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Monday, January 07, 2008


TAMMY SAMUEL-BALAZ (left), one of the first ladies of Canadian horse-racing, passed away on Saturday after a battle with cancer. She was 47.
A horse lover, equestrienne, businesswoman and president of Sam-Son Farms (following the passing of her father Ernie Samuel a decade ago), Tammy was a friend to many. She was a director of Woodbine Entertainment and worked with many charities.
She always had kind words to say about her horses and when one was mentioned on THOROUGHBLOG, she was quick to write an email to me.
This year, she mourned the loss of the family's superstar mare DANCE SMARTLY and their Horse of the Year QUIET RESOLVE.
Visitation is tomorrow in Oakville.

This is sad and shocking news. Godspeed to Tammy and family.


BALAZ, Tamara (Tammy) May (nee Samuel)  Tammy passed away peacefully Saturday, January 5, 2008, with her family by her side, after a long, heroic battle with cancer. She was the beloved wife and best friend of Richard M. (Rick) Balaz. Best Mom in the world to Lisa and Michael who love her soooo much. Truly adored daughter of the late Ernest L. and Elizabeth Samuel of Oakville, Ontario. Tammy is deeply loved and cherished by her sister Kim Samuel-Johnson and her daughter Caitlin, her brother Mark Samuel and his children Emma and Griffin. Fondly remembered by her father-in-law and mother-in-law Michael and Magdalene Balaz, sister-in-law Mary Nystrom, her husband Paul and their children Christy, Theresa and Erik, brother-in-law Joseph Balaz, his wife Sue and their children Nicholas and Hailey. Tammy was an accomplished equestrian champion and upon the passing of her father she took over the leadership of Sam-Son Farm, one of North America's leading Thoroughbred breeding and racing operations. Tammy was a director of Woodbine Entertainment Group, The Jockey Club of Canada, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and the Jockey Club of New York. Tammy was also a director of her family's business, Samuel Son & Co., Limited. Tammy's main goal in life and her greatest achievement was to make everyone around her happy. She always put the needs of others before her own. Visitation will take place at Glen Oaks Memorial Chapel, 3164 9th Line, Oakville from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. on Tuesday, January 8. All are welcome. There will be a private family funeral. In lieu of flowers, donations to the cancer care or research organization of your choice would be appreciated.


Frank Stronach has always been skeptical about synthetic tracks – especially the quick move to changing track surfaces with little study.

While he owns Santa Anita, he looks a bit like the smart guy as his prestigious winter meeting has lost 2 days already because heavy rain has messed up the Cushion Track.


“I’m not taking any chances” – Bobby Frankel

Troubles caused by heavy rain and an ongoing drainage problem with the racetrack's new synthetic surface worsen.

By Larry Stewart, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
January 7, 2008

In what is believed to be an unprecedented move, Santa Anita canceled racing for a second consecutive day Sunday as the troubles caused by heavy rain and an ongoing drainage problem with the racetrack's new synthetic surface worsened.

Fans already at the track were informed just before 11:30 a.m. that there would be no live racing, only simulcast racing, and they would get rain checks redeemable on any race day.

The decision to cancel the nine-race card came about an hour after track officials met with a dozen or so jockeys.

"It's inconsistent," said Aaron Gryder after testing the synthetic Cushion Track by galloping a thoroughbred 1 1/4 miles on it, meaning it was considerably softer in some spots than others.

Jockey Mike Smith said a horse is susceptible to injury if the hooves "are sinking in about one inch at one point, then suddenly four inches."

Jockey Tyler Baze tested the track aboard a stable pony and said, "I wouldn't run on this."

A decision regarding the live racing scheduled for today will be made this morning.

George Haines, Santa Anita's general manager, said every effort was being made to get the track ready.

Another reason for canceling Sunday's races was the number of scratches. In all, 39 of the 83 entrants were scratched -- 32 on Sunday morning.

"I'm not taking any chances," said trainer Bobby Frankel, in explaining why he scratched the two horses he planned to run.

Only two horses were left of a 10-horse field to go in the eighth race. And in the featured San Gorgonio Handicap, scheduled as the third race, Wait a Minute and Costume, the two top early-line favorites, were scratched.

Rainouts are commonplace in baseball, but not horse racing.

"I raced here 28 years," said former jockey Eddie Delahoussaye, "and my guess is, maximum, we had five rainouts. And those were usually after one or two races and the jockeys complained about the riding conditions."

No one at the track Sunday could recall there being two days in a row of canceled racing.

The ramifications are far-reaching, meaning lost revenue for the track, horsemen and the state, which gets tax money from the wagering.

Trainer Barry Abrams pointed out another problem.

"I can handle losing two days of racing," he said, "but what I can't handle is not being able to train my horses."

Sunday morning, there were some horses out on the dirt training track inside the turf course, but Abrams said that track is getting beat up by the rain and all the horses using it because of the unavailability of the main track for training. He said he won't put his horses on it.

Abrams also said he and other trainers are exploring the possibility of shipping their horses to Del Mar to train. He said he had already looked into shipping to Hollywood Park but those barns are full.

