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Friday, October 05, 2007


VAN NISTELROOY 1ster starts long weekend at Woodbine

Just 5 juvenile fillies in race 1 today as Woodbine starts 4 consecutive days of racing.

A filly by 2nd leading 1st year sire VAN NOSTLEROOY, AMAZING MISS, is going to be heavily favoured for Harlequin Ranches and trainer Reade Baker.

The filly was bred by Ellie-Boje Farms in Ontario.

The feature today is the prep for the BUNTY LAWLESS STAKES, a one-mile turf outing worth $87,900.

Stakes winners Esteven, Decew Falls, Awesome Action and My Imperial Dancer are ready to go but look out for the young up-and-comer STORM CALLER to take the whole prize.



By Jon White


Is the recent decision by the Ontario Racing Commission to reverse the stewards’ disqualification of Sealy Hill in the July 1 Bison Stakes at Woodbine in the best interests of racing?

I don’t think so.

In the Bison City Stakes, Sealy Hill finished first but “was demoted to third place…after the stewards ruled she had lugged in under jockey Patrick Husbands and caused Quiet Jungle to steady at the eighth pole,” Bill Tallon wrote in the Daily Racing Form.

As is always the case when a commission overturns a stewards’ decision with regard to the running of a race, the decision by the Ontario Racing Commission to reinstate Sealy Hill as the winner of the Bison City Stakes understandably is going to make many bettors sour.

No doubt many who wagered on Sealy Hill in the Bison City Stakes were not happy when her number was taken down. Now how do they feel when her number is put back up almost three months later? How do they feel when they wagered their money on Sealy Hill in good faith, only to realize that they lost those wagers despite Sealy Hill now being recognized as the “official” winner of the Bison City Stakes?

In my opinion, racing is better off when the outcome of a race is like the outcome of a football, basketball or baseball game. When a referee makes a bad call in a football or basketball game, or an umpire makes a bad call in a baseball game, is the outcome of the game reversed? No.

I believe
California’s rule is preferable to what just happened in Canada. California Horse Racing Board rule 1761 (a) states: “From every decision of the stewards, except a decision concerning the disqualification of a horse due to a foul or riding or driving infraction, an appeal may be made to the Board.” It’s the part of the rule saying “except a decision concerning the disqualification of a horse due to a foul or riding or driving infraction” that would have prevented an appeal of Sealy Hill’s disqualification to the Ontario Racing Commission.

As I’ve previously written, California’s rule of not permitting an appeal concerning the disqualification of a horse due to a foul or riding or driving infraction is good in that it reduces the distasteful instances when there is one outcome of a race for the bettors and a different outcome of the same race for owners, trainers and jockeys.

I bristle each time I see commissioners overturn a stewards’ decision with regard to the running of a race. As I have stated in the past, my strong belief is that justice is better served whenever there is one outcome of a race for everyone as much as possible.

Do I agree with every call the stewards make? I should say not. Not any more than I agree with every call I see made by a referee or an umpire.

But once the stewards call it the way they see it, I believe it’s in the best interests of racing to move on and not have commissioners get involved, regardless of whether the stewards’ call was good or bad.

As Ed Bowen wrote in The Blood-Horse magazine in 1990, “In those matters relating solely to the running of a race, it should be screamingly clear that stewards are better equipped to make the best possible evaluation than are racing commissioners.”


What the stallion Smart Strike accomplished last Saturday was phenomenal. It was, without question, one of the greatest days by a Thoroughbred sire in the history of the sport.

Smart Strike, who stands at William S. Farish’s Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky, was represented by three Grade I winners -- Fabulous Strike, English Channel and Curlin -- on the Belmont Park card.

Fabulous Strike won the Vosburgh at six furlongs on the dirt.
English Channel took the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at 1 1/2 miles on the turf. Curlin captured the Jockey Club Gold Cup at 1 1/4 miles on the dirt.

Smart Strike’s huge day was even more impressive because of the differences in the three races -- a dirt sprint, a long-distance grass affair and a dirt race at the classic American distance.

As David Schmitz of The Blood-Horse wrote of the three Grade I wins by Smart Strike’s sons: “What happened Sept. 30 at
Belmont Park was racing’s version of hitting four home runs in a game, throwing for seven touchdowns or scoring 100 points in a basketball game. Or maybe it was better than that.”

Ever since it happened, I’ve been scratching my head to come up with a comparable day for a stallion. The closest I could think of was when Awesome Again sired two Breeders’ Cup winners at
Lone Star Park in 2004 -- Wilko in the Juvenile and Ghostzapper in the Classic.

“Overwhelming,” Farish’s son, Bill, told Schmitz. “How many tracks even hold three Grade I stakes in a day? We were sort of searching for answers as to which stallions might have done it earlier. We came up with Sunday Silence in
Japan and Sadler’s Wells in Europe as stallions who might have done the same.

