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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Baze Daze

It's not getting much play over here but Russell Baze, Canadian-born by the way, is close to Laffit Pincay's all-time record of most winners by a jockey. Quite a story.
My fellow Bloggers (in particular Tote Board Brad) have news and photos on the hero of northern California.

Speed, speed and more speed on Polytrack last night at Woodbine, the penultimate Wednesday evening of the meeting.

Two juvenile stakes race on Saturday may have some bearing on Sovereign Award voting (which closes Monday). The Ontario Lassie Stakes features Catch the Thrill (Sam-Son) and Quiet Action (trained by Mark Casse), the one-two finishers from the fast Princess Elizabeth Stakes.

And trainer Sid Attard "bearly" has the lead in the trainer ranks over Reade Baker, who runs a bunch of Bear horses today and is gunning for his second consecutive Sovereign Award.


  • At 11:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am a huge Canadian horse racing fan from Kitchener and in particular a great fan of Woodbine entertainment. I was only eleven years old when my uncle took me to Woodbine for its opening day in the summer of 1956. When I first heard of Jennifer Morrison's blog I thought it would be an informative and interesting thing based on some of the previous stories of hers I had read in newspapers and the Racing Form, but I was shocked to find that the majority of this blog is favoritism especially geared towards shameless self-promoter Reade Baker. In the midst of a leading trainer battle last year, Reade Baker was the name mentioned most and not that of eventual Sovereign award winner Mark Casse or Sid Attard. With a month and a half left of racing last season, Reade Baker was leading by eleven wins, only to be caught and beat by Sid Attard who (correct me if I'm wrong but) I believe won his third straight leading trainer title in 2006. Jennifer, you are a very talented writer and I look forward to reading your blog this season provided it is more straight forward.


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Monday, November 27, 2006


Just back from a short Christmas vacation to the wonderful little town of Sherbrooke, Quebec where much poutine and vin was consumed!

Caught replays of Sunday's Woodbine's races and one would have to give serous consideration to FINANCINGAVAILABLE for Canada's Horse of the Year, in addition to her older female trophy that she locked up with the win in the Bessarabian Stakes at 7 furlongs. Facing open company for the first time in a while, the tough gray mare had lots against heras she was off the pace - not a familiar style for her - and then trapped behind horses turning for home. She managed to get herself out of the jackpot, however, and mowed down Roving Angel and Hatpin for the win (the latter pair dead-heated for second).
ARRAVALE seems to be headed for Horse of the Year honours but this daughter of Kiridashi, a locally bred mare through-and-through desverves a long look if you are voting.
Voters for the Sovereign Awards will be able to place their votes on-line beginning this Wednesday.

The dust of the Pick 7 has all but blown away (I played a ticket last Wednesday and was not very close!) and still, the results of some races on Woodbine's Polytrack have been too tough to predict. What was noticable were trainers who have had somewhat lean times in 2006 are winning a lot right now. For example, John MacKenzie won three races early last week.
With two weeks left in the season, you can be sure there will be a lot of class dropping and quick-backs in the entries.


  • At 7:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    OMG Jen,

    I once spent a memorable night in Sherbrooke, QC myself (which wouldn't be signficant were I not writing from Seahawk country [couple hours before Monday Night Football even]).

    After a long day at Hartford OTB, I drove north through Vermont, hitting the border at midnight, and into a good old fashioned Canadian blizzard. I putted along on the freeway until fears of total white-out had me seeking the next possible shelter. So I pull into (random town), for some instinctive reason opt away from first motel in view, then I turn into a driveway for 2nd such option. Come to learn that it doubles as the town OTB! (making me feel happy about having something to do the next day in the event I can't get out onto the roads).

    So I promptly ask for a room and then spend the next 75 minutes chatting with the young, french-born female desk clerk (who'd been in Canada maybe 3 yrs. and whose only trip to the U.S. was an errant drive to the border, where she was made to turn back).

    I had no Cdn. $$ and very little U.S. $$ so I went hunting for a cash machine the next morning. Turned a corner, started up a hill, and saw the classic Canadian site:

    A huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge pile of snow, with only the phrase "La Baie" visible behind it, on the top of a shopping mall! (I stopped right in the middle of the street to take a photo)

    Later I went to McDonald's for breakfast and began with: "do you speak english?" (later someone brings me un-ordered hash browns and says, in forced english: "you forgot your [pause] hash browns") awww, maybe you had to be there!

    Sorry Jennifer, just trying to entertain you or your troops.

    - me, in Seahawk country


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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Must Read for Handicappers, Fans

*This is a super story from DAILY RACING FORM by James Quinn.

