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Not Missing A Beat Downtown

Published: October 14, 2015 1:58 pm ET

Last Comment: October 14, 2015 2:26 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Woodbine Racetrack will be rolling out the red carpet for the Breeders Crown over the next two weekends. The Woodbine Entertainment Group surely wants to see healthy on-track crowds for the sport’s championship events, but for those in the downtown core that can’t make it out to the track, WEG and Shoeless Joe’s have the next-best thing.

In August, WEG announced that it had made the tough decision to close the doors on the Turf Lounge, the company’s sparkling, fine-dining teletheatre that had serviced racing fans in the heart of Toronto’s financial district for 12 years.

Many in the industry saw the decision as a blow to horse racing’s presence in the city’s downtown core, but as a recent article by the Toronto Star explains, WEG hopes that it will not miss a beat in transitioning its faithful Turf Club customers over a few blocks to the Shoeless Joe’s located at the intersection of Duncan and King St.

The Shoeless Joe’s, located at 276 King St. W, is no stranger to the simulcasting of horse racing. It was announced in 2011 that WEG was teaming up with the Shoeless Joe location to create a ‘Horseplayer Interactive Zone’ which allowed fans to watch and wager on Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing.

The Star explains that the Shoeless Joe’s has worked with WEG since the closing of the Turf Lounge. The King St. locale used to offer a modest amount of wagering terminals, but since the shuttering of the Turf Lounge, the Shoeless Joe’s location has expanded its racing concept. It now features 12 big-screen televisions and six additional betting kiosks. Also, the introduction of the Turf Lounge’s comfortable chairs doesn’t hurt, either.

“It’s the only place like this in Toronto now,” Sam Basilone has told The Star. Basilone was hired by Shoeless Joe’s to help operate the racing aspect of the location.

Basilone's duties, among other things, include selling programs, cashing tickets, and teaching newcomers the ins and outs of the betting terminals, if they are in need of such guidance.

(With files from the Toronto Star)

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October 14, 2015 - 2:26 pmI have been going to the turf

Joe Riga SAID...

I have been going to the turf lounge since it opened and in my experience by far it was the best off track I had been to and I have been to quite a few. The staff at the Turf was awesome. They were professional, courteous and always welcomed you with a warm smile whether you were a regular or it was your first time there. If you were a regular they would get to know you on a first name basis and always welcome you with a cheery hello. The racing atmosphere was nice. You could eat quietly in a booth and watch the races on a small monitor, or you could sit at the bar and watch or still yet you could watch in a room dedicated to horse racing. It was sad to see them close their doors.
I have been to Shoeless Joes since then and while I don't want to bash it, it has a long way to go before it meets the bar set by the turf.
While the staff at the door and serving the patrons at the bar is friendly, I once went in and walked to the back to place a few wagers during my lunch hour and there was nobody there to turn on the television monitors to watch the races. And this was at 1:30 in the afternoon. After having asked several waitresses and even a manager if they could help I eventually just walked out since nobody knew how to turn on the monitors.
Also it would be very good if they actually had a machine to cash out your vouchers. A lot of us who work downtown go during our lunch hours and sometimes stay a little longer then we should and when we want to cashing out quickly and leave we are sometimes waiting 15 minutes for our money.
Apart from that I will say the place is clean and the people are friendly so it's worth going if you have time on your hands.


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