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Thursday, September 28, 2006

We Owe It to Them

It's getting late in the racing season and everyone involved in the industry has made money on our equine stars one way or another.
It's time to give something back.
LONGRUN THOROUGHBRED RETIREMENT SOCIETY puts on its 2nd annual Gala tomorrow night, Sept. 29 at the Woodbine trackside tent and some 300 tickets have been sold.
Six years into its charitable status, LongRun has been helping horsepeople move retired racehorses to adoptive homes - if owners can't do it themselves.
More than 150 horses have been moved.
Now, with winter approaching and some 30 horses in the program waiting for homes,. LongRun needs the help of the industry in order to feed and take care of these brave animals.
LongRun has had incredible support from the organizations involved in the racing industry but there is work to do yet.
Without the horses, there would be no Woodbine, no racing industry, no jobs for you and I.
There is NO excuse not to give generously this season to help our heroes.


Copy this link to read about John Liviakis, who brought Captain Kurt to Woodbine for the Woodbine Mile:


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Monday, September 25, 2006

Got one anyway!

Competitive racing, three different Woodbine "meetings" and simply slow horses and bad luck have made it tough for so many top trainers at Woodbine this season to collect their usual number of wins. Many barns have struggled in 2006.
One of those is the high profile Mike Keogh stable, which went through two narrow losses on Sunday afternoon, one in the $300,000 Sky Classic Stakes before getting a win anyway - MURANI, in the Flaming Page Stakes.
The win was certainly welcome but tough for handicappers to explain as the fast improving filly defeated 3 to 5 favourite NOBLE STELLA, who was seemingly a total standout in the small field.
A multiple graded stakes winner this season, NOBLE STELLA has never had much luck at Woodbine, perhaps the long stretch run is not her favourite. Meanwhile, Murani was yet another horse ridden by Emile Ramsammy who was sent to the lead and this one held on in gritty fashion. Owned by Arosa Farms, Murani is by that super versatile sire Distorted Humor.
In the Sky Classic, Woodbine fans got a treat not only with the visit by Breeders' Cup Turf winner (2004) BETTER TALK NOW but three tough guys hit the wire in a line as the former rallied to engage Jambalaya and Last Answer. The win margin was a short head and Better Talk Now (by Talkin Man) proved he still has fire in his belly.
The connections of this 7-year-old gelding would be well advised to come back to Toronto for the $1.5 million Pattison Canadian International on Oct. 22, however, as beating Jambalaya and Last Answer by a neck might not get him much in the BC Turf this year.
Form is starting to come around on horses on the Polytrack now and after sizzling times on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and Saturday, the track seemed to be tinkered with (again) and the clockings were closer to normal on Sunday. Still, it appears that a horse must be within 5 lengths to have a chance to win on the surface at this point.
Jockeys Richard Dos Ramos and Eurico Rosa da Silva were the stars last week while top trainers Reade Baker, Mark Casse, Scott Fairlie, Bob Tiller and Sid Attard all picked up wins here and there.
Baker, a guest at a handicapping seminar at Greenwood Teletheatre on Saturday (and who picked the most winners on the panel!) offered up several Horses to Watch this week including Perigee Girl (Wednesday night) and Elkhart.

On the west coast HALO STEVEN won a courageous pace battle with Woodbine-based OKAY NOTHANKSFORASKN to win the B.C. Derby yesterday at Hastings Park in Vancouver. The Florida-bred gelding battled on the pace with the latter and jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson and then held off another Woodbine guy, HEAD CHOPPER and jockey Justin Stein, to win by a nose. A neck separated Head Chopper and 'Ok' and the latter was a neck in front of Raise the Bluff. Stein lost his whip in mid-stretch.
The Derby consolation when to favoured Luhuk's Dancer, who was ridden by Stein.

In Winnipeg,, 9-year-old ELITE MERCEDES won the Gold Breeders' Cup Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.


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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Oh Baby!

Sizzling times on Polytrack are not supposed to happen, are they? Well, Wednesday night racing at Woodbine has always yielded a lightning fast surface no matter what the construction so perhaps it's nothing to be alarmed with.
But VERNE'S BABY ran the second fastest 7 furlongs ever on a Woodbine main track last night - 1:20.54 - when winning the Overskate Stakes by more than 7 lengths.
The jet-black gelding by Whiskey Wisdom earned a whopping 105 Beyer Figure.
The track played very fast all night but was not neccesarily speed favouring. Several Polytrack records were broken last time after 3 weeks of the surface. Still, the track seemed to play fair at times, if they went too fast up front, they stopped, and inside and outside didn't seem to matter.

The Trakus graphics used after each race shown on The Score broadcast last night were much more interesting than what Woodbine has shown on simulcast and perhaps will have the virtual race available on some channels soon.


