Foreign gains, big fields push Woodbine to third-highest season handle
For the second consecutive season, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a shortened season, as the 2021 Woodbine Thoroughbred meet did not begin until June 12. Originally scheduled for 133 race dates, the 2021 season included 99 race days, three more than last year, and 946 races contested.
Despite the delayed start, the 2021 season topped $500 million in all-sources handle, propelled mightily by Woodbine’s highest single-season foreign wagering handle ever of $420,666,755.
The strong foreign numbers can be attributed to enticing and consistent field sizes, as Woodbine averaged 9.0 starters per-race to rank as one of North America’s leading racetracks in the category.
“Growing and strengthening the Woodbine brand across North America has been a focal point of our day-to-day activities over the past several years,” said Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment. “We’re proud of our success in this area, as it’s evident these efforts continue to raise the profile of our world-class racing product at Woodbine.
“Although our gains in the US are considerable, we’re intently focused on revitalizing wagering in our home market area for 2022. Through evolving restrictions, we now have our racetracks and off-track locations operating, while also sporting our largest number of HPIbet users ever. Our task now is to leverage all options available in 2022 to push this area towards sustainability.”
The impressive average field size of 9.0 helped push a 4.8 per cent increase in average per-race handle, which came in at $534,194 for 2021.
“Our racing team did a great job in creating appealing and competitive races throughout the entire season,” said Lawson. “The support of the owners and trainers through these hard times deserves recognition and our commitment to providing the best overall experience to those racing at Woodbine will only heighten in 2022.”
Key Highlights of 2021:
Record foreign wagering handle of $420,666,755 for the 2021 season
Third highest all-sources wagering handle of $505,348,339 for 2021 season
Record handle for a Ricoh Woodbine Mile card of $13,856,030 on Saturday, September 18
Record handle for a closing day card of $8,530,593 on Sunday, December 5
Second highest handle for a Queen’s Plate card of $16,122,170 on Sunday, August 22, up 11 per cent over 2020 event
Total of 241 races contested over Turf Courses, generating average per-race handle of $577,895
The 2022 Woodbine Thoroughbred season is tentatively scheduled to begin on Saturday, April 16. A total of 133 race-dates are on the schedule, headlined by the 163rd running of The Queen’s Plate on Sunday, August 21.