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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Thar She Blows!

Holy hurricane Batman! Woodbine cancelled its live racing today (as did Aqueduct) due to high winds and this time, there was good reason. Gusts up in the 70 km/h range made it tough to drive a car, never mind steer a horse.
The Bunty Lawless and Labeeb Stakes were already taken off the turf, will remain as 'off the turf' events' and will be held on Thursday.

Meanwhile, how classy is ROGER ATTFIELD? Accepting his congratulations for his 300th stakes winner (Pellegrino) yesterday at windy Woodbine, Attfield thanked his horses and his owners and then gave a little present to anyone who was listening. He said he "loved" his starter, Eccentric, yesterday at Keeneland in the Grade 3 Fayette Stakes. He was right and the horse paid 8 to 1.
Having worked for several years for Attfield, I can tell you he's a down to earth, fine man who is funny and kind. Congrats Roger!


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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Roger's 300th and Bombs Away!

Hall of Fame trainer ROGER ATTFIELD sent out his 300th stakes winner on Saturday at Woodbine when old-timer PELLGRINO upset the Chief Bearhart Stakes, a $100,000 event that was moved off the grass and held on Polytrack.
A humbe Attfield proudly accepted the Chief Bearhart trophy on behalf of owner Gary Tanaka after Pellegrino rallied wide off the last turn of the 1 1/4 mile race, cleared the field and then held off another longshot, Colorful Judgement, to win in 2:06 2/5.
Favoured Seaside Retreat in his first race as a gelding, finished sixth.

The day's first stakes race, the $150,000 Fanfreluche Stakes had another upset as GRANDY'S GLORY, who was going to race in an allowance event for non-winners of 1 race "other than" but went in the Fanfreluche when that race didn't fill, won at 14 to 1. One of the top 2yo fillies on the grounds, Midnight Shadow, finished fourth as the heavy favourite. Grandy's Glory is the newest stakes winner for leading Canadian sire Bold Executive.

And the goofiest result of all (welcome to Woodbine in the fall and Polytrack) was the 42 to 1 score by HALF HEAVEN owned by David Cassidy and Ed Lipton, in the River Memories Stakes, a $100,000 1 mile and 70 yard race also taken off the grass.
Half Heaven raced 7 days ago in New York, finishing ninth in a New York-bred stakes race over yielding turf. The daughter of Regal Classic had never raced on anything but turf before and wore down superstar Financingavailable in deep stretch.
Indeed, grass horses are handling Woodbine's quirky Polytrack very well thank you.


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Friday, October 27, 2006

Meteor streaks (udated)

Kinghaven Farms' Ontario-bred TWILIGHT METEOR rocked the field in the $125,000 Woodford Reserve Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland this afternoon. The race, originally a turf event, was moved to the Polytrack and the Smart Strike colt became yet another stakes winner for his sire when he ran past Marcavelly.
Oh yeah - 97 Beyer Figure, making him one of the fastest Canadian-breds this year.
Remember Marcavelly? He was favoured in Woodbine's Summer Stakes on turf and was 2nd to the super filly Dreaming of Anna.
Another young Canadian bred to consider for next year's Queen's Plate - thank goodness as it was starting to look like our homebreds were not amounting to much this season. The local stakes calendar has been dominated this year by American-breds.


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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Catch filly 19th on BC list

Catch the Thrill, the dominating Princess Elizabeth Stakes winner, is no. 19 on the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies list and not likely to get into the championship race at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.
despite being owned and bred by Sam-Son Farms - winner of 2 Breeders' Cup races in the past - and being a daughter of world class sire A.P. Indy and champion mare Catch the Ring AND having a 90 Beyer Figure from her Elizabeth score, Catch the Thrill was snubbed.
Okay, so maybe it's better for her that she not make the trip to Louisville and instead get ready for a 3yo campaign but former Woodbine VP if racing Chris Evans, who sat on the Breeders' Cup selection committee, was certainly missed.
So, Woodbine pins it's Cup 'hopes' on SKIP CDODE, an American-bred colt trained by Mark Casse who will compete in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Skip Code won the Grey Breeders' Cup Stakes earlier this month.
The Breeders' Cup attracted the most pre-entries since 2000 and Canadian-born owner J. Paul Reddam has the most entrants with 5, plus 2 he co-owns.

