Woodbine Entertainment announced on Tuesday, June 21 that it is partnering with the You Can Play Project (YCP) to increase the level of inclusion for everyone who participates in the sport of horse racing. This includes 2SLGBTQ+ athletes, administrators, horsepeople and fans.
Woodbine Entertainment is the first horse racing organization in all of North America to partner with the YCP.
“This partnership is a reflection of our determination and commitment to do more to break down barriers and make our sport more inclusive,” said Jim Lawson, CEO, of Woodbine Entertainment. “Horse racing has a rich history throughout the world, but we see an opportunity to be more inclusive, and to be allies to the 2SLGBTQ+ community.”
YCP works to ensure the safety and inclusion for all who participate in sports, including LGBTQ+ athletes, coaches and fans. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, YCP provides support, education and outreach to ensure the 2SLGBTQ+ community is safe and welcomed in sport, and athletes and participants are judged on their skill, talent and contribution and not their sexuality or gender identity.
“Woodbine has made inclusion a priority across their organization, so this is not just as a June effort during Pride month,” explained Denis Vachon, Head of Canadian Partnerships for You Can Play. “Their commitment to these initiatives has been impressive, and the first of its kind within horse racing. Our partnership will be showcased through both front-facing visuals to evidence a welcoming environment, as well as behind-the-scenes education, to provide a race experience for every participant and fan.”
The partnership kicks of this June during Pride month with various initiatives planned over the next year including inclusivity training for Woodbine Entertainment staff, jockeys, drivers, trainers and other horse racing participants. Woodbine Racetrack and Woodbine Mohawk Park will also host You Can Play themed race days in 2023 to raise awareness and 50/50 fundraising draws to support the You Can Play Project.
“Diversity, equality, inclusivity and belonging has been a focus for us over the past few years and this partnership is a part of those efforts,” added Lawson. “We are the first to admit we can be better in this area. There is so much opportunity to be more inclusive throughout society, and especially in professional sports, and we are proud to be leaders in inclusivity in the sport of horse racing.”