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‘Mohawk Million’ Unveiled

Published: September 26, 2019 3:35 pm ET

Last Comment: September 29, 2019 2:28 pm ET | 4 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

On Thursday, September 26, Woodbine Entertainment announced details for the inaugural ‘Mohawk Million,’ a race for two-year-old trotters with a $1 million (USD) purse, making it the richest harness race in Canada.

Scheduled for late September or early October in 2020 at Woodbine Mohawk Park, the Mohawk Million will follow a buy-in formula with nine of 10 slots in the race available for purchase. The tenth and final spot will be given to the connections of the 2020 William Wellwood Memorial winner at no cost.

The nine buy-in slots cost $110,000 (USD) and will be sold before February 17, 2020.

“We are thrilled to offer horsepeople this exciting opportunity and provide a platform for the finest young trotters in the sport,” said Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment. “With the addition of the Mohawk Million, Woodbine Mohawk Park will host over two full months of top stakes racing for two-year-old trotters potentially exceeding $4 million which will set a new industry standard and further demonstrate our commitment in being a global leader and innovator in harness racing.”

Each slot in the ‘Mohawk Million’ is an entity and may be sold, traded or leased. The purchaser of the slot does not have to declare a horse for the Mohawk Million until time of entry.

A total of nine purchase contracts must be received by February 17, 2020 or the event will not proceed, and entry fees will be returned. If more than nine purchase contracts are received, a draw for the nine slots will take place before February 28, 2020.

Final rules and conditions for the Mohawk Million will be available in the coming weeks.

“We appreciate the support we have received from the Central Ontario Standardbred Association towards the Mohawk Million and look forward to making it a reality,” said Lawson.

The concept, borrowed from thoroughbred racing's Pegasus World Cup, was first presented on the Standardbred side as the 'Red Mile Million' a two-year-old trotting event to be held at The Red Mile in 2019 as a joint venture of The Red Mile and the Hambletonian Society. According to representatives from the Hambletonian Society, The Red Mile will not be conducting a buy-in race for two-year-olds.

"This is a Woodbine Mohawk Park project," John Campbell, President & CEO of the Hambletonian Society told Trot Insider on Thursday afternoon. "We initiated talks with them and they have taken over and run with it.

"We believe that this event has tremendous potential and that Woodbine Mohawk Park will put on a tremendous racing experience."

(with files from Woodbine Entertainment)

September 29, 2019 - 2:28 pmThey already have the Metro

They already have the Metro for Pacers. I agree they need a companion stake for 2 yr old trotters but paying $110,000 to race for your own money is ridiculous! Make it a "Futurity" with mares nominated in foal for a reasonable nomination fee with refunds for barren mares or foals born dead then multiple sustaining and starting fees, all added money and if they can find a corporate sponsor all the better. If a foal switches gait it switches to the Metro. Then race it as an event like the Gold Cup And Saucer with lots of publicity and a big party atmosphere (Which BTW should be done for all major stakes like the Metro, NA cup, Maple Leaf Trot, Canadian Trotting Classic and The Canadian Pacing Derby for instance)

September 28, 2019 - 2:51 pmI love the idea of high

I love the idea of high stakes races and this has potential however with Kentucky's Red Mile not being able to be fulfilled it seems like this is destined to fail also.

Thoroughbred racing is much different than standardbred and there are a lot less top trainers in our sport. Would Ron Burke pay for 2 or 3 slots? I can't see it as he is basically racing for his own money then.

The idea is wonderful but it seems more likely to succeed if the slots were not pre-sold. Possibly a better option is to have a Woodbine sponsor throw in 250,000 and then have eliminations at $15,000 each entry buyin, with the track hosting the actual purse for the elims at $30,000 or range something like an overnight purse.

All entry fees go into the final purse, so 20 horses is another 300,000 added (based on 20 entries) and then have all finalists forking over $40,000 entry for the final to add another $400,000.

That can make up the $1,000,000 purse easier and less expensive to owners, more quality racing with eliminations and finals night for Mohawk plus you can have multiple entries from owners and trainers, which may well exceed the million dollar purse. The owners then look at $450,000 first place for a $55,000 investment, and only 15,000 loss if their star goes off stride. It just seems more plausible to owners, fans and the host track. Maybe someone will jump on an idea similar to this but I strongly feel without corporate sponsorship funding these high purse races, the only way to get them regularly is a model similar to that proposed.

Trevor Otterson

September 27, 2019 - 5:52 pmI think it would make more

Mike Mobley SAID...

I think it would make more sense to make this an event for 2yo pacers rather than trotters, since pacing is much more popular in North America than trotting. If Mohawk did this, they could tie the race into the following year's North America Cup. Regardless of the purse, I don't see how this race will generate any more interest in the sport. If you attend the track for the first time to watch this race and bet a few dollars on a horse, only to watch it jump off stride before the start and finish hopelessly out of the money, are you ever going to attend the harness races again?

September 26, 2019 - 6:42 pmIt is commendable on the part

John Burke SAID...

It is commendable on the part of WEG to propose a high purse stake race for 2 year old trotters. However, Mr Lawson's proposal as written would mean that of the one million dollar purse the 10 participants would be racing for $990,000(USD) of their own money. Presumably the remaining $10,000 would be made up from the purse account. The allocation doesn't seem fair, to me anyway. Perhaps it would be more appropriate that the conditions for this proposed stake for 2 year old trotters adopt the same or similar conditions as that of the Metro for 2 year old pacers.


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