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Thursday, March 13, 2008


UPDATE: 10:21 A.M. - Multiple Canadian champion JUDITHS WILD RUSH competes in an allowance race today at Aqueduct. The 7-year-old horse meets up with Canadian-bred EXPLOSIVE HEAT, a 6-time winner, and stakes winner ANGLIANA.

BLOG POLL - Thanks to those who sent emails in from Canterbury Downs and Saskatoon to say 'hello'. Please fill in the Poll at the right on my sidebar.

BACK TO WORK! Princess Elizabeth Stakes winner MRS. BEGAN powers through a prep at Palm Meadows recently under jockey JIM MCALENEY, who has been getting in riding form in Florida. Mrs. Began is trained by Reade Baker. (Thanks to for the photo)

WELCOME!!: Here's a bay colt who is checking out the world since his arrival a couple of days ago. He is by LEMON DROP KID out of multiple winner VAGANOVA, a Nureyev mare.

(Thanks to Dan Steeves/Vicki Pappas for photo.)


SOCIETY’S CHAIRMAN, making his first career start at the age of 5, won his career debut at Gulfstream yesterday at 25 to 1 in a 1 1/16 mile turf race

Charles Fipke owns the son of the late stallion NOT IMPOSSIBLE (full brother to Perfect Soul).

The horse ran fast, ,1:39 4/5.

A $31,000 (US) Canadian sale yearling bred by Errol Bailey and sold by Richard Hogan, agent, Society’s Chairman is out of a half-sister to Canadian International Stakes winner Hodges Bay.

AT MOUNTAINEER yesterday, Debra Rombis scored with LAUNCH CODE in an $18,500 allowance race in the mud. The Golden Missile-Roaring Blaze, Roar, geding was winning for the 6th time and he’s a Canadian bred from Adena Springs North.

Prince of Wales Stakes winner ABLO was 3rd in the race.




War Pass facing a small field

Unbeaten colt just one of three in Tampa Derby

By TIM WILKIN, Staff writer
First published: Wednesday, March 12, 2008

War Pass's second step to the Kentucky Derby comes Saturday when the undefeated colt runs in the Tampa Bay Derby. And it looks like no one else wants to run against last year's Juvenile champion.

As of Tuesday afternoon, only two others -- Big Truck and Atoned -- were signed up to run in the Grade III, $300,000 Tampa Derby, which will be at 1 /16 miles. Last year a field of seven was entered in a race that was highlighted by the top two finishers, Street Sense and Any Given Saturday.

"We are a little concerned about that," War Pass owner Robert LaPenta said about competition ducking his horse. "But we know no one is better at preparing a horse for the (Kentucky) Derby than Nick Zito."

Zito, who won the Derby in 1991 and 1994, isn't getting worried about anything. Like always, he says he only frets about his horse. So far he hasn't had to do much of that at all.

War Pass has won all five of his starts in front-running, dominating fashion. In his short career, he has never been behind a horse.

War Pass opened his season with a 7-length win in a mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 24. He didn't face much.

"I've heard people talk about his comeback race," Zito said Tuesday by phone from Florida. "Anyone who knows anything about horse racing understands. What does it matter who he runs against? You saw how he looked. It wasn't a stakes race, and he did what he was supposed to do."

Zito doesn't seem to care if there are two other horses in the Tampa Bay starting gate or 10. He is confident in War Pass -- confident he will get better and get Zito the Kentucky Derby on May 3.

"He's undefeated right now, and I think he is a special horse. ... I don't have any other explanation than that," Zito said. "He is a tremendous horse, and he has taken care of everyone he was supposed to take care of. I love the horse."

When Zito leads the son of Cherokee Run over on Saturday, he will get nervous -- he always does.

After that race, there will be one more on War Pass' schedule before the Derby, the Wood Memorial on April 5 at Aqueduct.

"We still have two months to go for the Derby," Zito said. "So it's still a lot of blah, blah, blah. Right or wrong?"

Dirt is big deal at Oaklawn

By Harry King

LITTLE ROCK - When it comes to preparing a thoroughbred for the Kentucky Derby, a four-letter word elevates
Oaklawn Park above Keeneland and Santa Anita.

It's d-i-r-t. You know the substance, add water to make mudpies.

Lexington, Ky., the horses run on Polytrack, a mixture of silica sand, rubber, fibers and wax. At Arcadia, Calif., it's called Cushion Track, which is similar to Polytrack except that officials had to add polymers and fibers in early February after the surface failed to drain following major rains and Santa Anita lost 11 days of racing.

