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Monday, September 24, 2007


THOROUGHBLOG UPDATE - The Hot Canadian-bred list has been updated..STERWINS has popped up thanks to his big effort in the Sky Classic...
Coming up this week - 3rd ANNUAL LONGRUN GALA in support of LongRun Thorougubred Retirement Foundation and the horses..


Lovely day for racing and this corner had 5 winners in the TORONTO STAR on a tough card – came close on the PICK 7, but the bet carries over again to Wednesday night - $35,000.

It has been a truly a tough task for many to pick winners at Woodbine these days as Polytrack seemingly continues to change..

CLOUDY’S KNIGHT stamped himself a major contender for the Canadian International next month (if he stays to compete) with his gritty win over the tough STERWINS in the Grade 2 Sky Classic Stakes, $300,000, yesterday at Woodbine.

A lanky, somewhat attractive 7-year-old fellow by Lord Avie, Cloudy’s Knight was well ridden by Ramsey Zimmerman for owner SJ Stables and trainer Frank Kirby.

Beyer Figure for the winner – 101.

Sterwins is an up-and comer as he was a question mark at 1 3/8 miles but he pressed the pace of Shoal Water, led late and was just edged. Canadian-bred grey gelding by Runaway Groom ill be tougher next time.

Younger grey gelding WINDWARD ISLAND finished fast and spotted the field far too many lengths. He’ll be one to watch for Sam-Son Farms.

Flops in the race – LAST ANSWER bounced big-time off his lifetime best effort – very predictable; MARSH SIDE, much like his trainer, overrated…Royal Challenger – seems to have issues.

Congrats to trainer DAVID BELL who had 2 winners on the card including FULL OF RUN, owned by Alberta’s Bar None Ranch. The Ontario-bred Atticus gelding was bred by Mark Frostad and Patrick Lawley Wakelin and won an allowance race at 6 ½ furlongs.

SEATTLE HILL, a Kentucky bred for Morgan Firestone, won a squeaker in a maiden 2yo race at 1 mile on turf – 9th race and thanks to Emma Wilson who stretched out and pushed the gelding to the win over Mark Casse trainee Armored.

Other news – PAYNES BAY had his first winner as a sire as COROSSOL won her maiden in a 1 mile, 70 yard race for $32K claiming. Paynes Bay (by Mr. Prospector) stands at Norse Ridge Farm for $2,500 fee (2007).

NUMBER FOR LANGFUHR….50 - THE NIAGARA QUEEN is the latest stakes winner (number 50 in fact) for Canadian-bred LANGFUHR. The Ontario-bred,owned by Bridle Path and Tom Roberts, edged past Sant Elena to win the Flaming Page Stakes at 1 1/2miles on turf. Mike Doyle trains, Wilson rode. Beyer Figure – 88.


(From The Province)

Sangara finally finds Hastings winner's circle

Longtime supporter's horse, Celtic Dreamin, wins race by 51/2 lengths

Kent Gilchrist, The Province

Published: Monday, September 24, 2007

You could call the weekend goings-on at Hastings Racecourse a plea -- make that cry of distress -- from employees, breeders and backside horsemen, Great Canadian Casino Corp.

In unison they could chant, "Look what we can do when we get some purse money and little promotion?" The B.C. Oaks/Derby weekend is the biggest two days of the Hastings season if B.C. Cup day on Aug. 6 isn't.

And it was nice that longtime supporter K.K. Sangara finally found the winner's circle since he's been coming to the track with his father Terry since he was a two-year-old.

Owner K.K. Sangara and jockey Gerry Olguin celebrate Celtic Dreamin's victory Sunday during the $250,000 B.C. Derby at Hastings Racecourse.View Larger ImageView Larger Image

Even though his horse, Celtic Dreamin, the 3-to-1 second betting choice in the 62nd running of the $250,000 added B.C. Derby will head back to southern California, it was nice. Both K.K. and his father have paid their dues buying and running horses at the local stand for decades.