Woodbine slides into it's final seven weeks this week but not all that quietly - three stakes events are scheduled for Saturday.

Last night over a speedy Polytrack surface, the smaller barns of Sean Hall, John MacKenzie and Nick Detoro each collected two wins on the 8 race card and jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva won three.
Tab the hot barns and the fresh horses and stay away from the big class droppers if you're playing the races from now through Dec. 10, the last day of the meeting.


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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Chatting with Dan

A great way to wrap up the Track Chat seminars at Woodbine this year was intervewing DAN ILLMAN of the Daily Racing Form on Pattison Canadian International day, Oct. 22.
Fans were glued to Illman's insights and a surprise gift was that all in attendance received a copy of his book, Betting Maidens and 2-year-olds.
Illman is personable and very knowledgable, a true student of the game, and that's what fans want to listen to - he fielded many questions after the seminar.
Our picks were not too bad either - Woodbine is expected to put the audio version of the seminar on its website.
As for Illman's hair know it's good stuff because it's always windy at Woodbine! The quest for the brand is still on!


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Monday, October 23, 2006

"Eight-Year-old with Dodgy Joints", Arravale H.O.Y

It's pretty cool to see old horses racing, as long as they are still competitive and not being abused.
COLLIER HILL is one such dude - an arthritic 8-year-old gelding whose name used to be Dr Freeze. His owner had to buy out a co-owner last year for 20 times what he originally paid for the gelding but $1.2 million (Can.) later, Russell Hall is not worried about it.
Collier Hill sure looked good all week when training over the Woodbine grass, often in company with Blue Monday. But the deteriorating nature of the grass course because of heavy rain was a concern. The folks overseas said he would rather it not be so soft.
That was hard to tell on Sunday as the olg guy came back at the wire to out-nose the young buck Go Deputy, trained by Todd Pletcher.
And what's this? He earned a whopping 109 Beyer Figure.

Meanwhile, SKY CONQUEROR likely would have won the race anyway with a clean trip. It was a mess from start to finish as the colt had trouble with the footing, was too far behind the slow pace and then was checked hard in mid-stretch when an opening closed on him. He closed fast and galloped out well.

ARRAVALE, Canada's probable Horse of the Year, earned a 103 Beyer Figure, a lifetime best, in her E.P. Taylor score for owner Bob Costigan. It was a nice run by the Arch filly - too bad she's not a Canadian-bred but hey, she's the best local horse we've seen around here for a while.
At least the Canadian-breds are starting to heat up now. sam-Son Farms' A.P. Indy filly CATCH THE THRILL earned a 90 Beyer Figure winning the Princess Elizabeth, putting her among the best 2yo fillies in North America.
Oh ya, SEALY HILL, a Point Given filly won won her maiden at 7 furlongs last week, posted a 91 Beyer Figure and is indeed one of the fastest fillies on the continent.

A weekend with Polytrack saw horses lead all the way or rally so things are fair in the Polyworld.


  • At 6:41 PM, Blogger Tote Board Brad said…

    Well, tell us about Illman. Had you met him before? Specifically, what brand of hair jelly does he actully use?


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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Poly starting to settle

Woodbine's Polytrack appears to be settling into a more consistent surface - at least as far as running times are concerned. The slow horses are running slow and the better ones...well, faster.
The first three days of this racing week showed that horses who go slow on the pace will win and a hot pace will set things up for a stretch runner.
Andy Beyer's column on Keeneland's Polytrack (Daily Racing Form, Friday Oct. 20) is dead on - some races at Woodbine are also being run a lot like a grass race: field bunched up early, a lot of guzzling and rating going on and a sprint to the finish.
Handicappers and those of us who pick for newspapers or the DRF are having a heck of a time picking a lot of winners.