  • At 6:46 AM, Anonymous Steve said…

    Did they do something to the Poly to make it faster? Even cheaper claimers were running in 1:09. I remember, just a few short weeks ago, when the horses were running slower and running out of steam(front runners) when they hit the top of the stretch.

  • At 6:55 AM, Blogger Jen Morrison said…

    A week ago this past Monday/Tuesday, the Polytrack was "fluffed up" and a lot of maintenance was done on it, leading to Patrick Husbands to say on air Wednesday night, Sept. 13, that the surface was the best it had been since it opened. Any moisture on the Poly tends to tighten up the waxy granules (check out a story on by Ron Gierkink last week on Polytrack) and certainly on a Wednesday night, with moisture in the air, cool temps and no sun, the track does get fast. Is it supposed to be that fast and is it still safe? Time will tell I guess..

  • At 7:12 AM, Anonymous Steve said…

    So, does this mean that front runners have that much more of an advantage? After watching last evenings card(at Woodbine), the speed didn't tire out. Or, if it did, everything behind it tired as well. Nobody came off the pace.

    Can there be a bias with a Poly track surface?

  • At 7:16 AM, Blogger Jen Morrison said…

    All I can say at this time is that the horses have to be somewhat close - as in 3-4 lengths from the leader. Riva's Tribute rallied wide in last night's finale although he sure was not too far back. There should not be a bias...not sure there is one right now because front runners did not win all the races. A puzzle for sure!

  • At 7:37 AM, Anonymous Steve said…

    Riva's Tribute never ran for $12,500 before, and those fractions were pretty tough to sustain, especially when everyone was on trying to take the lead. A classier horse, like Riva, just had to wait for the front stuff to die.

    I guess class will always prevail, even on Poly!

  • At 7:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Jen,

    Never know what you'll run across when simply googling "Nothanksforaskn"! (LOL)

    I'm here to tell you that it is raining here in Seahawk country and, heck, I guess I can chime in on "fast times" too.

    The (still "dirt", not poly') track here is like greased lightning most of the time, and particularly so in April and September when the ("fast"-rated) surface can hold its water best.

    If only Woodbine-type horses could run on this surface, every 3-year-best time would be here. Somebody went 6 furs. 1:07 2/5 the other day and got a yawner of a 98 Beyer. Last year somebody went 6 1/2 in 1:13 FLAT (N.W.R.) and was first dealt a ho-hum "96" Beyer for it. (appropriately so)

    Anyway, saw you here and wanted to let you know that I noticed you in cyberspace.

    I'm just digging into the 'Derby and thinking the horse I googled might just be in an entirely different league.

    Time will tell.


    G. in S.


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Monday, September 18, 2006

Canadian International next up

Interesting filly might be headed this way...remember Yeats, he had a poor outing in the International here last year


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The Crux of the Matter

Posting a career best 104 Beyer Figure, Becrux and substitute rider Pat Valenzuela won a chaotic battle down the Woodbine E.P. Taylor turf course stretch to take the Woodbine Mile (Can-I).
Hard to believer any of those ones could get close to Aragorn and the winner is definitely not going to the Breeders' Cup, according to owner Barry Irwin.

Second-place finisher Rebel Rebel came back to his Poker Handicap run but stalled a bit late after a wide trip.

Ad Valorem finished third after a troubled trip and some testing times early in the race when he couldn't handle the soft, older part of the grass course. May have been best.

The Woodbine crowd, which bet some $4.5 million, was abuzz earlier in the day with the win by the filly Dreaming of Anna over the boys in the Grade III Summer Stakes. The filly earned a 93 Beyer Figure and romped under very little urging from Rene Douglas. She could be the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner.

From around the racing forums (Let It Ride and trackchampion), reviews were mixed on the quality of the race but the multi-horse finish certainly made up for that.
Forum writers also commented on Woodbine's Polytrack and its new Trakus system, which is on all simulcast channels and must be viewed no matter where you are.

Ready's Gal benefitted by a shrewd ride by Ramon Dominguez in the Canadian Stakes to win that $300,000 race. Poor rides by the other 5 jocks helped too as the winner got away with a slow pace and a clear lead from the start.


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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Big Money up for Bettors, Horses

Woodbine Mile day is a fascinating and very large card of 11 races including 2 Win 4's which, for the first time in Woodbine history, offer guaranteed Pools. The first Win 4 (races 4-7 as usual) has a $50,000 guarantee while the second Win 4 (6 through 9 and includes the very tough Woodbine Mile) has a pot of $100K guaranteed.
Two other stakes plus huge fields load up the card and many races are tricky to handicap - add in Polytrack and pciking a winner could be next to impossible (see last week's results!)
Even the grass races from Friday and Saturday have been difficult to decipher.
Perhaps High Volt Jolt in race 4, coming out of a key race that produced 5 next out winners will get the ball rolling for us bettors tomorrow.