Anyone who enjoys handicapping and betting the races should heeds his words, in particular the segments about television commentary and interviews (I suppose it applies to interviews that are in the print media too)
Let's face it, you can't believe everything you hear on the racetrack and there are still people who do!

(taken from DRF)
When TVG went to trainer Bob Hess Jr. for comments in the minutes preceding the fifth race on Nov. 18 at Hollywood Park, the viewers were treated to the kind of "inside information" they can consider for now and for the foreseeable future as an ominous sign of the times.
It was a $50,000 claiming route for 3-year-olds and up, and for that amount on Aug. 11, Hess had claimed Tinquilco out of a well-rated second-place finish from Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally.
Almost dutifully, because no insider yet has uttered a derogatory word about the new synthetic racing surface at Hollywood park called Cushion Track, Hess explained how Tinquilco had been suffering from "sore feet," but after training for weeks on the new surface, the 5-year-old was feeling much better.
The "insight" was significant because Tinquilco fit both the class level and speed pars for the $50,000 race, and on the cold dope alone would be regarded by most handicappers as among the main contenders. How helpful it was that the trainer assured the bettors that the horse's once sore feet no longer were hurting.
Naturally, despite fitting the race so snugly, and supposedly feeling so much better, Tinquilco ran poorly, out of the money, never looking like a winner.
The lesson is simple but fundamental, and it should not be lost on handicappers who will hear similar comments from horsemen and other insiders for the next few years. No matter what trainers observe and say on behalf of the new synthetic racing surfaces, and how much better their horses have been feeling as a result, the comments warrant no standing in the handicapping process.
As handicappers and bettors have long appreciated, but the television producers apparently do not, virtually every public comment a trainer delivers about a horse is intended to please the owner.
Similarly, with jockeys, virtually every public comment is intended to please the trainers, who provide them their mounts.
Any rare candid exceptions cannot be distinguished from the usual platitudes, and are too few to matter. The presence of Cushion Track and the other synthetic surfaces merely provides yet another public platform for trainers to patronize their owners with positive observations about their horses.
It's a regrettable development for handicappers vulnerable to "inside information," and not because as a function of Cushion Track, Polytrack, Tapeta, and the synthetic rest, the horses' feet, tendons, joints, and ligaments will no longer be so susceptible to pain. Horsemen know as much already, and will be eager to say as much, but the substance of their observations should mean nothing to handicappers.
The correlation between pain and performance cannot be estimated reliably. Thousands of sore, hurting horses have won tens of thousands of races across the decades, while thousands of perfectly sound horses in the same races have refused to extend themselves.
Television in the age of synthetic tracks only exacerbates the problem. The prerace interviews with trainers about the readiness and condition of their horses have always amounted to a waste of time, and now the outpouring of testimonials as to how much better the horses are feeling are destined to be far more misleading than helpful.
Even if Hess's information about Tinquilco's rehabilitated feet were true, what has not been cleared is to what degree the feet, knees, shoulders, tendons, joints, and ligaments of the other runners in the race and now training on Cushion Track have been similarly, perhaps more extensively, rehabilitated. And again, the correlation with performance is zero.
The adjustment of handicappers to the complications inherent in the rise of synthetic surfaces is best reduced to a simple tool that has been available but underused for two decades: the compilation of track profiles.
The technique involves a cursory review of the results charts, and even for handicappers who have not attended the races, it requires no more than five minutes a day. At each distinct distance - or at least for sprints, routes, and turf races - handicappers record in a file or notebook the position and beaten lengths of the winners at the first and second calls.
Even small samples of data, as would have been immediately apparent at the recent Keeneland fall meeting, can reveal whether distinct running styles have been favored at particular distances by the track surface.
The daily recordings will reveal as well sudden shifts of biases, as when the opening-day card of the Hollywood Park fall meeting favored off-pace closers absolutely, but the following two days did not.
Track profiles are easy to construct and can be greatly instructive, notably when an experiment with synthetic surfaces has begun on a telltale scale.
Exotic bettors willing to allot 10 minutes a day to the practice can enhance the power of track profiles by constructing them as well for the horses that have finished second. In the mid-1990's, the advice was given by an inspired devotee of the practice, and it has paid dividends. Horses that finish second often display running styles dissimilar to the running styles of winners, as in the conventional cases, when deep closers finish second to the speed horses, or the tiring speed horses finish second to the stronger closers.
One clear advantage of Cushion Track is that while the cheaper speed will no longer survive against the classier closers, the quality speed will prevail against the cheaper closers. Early evidence has supported both trends. If the trends become persistent, the competitive quality of racing in Southern California will have improved tremendously.
The opposite patterns have endured on the West Coast circuit for far too long.
A fascinating consequence of the synthetic surfaces has been their compatibility with the running styles of turf horses.
The turf-to-dirt move has become commonplace on Cushion Track, even as it did at Keeneland on Polytrack. At both venues, it took horsemen no more than a weekend to recognize that their turf horses might relish the change. A number of those turf runners already have won.
Alert handicappers, like horsemen, should resolve to favor turf horses switching to the synthetic surfaces. For one persuasive reason: at major tracks, turf horses tend to compete in better races, not in cheaper races, and in the main will be classier horses. So if a shift to the Cushion Track at Hollywood Park is accompanied by a drop in class, or by a probable pace preference, the turf-to-synthetic surface horses may prove to be the best bets of the day or week.
To be sure, track profiles can include a notation as to how often the turf horses have been winning on the main track.
To conclude with a timely example of the importance of track profiles, in the race where Tinquilco disappointed his trainer and backers, the winner was a 4-year-old shipper from Keeneland named Count Orange.
Count Orange fit neither the class level nor the speed pars nor the distance of the Hollywood Park race, except for an anomaly in his recent record. But in two starts on Polytrack, Count Orange had won going away while running near the front on Sept. 17 at Turfway Park, while at Keeneland he had pressed the pace on the anti-speed bias of Polytrack, and even had grabbed the lead, before finishing fourth of nine, beaten a mere 2 3/4 lengths.
The Keeneland race qualified as a strong performance against a severe bias. Whether they had compiled track profiles at the two tracks or not, no doubt a number of aware Kentucky simulcast bettors that had recognized the acute differences between Polytrack and Cushion Track collected on Count Orange at Hollywood Park.
But the differences between Polytrack, Cushion Track, and Tapeta rarely will be as extreme as they have at Keeneland and Hollywood Park this fall, not to mention the variations that will occur when horses switch back from synthetic surfaces to the traditional dirt tracks.
To get the big mutuels that are certain to accompany all the moving parts, handicappers must compile the track profiles that apply. As noted, with results charts in hand, it takes only five to 10 minutes a day.