As far as tomorrow's turf extravangaza - the Nearctic, E.P. Taylor and $2 million Pattison Canadian Interntional, turf conditions will be the story. More rain is expected tonight and tomorrow and on Thursday, the International horses galloped and worked on the course and they were sinking several inches into the ground.
Red hot trainer CHRISTOPHE CLEMENT has horses in all 3 races - the unproven turfer In Summation in the Nearctic, a much fitter Naissance Royale in the Taylor and last year's International winner Relaxed Gesture in the big race.

Sunny's Halo's Kentucky Derby-winning trophy will soon be where it belongs - in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Hall of Fame director Lou Cauz and the Hall will host a reception on Oct. 25 to present the trophy to the collection after it was donated by Patti Cross, Earl Daynes and Joe Trdak.

Eugene Melnyk's homebred filly SEALY HILL was about as impressive a 2-year-old winner seen this year at Woodbine as any other runner. Yesterday, the Point Given - Boston Twist Ontario-bred won her second career start by 7 lengths and her running time for 7 furlongs of 1:23 1/5 will certainly yield a sizy Beyer Figure.

Top trainer Robert Tiller just got back from a shopping trip in Kentucky, buying 12 yearlings at the Fasig-Tipton October sale for $285,000.

Catch DRF writer and author DAN ILLMAN in an International seminar at Woodbine Sunday at 11 a.m. Prizes and coffee and danish are on tap.


  • At 11:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    since u watch the races on polytrack, maybe u'd venture a guess as to "why" the race strategies differ on that surface. i've seen a lot of comment that they do, BUT, nothing to indicate reasons.

  • At 11:51 AM, Blogger Jen Morrison said…

    Jockeys often tend to overhandicap races for polytrack - at least they did at Woodbine in the first few weeks. At first, the jockeys tried to ride their similar styles but when they saw speed didn't work early on, they started to rate their horses.
    Then the races were made a lot like they are at Keeneland now, slow early, sprint late, but since horses have been winning on the lead at Woodbine, things are starting to even out...but jockeys can influence biases or how races are run just by their tactics.


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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Water Logged at Woodbine

Driving the 45 minutes from the city of Brampton to Woodbine racetrack this morning at 6 a.m. to check out the International and E.P. Taylor horses train, it was virtually impossible to see for the rain.
It was the second such day of heavy rain in the last 3 days in the area and more is to come. Not good news for International fave GO DEPUTY, who likes it firm.
If you think last year's race, won by RELAXED GESTURE, was run in a bog, wait until this Sunday. By the way, the latter is back for another shot this year.

Canadian-bred WILD DESERT could race in the Breeders' Cup Classic after a share of the horse was sold to IEAH Stable, owners of Rebel Rebel, who was 2nd in the Woodbine Mile.

The weekend card's at Woodbine promise to be strong (Saturday's entries have alreayd been drawn and, other than the turf races carded that surely will be taken off, the card is a good one.)


  • At 2:59 AM, Blogger Tote Board Brad said…

    Did you see Blinkers Off on TVG? Matty prompted Dan to give you the shout out! Have fun, and see if you can find out what kind of hair gel Illman uses. Enquiring minds, Jen...enquiring minds.


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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Two Canadian stories for a rainy Tuesday

**Love those comments about cancellations of races by jocks (see previous posts and comments)
Check out two news stories from today….

(Harness running lines in question)

(story appeared in the Ottawa and Toronto Sun, by Jorge Berrara)