Richard Shapiro, chairman of the California Horse Racing Board, announced late Saturday that a special teleconference meeting will be held Tuesday to discuss the possibility of holding Santa Anita races at Hollywood Park if the problems at the Arcadia track persist.

But Ron Charles, Santa Anita president, said such a scenario is highly unlikely "unless we get a tremendous amount of rain that doesn't let up for about two weeks."

A larger than usual crowd of horsemen, trainers, jockeys and racing officials gathered at Clockers' Corner at Santa Anita on Sunday morning to inspect the track, wait for word on that day's races, and express opinions, of which there were many.

Some blamed the state racing board and Shapiro for not giving California's major thoroughbred tracks enough time to test and experiment with synthetic tracks before installing them.

Others defended the move toward synthetic tracks, saying it was necessary to make conditions safer for horses and riders.

Jockey Corey Nakatani said, "There is no one to blame here. It's just an unfortunate situation."

Former jockey Gary Stevens said, "My thinking is, when Mother Nature says don't run, you don't run. Canceling a race day is not the end of the world."

Said Delahoussaye: "I don't have an opinion because there is nothing to base it on. We've never had anything like this."


UNTO THE HILLS, a Kentucky-bred owned by Canadians Lou Donato and Mario Forgione, won the first race at Aqueduct yesterday, a starter allowance ($50,000 starters) for her 4th win in 14 starts. Now trained by Mike Hushion, Unto the Hills (Mt. Livermore) raced for Windfields Farms before she was sold to her current interests before a 3rd place finish at Woodbine on Dec. 9.

ROCK HAMPTON did not make the 2007 Queen’s Plate (he did not debut until October 6 at Delaware) but he was a maiden winner in his 4th career start at Aqueduct yesterday in race 3.

A homebred for Eugene Melnyk (bred in Ontario), Rock Hampton is by Storm Cat out of the stakes placed Kingsland by Mr. Prospector and he’s another winner for Melnyk that is trained by Tom Albertrani (the latest Melnyk conditioner).

The colt won by more than 2 lengths in the one-mile contest and he earned an 86 Beyer Figure.

Should be a fun one to watch – bring him up to Woodbine!

Mark Casse sent out a first-timer at Fair Grounds yesterday – an Ontario bred named Seaside View (by Sky Mesa). The filly finished fifth in the maiden allowance at one mile.

At the risk of making a blanket statement: it’s hard to watch a lot of jockeys these days. Many have lost the fine art of riding and are simply reliant on the whip.

Watching races at Turfway yesterday was tough. There was one race with a couple of riders not using their bodies or arms or hands at all, just slashing and flailing in the stretch run (Prescott and Goncalves). Ugly.

At Gulfstream, Canadian bred MANITOBA MISS ran well in her grass debut at the maiden allowance level. The D’Wildcat filly, bred in Ontario by Windways Farm, was 3rd after a steady trip and just a bit of stalling in the late stages.

That old rule about uncoupled entries was in play yesterday in race 5 – two Peter Walder’s and the more likely won one this time. WITHOUT A DOUBT, a very old (9), classy guy, won for $16,000 claiming (he was claimed for $50,000 last year at Gulfstream).

Not sure if a horse needs TURF BREEDING at Gulf. If you can see their galloping stride before, however, that could help. SPOT ME FIVE (Five Star Day out of a Great Above mare) won his grass debut in race 6 as an outside. He had a long, smooth, turf stride but was hard to like on pedigree for first-time turf.

While GULFSTREAM nicked-and dimed me most of yesterday (Pick 3’s paid piddly), CHATAIN was fun to watch. He earned a 100 Beyer when he won the Hal’s Hope yesterday over an average field. Longshots Miner’s Lamp, Actin Good and Yes He’s the Man were 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

In the finale, Tucci Stables’ POET’S DREAM turned things around and was 2nd in a maiden allowance after finishing 10th at Calder last time. She is an El Prado filly who is 0 for 13 so far.

And at Tampa, this guy won for the 2nd time in succession (latest for $16K claiming)…

(allowance, $17,900, 4yo up, 7f, fast, 1:23.45.)

1st—AWESOME ATTITUDE, Ch. g. 5, Awesome Again—Mad ‘bout You, by

Skip Trial. O—Balkrisna Sukharan; B—Adena Springs (On.); T—Jamie

Ness. 13-4-1-3, $63,616. $25,000 2005 ADSSPR.


  • At 9:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is terrible news. This lady was all class, just like her father.

  • At 12:44 PM, Anonymous TerriR said…

    I heard about her passing from a friend of hers yesterday. Very sad indeed. She was a class act.

  • At 1:18 PM, Anonymous LAKEAYS said…

    Members of the Canadian Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding community have lost a most significant ambassador and enthusiast with the passing of Tammy Samuel-Balaz. I sincerely hope that her family is somewhat comforted by the respect and admiration that is felt by many in this industry for her contribution.

  • At 7:45 PM, Blogger James Perron said…

    Truly a major loss to one the pioneers and great representatives of the Canadian racing industry. Far too young.

  • At 11:59 AM, Blogger jumba said…

    I put Seaside View in my stable mail. She broke beautifully and was checked at one point and she never seemed to recover after that. Should be a nice price next time out.


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