  • At 5:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Jim Quinn is a well-known and respected figure on the Southern California circuit. He is a voice of thought and reason. I just wish he would keep it to himself. :-)

    The less people construction track profiles and similar disciplines, the better for us that do...

  • At 5:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    errata: construction = constucting


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Monday, November 20, 2006

6 of 7 pays, $158,000 Carryover Wed. night

Lots of buzz for the thoroughbreds at Woodbine these days - the racing is super and the Pick 7 carryover has reached $158,000.
And there's only 3 weeks of racing left!
Six of seven was the winning ticket Sunday (only one favourite won, Sealy Hill) - this corner and her partners had 5 (drat!).
Wednesday's 8 race card is a tricky one since the level of runners is on the low are some possibilities for the 7 races that make up the Pick 7:

Race 2 - Kain's Deed, Geniver, Just Fine
Race 3 - Etain
Race 4 - Free and Even, Queenly Luck
Race 5 - Zip N' Zap, Fabulous Gem
Race 6 - Dutch Beauty (longshot Royal Mischief, lone speed?)
Race 7 - Woodland
Race 8 - Highland Jewel, Spicey Dish, One Way Fortune

SEALY HILL stamped herself a classic contender for the top 3yo filly races in canada next year with a super win in the Glorious Song Stakes Sunday. A maiden winner in her 2nd career starts with a 91 Beyer, she posted an 86 in the stake win while geared down. Owned and bred by Eugene Melnyk, Sealy Hill could be a finalist for champion 2yo filly in a weak division.
MAIN EXECUTIVE won another stakes race for sprinters and put himself in the hunt for champion sprinter when he beat Judith's Wild Rush in the Keneedy Road Stakes earlier on the card. Toe grabs, rcently approved for use on the Polytrack, have helped this speedster take a hold of the tricky surface.

Woodbine Slots Cup (Grade 3) winner True Metropolitan earned a 96 Beyer Figure for his victory and the Florida bred should win champion older horse.

Speaking of Sovereign Awards - voting for horses and horsemen will begin Nov. 25/26.
This is what the results could look like at the Dec. 16 awards:
2yo filly - Midnight Shadow
2yo colt - Leonnatus Anteas
3yo colt - Shillelagh Slew or Edenwold
3yo filly - Kimchi
Older Horse - True Metropolitan
Older Mare - Financingavailable
Turf Horse - Sky Conqueror
Turf Female Arravale
Sprinter - Judiths Wild Rush
Horse of the Year - Arravale
Owner - ????
Trainer - Reade Baker, Sid Attard or Mark Casse
Breeder - ???
Jockey - Jim McAleney or Todd Kabel
Apprentice - Emma Jayne Wilson


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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Reader sends in kickback video

This was a comment sent to Thoroughblog re: Polytrack note (see archives)

Here is a picture which shows the kickback on the clubhouse turn from today's Woodbine Slots Cup Stakes (G3) : down to the bottom photo, click it to see an enlargement. Some of the kickback is near the top of the photo!