The operator of the country's top horse tracks is being investigated over possible rule violations by a federal agency that is itself facing questions it tried to sidestep the matter.
A senior official with the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency told the Ottawa Sun that Woodbine Entertainment may have failed to report serious complaints about the accuracy of betting information sold by the company in its harness-racing programs.
"I believe that they should have notified the CPMA," said Ron Nichol, director of operations for the agency. "The inquiry is ongoing and like any investigation at the outset, we do the same thing, we start looking into it and it develops."
Nichol said possible penalties could range from a warning to criminal charges and a loss of permit.
Questions have also surfaced that the agency initially tried to pass off the issue.
The Ottawa-born man who approached the CPMA with complaints about Woodbine Entertainment said he was told by an agency official late in the summer that the agency decided to not pursue the case.
"The official called me and told me that he had been told to drop it," said Jeh Stirling, who took his complaint to the CPMA after 23 frustrating months banging on Woodbine Entertainment's door.
Nichol said the official assigned to Stirling's file had been pulled off the case and replaced by Ontario regional manager Bob McReavy.
"He is following up," said Nichol. "We felt that the regional manager was better suited and had more time and resources to handle the issue."
Stirling, however, met with McReavy and Nichol in Toronto in late August during a CPMA regulatory review session and they never mentioned the ongoing probe.
Nichol said he couldn't explain why. "I guess we dropped the ball," he said.
Woodbine Entertainment operates Canada's top harness tracks, Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto and Mohawk Racetrack west of the city. Woodbine is also Canada's top thoroughbred track.
The company handles about $1.5 million in bets on an average card of harness racing, and holds five cards of harness racing a week.
A large portion of bets comes from off-track betting locations across North America, including at The Prescott in Ottawa's Little Italy and a Montreal Rd. operation in Vanier. Bettors can also wager on Woodbine races from other tracks, including Rideau-Carleton Raceway and Hippodrome D'Aylmer.
"There are huge numbers of players that bet on Woodbine. It is one of the Top 10 or 15 tracks in North America," said Nichol.
Horse racing in Ontario is regulated by the CPMA and the Ontario Racing Commission. ORC executive director John Blakney said provincial officers met with Stirling and Woodbine Entertainment officials on the issue after they were contacted by the CPMA.
Blakney said the company corrected some published betting information and installed stricter oversight to minimize errors.
He also said the matter was an example of why the racing industry needs tighter rules.
The CPMA, however, has gathered evidence Woodbine Entertainment breached industry regulations, according to an internal agency report obtained by the Sun.
The report said Woodbine Entertainment failed to tell regulators they received complaints about betting information in programs, and that the company has been selling flawed betting data to the public since 2004.
The report also said the company ignored complaints because they came from only one person.
Woodbine Entertainment would not say whether it ever reported the complaints to regulators.
It refused to answer several e-mailed requests for clarification.
The company said Stirling's complaints were serious enough to warrant an overhaul of procedures and forced changes to published betting information. The company said it planned to soon unveil an electronic tracking system.
"This is a game of inches and the math is extremely relevant and there is no room for mistakes of any kind," said Stirling, who grew up in Peterborough and attended the University of Ottawa.
"They should not be selling incorrect information. You are using the program to formulate a wager," said another major horse player, who has owned dozens of harness horses, but requested anonymity because he still has strong ties to the industry.
"The average Joe who walks into the race track is behind the eight ball."
Horse players call race programs the "Bible."
The programs usually contain detailed information of the six previous races run by horses called chart lines. The lines are one of the most important pieces of data bettors use to decide where to put their money. Where they put their money influences the odds.
The complaints centre on the chart lines, which are primarily compiled by a racing official called a charter. The charter tracks the horses at four points throughout a race. The charter marks a horse's position at each point, noting how many lengths it is behind the leader and whether it is on the inside or outside of the track.
The finishing positions are based on race film.
Regulations require racing programs to include chart lines and they are expected to be accurate. The charts are authenticated by ORC judges after races.
Stirling said he has found thousands of serious charting mistakes after reviewing race video and comparing them to the charts. Most professional players review their own races.
Stirling believes the sudden decline in accuracy began the day after the track's veteran charter retired.
"It was like someone threw a switch," said Stirling.
He immediately called Woodbine in March 2004 to tell the company about the problem, believing that would be the end of it.
But little improved.
"It went from horrible to really bad," he said.
Woodbine Entertainment's chief financial officer, Steve Mitchell, said the average harness-racing bettor doesn't pay much attention to the charted line.
"I doubt if I told them that in this particular line, this horse was not fifth, he was seventh, for the average person it would not make a a big difference," Mitchell said.
The head of the ORC said the charts should not be off by much, if at all. "The ordinary person who goes to the racetrack and bets a few dollars should expect that those lines are relatively accurate," said Blakney.
Blakney said there are no hard and fast rules governing charting. The racing commission has launched a survey of charting practices across the country to tighten regulations.

