A big night last night for the inductees to the Hall of Fame this year (read more below).
Woodbine's Poly is sizzling fast but apparently bouncy and horses can't be heard galloping over it.
The Canadian Derby is tomorrow, locals prep for the Woodbine Mile in the Play the King (more on that tomorrow) and our Horse of the Year raced again today (Friday).
Thank you to the readers who send in comments - there was indeed a scary incident at Bay Meadows in Race 1 when the leader by 7 lengths broke down near the wire but was still ridden out it looked like to win the race - he didn't - and after the race, it appeared as if a lot more damage was done to his legs/body. Russel Baze rode the horse.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH ARRAVALE?
AND 2 MORE TRACK RECORDS MAKES 3 IN TWO DAYS!
Canada’s HORSE OF THE YEAR, ARRAVALE, had another disappointing outing in 2007 when she finished 3rd of 5 in the Canadian Stakes prep Friday afternoon at Woodbine. The 4yo by Arch was a Grade 1 winner last year but was last in her comeback race, the Dance Smartly Stakes.
Friday, she rated in 3rd beside Wedded Woman, the eventual winner, behind front running Vestrey Lady, who set slow fractions of 24 and 48 over a turf course that may have been a bit on the soft side. When Vestrey Lady faded, Wedded Woman took over, Arravale glided up off the turn but when shaken up by Emma Jayne Wilson, she stalled. The effort was better than her season debut, perhaps she's just taking her sweet time to peak.
Wedded Woman has suddenly come into herself after a messy 2006 campaign. She has won all 3 of her races this year for Stronach Stables and Brian Lynch. The Ontario bred is by Siphon from Erinyes by Seeking the Gold. She’s won 5 of 10 races.
HALL OF FAME trainer ROGER ATTFIELD turned over Prince of Wales Stakes winner ABLO, whom he owns with Bill Werner and Mickey and Phyllis Canino, to his son John and the gelding won for the first time since his classic score Friday at Woodbine.
The race was for just $12,500 claiming. Ablo stalked the fast pace set by Flat Rock, who stumbled at the start, and rallied 3 wide off the turn before outdueling Mr. Henry Two U late.
John Attfield, who has groomed horses but has not been training for very long, has a small stable at Fort Erie. It was his first win at Woodbine as a trainer.
Two more track records were set over a suddenly very fast Polytrack (see notes below also). The 2yo filly KID SPARKLE (Glitterman-Launch the Rocket, check her yearling ½ bro in the sale Sept. 4), owned and bred by Howard Walton, led all the way to win the 2nd race and was one of 3 winning rides for Emma-Jayne Wilson. The filly raced 5 furlongs in 57 2/5.
Later Wilson guided Mel Lawson’s MORADO to victory at 6 ½ furlongs in an allowance race – scorching the trip in 1:15 2/5.
That’s three track records in 2 days.
HALL OF FAME
Cocktails and silent auction items that included a Storm Cat halter, a fun speaker in Jim Ralph (sports announcer and former hockey player) and nice speeches were on display last night at the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame ceremony in Mississauga.
Queen’s Plate winners L’Enjoleur, Canadian Champ and Jammed Lovely were among the six thoroughbred inductees.
Natalma, the dam of legendary racehorse and sire Northern Dancer, was also inducted in the equine category.
In the builder’s category, Russ and Lois Bennett, longtime leading breeders in British Columbia were recognized and Chris Loseth, who rode 3,668 winners, became the first jockey in five years to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“I remember the year before L’Enjoleur came along,” said Pierre Levesque, whose father Jean Louis Levesque owned and bred the son of Buckpasser.
“The press was interviewing my Dad about the great horses he had owned, like La Prevoyante. He said there was still one race he dearly wanted to win and that was the Queen’s Plate. Well, L’Enjoleur gave him that, and I’m so glad to be back here 30 years later for this honour.”
L’Enjoleur was a two-time Horse of the Year in 1974 and 1975, at the ages of two and three. The colt won all the major juvenile stakes races in Canada plus the Laurel Futurity at Pimlico over Wajima.
He was installed an early second favourite for the Kentucky Derby but was plagued by bouts of colic during the winter.
He missed the Derby but won the Plate in near-track record time and five other stakes races. He won 15 of 30 career starts and $546,000. At stud, L’Enjoleur sired champions Avowal and Par Excellence and more than 30 stakes winners.
