Betting on horse racing is Canada’s oldest legal gambling game. Regulated horse betting is available from the Woodbine Entertainment Group, the country’s top provider of live horse racing.
Woodbine operates the nation’s top thoroughbred track, Woodbine Racetrack near Pearson Airport in Toronto. It also runs Canada’s premier harness racing track, Woodbine Mohawk Park in Milton, ON.
As well, Woodbine owns and operates the legal online horse betting platform HorsePlayer Interative, available coast to coast.
But horse racing in Canada goes much deeper than Woodbine. PlayCanada has all the latest info on Canadian horse racing.
Read on for the details you need to get started betting on horse racing.
Horse racing has a rich history in Canada
The tradition of horse racing in Canada has been alive and well for over 250 years. For the historians out there, yes, horse racing has been around longer than the country itself.
On July 1, 1767, exactly 100 years before Canada’s confederation, the first ever horse race in Canada went off on the Plains of Abraham near what is now known as Quebec City. The purse (prize money) for the race was $40.
What first began as an amusing pastime for soldiers has grown tremendously over the years. Home to several marquee thoroughbred races, including the King’s Plate, the Prince of Wales Stakes, and the Breeders’ Stakes, which form the three legs of the Canadian Triple Crown and one of the world’s top standardbred racing jurisdictions, Canada is firmly established as a major player in the international horse racing game.
There are tracks in just about every province, but like with sportsbooks, Ontario has the most. It has 15 tracks — 12 for standardbreds, two for thoroughbreds and 1 for quarter horse races— that provide live horse racing year-round.
Racetracks use a pari-mutuel betting format whereby winners split the total handle (proportion to their bets) after the betting provider takes its cut.
Bettors can place wagers on simulcast races across Canada and the US at racetracks, as well as off-track betting theatres approved by the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency. If you prefer to wager from home, there are a few online horse betting sites that you can access through your computer or mobile device.
Below, you will find the top resource for everything horse betting in Canada. We have all the latest news, updates and information about betting the ponies in the Great White North.
In Canada, there are three main types of horse racing
There are three types of horse racing that you may encounter as you bet in Canada. These types of races can sometimes exist at the same track, but they often do not overlap. At the very least, it’s rare that they would occur on the same day.
The first type is quarter horse racing. Quarter horses are the sprinters of the horse world. These horses derive their name, in fact, from the length of track that they usually run — one quarter of a mile.
Thoroughbred racing involves horses that specialize in various distances and surfaces, including dirt, turf, and synthetic. As mentioned earlier, The Canadian Triple Crown of horse racing is decided by three thoroughbred races — the King’s Plate, the Prince of Wales Stakes, and the Breeders’ Stakes. These races are usually a mile or more and require horses with a taller and leaner frame. Most world-famous horses tend to be thoroughbreds. Fun fact, Wando was the last horse to win the Canadian Triple Crown all the way back in 2003.
Finally, standardbred racing involves horses that pull a small, two-wheeled cart and driver behind them. These races are mostly run at the one-mile distance, but the distances can differ, and the configuration of the tracks also vary. Currently, there are 25 standardbred racetracks located across Canada. Finally, there are two gaits, pacing and trotting.
Best sites for horse betting in Canada
Currently, there are three sites that offer horse betting in Canada. Two of the sites — HPIbet and DarkHorse Bets — are brands of Woodbine Entertainment, which also operates Woodbine Racetrack, the largest horse racing venue in Canada.
HorsePlayerInteractive or HPIbet is the elder statesman of Woodbine’s options, debuting in 1997 and first offering telephone, internet, and television services. Today, bettors can access HPIbet online or download the app to their mobile device. Once registered, you will be able to place bets, review handicapping stats and watch races from around the world.
Nearly 25 years later, Woodbine Entertainment launched DarkHorse Bets ahead of the then Queen’s Plate in 2021. The new app features a simplified and intuitive platform designed to support both horse racing experts and novices. Backed by AI-driven insights and strategies, the Dark Horse offering closely resembles many of the popular wagering sites found online and via the app store.
As of August 2023, residents of Ontario are now able to bet on horse racing through third-party operator, bet365. In doing so, the household name in online sports betting became the first private operator in the regulated market to offer horse betting.
Is online horse betting legal in Canada?
Yes, and it is available for betting nationwide through HPIbet and DarkHorse Bets.
The Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency is the federal body that oversees all betting on horse racing in Canada, but regulation of the sport is done under provincial authority.