Ground being cleared for $1B megamall racetrack project near Calgary

Sunday, October 15, 2006

(CP) - It's being called the biggest project in Alberta outside of the oilsands.

It's a billion-dollar horse racing track, casino, veterinary college, hotel, and destination shopping centre on Calgary's northern outskirts, and it's raising environmental concerns and questions about its labour impact in a province that no longer even pretends to keep pace with the "Help Wanted" signs.

Welcome, shoppers, to the debate over East Balzac Mall.

Graders and earth movers are busy clearing the ground for it near Balzac, an agricultural hamlet named for the French novelist.

When the mall is completed by fall 2008, the jewels in its 270-hectare crown will be two racetracks - a one-mile thoroughbred track and a seven-furlong standardbred track.

Beside them will be 102,000 square metres (1.1 million square feet) of retail space with 18 anchor tenants, more than 180 specialty stores, restaurants, a movie theatre and a bowling alley.

It's drawing comparisons to the shopping colossus to the north, West Edmonton Mall, for the sheer size of its footprint. Its workforce is estimated at 3,200 in the retail side and 1,700 at the track in horse racing season.

There will be more than 5,000 parking spaces.

John Scott, a vice-president for the developer Ivanhoe Cambridge, says Alberta's soaring petro-powered economy shows there's room in the marketplace.

"The Calgary-Edmonton corridor is a fabulous trade corridor," said Scott.

"The growth north of Calgary and south of Airdrie is going to be phenomenal over the next few years."

Deputy premier Shirley McClellan, speaking in the legislature earlier this fall, labelled it "one of the largest projects outside of the oilsands in this province."

Scott said the developers are aware of Alberta's labour crisis, since it's already added six months to the project's timelime.

The main environmental concern is how the project will get its water - the province isn't taking applications to draw water from the high-demand Bow River.

Instead, the Municipal District of Rocky View, the local government responsible, is asking to take water from the Red Deer River and transfer it to the Bow basin.

Mayor Morris Flewwelling of the nearby city of Red Deer, which also draws from the Red Deer River, says such a transfer would set a dangerous precedent.

"It's the incremental whittling away we're concerned about on the smallest and healthiest river in the system," said Flewwelling.

When houses and shops go up around the megamall later, he says, that water pipe that services the mall will no longer be big enough.

Rocky View has sent out public notices about the licence bid, and Alberta Environment will review the reaction before deciding whether to issue a licence. But Environment Minister Guy Boutilier has said the proposal is well within the river's capacity.

Scott says they're confident enough to clear the terrain: "It's not a great stretch (to clear the ground), but obviously (the water licence) is something we want in place before we proceed further."

Kevin Taft, leader of Alberta's Liberal Opposition, sees little in the way of public consultation.

"The people who rely on the Red Deer River have a right to be informed and to be involved in these kinds of decisions, and they haven't had that right fulfilled," said Taft.

He also worries that the mall will worsen the labour shortage and add to traffic troubles.

But Rocky View Reeve Albert Schule says rather than add to the congestion, the mall will alleviate it by allowing shoppers to avoid Calgary's core.

"This creates a bit of a balance," said Schule. "This may affect the other malls, but I think it's going to create a little more competition and I thought a little competition is always good for the economy."

The project does not have a name, although some have nicknamed it East Balzac Mall. Scott said Ivanhoe Cambridge and the United Horsemen of Alberta (UHA) are still working on the title, known simply for now as the Alberta Project.

Ivanhoe Cambridge is handling the retail side. The UHA is composed of industry leaders who have joined forces to privately finance the racetrack, which will feature a 500-slot machine casino, a 700-seat simulcast room, an amphitheatre, hotel and conference centre.

David Reid, chairman of Horse Racing Alberta, said the new tracks will bring bigger races, bigger purses and more experienced riders and workers: "We will attract certainly some of the best horses in Canada and perhaps some wonderful horses from across North America."

Max Gibb, the chief executive officer of UHA, said a first-class track will also bring in the lucrative simulcast betting.

"(Simulcast betting) has become the rage, the movement in the last 10 years," he said.