"Finally," he said with a grin late Sunday afternoon as his stable's colours were being painted on the jockey statue in the favoured spot right at the finish line. "He's turned into a special horse.

"When you're born in Vancouver and been coming here since you were two, this is the race. We don't race much here any more because of the purses, but it's special."

K.K., in fact, had the favourite last year when Ok Nothanksforaskn finished third behind Halo Steven and Head Chopper. Celtic Dreamin was his sixth try. Terry had two others.

With former Hastings jockey Gerry Olguin aboard, Celtic Dreamin had an uneventful trip from post seven. He broke well from the gate in the 11/8th-mile race and was third through the first quarter. He was second by the half and moved into the lead at the head of the stretch for a 51/2-length win over longshot Gandolf. Favourite Sir Gallovic was third for local owners Glen Todd and Patrick Kinsella.

Longtime trainer Terry Jordan, whose splitting his time in Toronto, saddled the entry of Amazin Blue and Another Kris for Peter Redekop. He quickly turned it around with True Metropolitan, a 5-1 favourite in the Sir Winston Churchill for his second big win of the weekend.

On Saturday, when punters put an unheard of $148,000 on the dappled grey mare Monashee to finish third in the Delta Colleen, they bet more than $1 million on the 11-race card. Kentucky-bred Monashee, a shoo-in as older fillies and mares for the second year in a row, lugged 130 pounds for 11/16 miles and beat 10-to-1 Lady Raj for her 10th consecutive stakes victory.

Jordan saddled three-year-old favourite Alpine Garden in the $125,000 Oaks and she finished nearly two in front of Pat of Gold to return $4.90 to her supporters.

On Sunday, they had to hunt up some extra table and chairs for Silks restaurant because they had some added value items such as songs by Nearly Neil (Diamond), a wandering Mariachi band and a $250,000 hole-in-one contest. That was besides the Derby and Churchill, which pitted six of the best older horses on the grounds that 2006 horse of the year True Metropolitan ran down easily despite carrying 12 more pounds than any of the others.

Celtic Dreamin will head back south to Santa Anita, Calif., with trainer Rafael Becerra, who looks after a nine-horse barn for Sangara and rider Gerry Olguin, who used to ride here and won with the B.C. Derby with Fleet Reserve 17 years ago, flew home to Woodbine.

As important as the Derby is and as good a job as Hastings management does in presenting it, Great Canadian folks might recognize an unhappy trend.


Stronach Stables’ Ontario-bred Wild Rush gelding JUNGLE FIGHTER missed by a nose in the Meorial stakes at Laurel yesterday to Stay Close. The gelding earned a 96 Beyer Figure.

TETHRA, sire of 2yo stakes winner Don’s Folly, has been moved from Windfields Farm to Colebrook Farms in Uxbridge, Ontario.

Durability rankings for sires lack stars
Data on percentage of starters released

By Gregory A. Hall
The Courier-Journal

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The sires atop a new list aimed at producing more durable thoroughbreds are not the names most racing fans would expect to see as parents of next year's Kentucky Derby field.

Turbulent Kris, who stood for a $1,500 fee this year, has had almost 89 percent of his offspring of racing age reach the starting gate, according to an industry group's initial statistics on durability.

The current statistics are the first released on durability as an outgrowth of last year's Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit, sponsored by The Jockey Club and the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation.

Ed Bowen, the foundation president and chairman of the committee working on the durability stats, said the information could be useful for people at the lower end of the thoroughbred market.

But he doesn't expect that the statistics in their current form will sway breeding decisions at the top of the market.

"We see it very much as an adjunct to what people are used to seeing, earnings of a sires progeny, stakes winners, all that stuff," he said.

With 30 percent of registered thoroughbreds never making it to the racetrack, Bowen said, the percentage of starters has merit.

"As a standalone factor, that doesn't tell you a lot, but it tells you a little," he said, "and as you put that into the other things you know about a stallion, I think that's highly significant."