  • At 8:37 AM, Blogger A said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At 8:38 AM, Anonymous Mike said…

    I didn't notice a bunch of Kickback at Keeneland this year... is this a problem that is unique to Woodbine, or are the other two Kentucky tracks seeing problems with Poly kick?

  • At 8:51 AM, Blogger Jen Morrison said…

    So far it's been unique to Woodbine - the guy in charge of Woodbine's Poly put too much fibre in the mixture apparently and it has separated from the rest of the surface. Keeneland did not indicate much kickback but also did not have 1500 horses training on the surface. Not sure how the guy in charge of putting Polytrack in at Woodbine did not know how many horses would be training on it everyday. Let's hope it's fixed up next year. Meanwhile, Hollywood Park is having its own trouble with Cushion track. These surfaces are good news for the horses but perhaps everyone jumped the gun without much studying.

  • At 10:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We didn't notice much kickback when we were at Turfway this spring either. When Woodbine's Poly first opened it was very much like the Turfway version. Since then, it has definitely changed. The kickback looks worse than the old dirt track! Was it just the weather or was it all this "tweaking" to try to negate the anti-speed bias?

  • At 8:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Is it true that since the installation of the poly track there have been more serious injuries than the old track? Or is this a rumour?


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Saturday, November 18, 2006

He'a true metropolitan guy, Carryover watch!

Aptly named TRUE METROPOLITAN made the top older horses at Woodbine look like backyard sheep Saturday when the impressive looking western Canadian-based gelding swept past the staggering Barracuda Boy (Stronach Stables) and Just Rushing (Tucci Stables) and won by four lengths over Queen’s Plate champion, the 3yo Edenwold.
Predictably, Just Rushing and ‘Cuda’ hooked up early 24.00, and then a much faster :47.00 but both, each of them former claimers riding super winning streaks, packed it by the final turn.
True Metro, who figures to be named champion older horse in Canada now, doesn’t need to take his track with him and was the leading money earner on the year of the older fellows in the race anyway. The time of 1:44.88 for 1 1/16 miles was sparkling.

A PICK 7 carryover of $108,000 plus highlights Sunday’s card. Polytrack appeared to play fair on Saturday after late races on Friday seemed to favour speed. The surface remains confusing for handicappers – bias or no bias? – and the owner of the Poly company, Martin Collins, has been at Woodbine this week to examine the surface and its kickback problems.
Possible horses to key in on in the Pick 7? Stronach entry in race 2, the first leg, Judiths Wild Rush in the Kennedy Road, and maybe, just maybe, Sealy Hill in the Glorious Song. There, now it's a WIN 4..easy right? Chuckle Chuckle.

Pat Husbands and Constant Montpellier, who scrapped in out in the jocks room last Sunday and then took the battle to the track in the next race, were given stiff suspensions and fines by the Ontario Racing Commission. The former received a 60 calendar-day suspension and the latter 150-days. The latter received a higher penalty because he was deemed guilty of taking revenge on Husbands (who hit Montpellier in the head with his helmet) after a race when allegedly trying to use his horse to crowd Husbands.


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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Christmas Money!

A $55,000 carryover for the Pick 7 heading into this afternoon’s races at Woodbine. Heavy rain should not impact Polytrack, except to alleviate the goofy kickback that plagued the track in the first 2 weeks of this month.
Last night, the track seemed to play fairly although speed runners did not win, the stalkers and closers did better.
Expect that the Pick 7 will carry over after today too, the card this afternoon is a tough mixture of maidens and claiming types and big fields.

Voting for the year-end Sovereign Awards will take place in a week and what a way to cap off a season of championship horses and horsemen with the Woodbine Slots Cup (Grade 3) on Saturday.
Older male horse of the year is up for grabs between Stronach Stable’s undefeated and freakish BARRACUDA BOY, The Stronach Stable’s cast-off JUST RUSHING, who was won seven consecutive races including two stakes and Western Canada’s superstar TRUE METROPOLITAN, a Florida bred who has won six (yes, six) stakes races this year and more money than both of those Ontario dudes.
Just Rushing’s trainer, Sid Attard, is also in a real fight for top trainer by number of wins with Reade Baker, last year’s Sovereign Award winner. Attard, long overdue for a Sovereign himself, has nine stakes wins heading into this season and has done a miraculous job with Just Rushing, claimed for $40K last November.
Leading rider Emma Jayne Wilson rides both the Boy and Rushing and will take the former for the 1 1/16 mile Slots Cup, with the distance of the race being the deciding factor.