"Right now we're betting to New York, but New York is not betting us."

Len Kubas, a Toronto-based marketing and retail consultant, said this is one of the rare retail projects to come on stream in the last few years.

But he said given the population base - Calgary recently surpassed a million - "it seems to make sense that Calgary or southern Alberta could in fact support a megamall of those proportions."

The players believe it will.

They've placed their bets.

And the hardhats are at the post.


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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Cold Wind, Cold Shoulders

For a few hours Saturday morning, the doors to the Woodbine jocks room were locked. Not one rider was allowed in.
This was because the previous afternoon, the Woodbine jockeys colony voted to cancel racing following four races due to high winds.
From all reports, this decision was not acceptable to Woodbine's president and vice-president David Willmot and Jim Ormiston.
Soon after 11a.m. Saturday, after meetings with Willmot and the H.B.P.A., the jockeys were allowed back in and all had signed a document reportedly detailing when they could and could not cancel races.
Indeed, cancellation of whole and partial cards due to weather and track conditions have plagued Woodbine for many years.
With the very expensive addition of the all-weather Polytrack surface, track conditions should never be a factor again.
But what about Mother Nature?
Certainly, wind gusts are a problem in the Woodbine area, locatec close to the Leaster B. Pearson Airport.
But certainly, the number of cancelled cards due to wind conditions in the last 2 seasons has been hard to take. Friday was one of those days.
Asked for comments on the incident, several riders offered "no comment" or simply ignored the questions.


  • At 9:29 PM, Blogger Ruben Bailey said…

    jeez. another example of the need for anything resembling a "jockey's union."

    "singing a document" on the spot...sounds unprofessional and shady.

    I really am waiting for the jocks of NA to actually band together and make some real gains in the field of workers rights/compensation/insurance, etc....

    Thanks for the post. I didn't see this anywhere else, which doesn't mean it wasn't, but with the trusty RSS feed.....!!!

  • At 3:34 PM, Blogger Tote Board Brad said…

    wow. thanks for this. good unreported coverage.

    It does seem like management was a bit heavy handed here. Jockey's usually don't make up reasons not to ride, as it's their livelihood, too, at stake. I tend to trust the riders absent other facts. Was there something else going on here? Something like when riders cited unsafe conditions when the issue was really a lack of insurance coverage at Churchill owned tracks? Does track management or anyone else believe that the jockeys were not being honest about why they decided not to ride?

    Absent some alterial motive, I'd have to trust the jockeys in such situations.

  • At 7:49 PM, Blogger Jen Morrison said…

    Thanks for the comments guys..

    I appreciate Tote Board Brad's opinion here as I have always given the riders the benefit of the doubt. However, what must be said is that, with such a small colony at Woodbine and very large purses, everyone gets their fair share and then some. The winds were not strong on this particular day but it was very cold and several of the leading riders would rather not participate and yet, not be the ones to book off and look like the goats.
    More often than not, the reasons are good.
    i do know that there will be an issue soon between the Woodbine jocks and insurance, that is sure to come. But for now, friday's decision to cancel was made by some people who have too much money. At least that is the general opinion.


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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Thanks for.... (Wed. Oct. 11, 2006)

SKY CONQUEROR (Sky Classic): The Sorokolit family's exciting brassy chestnut colt who recovered from illness enough to win the Bunty Lawless prep allowance on Sunday, his last prep race before the $2 million Pattison Canadian International. Won under a hand ride from Todd Kabel, 99 Beyer Figure, and is one of the few, top Canadian-breds of 2006.

FINANCINGAVAILABLE (Kiridashi): Carefully managed by Lorne Richards for owner K.K. Sengara, won for the fourth time in 2006 (all stakes) and 10th time in 19 career starts, and zoomed past $730,000 in career earnings in the restricted Classy n' Smart on Monday (89 Beyer). Ontario-bred is the best older mare against Ontario-sired rivals in the province and a contender for best older mare at the Sovereign Awards in December.

COLD WAR (War Deputy): The 5-year-old gelding became the winningest horse in NORTH AMERICA when winning for the 10th time this season on Monday at Woodbine ($77,500 claiming). It was the Ontario-bred's 14the start of the year.