Judith Mappin Taylor, daughter of E.P. Taylor, accepted the Hall of Fame induction ring on behalf of her father’s foundation mare Natalma.
“She was a great matriarch for Windfields Farm,” said Mappin Taylor. “I’m only sorry my parents didn’t live to see the dynasty she created.”
Jammed Lovely was not only a surprise entrant in the 1968 Plate but upset 13 colts when she overcame traffic trouble to win at 11 to 1.
Tom Smythe, grandson of Conn Smythe who owned and bred Jammed Lovely, has been battling cancer but was in attendance to accept the filly’s induction.
“I remember every moment of the race,” said Smythe. “She was supposed to be taken back off the pace but instead she was close to the lead. I’ll never forget that split second when (jockey Jim) Fitzsimmons swung her out to win.”
JET SETS TRACK RECORD
BRIDLED JET, who has shown flashes of brilliance in his career but has been a regular runner in lower claiming races, set the track record for 6 furlongs at Woodbine yesterday when he scorched the distance in 1:09 (94 Beyer Figure) in a $16,000 claiming race.
The Polytrack surface has been very fast this week.
Irwin Driedger, in charge of the Polytrack for Woodbine, said that the track is a lot like turf right now – bouncy and yielding fast times – because some rain and not much sunshine.
Bridled Jet ran 2/5 faster than the previous race – an Ontario sired allowance, won by BOLD COMMENT who ended a long, long streak of 2nd place finishes in the off-the-turf event.
Bridled Jet is a Virginia-bred by Unbridled Jet and is owned by Camilla Farms and trained by Norm DeSouza.
It took her awhile by Joe Shiewtiz’s CHERYL’S GENIUS won her maiden in her 12th career start and made a statement – she won by more than 11 lengths under Jono Jones in that $12,500 claimer. She’s an Ontario bred by I Can’t Believe out of Winspur.
The track seemed to play fair despite how fast it was with COOL THE HEAT coming from fat behind to win the 4th race for $10,000 claiming at 7 furlongs over heavily favoured Forever Rush, and then 2yo Ontario-bred filly NINCKI KNEW winning for Knob Hill Stable and trainer Kevin Attard in race 7 in her 2nd career start on the pace. The filly is by Tethra out of Panteccaria, a half-sister Horse of the Year Thornfield. That maiden allowance was taken off the grass.
SKY CONQUEROR ON BATTLE-FRONT AGAIN
Might not face Jambalaya again
From Woodbine media office:
Bill Sorokolit Sr.'s Sky Conqueror vies for his
second consecutive stakes win of the summer in Sunday's $300,000
Nijinsky Stakes at Woodbine.
The five-year-old chestnut will take on six rivals, including U.S.
invader Cloudy's Knight.
Last month, Sky Conqueror was at the top of his game, successfully
defending his Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup Turf title in his first
start under jockey Edgar Prado. The seven-time winner closed from last
to first, 1 1/2 lengths in front of Marsh Side.
Trainer Darwin Banach was pleased with the effort put out by the son of
Sky Classic, himself a son of Nijinsky.
"All (Edgar) did was show him the whip," said Banach. "He ran down the
lane nice and straight. That's what we were looking for. Now, he knows
what kind of turn of foot he has."
Prado will be back aboard in the Nijinksy, at 1 1/2 miles over the E.P.
Taylor Turf Course. Banach said the race was attractive because there
was no need to make travel arrangements.
"We don't have to go anywhere. We're at home. We walk across the road.
That's as easy as it gets," said Banach.
Sky Conqueror's connections considered returning to the United States,
where their stable star was a Grade 1 winner in the Woodford Reserve
Turf Classic (Churchill Downs) in May.
"We seriously considered the Arlington Million," offered Banach. "When
we decided we weren't going to do that, (the Nijinsky) was next on our
Fellow Canadian-bred Jambalaya, who was third in the Northern Dancer
Breeders' Cup Turf, did journey to Illinois for the important turf
and wound up taking home first prize.
"I thought it was great for them. I was cheering for them," said
Banach. "It's nice to see a Canadian horse get it done across the
border. It doesn't have happen very often. We have a couple in Canada
that can do it."
Banach said Jambalaya's strong performance provided him with a positive
frame of reference.
