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Tuesday, March 11, 2008


At CURRAGHMORE FARM in Waterdown, Ontario CONISTON and STRATHAIRD are training in the deep snow as they ready for Woodbine's opening day on April 5. Curraghmore, owned by Vera Simpson, has a lovely website (see its link on the right side on my sidebar).
More pix from Curraghmore and others to come, keep sending the mail!


Yesterday I re-printed a story about STEVE ASMUSSEN, the world’s leading trainer by wins, that the Times-Picayune ran. Woodbine is the latest track for Asmussen, who has already won 142 races this year from more than 500 starters.

It is known that the trainer was denied stalls last year by Woodbine, although the trainer did race a few horses including eventual Canadian champion 2-year-old colt KODIAK KOWBOY.

At the time, Asmussen was returning to work from a lengthy suspension and Woodbine elected not to accept his stall application.

A year has passed and Asmussen is being welcomed not just by the track but by horsemen.

Whatever is your view, certainly the fields will be bigger with the Asmussen horses, the racing more interesting and challenging to handicap.

Two-time Sovereign Award winner MARK CASSE wrote THOROUGHBLOG a letter yesterday:

"The success of the Canadian outfits in New Orleans and Miami this winter has made it evident that Canadian racing has become stronger. Adding Steve Asmussen to the Woodbine training roster will make it become even stronger. Not only will it make for better racing, but it will add to a bigger North American day to day interest, which furthermore leads to increased wagering and bigger purses for all involved.

I have read some narrow minded comments suggesting that Canadian owners and trainers will be negatively impacted by adding forces from the US- affecting their potential income. Let us expand our focus and clearly see that many Canadian outfits compete every winter in the United States including various races throughout the year. All of this without any negativity- just because of their being Canadian. Did anyone complain when Dance Smartly won the Breeder's Cup or Jambalaya winning the Arlington Million- to then bring their purses back to Canada?

The bottom line is that the more competitive that racing becomes- the more interest that it attracts and thus overall, benefiting all involved. Looking forward to Woodbine having the best meet ever in 2008."

Mark Casse


A big weekend coming up for Kentucky Derby hopefuls - WAR PASS, DENIS OF CORK, GEORGIE BOY.

The CHICAGO SPORTS REVIEW ( has a preview:

Three Preps Will Thin Traffic on Road to the Roses

BY Greg Melikov

Three Kentucky Derby preps should thin the ranks of hopefuls aiming for the grand 3-year-old prize on the first Saturday in May.

The major player in Saturday's $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby is 2007 Breeders' Cup juvenile champ War Pass, who sent the Sam F. Davis Stakes winner scurrying north to Oaklawn Park for the $300,000 Rebel Stakes.

Fierce Wind, victorious at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 16, left South Florida for Arkansas and faces Denis of Cork, who stayed in Hot Springs after taking the Southwest Stakes. Fierce Wind went four furlongs in a bullet 49 seconds at the Palm Meadows Training Center on March 7 while Denis of Cork breezed five furlongs in 1:01 on Sunday.

Smooth Air, who breezed a mile in 1:45 3/5 at Calder Race Course on Sunday after running third in the Sam Davis, is among several challengers hoping to derail War Pass.

War Pass posted an easy 7 1/2-length victory in an allowance contest on the Fountain of Youth Stakes card Feb. 24 at Gulfstream Park.

Nick Zito's trainee cruised the mile in 1:36 1/5 after FOY winner Cool Coal Man battled Elysium Fields down the stretch, covering that distance in the same time before prevailing by a half-length at 1:50 for the 1 1/8 miles.

War Pass on March 6 breezed five furlongs in 1:01 4/5 on a good track at Palm Meadows.

The son of Cherokee Run is taking the same path as last year's Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, who also captured the BC Juvenile. Street Sense nosed out favored Any Given Saturday in the Grade 3 event, setting the Tampa Bay Downs track record for 1 1/16 miles - 1:43.