Horse racing in Ontario is regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. The AGCO also oversees the province’s online gambling and retail casino industry.
Horse Racing Alberta regulates the industry in that province.
In British Columbia, horse racing is regulated by the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch of the provincial government.
In Manitoba, the Liquor, Gaming & Cannabis Authority of Manitoba regulates horse racing.
The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority is the provincial body that oversees horse racing in that province.
In the Maritimes, where there is only harness racing, the sport is regulated by the Atlantic Provinces Harness Racing Commission.
How to bet on horse racing online in Canada
Getting started with a horse betting site in Canada is pretty straightforward, but since there are two, we’re going to walk you through the process for each one. Reminder, to be considered eligible for a betting account you must:
- Be the legal gambling age in your province (19 in most, but only 18 in Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec).
- Be physically located within the jurisdiction outlined in the operator’s terms and conditions.
- Ensure the information you are providing is both yours and accurate.
Also, it’s important to be aware of the different deposit options offered on each site. Note that some of these options may come with a fee. However, there will usually be at least one way to deposit that is free. Most of these options are also available when you want to withdraw from your account. There are usually limits for both deposits and withdrawals, so make sure to check for those.
The first thing you’ll need to do is join HPIbet. Unfortunately, there is no app available, only the website. However, you can use your HPIbet login to access the DarkHorse Bets app, if you so please.
Once you reach the registration screen, you will need to fill out your personal information to establish your new account. From there, you will receive an email from HPIbet asking you to activate the account. Note, the email should contain a message with a large green button worded “ACTIVATE MY ACCOUNT.” Make sure to click it.
After the account is activated, HPIbet will deposit $2 which you can put towards your first bet. Additional deposits can be made either in person at the HPIbet Player Services booth or on the website. Acceptable forms of payment include:
- Credit card
- Debit card
- Money order
- Interac e-Transfer
- Interac Online
Once the deposit is confirmed, you will be able make wagers with HPIbet.
The exact opposite of its sister-site, HPIbet, DarkHorse Bets has an app, but not a website. So, the first step here is to download the DarkHorse Bets app. Just like any other online wagering site, you will first need to provide the standard set of personal information.
However, with DarkHorse Bets, there is a sign-up bonus offer that requires a promotion code to be claimed. When registering, enter the promo code “GET30” to receive a free $3o deposit from the DarkHorse Bets. Per the operator’s terms and conditions, the ‘$30 First Bet Is On Us Promotion’ cannot be withdrawn from the account as cash.
To make additional deposits into your account, there are two acceptable payment methods: PayPal and credit card (Visa or Mastercard only).
United Kingdom-based bet365 made history in August 2023 when it became the first third-party sportsbook to offer horse betting in Ontario. Known for its vast wagering catalogue, bet365 is available in both website and app form. The sign-up process is relatively seamless regardless of the version you choose.
Again, you’ll start by entering the required personal information. Once it is verified, you can qualify for a new customer promotion by making a $1o deposit to earn $100 in bet credits. To activate the bonus, place a $1 qualifying bet using the recently deposited funds and allow it settle. The $100 in bet credits will then appear in your account after the bet settles, win or loss.
To make the initial $10 deposit, any of the following methods will suffice:
- Credit Card
- Debit Card
- Apple Pay
What is pari-mutuel betting?
You may hear the term “pari-mutuel betting” from time to time if you are placing horse racing wagers. Pari-mutuel betting is simply any type of betting where all the bets on an event form a pool, the taxes and house share are removed, and the winners divide the remainder. Since this type of system is standard for horse racing, the term is sometimes used interchangeably (and somewhat inaccurately) to describe only horse racing. However, this kind of system does pop up in other forms of gambling.
Types of online horse bets
If you’re still starting with online horse betting, it’s important to understand all the elements that you will experience. For the most part, horse race betting online is nearly identical to its real-life counterparts (especially OTB), but it’s best to walk through each type of wager and make sure we’re all on the same page.
The first thing to discuss, however, is the difference between straight wagers and exotic bets. You may see these terms floating around and not know what they mean, but the truth is quite simple. A straight wager is a horse bet that involves a single horse in a single race. Anytime you put additional horses, additional races or both into the bet, it becomes an exotic bet.
The only other bit of information to realize is that exotic bets almost invariably pay better and are more difficult to win than straight wagers. So, if it helps, you can think of straight wagers as simple bets, and exotic wagers as more complex ones.
The types of straight bets are:
- Win — Your chosen horse must win the race.
- Place — Your chosen horse must win the race or finish second.