NOBLE STELLA - Roger Attfield-trained mare was recently retired due to an injury suffered on Polytrack. Provided local fans with lots of excitement in her graded stakes scores south of the border - in a year in which the calibre of Canadian-breds and local runners has been weak.

SKIP CODE (Skip Away) - Exciting newcomer improved his Beyer Figures from 41-53-67 to an 80 in the Grey Breeders' Cup (Grade 3) on Monday to jump close to the top of the 2yo colt batch in Canada. Dam's sire is Canadian-bred SUNNY'S HALO. Was very strong in his performance when beating maiden Catch the Fever and the wildly overbet Scatter the Tak.

BETHANY HAMMETT - Who informs us that MAJOR ZEE (see posts from a couple of months back), the old, old timer at Fort Erie, has reportedly been retired..finally. Thanks to Bethany for the news and the great work she does on her husband Jody's website.

TRAINERS WHO STILL WIN IN BATCHES - Among those with a couple of scores late last week through the holiday weekend - Josie Carroll, Reade Baker, Alex McPherson, Mark Casse, Ian Black, Catherine Day Phillips. Sid Attard.

BERNARDINI et al - Showcase races south of the border last weekend are getting the stars of the game ready for the Breeders' Cup. Canadian involvement will likely be nil but it's still fun to watch these super performers.


  • At 11:21 PM, Blogger Tote Board Brad said…

    smashing pic of you and Illman in the form touting the upcoming Woodbine handicapping shindig. Should be a hoot. I expect you establishment types to offer up some coverage on that.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Share of Purses goes to LongRun, Krz Retired

(courtesy Daily Racing Form)


The LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society, which has done its share of rescuing horses since being founded in 2000, has become the beneficiary of a magnanimous gesture.
The local Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association has pledged .25 percent of its purse account to LongRun. The purse account is funded by the horsemen's share of the various wagering pools and 10 percent of the track's slots revenue.

Sue Leslie, an owner and trainer at Woodbine who is on the boards of both the HBPA and LongRun, estimates that the .25 percent of the purse account will amount to between $220,000 and $250,000 annually.

"There are a lot of horses a year that are no longer able to compete at a racing level but just need some time for rehabilitation before being fostered into a new kind of life," said Leslie. "It's a huge cost. Even with this funding, there are going to be a lot of horses that we're not going to be able to help. But there are going to be a lot of horses we can help."

It was Leslie, acting on LongRun's behalf, who initiated the chain of events that led to the HBPA windfall.

"I was at an industry meeting, and I let them know that LongRun was in dire straits and that some form of industry funding had to come to fruition or we just weren't going to be able to continue," said Leslie. "We were reliant on the generosity of the industry players, but we didn't know from one month to the next what money was going to come in. Trying to become legitimate, be responsible, and setting proper budgets was just about impossible."

At the suggestion of David Willmot, chairman and chief executive of the Woodbine Entertainment Group, Leslie formed a committee that included representatives of Woodbne Entertainment Group, the HBPA, the Ontario Racing Commission, the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society, the Jockey's Benefit Association, the Jockey Club of Canada, and several other interested parties.

The committee first reached the consensus that the retirement foundation was needed, and that the industry had a responsibility to contribute. Their next task was to address what form the contribution would take, and, after looking at different ideas for taxes and surcharges, it was agreed that taking a cut off the top of the purse account was the best alternative. The committee then made its pitch to the board of the HBPA, which approved the .25 percent funding.

A business plan was formulated, and last Wednesday the Ontario Racing Commission approved the funding, retroactive to Sept. 1.

Now, Leslie said, LongRun can plan for the future.

"Our long-term goal is to eventually have a small farm - maybe 20 stalls - where, once horses are rehabilitated, they can all come together," said Leslie. "For someone looking to adopt a horse, right now we operate all these satellite farms. Instead of having them traipse around from place to place, they'll have one central place to come to and see everything we have that's up for adoption. That will allow us to move more horses into homes more quickly, which in turn will allow us to take more horses into the program."

