Canada Horse Racing Betting

Introduction Read more
History of horse racing Read more
Interesting Facts Read more
Canadian Racing Season
Read more
Racecourses – Overview Read more
Major Races – Overview Read more
Betting guide Read more


Canadian racing is lesser know in comparison to it’s American cousin with Woodbine playing host to the majority of the top-tier Canadian racing. The Grade 1 races are often plundered by European based runners, with the Triple Crown being the main target to home trained-runners. Racebets offers a wide range of betting, streams and offers on all Canadian racing which means you can follow all the action. 

History of horse racing

There are different versions trying to establish when racing in Canada began but reportedly the first official race was held on July 1, 1767, when a mare named Modesty won a race worth $40 on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City. Before 1800 there was also racing held on “The Bend” which was actually on Toronto Island. It’s a sandy neck of land that connected the central portion of the Peninsula with the main shore. On Sept. 16, 1793, Mrs Elizabeth Simcoe, informally inaugurated horse racing on the Peninsula. Informal races were held periodically among military officers and locals. The course was not oval-shaped but a long, straight level track.

Northern Dancer

Northern Dancer

Courses have sprung up around the country since then, predominantly in the south in Toronto and Ontario. 

It would be remiss to speak of the history of racing and breeding in Canada without mentioning the mighty Northern Dancer, the darling of the country in the 1960s. Northern Dancer became the first Canadian-born horse to win the Kentucky Derby. The E.P. Taylor owned stallion had a brief racing  career running 18 races in 15 months but he’s still Canada’s best-known equine export.

Interesting Facts

  • Northern Dancer was the first Canadian-bred and -owned horse to win the Kentucky Derby.
  • Northern Dancer was the first non-human to be inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame (1965).

Canadian Racing Season

In Ontario, the thoroughbred season runs from April to December, while harness racing continues almost year-round In the height of the season racing takes place mostly on Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday.

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Racecourses – Overview

The majority of Canadian horse racing events are hosted at two main racetracks. The first and the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown are held at the Woodbine Racetrack, while the middle one is organized at the Fort Erie Race Track.

Woodbine Racetrack
Woodbine Racetrack

The Woodbine Racetrack was opened in 1956, and it hosts flat thoroughbred and harness horse races. Apart from the Queen’s Plate, the Breeders’ Stakes and the Canadian International, other notable races are held at the Woodbine Racetracks including the Woodbine Mile, Northern Dancer Turf Stakes, E.P. Taylor Stakes and the Nearctic Stakes.

Racing first began at Fort Erie in 1897 and is also known as the border oval due to its proximity to the US border. Apart from the Prince of Wales Stakes, the second jewel of the Triple Crown, there aren’t that many other races run on this track. Most of the main races have been moved to Woodbine. The course is regarded as one of the most picturesque courses in North America. 

Woodbine is the only track in North America which hosts thoroughbred and standardbred (harness racing) action on the same day. Woodbine is also the only track outside the U.S. to have hosted a Breeders’ Cup meeting which took place in 1996. 

Canada’s most popular harness tracks include Woodbine Harness, Mohawk Raceway, Western Fair Raceway, and Flamboro Downs. There are many standardbred tracks spread across the provinces, most of them in Ontario.

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Major Races – Overview

Taking a glance at the Canadian horse racing calendar, the biggest event is undoubtedly the Triple Crown. The Canadian Triple Crown like its American counterpart features three events held annually where three-year-old horses take part. 

The first leg of the Triple Crown is the Queen’s Plate, a race that’s long 1 ¼ mile. The second leg is the Prince of Wales Stakes, a thoroughbred race with a distance of 1 3/16 mile, and the final jewel of the Crown is the Breeders’ Stakes, a flat racing event 1 ½ mile long.

Unlike the American Triple Crown, the races in Canada are all held on different surfaces. The first one, the Queen’s Plate is run on Polytrack, the Prince of Wales Stakes takes place on dirt, and the Breeders’ Stakes is run on turf.

Desert Encounter
Desert Encounter

The Woodbine International, also known as the Canadian International Stakes, is another of the key races in the calendar and is probably the best know race to European readers with many Irish & UK trainers landing the prize through the years, including Desert Encounter in 2019. 

Canadian horse racing calendar
Canadian horse racing calendar

Betting guide

Racebets offers odds on both gallop and trot/harness racing from Canada, while also allowing users to view races. 

Canadians as a nation are keen punters on their own horse racing as well as events in the United States and beyond, which makes Racebets the ideal place for any racing enthusiast. .

Racebets provides all your  betting options including win, place, show and the exotics: quinellas, exactas, trifectas and Superfecta.

Betting types offered by RaceBets
Betting types offered by RaceBets

Canadian racing is covered by a pari-mutuel (totalisator) system, with its pools commingled with those of the United States. It is overseen by the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA).

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