- Show — Your chosen horse must win the race, finish second or finish third.
- Combinations — You can combine these three bets and get paid for any that your horse can secure. Combination straight bets include win/place, place/show and win/place/show.
Common types of exotic bets are as follows:
- Exactor — You pick two horses to win and place in the race. You must pick the correct order for the bet to pay.
- Quinella — An exacta bet, but without the order requirement. In other words, you pick two horses to win and place, but the order does not matter.
- Triactor — You pick three horses to win, place and show in the race. You must pick the correct order.
- Superfecta — You pick four horses to win, place, show and finish fourth in the race. You must pick the correct order.
- Double/Pick 3/Pick 4/Pick 6 — You pick the winning horse in multiple races. The only difference between these types of bets is the number of races that you must pick.
In addition to those types of wagers, there are also several exotic bet modifiers that you can use in both online and live horse betting. Choosing these elements will increase the price you must pay to place a wager, but they can also increase your chances of winning. They are:
- Box — A box bet allows you to cover all the combinations of horses with one wager. So, for instance, in a trifecta box, it does not matter which order your three horses finish the race, so long as they are still first, second and third. A quinella is, in fact, an exacta box bet. Be aware, though, that you will have to pay for each possible combination to make this bet. As an example, a trifecta box bet is six times more expensive than a standard trifecta because there are six possible combinations of horses.
- Key — A key bet calls for you to designate one horse as the winner of your exotic bet, then you pick multiple possibilities for the rest of the places. This bet is a decent option if there is one overwhelming favourite to win the race, but you want to bet multiple horses. The only downside is that everything falls apart if the key horse does not win.
- Wheel — A wheel means that you are taking the entire field for one place in your exotic wager. So, for example, you might choose the win and place horses for a trifecta, but let the show position be a wheel. In that way, you win the bet if those first two selections are correct, regardless of what horse finishes third.
- Partial — A partial, also known as a partial wheel, is any combination of horses in one of the above categories. The bottom line is that you can bet any race any way you like, even if it is complex and has many moving parts. You might pick two horses to win, three to place and four to show in a partial trifecta. Needless to say, these bets can get quite expensive and difficult to calculate. However, if you want to pick the horses in some sort of arcane order, every online horse betting site, OTB facility and racetrack will be more than happy to accommodate you.
Odds for horse betting
There are many ways to express the odds for a gambling situation. In many areas of Europe, sportsbooks use decimal odds to communicate the total payout for a wager of a single unit of currency. American odds, meanwhile, depict the payout ratios for both the favourite and the underdog. However, for horse racing betting in Canada, the preferred format remains fractional odds. Every horse in each race will have fractional odds next to their names.
The rule for fractional odds is that the lower the fraction, the better the chance that the horse will win. A horse running as a 2/1 underdog is much more likely to succeed than a horse at 20/1, for instance. It is even possible to see fractional odds less than 1. Though rare, a horse running at 1/2 or 1/3 would be quite the favourite, indeed. As a side note, you may see these odds written either as a fraction (5/1) or with a colon between the two numbers (5:1). Both methods are correct and are interchangeable.
Like any odds, the odds for each horse move and change as post time approaches. As more bettors wager or do not wager on the various options, the betting site or racetrack will adjust the offered probabilities.
Most people are decently familiar with fractional odds, so it’s best not to belabour the explanation. However, the important thing to bear in mind is that fractional odds are always formatted as (event won’t happen)/(event will happen). In other words, if we ran the same race three times and one horse was listed at 2/1, we’d expect that horse to win once and lose twice.
Tips for betting on horse races
If you are new to horse betting, your first experience might seem a bit overwhelming. The last thing you want to do is lay down your money without knowing if you’ve made good bets. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to improve your horse betting experience and, hopefully, make it more profitable.
- Use the available information. The Ontario Racing website is a useful resource for novice bettors in that province. Horse betting sites like HPIbet, plus those for OTB locations and racetracks, each have programs and other informational aids that can give you valuable insight about that evening’s races. Doing your homework will help you improve your odds of winning.
- Keep it simple. Exotic bets are interesting, to be sure. They have many moving parts to them, and they usually come with larger payouts than a straight bet. However, at least in the early stages of your handicapping career, you should probably stick to win, place, show or combination bets. It’s hard enough to forecast how one horse will do, let alone several of them.