Promising young Ontario stallion TRAJECTORY had his third stakes winner of the season when Dancer’s Bajan won a close photo over the streaking juvenile colt Legal Move in last night’s Frost King Stakes, named for a Canadian champion racehorse.
Dancer’s Bajan is owned by Frank DiGiulio and trained by Bob Tiller.
It’s been a good year in Ontario for 2-year-old colts with the latter pair doing well plus superstar Leonnatus Anteas (Stormy Atlantic), Skip Code (Skip Away), Barilko (E Dubai) and the promising Marchfield (A.P. Indy).

Word from the backstretch on Wed. morning says that Constant Montpellier will not ride for the remainder of the 2006 season due to a concussion. Montpellier was involved in an altercation with fellow jockey Patrick Husbands on Sunday afternoon during the races.


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Monday, November 13, 2006

Four weeks and counting

Retired track record setter GREAT DEFENDER has a Christmas bow on his halter to remind fans of racing and horsepeople to donate to their favourite thoroughbred retirement group this Christmas. Say thank you to the horses with a little gift.

Woodbine's long and, for 2006, very unusual racing meet is coming to an end Dec. 10 and the last four weeks should just as intriguing (bizarre?) as many of the others during the year.

From the spring when the meet started on the old main track, to the summer of the inner-dirt (racing held on the inner harness track) to Polytrack, it's been a wild ride.

Lots of good horses and match-ups to come in stakes events and that's cool. Also, the promise of more giant fields is great for the business as the wagering handle has been solid.

This past weekend's racing was on the slowand boring side, however, as Poly played slowly, there was lots of kickback and on Sunday, it was virtually impossible for horses to rally. Yes horseplayers, there is a Polybias.

Shippers to Woodbine are getting their doors blown off too - SOUL SEARCH in the Maple Leaf (2nd to Asi Siempre in the Spinster, nowhere behind Howaboutrightnow at Woody), and others who came up for the Valedictory prep on Sunday.

As for a recent comment sent to the site - the Polytrack gets used so hard in the mornings with some 1500-2000 horses training on it, it seems to be falling apart in the afternoon. There has been some evidence (according to trainers who were asked) that the surface is landing in horses' nostrils but whether it is ingested, is a question. Although, watching the kickback, it's hard to imagine that it's not.


  • At 2:25 PM, Blogger rather rapid said…

    txs for answer the q on morning kickback. seems to me that --including how the track behaves during races--just as important a q is whetther its ruining things for everybody in the morning, and also whether it gets into horses lungs.
    also a little silly, given what was probably the $$$ involved, that such qs were addressed after installation instead of before.

  • At 9:48 AM, Anonymous MyStormyBaby said…

    Thanks for the pic of Great Defender -- I loved him while he was running and it's great to see him still doing well.

    As for the Poly -- I hope they find a solution quickly. I wonder if Woodbine, like Turfway, will be forced to replace the cushion with new material of different composition.


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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Bam! Canadian-bred sets track record

Courtesy Blood-Horse

(from Meadowlands report)

Slam Bammy closed the door on John's Pic with a sixteenth of a mile to go and drew away to victory in track record time for six furlongs in the $75,624 Rutgers University Stakes on Friday night at the Meadowlands.
Slam Bammy, ridden by Rajiv Maragh and trained by Joe Orseno, was timed in 1:07 3/5, taking one-fifth of a second off the track record established by Hay Cody on Sept. 6, 1996.
Owned by Peter Congelosi and bred in Ontario by RALPH BODINE, the 5-year-old gelded son of Grand Slam–Miss Heidi (by Nureyev) made it back-to-back stakes victories, having captured the Eillo Stakes at the Meadowlands on Oct. 17. He had previously won the Decathlon at Monmouth Park this year.
The Meadowlands-loving sprinter won two of his three starts over the East Rutherford oval in 2005. His only loss was a second to Joey P in last year's edition of the Rutgers.
Slam Bammy paid $5.60, $5.20 and $2.20 as the second choice in the field of seven. His margin of victory was 1 1/4 lengths over John's Pic, who returned $17 and $3. There was 1 1/2 lengths to 4-5 favorite Who's The Cowboy, $2.10 to show.
Lifetime, Slam Bammy has seven wins, two seconds and two thirds from 19 starts and earnings of nearly $250,000.