"I think we fit in the (Arlington) race," affirmed Banach. "We're
5-for-5 against Jambalaya. He hasn't beaten us. We might not even hook
him again, who knows? It sounds like they're going the Breeders' Cup
Banach said Sky Conqueror's schedule, at this point in time, doesn't
include the Breeders' Cup, as he is leaning towards races such as the
Sky Classic (September 23) and Pattison Canadian International (October
21), both at Woodbine.
"The entry fees are kind of out of whack. You never know. We won't
throw it out of our plans," said Banach.
The Nijinsky Stakes comes first and Banach said Sky Conqueror's ready
for the test. "Everything looks good. He came out of his race well. He
had a couple of decent works. He's ready to rock and roll again."
Banach said the day-to-day formula has stayed the same for Sky
Conqueror, including afternoon activities to keep him mentally sound.
"He goes out every afternoon for about a 15-minute walk. Most of the
time gets a little grass, depending on how close we are to a race and
how sharp he is. He can get a little playful sometimes," said Banach.
think it's very important. It keeps his mind on the right track. With
horses that go long distances, you don't want them overly sharp. It
keeps them in a relaxed frame of mind."
The Nijinsky is slated for race eight on Sunday's 10-race program.
FIELD FOR NIJINSKY STAKES
POST - HORSE - JOCKEY - TRAINER
1 - The Carbon Unit - Garry Cruise - Roger Attfield
2 - Last Answer - Emile Ramsammy - Mike Keogh
3 - Sky Conqueror - Edgar Prado - Darwin Banach
4 - Cloudy's Knight - Ramsey Zimmerman - Frank Kirby
5 - Windward Islands - Todd Kabel - Mark Frostad
6 - Royal Challenger - Patrick Husbands - Brian Lynch
7 - Pellegrino - Jono Jones - Roger Attfield
The .300 CLUB
FROM THE BUFFALO NEWS
By BOB SUMMERS (The Happy Handicapper)
FORT ERIE, Ont. — If you’re making money at the races, you’ve probably known about the “30 percent rule” for a long time.
The Happy Handicapper was reminded of that magic number a few weeks ago when he made his annual pilgrimage to Saratoga Springs. One of the highlights was hearing Rick Pitino, the famous basketball coach, give the keynote address at the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.
Pitino, of the University of Louisville, pointed out the differences between his — and most of the population of Kentucky’s — two favorite sports.
“In coaching, if we win 30 percent of the time, we are about out of work,” Pitino said. But in horse racing, “if you win 30 percent of the time, you are the leading trainer or leading jockey.”
At the track, where each race has just one winner and a whole bunch of losers, batting .300 is a huge accomplishment. And for a bettor, latching onto a trainer or a jockey or — in some cases — a trainer- jockey combination that wins at that rate can be a key to the vault.
These .300 hitters are rare, but they’re not impossible to find. Based on recent statistics from Daily Racing Form and Equibase Co., here are some solid swingers, starting with three trainers at Fort Erie Race Track who are batting over .400.
• Lyle Morden (11 wins for 25 starts, .440) leads the way, thanks to his threewinner week that saw him click with Sky’s Victory ($13 for a $2 win wager) last Saturday plus Kung Fu Slew ($6.80) and Rice Pudding ($5) on Monday. Four of Morden’s wins have come with sprinter Glendawe, the winningest horse at the Fort this season. A $2 win bet on all Morden’s starters has yielded a $34.60 profit.
• Scott Fairlie (17 for 40, .425) is stabled at Woodbine in Toronto but specializes in dropping horses way down in class into races at Fort Erie, where he’s been on fire. Most (12) of his winners were betting favorites, but still a $2 win bet on every entrant has yielded a $36.10 profit.
• Stacey Cooper (7 for 17, .412) has a small but consistent group led by threetime winner Fast Approaching. Bet $2 to win on every Cooper horse and you’re ahead by $4.50.
• Mark Fournier leads the meet in wins (23) but is winning at just a .295 rate this year. But when he puts jockey Roderick Dacosta aboard, he wins 35 percent of the time (6 for 17 for a profit of $14.70).
Fournier and Dacosta connected Tuesday with Chicago Breeze ($4.30), a 4-year-old filly sprinter who won her third straight 2-furlong race (second against males) and is 5 for 7 in her career at the Fort.