- Watch your bankroll. Make sure that you’re careful to wager money that you don’t need and can afford to lose. There should never be anything riding on the outcome of a horse race aside from winning or losing a few bucks. To that end, be careful about making multiple bets in rapid succession, particularly if they are exotic. The costs can add up quickly, and the last thing to do is get carried away and overspend.
- Don’t fall in love with long shots. There’s a reason that some horses are the favourites and others are long shots. Oddsmakers set the lines for a living, so most favourites will at least be in contention for the top spot. Although long shots do win sometimes, you’ll have better and more consistent positive results if you make the majority of your wagers on the top horse(s) in the field.
- Look for vulnerabilities in the favourite’s armour. On the other hand, it’s awfully hard to predict how a horse race will go. The favourite does not always win. Issues to examine might be his or her recent performances, previous races with the same jockey or past performances at the same track, in the same conditions and for the same race length.
None of these tips are meant to be the end of your learning journey with horse betting. For that matter, none of them are a guarantee that you will win the next time you bet the ponies. However, they should at least give you a basis for how to proceed. Good luck!
Top Canadian racetracks
It’s no secret that horse racing has a rich and distinguished history in Canada. That has to be the case when the sport is older than the country, right? There are racetracks scattered from coast to coast, but most reside in Ontario.
Oddly enough, Québec, which played host to the first ever horse race in Canada, only has one remaining venue: Hippodrome 3R. It’s now the last track standing after four of the province’s major standardbred courses went bankrupt and closed in 2009.
Horse racing remains incredibly popular not just in Ontario, but also on the West Coast, in the Prairies and the Maritimes.
Here is a list of the top racetracks in Canada:
- Fraser Downs (harness racing): 17755 60 Ave, Surrey, BC V3S 1V3
- Hastings Park (thoroughbred racing): 188 N Renfrew St, Vancouver, BC V5K 3N8
- Century Downs (both harness and thoroughbred racing): 260 Century Downs Dr, Rocky View, AB T4A 0V5
- Century Mile (both harness and thoroughbred racing): 4711 Airport Perimeter Rd, Edmonton International Airport, AB T9E 0V6
- Assiniboia Downs (thoroughbred racing): 3975 Portage Ave, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
- Ajax Downs (quarter horse racing):50 Alexander’s Crossing, Ajax, ON L1Z 2E6
- Flamboro Downs (harness racing): 967 ON-5, Dundas, ON L9H 5E2
- Fort Erie (thoroughbred racing): 230 Catherine St, Fort Erie, ON L2A 5N9
- Georgian Downs (harness racing): 7485 5th Side Rd, Innisfil, ON L9S 3S1
- Grand River (harness racing): 7445 Wellington County Rd 21, Elora, ON N0B 1S0
- Rideau Carleton (harness racing): 4837 Albion Rd S, Gloucester, ON K1X 1A3
- The Raceway at The Western Fair District (harness racing): 900 King St, London, ON N5W 5K3
- Woodbine Racetrack (thoroughbred racing): 555 Rexdale Blvd, Etobicoke, ON M9W 5L2
- Woodbine Mohawk Park (harness racing): 9430 Guelph Line, Campbellville, ON L0P 1B0
- Hippodrome 3R (harness racing): 1850 Bd des Forges, Trois-Rivières, QC G8Z 0A2
Prince Edward Island
- Red Shores Charlottetown: 58 Kensington Rd, Charlottetown, PE C1A 9S8
The biggest annual horse racing events in Canada
Not all horse races are equal. There are many relatively minor races across Canada. But, there are also several major races that take place each year. Here are some of the top ones in Canada:
The King’s Plate — Dating back to 1860, the King’s Plate (known as the Queen’s Plate from 1860 to 1901 and 1952 t0 2022) is Canada’s oldest thoroughbred horse race. Moreover, it is the longest continuously run race in North America. The race itself is 1 1/4 miles and features a field of 3-year-old thoroughbred horses born in Canada. Typically, the race goes off in June or July at Woodbine Racetrack in Etobicoke, ON. However, starting in 2021, the race has taken place every August. Functioning as the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, many consider the King’s Plate, and its $1 million purse, to be the most prestigious event in Canadian racing.
Prince of Wales Stakes — The 1 3/16-mile contest has run annually on the dirt at Fort Erie racetrack since 1929. As the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Prince of Wales Stakes is exclusive to 3-year-old thoroughbreds foaled in Canada. It usually runs in September and carries a purse of $500,000. Prior to 2023, the purse was $400,000.
