Tradition was important factor in planning of Canadian Triple Crown races

Tradition was important factor in planning of Canadian Triple Crown races

TORONTO — The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a change of dates for Canada’s Triple Crown races but it wasn’t going to force Jim Lawson to switch either the order or distances of the three events.

The American Triple Crown begins Saturday with the Belmont Stakes, which is traditionally the series finale, without fans. And due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, the Belmont — which was originally scheduled for June 6 — will cover 1 1/8 miles instead of the traditional 1 1/2 miles on dirt at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.

The Kentucky Derby, usually the American series opener in May, will be run Sept. 5 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. The Preakness — traditionally the middle race — will complete the Triple Crown on Oct. 3 at Pimlico in Baltimore.

The pandemic did force a change in dates for the Canadian Triple Crown but the race sequence remains the same. The Queen’s Plate will again open the series on Woodbine Racetrack’s tapeta course Sept, 12 rather than June 27.

The Prince of Wales Stakes will go Sept. 29 at Fort Erie Racetrack in Fort Erie, Ont. The Triple Crown will culminate with the Breeders’ Stakes turf race Oct. 24, also at Woodbine.

And all three races are currently slated to be run without spectators.

The Canadian Triple Crown races will cover their usual distances (1 1/4 miles for the Plate, 1 3/16 miles on dirt for Prince of Wales at Fort Erie and 1 1/2 miles for the Breeders’ at Woodbine). Also, the traditional spaces between all three events have pretty much been maintained.

Lawson, the CEO of Woodbine Entertainment, said keeping the race sequence, time between events and distances uniform wasn’t done by accident.

“I think and believe tradition is so important in the sport of horse racing,” Lawson said. ”It’s what people expect, it’s what horse people expect and are used to and I think you don’t want to lose that continuity.

“When we were talking in March, one of the most important things we were going to do was try and find a way to run the Queen’s Plate this year. We’re very proud of it being the longest continuously run stakes race in North America and we were going to find a way to do it.

“Some of that same thinking goes into the fact you want a Triple Crown, you want it in the same sequence, you want that tradition of what it is.”

If a horse wins the ‘20 U.S. Triple Crown, there will be many who’ll suggest it come with an asterisk as a result of the changes made.

Mark Casse, Canada’s top trainer an unprecedented 12 times, will have a horse — Tap It to Win — in Saturday’s race. The Casse-trained Sir Winston captured last year’s Belmont.

“I’ve always said training race horses is like putting a puzzle together,” Casse said during a conference call Monday. “This year it’s been putting a puzzle together with no edges or a picture, it’s been crazy.

“I’m just happy we’re going to have a Belmont, we’re going to have a Preakness and a Derby. Whatever order it’s in, I’m fine with that.”

What makes Canada’s Triple Crown unique is the three races are run on different surfaces, thus creating a very demanding test for horses.

Only seven horses have won Canada’s Triple Crown. Wando was the last to achieve the feat in 2003 with jockey Patrick Husbands, trainer Mike Keogh and owner Gus Schickedanz.

“The Canadian Triple Crown is different with the three surfaces and personally again, I don’t think you want to start playing with distances,” Lawson said. “”The real test (in U.S. Triple Crown) is the 1 1/2 mile race on that Belmont track at the end after a gruelling Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

“What’s very complimentary about it, though, is having to keep a horse in shape that long, from June to Oct. 3. There’s a lot to be said about that, actually.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 15, 2020.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Front-line hospital workers have walked off the job at the Rimbey Hospital, and across the province. Photo Submitted
Front-line health care workers on strike across the province, including Rimbey Hospital

The strike is due to cut of 11,000 health care jobs in the province, according to AUPE

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed more than 1,000 cases over the weekend Monday afternoon. File photo
COVID-19: Central zone active cases up Monday

‘We’ve now crossed the tipping point,’ says Hinshaw

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

Ma & Paws Pet Supplies. Facebook/ Ma & Paws Pet Supplies.
Rimbey residents petition for dog park

Request for approval of dog park will be brought up at Tuesday Oct. 27 Town Council meeting.

The future site of the Rimbey Travel Centre. Web photo
New Rimbey development aims to capitalize on highway traffic

Phase I of the Rimbey Travel Centre would be along Hwy. 20, if approved

Wetaskiwin Hospital staff join AUPE walk outs across the province Monday Oct. 26, 2020. Shaela Dansereau/ The Pipestone Flyer.
City of Wetaskiwin health-care workers strike in protest of province-wide cuts

Wetaskiwin Hospital staff join other front line hospital workers across the province in walk-outs.

The death of 19-year-old Jacob Michael Chitze of Edmonton has now been ruled a homicide following an ongoing RCMP investigation.
UPDATE: RCMP arrest youth for second degree murder of 19-year-old Jacob Chitze

Arrest made for the murder of Jacob Michael Chitze, 19.

Pumpkins for the 46th Annual WDACS Pumpkin Ball on display at Vision Credit Union Wetaskiwin. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
46th Annual Pumpkin Ball held virtually this year

This year the pumpkins were sold over a six-day online auction.

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Leader of the Opposition Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Thursday October 22, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
O’Toole tells Alberta UCP AGM Liberals were ‘late and confused’ on COVID response

He says Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has taken charge and not waited to make things happen

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Inquiry into oil and gas foes to deliver report next year: Kenney

A lawsuit filed by environmental law firm Ecojustice argues the inquiry is politically motivated

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

This photo provided by Air Force Reserve shows a sky view of Hurricane Epsilon taken by Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter team over the Atlantic Ocean taken Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020.   Epsilon’s maximum sustained winds have dropped slightly as it prepares to sideswipe Bermuda on a path over the Atlantic Ocean.  The National Hurricane Center says it should come close enough Thursday, Oct. 22, evening to merit a tropical storm warning for the island.  (Air Force Reserve via AP)
Hurricane Epsilon expected to remain offshore but will push waves at Atlantic Canada

Epsilon is not expected to have any real impact on land

Most Read