TORONTO — Woodbine Entertainment Group postponed the start of the thoroughbred racing season Monday due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The season was set to open April 18. In a statement, Woodbine Entertainment said the postponement was "until further notice."

It added the decision was made after the Ontario government mandated Monday that all non-essential businesses be closed by 11:59 p.m ET on Tuesday.

This will limit Woodbine’s backstretch to only essential care for horses. Regular training won't be permitted.

"Considering we will only be allowing for the essential care of the horses on our backstretch, we will not be in a position to open the season as scheduled on April 18," Woodbine CEO Jim Lawson said in the statement. "As previously communicated, we are currently in discussions with government agencies to help provide the support needed for horsepeople and the horses during this time of no racing."

Woodbine added when the Ontario government allows non-essential businesses to re-open, training operations on its backstretch are expected to resume. At that time, Woodbine will determine when it should open the 2020 toroughbred season

The decision isn't a surprise as last week Woodbine Entertainment ceased all harness racing indefintely at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2020.