Breeders’ Stakes — First run in 1889, the Breeders’ Stakes is the third jewel in the Canadian Triple Crown. Identical to its preceding races, the Breeders’ Stakes features 3-year-old thoroughbred horses born in Canada. Held annually at Woodbine Racetrack, it is the longest of the three Triple Crown races (1 1/2 miles) and the only one run on turf. Before climbing to $500,000 in 2023, the purse remained $400,000 for several years.
Canadian International — The Canadian International Stakes has changed quite a bit since its inauguration in 1939. Over the years, it took place at the long-gone Long Branch Racetrack in Etobicoke, and then at Dufferin Park Racetrack during World War II before finally settling into its permanent home at Woodbine. Today, the 1 1/4-mile Grade 1 stakes (highest of its kind) for thoroughbred’s ages 3 years and up, takes place every October on the turf. Staying true to its name, the race is very welcoming of horses from all over the globe. Finally, the purse has varied over the years, hitting a peak of $2 million in 2005. For 2023’s edition, the purse is $750,000.
Ricoh Woodbine Mile — The Ricoh Woodbine Mile takes place at Woodbine Racetrack every September. It is a Grade 1 stakes race for thoroughbred’s 3 years or older and is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series. In short, the winner of the Woodbine Mile automatically qualifies for the Breeders’ Cup Mile, a multi-million-dollar race commonly held in the United States. Since 1997, the Woodbine Mile has been a 1-mile-long contest on the turf. In 2023, the purse is $1,000,000.
E.P. Taylor Stakes — Named after one of, if not the most, influential figures in Canadian horse racing, the E.P. Taylor Stakes is a 1 1/4-mile thoroughbred competition for fillies and mares ages 3 and up. Initially held at Greenwood Raceway, the race moved to Woodbine in 1962 and hasn’t left since. That being the case, it only makes sense that the race goes off every October on the appropriately named E.P. Taylor turf course.
Natalma Stakes — Shot out of the gates annually at Woodbine in September, the Natalma Stakes is a Grade 1 thoroughbred race open to 2-year-old fillies. The namesake of the one-mile turf event, Natalma, is the dam (mother) of Northern Dancer, one of the most influential horses in thoroughbred history. Like her son, the Virginia-bred mare is a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
Manitoba Derby — Now that we’re familiar with the Canadian Triple Crown and the races it entails, let’s introduce you to the first leg of the Western Canadian Triple Crown, the Manitoba Derby. Held yearly at Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg, MB, this 1 1/8-mile contest is open to 3-year-old thoroughbreds and typically takes place around the beginning of August.
Canadian Derby — Created by Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Famer R. James Spears, the Canadian Derby first ran in 1930 at Polo Park Racetrack in Winnipeg. Initially, the race only included horses bred in Manitoba, but expanded in 1936 to allow horses from all over Canada to compete. Today, the 1 1/4-mile thoroughbred competition goes off annually in August at Century Mile Racetrack in Leduc County, AB. Open to 3-year-old’s, the race is the second leg of the Western Canadian Triple Crown.
British Columbia Derby — The third jewel in the Western Canadian Triple Crown runs annually on the dirt at Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver, BC. It is a 1 1/8-mile Grade 3 contest open to 3-year-old thoroughbreds. Featuring a purse of $125,000, the BC Derby is Hasting Racecourse’s most valuable meet.
Pepsi North America Cup — Woodbine Mohawk Park in Milton, ON plays host to one of the marquee events on the North American standardbred racing calendar, the North America Cup, every June. It is a one-mile event for 3-year-old pacing horses. Prior to landing at Mohawk, the race went off at Greenwood Raceway in Toronto, ON from 1984 to 1993. The race has been kindest to driver John Campbell, who’s won it a record six times.
Mohawk Million — Where could it be and how much might it pay? Hold on to your hats for this one, the Mohawk Million takes place in September at Mohawk and carries a purse of $1 million. Jokes aside, this race for 2-year-old trotters is the richest of its kind. To compete in the race, an owner must purchase a slot for $100,000 or have a horse win the William Wellwood Memorial (see below).
Canadian Pacing Derby — First out of the gate in 1936 at Fountain Park Racetrack in New Hamburg, ON, the Canadian Pacing Derby is a free-for-all (higher competition event) for older pacers (3 and up). The oldest stakes race in Canadian standardbred competition moved to Mohawk in 2005, where it runs annually in September. The Count B is the most successful horse in derby history, crossing the finish line first four times.