The most recognizable sires near the top of the list could be 1995 Louisiana Derby winner Petionville -- who sired multiple Grade I winner Island Fashion and multiple graded stakes winner Runway Model -- and 1996 Jim Beam Stakes winner Roar.

Petionville stood at Crestwood Farm in Kentucky for $15,000 while Roar stood for $7,500. Both figures are well below the six-figure fees that top sires command.

Although the top names were not the most recognizable in breeding, three of the top five on the list are direct descendants of the late Mr. Prospector, one of the most dominant sires in racing.

The committee also released a list of average starts per starter for stallions' progeny that also didn't show the big names. Both lists excluded results from current 2-year-olds and used other restrictions aimed at obtaining a significant sample for stallions on the list.

Kentucky native Larry Jones, the trainer of this year's Kentucky Derby runner-up Hard Spun, said durability is important to him, although the buying market makes him wonder how much it is a factor overall.

"I sometimes wonder what others are looking at because I see them pay a lot of money for horses … (from) a mare that's had 12 foals and three runners. Well, those I'm not interested in. … It makes me think that they're not spending their own money."

Jones said trainers and other buyers anecdotally get a feel for general traits of stallions' offspring as they see them race.

"That's what I figure is part of my job trying to protect my owners, is to make my recommendations on that real quick and just try not to load the barn down with those kind of (problem) horses," he said.

Bowen and others in the industry said they aren't surprised by the absence of the big names from the top of the list.

Distorted Humor, the $225,000-fee sire of 2003 Derby winner Funny Cide, was the only sire with a six-figure stud fee among the top horses on the list. Nearly 82 percent of Distorted Humor's runners reached the racetrack.

There "is a statistical prejudice we think against fashionable sires," Bowen said, because offspring of those stallions are more likely to be retired from racing sooner, especially fillies who are attractive broodmare prospects.

Dan Rosenberg, the president of Three Chimneys Farm in Woodford County, compared the results of the survey to a sports car being in the shop more often than other vehicles that don't go as fast.

"I think there is an inherent incompatibility between speed and durability," he said. "… When you're talking about leading sires, people want the horses that win the graded stakes. They're not trying to find the soundest horse. … I think soundness has to be a factor in every mating decision, but if I breed a sound horse that can't win, I'm not accomplishing anything. So I mean there's a balance, but the primary thing we're looking for is the ability to win graded stakes."

Boyd Browning, Fasig-Tipton's executive vice president, said the higher-priced auction yearlings are more likely to be given a layoff with a less-serious injury than horses with a lower investment.

Because buyers are looking for stakes-level horses, Browning said he doesn't see the market being influenced much by the new numbers.

Bowen said a more comprehensive durability and soundness index is being developed -- for released late this year or early next year -- that he hopes will have a greater impact on the market. That index could weight a stallion's average yearling auction price to compensate for the initial numbers' bias against them.

It also could factor in durable sire lines -- the grandsires and beyond -- who have a history of producing sounder racehorses.

Note - The Blood-Horse put up the list…


  • At 10:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "Polytrack seemingly continues to change"... What are the changes you've been hearing about? Is the polytrack maintenance changing? You previously mentioned it was packed one day resulting in fast times. Is this now part of the maintenance program? Is the weather causing changes? Is Woodbine saying anything? Aside from your occasional comment there's nothing else coming from the track. What are the horsemen saying?

  • At 2:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    There is a lot of frustration with the poly-track from owners trainers and jockeys. The track is inconsistent and the kick-back which was supposed to be minimal is horrible! Just watch the replays head-on view especially on wednesday nights under the lights. Some trainers who were gung-ho initially have changed their tune and are now doing their daily gallops on the training track. Some of the vets say that injuries to the hind end [especially high up] have increased significantly. Presque Ils, the new racetrack, is doing their own study of the effects of their synthetic surface on the respiratory system of the horses. Perhaps Woodbine,in conjunction with the vets,should be monitoring the frequency and type of injuries and not just the fatalities. Lets find out what is fact or fiction with this polytrack.