“[Smart Strike] gave his career an exclamation point. We think he has been a top stallion for years, but it has taken him a little longer in getting into the top echelon.”

In addition to his three Grade I winners at Belmont Park, Smart Strike also was represented Saturday by Smarty Deb, who won the 70th running of the $100,000 Gottstein Futurity at Emerald Downs. The Gottstein Futurity is the biggest 2-year-old race in the
Pacific Northwest.

Smarty Deb, a filly, prevailed by three lengths while running against males last Saturday to remain undefeated in four starts. Just two other fillies had won the Gottstein Futurity since the mid-1960s -- Belle of Rainier in 1981 and Favored One in 1994.

Owner Jerre Paxton (Northwest Farms) and trainer Doris Harwood now would like to run Smarty Deb in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at
Monmouth Park on Oct. 27, if she can get into the race.

Monmouth Park is where Smart Strike scored his most significant victory before he was retired to stud with six wins from eight starts. He took the Philip H. Iselin Handicap at Monmouth in 1996 when it was a Grade I race. A son of Mr. Prospector, Smart Strike is a half-brother to Dance Smartly, who was inducted into this country’s Hall of Fame in 2003.


Curlin earned a 114 Beyer Speed Figure (best of his career) while winning the Jockey Club Gold Cup. The average for the race is 114. Mineshaft recorded a 114 on his way to the 2003 Horse of the Year title. Aptitude’s 123 ranks as the highest figure in the race since Daily Racing Form began publishing Beyers. Some other figures by Jockey Club Gold Cup winners: Albert the Great (119), Flying Continental (117), Pleasant Tap (117), Bernardini (117), Skip Away in 1997 (116), Skip Away in 1996 (115), Funny Cide (112) and Cigar (111).

Hard Spun recorded a 109 Beyer (also best of his career) while taking last Saturday’s Kentucky Cup Classic at
Turfway Park. The average for the race is 109. The record for the race is 123, shared by Silver Charm and Wild Rush, who dead-heated for first in 1998. Some other Beyers by Kentucky Cup Classic winners: Captain Steve (116), Guided Tour (113), Atticus (109), Thunder Gulch (108), Pure Prize (108), Shaniko (108) and Semoran (107).

English Channel earned a 106 Beyer Speed Figure while winning the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. He posted a 107 when he won the race last year. The average for the race is 109. Shakespeare earned a 106 in 2005, Kitten’s Joy a 114 in 2004.

Unbridled Belle earned a 104 while taking Saturday’s Grade I Beldame Stakes at
Belmont Park. The average for the race is 108. Some other Beyers by Beldame winners: Go for Wand (120), Sharp Cat (119), Riboletta (115), Beautiful Pleasure (113) and Heavenly Prize (111).

Fabulous Strike registered a 114 Beyer in the Vosburgh after earning figures of 119, 118 and 115 (twice) earlier in his career. The average for the Vosburgh is 113. Some other Beyers by Vosburgh winners: Affirmed Success (119), Ghostzapper (116), Henny Hughes (113) and Artax (111).

Tiago earned a 106 Beyer Speed Figure (best of his career) when victorious in Oak Tree’s Goodwood Stakes last Saturday. The average for the race is 109. Some other Beyers by Goodwood winners: Tiznow (119), Budroyale (118), Pleasantly Perfect in 2002 (116), Bertrando (113), Rock Hard Ten (113), Silver Charm (111) and Lava Man (109).

Nashoba’s Key recorded a 102 Beyer while taking Oak Tree’s Yellow Ribbon Stakes last Saturday to remain undefeated. The average for the race is 104. Some other Beyers by Yellow Ribbon winners: Wait a While (109),
Fiji (108), Golden Apples (108), Ryafan (107), Tates Creek (107), Kostroma (106), Super Staff (106), Megahertz (102), Possibly Perfect (101).

Cry and Catch Me posted an 81 Beyer when triumphant in Oak Tree’s Oak Leaf Stakes last Saturday. The average for the race is 88. Some other Beyers by Oak Leaf winners: Phone Chatter (98), Halfbridled (98), Excellent Meeting (94), Chilukki (94), Composure (93), Cash Included (93), Sweet Catomine (91) and Serena’s Song (90).

Dixie Chatter, a son of Dixie Union, earned an 86 Beyer Speed Figure while winning Oak Tree’s Norfolk Stakes last Sunday. The average for the race is 93. Some other Beyers by
Norfolk winners: Flame Thrower (105), Dixie Union (104), Stormello (96), Free House (92) and Brother Derek (82).


From Daily

By Tony Lewis

AIDAN O’BRIEN caused a minor shock yesterday when he paid 60,000 euros to add no-hoper Song Of Hiawatha to Sunday’s Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe field.