Some satellite farms will be retained for the rehabilitation process, which can be the most problematic issue for potential adopters.

"Most horses, once you rehabilitate them, they're a tremendous asset to somebody," said Leslie. "A lot of people can't afford that rehabilitation. Now, we'll be able to facilitate that for them.

"This is wonderful for Ontario," said Leslie. "I hope it also sends a message to other jurisdictions. If Ontario can be a model, that would be even better."

Krz Ruckus retired at 9

Krz Ruckus, a winner of 17 races and $1,126,862, has been retired at age 9.

Trained throughout his career by Mike DePaulo, Krz Ruckus won nine stakes races and finished in the money 32 times in 53 career starts. Krz Ruckus had been in a tailspin recently and was unplaced in a $12,500 claiming race here last Wednesday.

"He retired sound," said DePaulo. "He had no different aches and pains than he had all his life. He just didn't seem like he wanted to do it anymore. He'd had enough."

Bill Anthoulakis, who works as a blacksmith here, will take Krz Ruckus to his Barrie area farm, where he can look forward to a future as a riding horse.


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Monday, October 02, 2006

Fabulous Baker Boys n Girls

The last weekend of September featured some super performances by Woodbine's young horses and a high profile party that raised funds for our province's retired runners.
Championship honours are up for grabs in many divisions as the season heads into its final two months but one was wrapped up in Sunday.
David James' Quebec-bed colt SHILLELAGH SLEW powered to a 7 1/4 length score in the Grade 3 Ontario Derby, posted a 91 Beyer Figure and likely won the Sovereign Award for champion 3-year-old male.
The son of Chief Seattle - Frippalina also won the Canadian Derby at Northland Park in Edmonton, Alberta and was placed first in the Prince of Wales Stakes (a result that is still under appeal).
James, trainer Mike DePaulo and jockey Dino Luciani celebrated last evening and recived many congratulations from fellow horsepeople.
The colt many not race again in 2006 but has accomplished enough to beat out Queen's Plate winner Edenwold (surprisingly absent from the Derby) for the Sovereign.

The baby girls were on display Saturday in the Mazarine (Grade 3), a race that has been known to showcase a possible champion but this year's edition, while interesting, was painfully slow.
Still, that does not take away from the one-two finish by trainer Reade Baker's misses' - COY COYOTE (Honour and Glory) and A. P. REALITY (Pulpit). The latter seemingly was on her way to victory in mid-stretch before she started to weave in and out, pulled herself up and lost the lead.
The Beyer Figure for the race? A soft 63.
Much more interesting was the strong win by DANCER'S FAN in an maiden allowance race a few events later. That Roger Attfield trainee ran the same distance as the Mazarine (1 1/16 miles) two seconds quicker and received an 80 Beyer Figure. The Lear Fan filly is a Canadian bred.

Speaking of Canadian-breds, the victory by Shillelagh Slew was a rare 'open' stakes win by a Canuck-bred in Ontario this year. The locals have been slapped around pretty good by American breds in 2006.

Kudos to the horsepeople who came to LONGRUN'S 2nd annual Gala on Friday night at Woodbine. Three hundred plus folks enjoyed a super meal put on by Woodbine and LongRun, a free scotch bar, lavish prizes and silent and live auctions. Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Munroe look-alikes provided awesome entertainment.
The best news came at the outset of the evening when it was announced that LongRun will receive 1/4 of 1 per cent of the Woodbine purse account each year, a move granted by the Ontario Racing Commission and submitted by Woodbine, C.T.H.S. and H.B.P.A. This could give LongRun some $200,000 each year to care for its horses awaiting adoptive homes.

AROUND THE 'BINE - Polytrack continues to confuse...the times were fast again on Sunday but the winning running styles were varied. Rain washed races off the grass.
How do the folks at Beyer Figure town work out the numbers day after day with so much inconsistency?

Baker won two of the last 3 races on Sunday, one with a first-time starting 2yo and one with a new claim. The barn has done wonders with all kinds of horses in 2006.

Woodbine begins a six-day week on Wednesday night with a $15,000 Pick 7 carryover and a big card of solid races.


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