  • At 5:44 PM, Anonymous Punter Blues said…

    Not that I don't care about the welfare of the horses, but I could care less what they're running on. They could be running on an air cushion, as long as its got some kind of consistency. There's enough variables to have to contend with playing this game - I'd rather not be rolling the dice on how track maintenance might be ploughing the track on any given day. After playing Woodbine for the last 30 years, I've had to throw out all my data (par times etc) and start anew. I don't mind the challenge, but I do mind being taken advantage of. And as far as I can see, from the winter freezing debacle to apparent attempts to speed up the track, to the poly kickback exceeding specs, its tough for us players to make a living these days on Polytrack. I would really like to see Woodbine making public everything they're experiencing with the track. Thank goodness for simulcasting and access to New York tracks. Dirt may be falling out of favour but it can still deliver winners.

  • At 9:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I Stopped betting and handicaping late June because of the track.
    Bob BC

  • At 9:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i was wondering if you could elaborate on royal challenger's "issues" and why michael dickinson is "overrated"

  • At 11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Do the points you raise regarding kickback and injuries correspond with other tracks using the same surface.

    Polytrack is a proven racing surface, so I would have thought, in theory at least, there should be similarities between tracks. If not, then the question should be asked, why Woodbine?

  • At 12:54 AM, Blogger the_drake said…

    bottom line, as an owner I would much rather run on the Poly. There are very few excellent drit surfaces in North America, Saratoga is one, and Fort Erie despite the idiots that maintain that track sounds like a whisper when it's right. People bitch and complain about the inconsistancies with the polys, but they forget about the fact that almost every dirt track has its own characteristics. Tell me Tampa, Gulfstream and Oaklwan are the same as Fair Grounds, then you move up to Keeneland which was different all together and settle with Woodbine which was a mess in the spring. Come on people, change sometimes is good, accept it and go with the flow, I'm sick of every old timer saying the changes in the track is ruining the game, the day they can prove every dirt track played the same is the day I will agree thst the poly's are bad.

  • At 6:07 AM, Blogger Jen Morrison said…

    Re: Polytrack. I find it does change a lot - the rail looked like a bad place to be for a few days last week with outside closers doing all the winning. To clarify an early comment, the track was not being "packed down" in fact it was being harrowed or 'decompacted" to slow it down according to Woodbine's track man.
    Re: Royal Challenger races sporadically and is not very consistent, those are issues.
    Trainer Dickinson is 14% with winners but is often played up in the media like that number is twice that or more. When he sends a horse here (Coy Coyote, Marsh Side) they are often overbet.

  • At 9:35 AM, Anonymous Cangamble said…

    i agree Jen that the track is very inconsistent. You can go through a time with no wind and no rain yet the biases and variants change significantly.
    I think all harrowing info (or any additions of surface or subtractions) from the morning should be publicized with the daily changes. On Wednesday there should be a report made public for Monday Tuesday and Wednesday morning.
    Maybe handicappers can anticipate what kind of track to expect early enough.

    I'm not saying it happens, but one has to wonder if the track isn't harrowed on one day to help out a particular horse or two that is running that particular day.
    There was a lot of talk about this happening at Fort Erie 3 or 4 years ago, when the purses were still worthwhile.

    Oh, I've been doing track variants at Presque Isle,and I can't believe how much variation there has been.
    The track crew can manipulate that track big time.

    Synthetic surfaces are supposed to level the playing field when it came to track bias. They have done no such thing.

  • At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    From Wikipedia,

    Michael W. Dickinson (born February 3, 1950 in Yorkshire, England) is a Thoroughbred racehorse trainer. Dickinson was an amateur champion rider before becoming a professional jockey for 10 years. His rides included a classic winner, Boucher.