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Poly-woes and Soul searching

According to the DRF, over 150 horsemen attended an open forum at the Woodbine sales pavilion Friday morning to discuss the racing season (which closes Dec. 10) but only one topic was discussed – Polytrack.
“Serious problem” was one of the catch phrases of the session as new thoroughbred senior VP Jamie Martin tried to explain to the folks why the kickback on the Polytrack, Woodbine’s $10 million baby, has been so bad in recent weeks.
Maintenance has to be continually done on the track now, it is being watered and dug up, as the fibres have separated from the wax in the cold weather.
Eeeks, it’s going to get a whole lot colder by Dec. 10!
The track is apparently still safe but on the messy side. A major change from the meeting came when toe grab shoes were made legal after only flat plates had been allowed since the surface was introduced Aug. 30.

Meanwhile, the racing at Woodbine is still interesting for bettors with loads of big fields (okay, so deciphering form on the horses on Polytrack is pretty well near impossible – us public handicappers for papers and DRF are happy when we have one winner a day!) and Saturday’s Maple Leaf Handicap drew an intriguing American invader.
SOUL SEARCH, second to Asi Siempre in the Grade 1 Spinister at Keeneland last month, is the heavy favourite on the morning line to win the 1 1 /4 mile race for older mares. Asi Siempre came back to be a troubled 2nd (later disqualified) in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. No such thing as a sure thing but if she handles Woodbine’s Polytrack, she should win it.

SUNDAY'S card is huge with 11 races and over 110 horses. The Valedictory prep (the last stakes of the season which is 1 3/4 miles and held on te last day of racing) hs a good field going 1 1/2 miles and the Jammed Lovely, while a restricted race, pits Sam-Son's Strike Softly against Kinghaven's Seductively and Frank Stronach's Sugar Swirl. Hey, are we back in the 80's???

The Polytrack is yielding slow times again this week but playing fair it seems with front runners who go slow winning and a fast pace crumbling. Still, this week it is a little more difficult to wire a field.

Racing forums this morning had some more feedback on Woodbine's "dancing chicklets", the Trakus bits that take up a lot of the Woodbine feed. While learning to live with it in recent weeks, handicappers who stay at home sometimes to watch the races continue to be frustrated by the poor filming of the races. Feedback was split on the forums.


  • At 3:07 PM, Blogger rather rapid said…

    can u answer a polytrack question:
    is the kickback a problem in the morning and are horses and riders having to breathe it in during training hours. is this the same polytrack used a keenland.

  • At 4:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Polytrack is different at every track. In the UK you have Lingfield, Kemton Park and Wolverhampton - all Polytrack, but none the same. Polytrack has only worked at Keeneland's training track so far and Woodbine's Polytrack is definitely not the same as at Keeneland.
    Cushion Track which is a similar material to Polytrack seems much better at Hollywood Park and that is in a warm climate where it is more difficult to make these types of material work. Trainers there have been very positive.

  • At 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Here is a picture which shows the kickback on the clubhouse turn from today's Woodbine Slots Cup Stakes (G3) :

    Scroll down to the bottom photo, click it to see an enlargement. Some of the kickback is near the top of the photo!

  • At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I see Del Mar have chosen Polytrack. Isn't this strange in the light of what has happened at Turfway Park and Woodbine. Why not Cushion Track? Cushion Track is working well at Hollywood Park but Polytrack has already been taken up at Turfway Park and the same will probably happen at Woodbine. The Del Mar people must know something that we don't.


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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

More Beyer talk (see comments below)

Lots of talk about Andy’s article – I see both positions so I’m not really on any side although I can see if one was on one or the other. Check it out if you haven’t already:

That’s Stupendous! Jim and Alice Sapara are still spending their Queen’s Plate winner Edenwold’s money and that’s good news for the local racing industry. The Sapara’s paid $1.3 million for STUPENDOUS MISS on the first day of the blockbuster Keeneland November sale – she is a 5-year-old mare, a graded stakes winner, a daughter of Dynaformer and in foal to Distorted Humor. The Sapara’s also bought a Quiet American mare for $925,000 at the Fasig-Tipton sale a few days earlier. Quiet American is, of course, the broodmare sire of Bernardini.
Sam-Son Farms did not take $700,000 for its stakes winning mare High Button Shoes yesterday but the Saparas were at in again, paying $600,000 for multiple graded stakes winner Lakenheath (Colonial Affair), in foal to El Prado. Canadian-bred South Bay Cove, who was a stakes winning 2yo for Bill Graham’s Windhaven Farms just two years ago, sold in foal to Vindication for $500,000.