Both colts battled head-to-head down the stretch, brushing several times in close quarters, but the son of Street Cry got a short advantage inside the eighth pole and prevailed.

War Pass will be heavily favored. His staunchest rival likely will be the Steve Asmussen trainee Z Fortune, runner-up to stablemate Pyro in the Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 9.

A good omen for the son of Siphon is Pyro's impressive three-length triumph on March 9 in the $600,000 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds. Z Fortune, who captured the Lecomte Stakes on Jan. 9, posted a bullet 1:13 3/5 for six furlongs on March 1.

Conditioner Todd Pletcher sends out Atoned, who hasn't started since losing by a neck to Court Vision in the Remsen Stakes last fall at Aqueduct. The son of Repent was a busy 2-year-old, winning two of seven outings that included Monmouth Park's Continental Mile.

Pletcher also plans to run Face the Cat in the 1 1/16-mile Rebel. The son Tale of the Cat broke his maiden on Jan. 4 at Gulfstream and 26 days later recorded a four-length triumph in a mile allowance contest.

Another contender is Sierra Sunset, runner-up in the Southwest after being overtaken by Denis of Cork.

Across the country at Santa Anita Park, the $200,000 San Felipe Stakes shapes up as a two-horse race between Georgie Boy and Bob Black Jack.

Georgie Boy is coming off a 3 1/4-length victory in the San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 10. The son of Tribal Rule was just one-fifth of a second off the track record of 1:20 for seven furlongs in his sophomore debut.

The California-bred gelding, who defeated the favored Into Mischief, posted a bullet work of 1:23 3/5 handily for seven furlongs at Hollywood Park on March 1.

Six-furlong world record holder Bob Black Jack drilled five furlongs in a minute on Sunday at Santa Anita where he won the Sunshine Millions Dash in a dazzling 1:06 2/5 on Jan. 26.

Both 3-year-olds are going for their third straight victory, but neither has traveled longer than seven-eighths of a mile. Saturday's race is 1 1/16 miles.

LYNCH MOB – Woodbine based trainer continues roll


Stronach Stables and Brian Lynch, its Woodbine-based trainer, won another race yesterday with the Florida-bred colt GHOST HOUR, an allowance winner on turf. The colt is out of the Canadian stakes winning mare DARK HOURS.

Lynch is 11 for 31 this year (35% wins).

On THURSDAY, Lynch sends out Woodbine Oaks contender MONEY MY HONEY (82 Beyer from maiden score) in a a 1 1 /8 mile allowance race.

Fort Erie-based trainer STACEY COOPER continues on a good roll at Mountaineer Park (4 for 15 this year) as she saddled the gritty fellow PRINCELY PICKLE to a win yesterday. The Kentucky bred gelding outfinished Les Frost’s Woodbine based gelding Hope on the Run to win.


Prince of Wales winner ALEZZANDRO spun a half mile at Payson Park yesterday for trainer Kevin Attard. The big High Yield colt went in 50 3/5/


(excerpt from The Blood-Horse)

Gulfstream Park reported its all-sources pari-mutuel handle is down about 5% and on-track handle off 30% year-to-date through early March.

Track president and general manager Bill Murphy, during a March 8 meeting with the media, cited the economy and weather in and outside Florida for the declines. He said the on-track handle figure would be up about 7% from 2007 if on-track bets were combined with handle from the simulcast of Gulfstream races at nearby Calder Race Course and The Isle Racing & Casino at Pompano Park.


Gary Malski’s JUST LE FACTS (9-years-old) finished 10th of 11 in a $5,000 claimer at Philadelphia Park yesterday. If you are not familiar with his story, you can do a SEARCH (up top of my site) and put in his name in the bar. Also, the wrote the following opinion piece after the New York Post wrote about the gelding:

“Recently Just Le Facts failed to finish two races he was in at Philadelphia Park, both times being eased. Equibase had put Broke Down in the comments, but later changed that to eased after finding out he would be able to run in New York. He worked well enough for New York track vets to let him run on the 28th where he finished dead last in a 16G Claimer. He sported two quick works. Regardless of this, one would have to doubt all involved as to why you would bring him back, a 9-year-old horse on 3 days rest that has obvious physical issues and was recently eased in back to back starts? And then runs last just 3 days ago? Why would a trainer put a horse and a jockey at risk in this situation, and why would the NYRA permit this to happen? Why would a jockey even want to ride this horse considering the circumstances?

