Officials at Woodbine racecourse in Toronto have decided to cancel the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International this year. The decision to call off the event has been announced amid concerns surrounding travel restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The race is normally held in October each year but was missing from the revised 2020 schedule, which was released by Canada’s premier race track last week ahead of racing’s planned resumption on June 6th.
Woodbine Entertainment have issued a statement saying: “Due to complications with international travel, at this time the Pattison Canadian International has been cancelled for the 2020 season.”
The race opened to international horses and trainers back in 1954 and saw its first international winner in 1958. Since then winning horses have come from breeding farms in the USA, Ireland, the UK, France and Argentina, as well as Canada. The international allure means that horse freight flights would be essential if the race were to take place with the range and ilk of competition that we’ve become used to over the past 62 years.
7 of the last 10 years’ races have been won by British and Irish trainers, with Brit David Simcock’s Desert Encounter winning the last two years on the trot. The cancellation of the event means that Desert Encounter will this year miss out on the chance to equal the record hat trick of wins, which is currently held by Joshua Tree. The Irish thoroughbred won the race three times between 2010 and 2013 under 3 different jockeys, 3 different trainers and 2 different owners.
Officials of The the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International had originally planned an increased prize fund for this year’s race, raising it from C$800,000 to C$1 million. The move was the first scheduled prize purse increase since 2005, when the fund was hiked up to a whopping C$2.5 million in a move to lure in European horses and trainers. Since 2011, the purse has steadily reduced in size.
Despite the absence of the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International, the fall season at Woodbine still looks set to be action packed, especially as some races normally scheduled for the summer have been pushed back. The Canadian Triple Crown’s curtain-raising Queen’s Plate normally takes place in late June, but is now scheduled for September 12. The Prince of Wales’ Stakes, the second leg, will be held on September 29. All races will, of course, be held behind closed doors.
Despite the cancellation of some high profile races and the absence of crowds, Woodbine Entertainment CEO Jim Lawson remains optimistic, “It’s been an unprecedented year which has led to a unique stakes schedule that we are very excited about. The summer stakes schedule will build the anticipation for a very busy and exciting fall at Woodbine racetrack.”