    Having been educated at Rossall School, Dickinson got his trainer's license in 1980, taking over his parents' stables. He trained at Dunkeswick near Harewood in Yorkshire and was the Champion Trainer of National Hunt racing for three years in England. Two of his formative years were spent under the tutelage of Vincent O'Brien, the legendary Irish trainer who was master of Ballydoyle, the training center in County Tipperary.

    Michael Dickinson is perhaps most famous for his extraordinary feat of training the first five in the 1983 Cheltenham Gold Cup. In order: Bregawn, Captain John, Wayward Lad, Silver Buck, and Ashley House. The BBC has an interesting account of Dickinson's Famous Five.[1] He also trained a record 12 winners on Boxing Day in 1982. Both of which are in the Guinness Book of World Records. He has three other further world records noted in the Guinness Book of World Records.

    Dickinson also briefly trained flat racing horses for Robert Sangster before going to the U.S., where he had his first runner on June 30, 1987.

    In 1993, he was elected to the United Kingdom Steeplechasing Hall of Fame.

    Dickinson’s most acclaimed flat training feat came with Da Hoss. He trained the horse to win the 1996 and 1998 Breeders' Cup Mile despite the horse only having one race in between due to injury.


    Perhaps he concentrates too much on promoting Tapeta these days, but he has forgotten more about training race horses than many will ever know.

  • At 2:34 PM, Blogger the_drake said…

    I guess my problem is that I don't look at track biases when I handicap and very little into it when looking at how my horse might run. Bottom line in my mind the best horse in the race can overcome a bias. Upsets do happen, but the first thing everyone does is blames it on the track bias, maybe the horse was just best that day. I was sick of hearing about the inside speed bias at the start of this Woodbine meet. Maybe the corelation between horses winning on the inside with speed had something to do with every race being 5 furlongs, and its pretty damn tough to win those if your coming from way off it, or stuck in the 9 hole. Interesting that you didn't hear much of that particular bias once the races stretched out in distance. Maybe I've got rocks for brains, but I will never bet or change a horses running style because of how the track has been "playing".

  • At 4:05 PM, Blogger Jen Morrison said…

    I realize Mr. Dickinson has accomplished a lot, I have seen Da Hoss etc. It is only an opinion.
    Thanks for the Wikipedia excerpt, anonymous (or is it Mike?)

  • At 5:11 PM, Anonymous KG said…

    I own a few horses that race at various tracks in North America. One in particular raced at Turfway Park and then I moved him up to Woodbine in March of 2007. He is a come-from-behind sprinter and relishes a fast pace in front of him. At Turway he won a few races in this manner and there was relatively no problem with kickback. We ran our first race at Woodbine in April and he raced his heart out only to finish 2nd and a return to the barn with a face full of Polytrack! The same occured the second time out and now we may need to run him a little closer to the front to avoid the problem - this is not the horse's best running style. I guess my point is that we are dealing with the same surface at Turfway and Woodbine but very different levels of competence where the maintenance of the racing surface is concerned. I understand that there are courses for certain horses but to alter the running style due to poor maintenance is another issue alltogether. On the betting side I agree with Cangamble's post above.

  • At 6:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Don't know when the last time you watched a race at Turfway was. Recently they re-waxed their track, and the kickback is significantly worse than the kickback at woodbine.

  • At 8:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    I feel you have valid points there and it's my opinion that it's not the track that's the fundamental problem, but WEG, maintenance and manipulation.

    When Polytrack was first installed, it was an honest, generous and fair surface, welcomed by almost all involved, with the exception of the diehard handicappers who didn't wish change. What has happened since those initial weeks?

    Sure Martin Collins has had the blame pushed in his direction, but I don't believe that is the reality of it and its problems.

    More information should come out about how the track has been 'worked', from that the handicappers and the trainers can work out the rest.

    Considering the on-going problems, we hear very little from WEG, quite the opposite to when it was about to replace the dirt surface.


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