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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Jen babbles, Big Red roars

This is a very competitive industry, everyone is out to win. And, as we all know, in most aspects of the game, the habit to cheer against someone or be dismayed when someone does good is prevalent.
Andy Beyer's column on the Sheikhs of Dubai made the DRF and the Post last week and then was a brief topic of conversation at the post-Classic news conference at Churchill Downs last Saturday.
Okay, so Beyer's artic may have been a tad harsh, I actually love to see the blue-blooded, big ticket yearlings and runners from the Shadwells, Godolphins and Darleys even if it perhaps doesn't give racing the news coverage it needs.
But Rick Nichols' comments after Invasor won the Classic was not fair. To say that Beyer "had to right to write" that about a "great man" is preposterous. Free country buddy. It's a message I have been trying to get across to members of the Ontario racing industry for a long time. Yes, everyone involved with horses works hard and is dedicated, but we ALL have a job to do. Woodbine jockeys take note of this please.

LEONNATUS ANTEAS is truly an incredible fellow. The undefeated 2yo colt by Stormy Atlantic did not run fast to win the Coronation Futurity but the brave guy was going 3 for 3 and, for the 2nd straight race, was limping noticeably after the event. The colt, who figures to be named the country's champion juvenile colt, will rest up for next year. Nicknamed 'Big Red' (eeks), the colt is owned by Knob Hill Stables, trained by Kevin Attard (a guy you have to cheer for) and was bred by Ted Burnett.
Oh yeah, the Coronation Beyer Figure was 75.


  • At 8:59 PM, Anonymous cy said…

    ummmm ... Jen. good call on Round Pond, i didn't see her but that's sorta the story of my day. But pleease link to the Beyer article.

  • At 11:13 PM, Blogger arlie7 said…

    I too watched the breeder's cup. It was an experience - full of wouldas, couldas, shouldas
    I too read the article- I have to agree with it. Sorry Jen.
    My husband's family raised and raced thoroughbreds. To have o much money that you can buy your way to victory - doesn't seem very sporting or noble to me.


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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Breeders' Cup Hangover

The blur that is the Breeders' Cup World Championships is over for another year - my picks did okay, 3 winners (Dreaming of Anna, Ouija Board, Round Pond) but Bernardini losing was a kick in the stomach. Too bad his first serious test had to result in him losing by just over a length. Perhaps he was asked for his move far too soon before the long, long Churchill stretch. Perhaps.

Woodbine's Summer Stakes got some good press since Dreaming of Anna came out of the race to win the Juvenile Fillies; Skip Code was 9th in the Juvenile, better than expected!

Thor's Echo saved the day for California horses (Wait a While, ick, Aragorn, not too bad, T.H. Approval, who? Lava Man, 'nuff said.) and the gelding simply forgot to bounce off the career best 116 Beyer Figure.

Miesque's Approval won a weak Mile - okay, it looked like a good field with all those Euro's and Aragorn but really, it was not that great a race as the Euro's were overmatched.

Round Pond rode the golden rail on Cup day but Asi Siempre may have been best but had a horrible journey and then was dq'd when she had to push a horse out of the way.
Sad that a horse has to die almost every year it seems. Pine Island's accident, which was barely noticed by TV types, was tragic.

Red Rocks? Won a very average Turf for "Canadian" owner J. Paul Reddam.

Invasor was deemed the only horse that could beat Bernardini by this corner but I couldn't bet it that way. Giacomo, a very gritty 4th, was absolutely pummeled with the whip by Mike Smith. Ouch.

On the homefront, WOODBINE'S POLYTRACK (Polydust is what it's being called these days) continues to play...well, confusing. Fast fractions in sprints, slow, slow times in routes and so much kickback that it looks like a snowstorm. Speed is doing well because the kickback is so bad. Apparently jockeys are getting cut in the face by the surface now. Eeks.
SHOT GUN ELA, owned by my friends Rocco and Frank, led all the way to upset the Ontario Fashion Stakes over over-the-top fillies Count to Three and Hide and Chic.

Oh, and from the "Now you know how much a jockey makes a difference" file, learningn apprentice MATT MOORE won his first career race at Woodbine yesterday without a whip and his mount, Arden Belle, did not wear shoes. At 11 to 1, she wore down 3 to 5 Song of a Lark, owned by Sam-Son Farms and ridden by Todd Kabel. And, while admitting the kid is just learning, you had to see his style down the stretch to believe it. Never has a rider looked like he was actually slowing down a horse while totally out of sync.


  • At 8:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "barely noticed by TV types." I don't know what show you were watching, but ESPN went on about it for an hour, almost too much. They interviewed the vet at least three times. Jerry Bailey was grilled about it as was the bonehead jock who could have saved the filly if he pulled her up when she made the bad step but instead kept on going.

  • At 8:21 AM, Blogger Jen Morrison said…

    Referring to Churchill Downs feed with Todd Schrupp, etc. The ESPN show was not available in Canada.