Saturday, hotshot 2yo colt BARILKO made it four wins in four starts with a scorein the Swynford. Trainer Dave Dwyer (who also owns the son of E Dubai) suggested the horse will be retired for the season now, before tackling any big 2-turn baby races in the fall.
Barilko is a Kentucky bred.

Lots of talk about TRAKUS, the innovative tracking system that, after several years of testing at Woodbine, debuted last Wednesday night on all channels. The graphics take up the bottom one-third of the screen and has left the TV department scrambling on how to film the race for those who still want to watch the horses. So far, watching a horse race on the TV monitors is now impossible to follow. Reviews for Trakus have been mixed although ESPN and Bill Finley unleashed a positive story today on the merits of the dancing "chicklets". Check it out for yourself.

Woodbine Mile picks - Rebel Rebel and Three Valleys
Guests at a seminar at Woodbine on Saturday included Captain Kurt's owner John Liviakis and trainer Melody Conlon who are excited about their horse but wary that the journey from California took something out of the 4-year-old.
Longshot prospects include Shoal Water.


  • At 7:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Love those chicklets,they take the guessing out of whether you are alive with a tri or superfecta.

    John at Swift

  • At 9:24 PM, Blogger 8th-Pole said…

    I'm mixed as well with Trakus, I think it's a great ideal, however I wonder if there is a better way to show the info, maybe an overhead shot on the right fifth of the screen (similar to Gallop Racer for those who've played that ps2 game, you'll know what I mean). Or have the chicklets overlayed on the top portion of the track with the live feed which has most of the action going on the bottom portion of the screen. Have a split screen the way it is now.


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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Mile is stacked with live longshots

Feel sorry for the morning line oddsmaker sometimes when a competitive race materializes such as Sunday's Woodbine Mile presented by Bell.
Three runners may be distinct favourites but any one of the other 10 entrants could get involved.

Here is the field:
(courtesy Woodbine Entertainment)

Post/Horse (Weight, lbs.)/Owner/Trainer/Jockey/Odds
1/Vanderlin (119)/J.C., J.R. & S.R. Hitchins/Andrew Balding/Richard Hughes/30-1

2/Sweet Return (121)/Red Oak Stable/Ron McAnally/Kent Desormeaux/12-1

3/Therecomesatiger (117)/Charles Patton/Tom Proctor/Mark Guidry/15-1

4/Shoal Water (117)/Sam-Son Farm/Mark Frostad/Robert Landry/50-1

5/Ad Valorem (124)/Susan Magnier & R.W. Ingham/Aidan O'Brien/Patrick Husbands/4-1

6/Diamond Green (117)/Stonerside Stable, R. Trussell & A. Falourd/Robert Frankel/Jose Santos/15-1

7/Remarkable News (121)/Holly Rincon/Angel Penna Jr./Javier Castellano/5-2

8/Three Valleys (119)/Juddmonte Farms/Robert Frankel/Ramon Dominguez/7-2

9/Ballast (117)/Richard Thompson/Graham Motion/Todd Kabel/20-1

10/Becrux (117)/Team Valor & Gary Barber/Neil Drysdale/Corey Nakatani/15-1

11/Rebel Rebel (119)/IEAH Stables and Resolute Group Stable/Richard Dutrow/Edgar Prado/8-1

12/Dalavin (117)/Audre & Gord Cappuccitti/Audre Cappuccitti/Constant Montpellier/50-1

13/Captain Kurt (117)/John Liviakis/Melody Conlon/Emma-Jayne Wilson/20-1

Probable Favourites: Remarkable News - Three Valleys - Ad Valorem

Total Purse $1,000,000
Winner to receive $600,000
2nd $200,000
3rd $110,000
4th $60,000
5th $30,000

Post-time: 5:06 p.m.
TV: The Score (4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.)


  • At 7:02 PM, Blogger 8th-Pole said…

    Jen, I thought you are the morning line maker for Woodbine.


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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Woodbine Mile comin up

Heavy rain since Tuesday evening in the Toronto area will ensure there will be no grass racing this evening at Woodbine and perhaps Thursday and Friday. The turf will likely have a bit of ‘cut’ to it on Mile day, Sunday, Sept, 17.
That’s not good news for European Ad Valorem, the Aidan O’Brien trainee who loves a firmer course. The impeccably bred Danzig colt figures to be one of the betting favourites and has Patrick Husbands, a close friend o f the colt’s Euro-jockey Kieran Fallon, on board.
Interesting that Ron McAnally or his assistant Dan Landers, both reluctant to talk about their Mile entrant Sweet Return on Tuesday, will be coming east for the race. The 6-year-old horse is heading to Brian Lynch’s barn.
One of the faves, Remarkable News, has never raced on anything but firm turf and so many of the other entrants are unproven over off turf.
Another possible favourite, Three Valleys, the Juddmonte homebred, has never raced on yielding or soft turf.
Should be interesting - a field of 13 or 14 is expected for the Mile, a $1,000,000 (Can.) race.