• Layne Giliforte, a five-time champion Fort trainer, is only 7 for 31 this year, but stats for 2006 and 2007 combined show that when he rides Robbie King Jr. — last year’s champion jockey and this year’s leader — he wins 31 percent of the time. This year, King has won three times for Giliforte, including Adjalah ($3.60) on Tuesday.
• When apprentice Tyler Pizarro, the leading jockey at Woodbine, has dropped down to ride at Fort Erie this year, he has won 36 percent of the time (14 for 39) and shows a profit of $59.50 on $2 win bets.
• Chad Beckon, who trails King in the standings by just five wins (52 to 47), is especially hot (31 percent in 2006-07) when he rides for Don MacCrae. This year, the pair has combined for seven wins, including Cavalia ($6.30) and Ascot Lass ($6.40) last week.
Fort Erie, of course, isn’t the only place where certain trainer-jockey combinations consistently hit .300 or better.
At Finger Lakes Race Track, when H. James Bond puts John Grabowski aboard, he wins about 52 percent of the time (in 2006-07).
Figures from Saratoga (this year and last) show winning averages over .300 and flat-bet profit rates for the trainerrider combos of William Mott and John Velazquez (.400), John Morrison and Eibar Coa (.400), Thomas Bush and Cornelio Velasquez (.333), Anthony Dutrow and Ramon Dominguez (.333), Christophe Clement and Garrett Gomez (.318), and Richard Dutrow Jr. and Edgar Prado (.302).
The diligent student, equipped with a few issues of the Form, a calculator and a few hours of free time, can come up with a number of other high-percentage combinations. If discovered early enough, they can lead to some really valuable plays.
Remember, at the racetrack, winning just three out of 10 ain’t bad.
CANADIAN DERBY TOMORROW
FROM THE EDMONTON SUN
BY JONATHAN HUNTINGTON
Betting the storyline - not the morning line - is often a good strategy in the Canadian Derby.
And nobody has a better story than Ookashada in tomorrow's 78th Canadian Derby at Northlands Park.
The three-year-old Vancouver import is named after an imaginary monster.
"Dave Harker came up with the name," said Mike Boylan, referring to his fellow co-owner.
"(Harker) and his family used to go camping all the time and it was a mysterious monster that his parents had come up with and used it basically - told them that this monster was from the woods.
"If they didn't behave this monster would come down and get him.
"He grew up knowing this monster name Ookashada.
"Basically it was a legend to him."
If Ookashada wins tomorrow's $300,000 Derby, the gelding will become a legend.
With Post 7 in a seven-horse field, he's 7-2 on the morning-line.
Coming off back-to-back stake wins in Vancouver, Ookashada might even drop lower than that on the odds board come post time at 4:42 p.m.
But there is more to this story than his name and talent.
Trained by Toni and Mark Cloutier, the B.C.-bred runner has attracted significant interests from other investors.
But believe it or not, the current Vancouver ownership trio - which also includes Tony Zitco - turned down an offer of close to $250,000.
Ookashada was bought for just $15,000 as a baby. He enters the Derby with $280,000 in earnings.
"We are not in it for the money," explained Boylan. "We have all got passion for the sport.
"To have a horse this exciting, there is no value you can put on it."
A win tomorrow will bring another $180,000 to the bankroll.
Needless to say, there will be nervous energy flowing right through each owner after making the trip from the West Coast for Edmonton's highlight thoroughbred race.
"Words can't describe it," continued Boylan, who acts as the spokesman for the ownership group. "To get him to the races as a two-year-old is one thing. I have always watched the Canadian Derby and there have been other horses shipped out from Hastings (Park in Vancouver). To have a horse of my own is indescribable."
The last time Ookashada lost was in the Alberta Derby in June. He finished third to Amazin Blue and Footprint - who both return for this tilt.
But the B.C. invader is in better shape two months later, ready to tackle the one-mile and three-eighths marathon distance.
"This time I have some long races under my belt," said Mark Cloutier.
"I think my horse has a lot of confidence. I think he is going to do very well.
"For the bull-ring racetrack (five-eighths of a mile in distance) he has the perfect stalking style."
Now it is up to jockey Pedro Alvarado. If he can win his second Derby in three years, Ookashada's story will get even better.