Article published on 23 February 2011

Popular Canadian Races Have Their Purses Cut

Purses have been reduced at Woodbine
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Ahead of the upcoming meet at Woodbine Racecourse in Toronto, the purses of two of Canada's best known races - the Canadian International Stakes (Gr 1) and the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes - have each been reduced.

'We needed to cut some purses,' said Woodbine director of racing, Steve Lym. 'Although our handle was up last year, a lot of that came from outside Ontario, which meant lower commissions for us. And the contribution to the purse account was minimal.'

Formerly $2 million, the purse of the Canadian International Stakes has been reduced to $1.5 million while that of the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes - the main prep race for the Canadian International - has been reduced from $750,000 to $500,000.

The drop in purses is in line with Woodbine Entertainment Group's just released 2011 stakes schedule, which features a total of 102 stakes races for the year valued at over $21.6 million. Purses often fluctuate depending on international exchange rates.

For instance, the Canadian International had its purse inflated to $2 million in 2005 when the Canadian dollar was worth 80 cents on the U.S. dollar. But now with the currencies so close in value, a $1.5 million race is as big a drawcard as a $2 million race.

'The Canadian International Stakes is a marquee race,' explained Lym. 'And the Northern Dancer is still a big and attractive race at $500,000.' As well as purse changes, Woodbine Entertainment also shifted some races around in terms of race days.

For example, both the E.P. Taylor Stakes for fillies and mares and the Nearctic Stakes (Gr 1) for three-year-olds and up have been shifted back to Sunday slots, after they were run on Saturdays for the last two years to accommodate ESPN broadcasts.

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