The Tipperary wizard already had SEVEN of the remaining 15 runners, which also includes another supplementary entry Getaway for Andre Fabre.

And there was significant money for one of O’Brien’s seven yesterday - Dylan Thomas boosted by the prospect of better ground.

O’Brien’s bid to land France’s greatest race for the first time will be lessened by the removal of Gold Cup winner Yeats from the reckoning but Song Of Hiawatha keeps his number at seven, so there will still be at least 15 at today’s final declaration stage.

Funnily enough, the Champion trainer elect also fielded seven against Authorized in this year’s Derby.

That didn’t quite work out in his favour, but it’s fair to say that Soldier Of Fortune, who finished fifth at Epsom, didn’t handle the course and has since made up considerable ground on Authorized, who is down to around even money for the Arc in most books. It was Song Of Hiawatha who fulfilled the role of pacemaker for Soldier Of Fortune when he clocked a record time for the Prix Niel, the most influential Arc trial of all, three weeks ago.

Although eight of the last ten Arc winners ran in that race over the Arc course and distance, they didn’t all win that trial and French trainer Pascal Bary is expecting third placed Zambezi Sun to come on a ton for the outing.


Slots ruling just the ticket

Kent Gilchrist, The Province

Published: Thursday, October 04, 2007

The timing of the announcement could not have been better (unless it had been made three or four years ago) with the biggest race day at Hastings Racecourse (B.C. Derby) having just taken place and one of the biggest at Fraser Downs about to happen on Friday.

Tie in the message that slots will finally be going in at the Vancouver track as well as expansion of the casino at the Cloverdale plant and you've got a winning superfecta for racing fans and the thousands who are scratching out a living in either of the horse racing disciplines.

"It's huge," said a relieved Mel Snow, longtime trainer at Hastings and head honcho for the Horsemen's Benevolent Protective Association, which speaks for everyone on the backside of the PNE plant. "It's excellent news."

Snow is gung ho about the fact the B.C. Lottery Commission has given partner and owner of Hastings and Fraser Downs Great Canadian Gaming Corp the green light to install 150 slot machines at Hastings, despite the continued opposition of some home owners in the area.

The plan is to have the new slot room open by the end of the month. And then spend $40 million on capital improvements during the next five years, including the backside where the barns desperately need rebuilding.

The wording on the press release says "proposed operating agreement" between GCGC and the government-run lottery.

"A lot of people have got to the point where they say 'well I want to see it,'" admitted Snow, "But I don't think we could get much better news at this time and after such a long wait."

To its credit, GCGC has already spent a considerable sum on a new roof for the grandstand and prepared the room where the first 150 slot machines will be housed. Barring unforeseen delays (read: previously unsuccessful community appeals somehow become successful in their next appeal in January) 450 more will be added together with the rest of the improvements.

"It amazes me," said Dixie Jacobson, president of the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society, "that so few can hold up the future of so many, but it's a great sign that we're getting closer ... everybody in our industry would breathe a huge sigh of relief."

It has been estimated that more than 4,000 people are employed fulltime in horse racing in B.C., counting farm workers, exercise riders, grooms and those working in the off-track betting locations.

"It has [casino at Fraser Downs] certainly assisted in the standardbred growth," said David Aldred, the executive director of the B.C. Standardbred Association, which has plowed in $350,000 this season to its open stakes race program, including bumping Friday's Clash of the Pacific to $100,000 from $50,000. The additional purse has attracted horses from Ontario and Alberta.

"In March we're going to have a $100,000 Princess of the Pacific for mares," said Aldred. "Doing this kind of thing shows there's positive things happening here to people from other parts of the country."

Recently the association negotiated a four-year agreement with GCGC and increased racing days to 107 for this year.

Snow said race days for the thoroughbreds will likely increase next year, too. This season, which wraps up Nov. 4, there were only 78 live racing days.

It looks like a winning superfecta but you might have to hang onto the ticket until all the inquiry signs have come off the toteboard.


  • At 8:07 AM, Anonymous charles said…

    The decision to disqualify Sealy Hill was ridiculous.Its good that it has been reversed.Hopefully this will draw attention to the Woodbine stewards,who have made many dubious decisions this year.Bettors dont want the stewards arbitrarily changing results,especially when the best horse wins the race.Of course its unfair to the people who lost their money on Sealy Hill,but if it registers with the stewards and they stop these types of disqualifications,it will be a major step forward.I m not holding my breath,though!

  • At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I apologize;
    A couple days ago I complaned that some of the major tracks - like NYRA, TP, KEE, etc did not offer streaming video.

    I got the KEE website today and there is streaming video. Free. No passwords nor your mother's maiden name required.

    The track maintenance report is also there.
    Mercy me!

    Alex Sidor


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