NA Cup postponed; WEG looking into Historical Racing
April 15, 2020
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In a “Stronger Together” live video session Wednesday afternoon that included a lengthy question-and-answer period with viewers regarding theCovid-19 pandemic and the shutdown of harness racing across North America, Woodbine Entertainment CEO Jim Lawson announced that the Pepsi North America Cup for 3-year-old colt pacers at Woodbine Mohawk Park, which had eliminations scheduled for June 13 and the $1 million(C) final on June 20, will be postponed.
“Yes, we’ll be postponing the Pepsi North America Cup,” Lawson told session host Jason Portuondo. “Hard for me to say without understanding in particular what other racetracks are doing, but Bill McLinchey, Scott McKelvie and Jessica Buckley are already looking at that and starting to figure that out.”
Lawson said he is hopeful restrictions imposed by the Canadian Premier and Prime Minister will be eased in early May will lead to a resumption of racing in June or July. Lawson expects racing to resume without a live audience.
“We’re hoping some of this is behind us in early May…we’re not waiting for that date to start planning; in fact we’re working right now with new procedures and guidelines in what works for live racing.” He said. “If I have to project any specific dates, we’ll look at early May and hopefully there is good news. And then we can look at resuming racing in June or July. I hope I’m not too optimistic in saying that. As I say that, I know our audience is understanding and appreciates that none of us know for sure. But let’s all hope and pray that in may we can get some of this behind us and we can do the right thing and get on with racing.”
Lawson said rearranging a stakes schedule won’t be easy as other racetracks across the continent will also be doing the same.
“The stakes schedule will delayed and we’re going to have to go through the exercise of looking at a stakes schedule that works for everyone,” he said. “At Mohawk, it might be a little bit more difficult in terms of fitting it in with the programs of other racetracks that will be up and running in the United States. It’s a different horse population to some extent, but we’ll work through that.
“We’ve lost some stakes and payments on the Standardbred side will be refunded for those that are canceled. Other races will be postponed and deferred. Everyone wants to get back to racing.. Right now, practically speaking, the NA Cup will be postponed and we’re doing our best to work with everyone in trying to be fair about waiving stakes payments or deferring stakes payments.”
Lawson also said there currently are no plans to move the date of the Mohawk Million for 2-year-old trotters from Sept. 26, where owners paid $110,000 for a slot in the race.
"As far as I know, it's going ahead as scheduled," said Lawson. "Of course, we had a good series of summer races leading up to the Mohawk Million, so it will largely a function of when we can get started. But currently there are no plans to change the date of the Mohawk Million; the only thing that can change that is if we don't get some of those trotting series we have leading up to it in place."
Lawson also announced track officials are hoping for government approval to offer the slot-like Historical Racing Machines that allow bets on races run in the past on its HPIbet wagering platform.