At one time Just Le Facts was a decent claimer and allowance horse at Monmouth Park who won his share of races, a solid campaigner under the care of Dennis Manning at the time. Just Le Facts won the Grade III $100,000 Red Bank on May 23,2003 in an off the turf event in front running style at Monmouth Park. Oddly enough the win was off a 10-month layoff. The Red Bank win was later down graded to a non-graded event. That was 5 years ago. Considering he is a 9 year old who has only raced 37 times. That?s a little over 5 starts per year since racing age. Also indicating physical issues. Since then he has been going downward all the way to New York?s bottom barrel level of 7.5G. Trainer Osvadlo Rojas and the owners Finish Line Farms saw fit to run him on 3 days rest despite all these disturbing facts. Not considering the well being of the horse, jockey and the rest of jockeys and horses in the race.

Needless to say he did cross the finish line, next to last. He ran poorly as expected. The public was also bamboozled here. This is a situation that should not have occurred. The public also is a victim of this poor decision on NYRA?s part to permit this horse to run back on the 3 days rest or maybe to run at all. People did play this horse. The NYRA needs to protect the player as well here. This horse had no reasonable chance to even be competitive in this race. Again why would he be permitted to race? Just Le Facts best days are well behind him. He needs a new home on a farm. He earned his stripes a racehorse in his long career. He deserves better then this. The betting public also deserves better. The NYRA and everyone involved in thoroughbred racing needs to examine this particular situation.”


  • At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's funny that Mark Casse cites there being no complaint when Dance Smartly won the Breeders Cup Distaff and Jambalaya won the Arlington Million. Are those not races that promote international flavour every year? The problem with Asmussen is not going to be the stake races he will win, but the large number of claiming races he is going to dominate. Don't get comments from Mark Casse who has two of the largest Canadian owners supporting him. Ask some of the smaller trainers such as England, Parente, and Armada how they feel about it?

  • At 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    There are pros and cons to everything.It is true that Woodbine's profile and that of Canadian racing will be improved, but the fact is that it is another case of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer,and Steve Asmussen is going to be getting stalls that would have gone to a few small operators who may now lose their living.Mark Casse is very successful already so he will not be affected negatively but some people will be.It is no different from the big chain stores taking over and small shopkeepers going out of business.
    Being a bit of a socialist,myself,it saddens me.It is a natural progression in a Capitalist society,but is it really a good thing?
    Not for some people!

  • At 9:56 AM, Anonymous Cangamble said…

    As long as Woodbine doesn't give any preference to Canadian or Ontario bred horses with state bred races, our inferior horses will have to face superior American bred claimers who are naturally attracted to the higher purses Ontario has to offer.
    I'm surprised trainers like Asmussen haven't shown up sooner.
    From a gambling standpoint, Asmussen horses turn me off because I am a value bettor, and just like in the days when Passero used to claim them for 40k and drop them in for 10k, value horses don't win as much as they would without these types of trainers. Casse too, when dropping one in makes handicappers have to guess a lot more than we need to (how sore is the dropper?), and again in the end it just creates smaller bets or races to pass.

  • At 10:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Let's go back to the days of fairness when no trainer was alloted more than 28 stalls. Now the maximum is 45 which is too many for any one interest.
    I don't believe any other track, excluding training centers, allows a trainer to take up that much space.
    There might be a few more to go around!

  • At 10:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Most of the horse people have no problems with new faces. As long as WEG and the stall man doesnt forget the people who have been there through thick and thin. Like when non winners of a other than ran for a purse of $28,000. Every sport needs new blood and horse racing is no different just as long as you dont forget those you passed going up. Someday you may need them again.

