year-old. The reception and silent auction will commence at 5:30 p.m., followed by a four course dinner, live auction and induction ceremonies at 6:30 p.m.  Tickets are available for $175 per person or $1,700 for a table sponsorship which includes 8 tickets and a $300.00 donation to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame are available by visiting the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame Online Store at or by contacting Linda Rainey 416-417-9404 or  Opportunities to advertise in the souvenir induction program and event sponsorship packages are also still available.  

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