Other Tuesday notes:

Todd Pletcher, who sends a lot of horses to Woodbine for big races, recently said Go Deputy (2nd in the Man o' War last weekend) will come for the Pattison Canadian International next month.

Chiefswood Farm paid $475,000 for an A.P. Indy filly on the second day of the Keeneland sale yesterday. The Krembil family also bought a filly by first-year sire Harlan’s Holiday out of the Easy Goer mare Fair Settlement for $250,000.

A Canadian-bred filly by Theatrical out of Queen’s Plate winner La Lorgnette’s sister Schonnbrunn sold for $560,000 by Hill ‘n’ Dale to Castle Farm. Jim and Alice Sapara picked up a Forestry filly out of Canadian stakes winner Extend for $170,000.


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Monday, September 11, 2006

Canadian-bred sells for $800K

Ahmed Zayat paid $800,000 for John and Glenn Sikura's Canadian-bred yearling filly by Theatrical out of Canadian Stakes-G3 winner Anguilla early in the first day of Keeneland's Sept. yearling sale.
Zayat, who races horses at Woodbine with trainer Mark Casse, has been a big-name player at sales in 2006.
The filly is the 3rd foal out of the mare, who won $541K on the track and is a daughter of Seattle Slew.
Through 160 hips, other horses of note for locals was hip 155, Invermay, a filly by Dynaformer - Balletomane who sold to Jim and Alice Sapara's Winsong Farms and C. Woods for $350,000. The Kentucky-bred is a half-sister to Breeders' Cup Mile winner Silic.
The Saparas paid $250,000 for the Woodbine yearling sales topper, a Hold That Tiger colt bred by Bill Diamant and Vicki Pappas.


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Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Bias or no Bias?

After a week of Polytrack at Woodbine, inquiring minds want to know...have there been biases to the surface?
Many pundits said Wednesday night was a strong inside bias and that speed horses did well, much different than the first few days of the surface in which closers dominated.
Thursday, several speed horses won but the pace was so slow for those events that the speed could not help but win.
Jockeys can often influence the way the track plays and when most of Woodbine's jockeys are suddenly taknig strong holds of their horses and letting longshots get loose on the lead, look out.
Thorough-blog would love to hear some feedback from anyone watching Woodbine's races these days.


  • At 10:25 PM, Blogger 8th-Pole said…

    I haven't seen too much of a bias, if anything you still can't close out of the clouds in 6f races. But inside should be the place to be because it's the shortest way around the track. The one thing I keep looking for is to make sure they can get a distance longer then they are racing today, I've seen enough sprints won with routers pedigrees so far.


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Monday, September 04, 2006

Old and the Young on Monday/Tuesday

Crisper air, less daylight and the start of school and football - mus be yearling sales time in Toronto.
The sale kicks off Tuesday at 3 p.m. with a yearling selling on behalf of LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society prior to hip no. 1. The filly is by Whiskey Wisdom and is offered by Gail Wood, agent.
Pedigrees of yearlings may get a boost today as six yearling sales stakes load up the Woodbine card, the 5th day of Polytrack.
Attractions today include big ole BARBEAU RUCKUS, the 7yo who is seeking his third Elgin Stakes score and a bunch of Bob Tiller trainees including 2yo stars MIDNIGHT SHADOW and SPREAD THE NEWS.

On Sunday, the highly regarded giant baby, MIKE FOX led all the way to win his debut in the day's final event, an off-the-turf race that went at 1 mile and 70 yards. The son of Giant's Causeway was sure impressive even if his Beyer Figure of 59 was not.
Another debut winner on the card was Krz n' Flashy, who put up a 55 Beyer Figure over the speedy Poly surface.


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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Better to Just Watch...

It can be said that the introduction of Polytrack to Woodbine is revolutionary and good for the horses. These statements are certainly true.
It's also been tougher than ever to handicap the races - Saturday certainly started off as longshot day and the trend continued Sunday.
Speed has not been holding on, closers can come from miles behind and win and the times were about normal to on the slow side on Friday and Saturday.

On Sunday, Polytrack turned to Poly-Quick, as lots of rain soaked right through the surface but also tightened it up. Victoria's Boy raced 6 furlongs in 1:10 in the day's 2nd event.

From the DID HE JUST SAY THAT? file:

Rave reviews for Polytrack are super and warranted but already horses have broken down on the surface - one from trainer Reade Baker's barn during training and Bold Claim on Friday evening. There were hardly any breakdowns during the inner-dirt meeting. A Woodbine television host said this on Sunday...

"To watch horses train on this surface just brightens your heart as a horseperson"

A tad thick after only 2 cards we think.


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