  • At 12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I heard that Jennifer Morrison is making an appearance on HPItv's Starting Gate show tomorrow to discuss the Queens Plate winter book odds.

  • At 3:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I fact, Jen's appearance is now scheduled for Sunday.

  • At 3:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The last time I looked when a stall application is submitted you have to list which horses you plan to bring including age and the level they will or you expect them to compete at. I'm sure that is a factor when stalls are assigned. I'm sure woodbine is trying to maintain or increase the quality of horses racing. Perhaps the trainers being cut don't have the same quality of horses as others. Perhaps the reason our Canadian horses are doing better in the states is because our racing is becoming more on a par to racing in the states. Let's not forget that Fort Erie is struggling perhaps if owners and trainers were more realistic about the quality of their horses they might send more of them to Fort Erie and support that track as well. I think if the open races become tougher more people will invest in and breed more quality Ontario sired or Ontario/Canadian bred horses thereby helping our Canadian industry.

  • At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Cangamble said…

    I think if the open races become tougher more people will invest in and breed more quality Ontario sired or Ontario/Canadian bred horses thereby helping our Canadian industry.
    This makes no sense whatsoever.
    If breeders and buyers of Ontario bred horses had more outs, like restricted Ontario foaled claiming races, then more people would buy Ontario bred horses.
    Right now the incentive is to bring in better bred high claimers bred in states like Kentucky.

  • At 6:00 PM, Anonymous woodbinechalk said…

    i think it's great that asmussen is coming to toronto. he is another solid trainer and only further enhances the already great quality of racing in toronto. yes he is an outstanding trainer, but he is not simply going to walk in a steal everyone's money. he will have to earn just like everyone else. perhaps he might even buy/claim a few ontario-sired or plate eligible horses which is great for the local breeders. claiming horse off these big outfits seems to be profitable and popular among these smaller trainers.

    also wouldn't it be something if we could wager on the cheltenham festival???

  • At 11:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    my view on this whole asmussen thing is similiar to mark casse...bring in trainers big or small from anywhere as long as they are willing to support our racing here and abide by the rules it shouldn't matter where they are from or who they are...the u.s. tracks welcomes canadian trainers and's a business and growth is for the smaller trainers they are givin the same oppurtunity as any other trainer...winning races is what they must do...i hve been friends for many years with parente the trainer and know that he loves to see the sport grow like this..we all should...

  • At 2:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Re: what Cangamble said

    Your right that doesn't make sense applied to claiming races, I was thinking more allowance races.
    Although I thought the whole point of claiming races was to even out the races and prevent better bred horses that are worth more from competing against horses that are worth less. Your supposed to run the horse at the level it's worth if a horse can't win or be close for $40,000 then it's not worth $40,000. Personally I think they should eliminate the B allowance races and have ontario foaled allowance races. They could change the purse structure so that for example maiden allowences would have purses of 60k for open horses, 50K for ontario foaled and 40k for ontario sired. It's the same amount of purse money for the 3 types of allowancce races we have now but I think it is distributed better and a better way to value our horses.

  • At 3:38 AM, Blogger the_drake said…

    Just about every State bred program out there offers State Bred claiming races, this isn't a foreign idea and would make Ontario Bred foals even more attractive. Taking money away from Restricted Allowance races makes no sense and encourages people to buy US bred horses to bring up here, the complete opposite of what we are trying to do.
    In a way Assmussen and other aggressive high percentage trainers may lead people to actually realize how valuable an Ontario Sired and or Bred horse can be and start paying proper money for them at the sales. Once their US bred horses aren't winning at the same clip they did in years past. Maybe owners and trainers will look at focusing more on the gold mine that is the Ontario Sired program.

  • At 9:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks very much for making the Cheltenham Gold Cup available.....I heard it live but to see it was really the icing on the cake......not sure if the term hurdle should be in the title it was a steeplechaser not a hurdler who was victorious.....


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