  • At 5:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    you should stick with hockey, instead of racing, they had a great show, and you single one thing out, but that is why you are in canada,hoser

  • At 5:52 PM, Blogger Jen Morrison said…

    Indeed, hockey is a great game!
    Thanks for reading!

  • At 11:59 AM, Blogger Tote Board Brad said…

    Don't you just love hate mail! S/he's probably bitter that you put out better picks.

  • At 12:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    In reference to the new apprentice could you explaine what you meant by
    "And, while admitting the kid is just learning, you had to see his style down the stretch to believe it. Never has a rider looked like he was actually slowing down a horse while totally out of sync."
    I watched this race and made a couple bucks on the winner.

  • At 4:46 PM, Blogger Jen Morrison said…

    Congratulations! Nothing like cashing a winning bet, no matter what it looks like! 'Out of sync' means the rider was going back and forth, up and down, opposite of the movement of the horse and appearing to pull back as the horse is going forward. Arden Belle is quite a good little filly, I have bet her before. No shoes must have made the difference!


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Friday, November 03, 2006

Breeders' Cup Picks!

Whew. Well, sifting through dozens of horses and Beyer Figures and Thoro-Graph numbers and recording equipment and Lasix changes etc...I have narrowed my picks down.
These will appear in tomorrow's Toronto Star but can be viewed now on the Star's blog, JABS (Just another Blog on Sports) ,hosted by my friend Chris Young.
The gang at TBA (Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance have a little competition going too, so be sure to check out everyone's blogs, found on the right side of the page.
Buzz from the Downs says Euro's SATWA QUEEN and ARAAFA are in tip top shape (I picked these ones before I heard this buzz)...


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Thursday, November 02, 2006

And back at Woodbine..

It's been snowing some lovely flurries today and the temperatures are holding steady in the single digits (Celcius).
Polytrack has become a dustbowl with dramatic kickback this afternoon during a 10-race card that featured 2 stakes races that were originally carded for last Sunday. And would you believe that Polytrack today has been very, very kind to front runners? Yes folks, it appears to be a genuine bias on Polytrack.
The incredible JUST RUSHING won his seventh consecutive race in the Labeeb, leading all the way for Tucci Stables, trainer Sid Attard and jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson. One of the best claims in recent years and possibly a finalist for top older horse.
Later, ARCH HALL, owned by Eugene Melnyk, sat parked a few lengths behind the pace and split horses to win the Bunty Lawless Stakes for Ontario-sired older horses, a rare rallying winner on the card. Arch Hall is also a possibility for top older male in Canada.
The best horses in the world will soon be in front of us for watching and betting but there are some pretty good ones at your local racetrack too.


  • At 10:24 PM, Anonymous arlie707 said…

    Hi Jen
    I wish you had a set article to write for the paper. I enjoy horse racing - can't stand the slots (no brains there!). What a thrill it is to actually pick a horse (or an exacta!) and have a winner. I've been to Sarotoga several years in a row with my hubby and love it there.
    What are your picks for Breeder's Cup?


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Bernardini and Skippy beside one another

How's this for funny? Woodbine's lone hope at the Breeders' Cup, longshot SKIP CODE, is stabled right beside superstar BERNARDINI (??) at Churchill Downs. Trainers Mark Casse and Tom Albertrani are friends from many years ago. Perhaps Skippy will get some helpful hints from the Classic favourite.

Woodbine has 11 races on-track on Saturday with the last post at 5:05 (first post is 11:55). The track and the teletheatres is essentially the only place other than your house and HPITV to watch the Cup as the Canadian network TSN is only showing the ESPN broadcast on high definition television. Ridiculous.

A drying out Churchill Downs surface means what for Cup day? Best to tab the results today and tomorrow to get an idea on the success of speed, closers and Polytrack runners.


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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Breeders' Cup chuckles

Eeks...some of us were watching THE WORKS from the other morning, that super show on TVG which shows workouts of Breeders' Cup starters, and how sad was it to see SKIP CODE, Woodbine's only starter, lope along, switching leads 5 times in the stretch and looking totally discombobultaed over the Churchill strip. With his blinkers on, the colt looked so bad, commentators Gary Stevens, Frank Lyons, Tom Amoss and Todd Schrupp were laughing. Good grief.
But don't worry.. Woodbine has a large contigent of folks down at the 'Downs' to cover Skip Code including a sizy group for the TV department. Not sure where and when you can watch footage of interviews of all the stuff being collected by our guys but those Skip Code updates should be interesting!
Oh, and the colt drew post 14 with Patrick Husbands.
Meanwhile, 2yo filly SHE'S INCLUDED looked amazing on the sameshow during her workout.


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