Metro Pace — Regarded as one of the premier standardbred events in North America for 2-year-old pacers, the Metro Pace first ran in 1988 at Woodbine. Over a decade-and-a-half later, in 2005, the race moved to Mohawk on a full-time basis. It usually goes off in September and comes with a pretty handsome purse. In 2023, the purse stands at $850,000.
Canadian Trotting Classic — The now defunct Greenwood Raceway will be remembered for a lot of things, including hosting the first Canadian Trotting Classic on October 22, 1976. Much like the races before it, the standardbred event for 3-year-old trotters now lives at Mohawk. Here, you will find some of the finest trotters North American harness racing has to offer.
Maple Leaf Trot — From its inception in 1950, the Maple Leaf Trot bounced around before permanently moving to Mohawk in 2002, where it runs every September. Prior to settling down, Thorncliffe Park Raceway (1950-1953), Greenwood (1954-1993), and Woodbine (1994-2001) each hosted the race for trotters three years of age and older. Interestingly, the first ever Maple Leaf Trot finished in a tie between Morris Mite and Adeline Hanover. To settle the affair, the horse’s owners agreed to a coin toss, which landed in favour of Morris Mite.
William Wellwood Memorial — The William Wellwood Memorial is a standardbred race for 2-year-old trotters, celebrating one of the sport’s most respected and talented horseman. Born on July 22, 1940, trainer and driver William Wellwood’s legendary career spanned nearly half-a-century. Run in his honour each August at Mohawk. Winners get an automatic spot on the Mohawk Million starting gate.
Peaceful Way — Held at Mohawk every August, the Peaceful Way features a field of 2-year-old trotting fillies. The race’s namesake is one of the most talented trotting mares ever to run in Canada. In 52 career races, Peaceful Way found the winner’s circle 33 times, en route to earning more than $3.2 million. A member of both the Canadian and US Horse Racing Hall of Fames, Woodbine Entertainment honoured the acclaimed trotter with a trackside retirement ceremony in 2007.
Gold Cup & Saucer — Although it doesn’t sport the largest purse ($100,000), the Gold Cup and Saucer is a can’t miss event on the Canadian harness racing calendar. Appearing at Red Shores Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island each August, it truly is more than just a race. Massive crowds converge to celebrate east coast racing and spirit for nine days straight as part of Old Home Week. This first ever Gold Cup and Saucer took place in 1961.
Western Canada Pacing Derby — The Western Canada Pacing derby is a race for 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings. Century Mile Racetrack in Leduc County, AB hosts the race each year. While the race doesn’t run in the same month each time around, it will usually fall between October and December.
Camluck Classic — The signature race at The Raceway at The Western Fair District in London, ON is named after late world champion pacer and leading stallion Camluck, who is a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. The race is open to standardbreds aged 3-years and up and takes place each May. Drivers and their equine partners will compete for a shot at $150,000 prize. In 2023, even-money favourite Covered Bridge and driver Jordan Stratton took home the trophy.
Charles Juravinski Memorial Cup — Held at Flamboro Downs near Hamilton, ON, the Charles Juravinski Memorial Cup is a standardbred race for 4-year-old pacers. Originally run in 1977 as the Confederation Cup Pace, the race returned with a new name in 2022 to honour Flamboro’s co-founder and noted philanthropist Charles Juravinski, who died that year. Serving as Flamboro’s premier event, several Hall of Fame horses have competed in the race over the years.
Battle of Waterloo and Battle of the Belles — Showcasing Ontario-sired 2-year-old pacing colts each August, the Battle of Waterloo is Grand River Raceway’s signature competition. Before coming to Grand River in 2004, the race ran annually at Elmira Raceway from 1998 through 2003. The Battle of the Belles is Grand River’s companion race to its signature dash. Here, you will find 2-year-old Ontario-born pacing fillies also running every August.
Quarter horse racing
Alex Picov Memorial Championship — The first of two memorial races named after Alex Picov, a Russian immigrant who is widely credited for establishing quarter horse racing in Ontario, runs out of Ajax Downs each October. Before changing its name to Ajax Downs in 2006, the track was originally, ‘Picov Downs,’ when it opened in 1969. This race is only 440 yards, which is significantly shorter than both thoroughbred and standardbred contests.
Alex Picov Memorial Futurity – The second race named after Alex Picov is the richest in quarter horse racing. Over the years, its purse has ranged everywhere from $75,000, all the way up to $115,000 in 2021. The most recent running in 2022 carried a purse just over $90,000. Just like its companion race, the Alex Picov Memorial Futurity runs out of Ajax Downs every October. The distance of the race is 400 yards.