Louisville, the Derby is on d-i-r-t at Churchill Downs.

The subject comes up this week because some 3-year-olds with
Derby potential will take to the Oaklawn surface Saturday to compete in the $300,000 Rebel. Three of the last four years, the Rebel winner has gone on to win the Arkansas Derby and two of those horses won three Triple Crown races.

For this one day, thoroughbreds are a welcome diversion from trying to identify the No. 11 seed in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament. On Wednesday, that just happened to be
Arkansas in one man's opinion.

Like the NCAA, the Rebel has had a bubble horse. His name is Denis of Cork, and he's officially out of the race. Ever since he won the Southwest at Oaklawn on Feb. 9, there has been some waffling on the next race for the unbeaten colt.

On Tuesday, trainer David Carroll told a teleconference that Denis of Cork's only race prior to the Kentucky Derby would be in either
New York or Illinois on April 5, a week before the Arkansas Derby. His horse is on the skinny side, one of those that has trouble maintaining his weight, and this way he'll have 28 days prior to Louisville instead of 21.

Until recently, such a sparse campaign would have been viewed as insufficient preparation. But last year, Street Sense won the Kentucky Derby with only two prep races - a victory on the dirt at
Tampa and a second-place finish on that stuff at Keeneland.

Despite the departure of Denis, the Rebel is significant because Z Fortune is in the field.

He is the No. 2 Derby prospect in the barn of Steve Asmussen. No. 1 is Pyro, who is at the top of the most recent poll by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

Pyro won the Louisiana Derby by three lengths last week. In his three previous races, including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, he finished behind
War Pass, No. 2 on the list and winner of a race last month in Florida.

Following the Louisiana Derby, Asmussen said he would send Pyro to Keeneland. He cited the all-weather track, but such a move would avoid another head to head like the one in early February when Pyro bested Z Fortune by two lengths.

Nick Zito, who trains
War Pass and Cool Coal Man, is likely to try and get a line on one of his lesser lights and Z Fortune by entering a horse in the Rebel. Todd Pletcher might do the same.

"This is that time of year when they all start coming out of the woodwork," Zito assistant Tim Poole said recently.

Z Fortune is an intriguing sort, particularly in light of assessments by the record-setting Asmussen and Garrett Gomez, the Eclipse Award-winning jockey who went through the eighth grade at
Lake Hamilton High School and is returning to Hot Springs to ride the colt.

Asmussen sent Z Fortune to Oaklawn last week.

"I want him to have confidence on that track, so I want him to have his final work there," the trainer told Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form.

Mentally, Pyro is far ahead of Z Fortune, Asmussen said. The latter, he said, "has no idea how good he's going to be."

In early February, after Z Fortune took the lead and then was run down by Pyro, Gomez compared the colt to a big kid. We've all seen athletes like that, those who put it on cruise when their team goes in front with a few minutes to play.

If Z Fortune can be as good as Asmussen thinks, the maturation process should begin Saturday at
Oaklawn Park.

(RIGHT) EYE ON YOU: In the snow recently, horses are training and getting ready for Woodbine. Here, APPLEBY has his neck bowed at Curraghmore Farm.


Canada’s champion 2-year-old colt of 2007, KODIAK KOWBOY, makes his 3-year-old debut tomorrow at Oaklawn Park in a 6 furlong allowance/optional claiming race. The Fox Hill-Vinery colt, trained by Steve Asmussen, is headed to races like the King’s Bishop Stakes at Saratoga this summer and will be kept at shorter distances.


A colt from the first crop of the sire SEATTLE FITZ out of the Whiskey Wisdom mare WHISKEY BABE sold for $600,000 at the Barretts 2yo sale yesterday on the west coast.

WHISKEY BABE (out of Book Babe, by Alydeed) won one of 7 starts and $12,000 and she was a Kentucky bred.


(from the TORONTO STAR)


It's clear tourism in Ontario faces major challenges, one reason Greg Sorbara was tabbed to run another study to confirm what seems readily apparent. Both Sorbara and tourism minister Peter Fonseca this week made speeches about Ontario needing to offer something new and exciting to draw travellers.

So here's the answer: sports gambling done properly. Seriously.

Get the feds to change the criminal code as it relates to single-game betting and let it rip across the country. Build large, Las Vegas-style race and sports books, the way the biggest casinos on the LV Strip have them – and where the amount of money bet is beginning to rival that taken in at the tables.

If you could bet sports the way everyone wants to bet sports – one game at a time, rather than the silly three-team parlays required by Ontario, among other provinces – these joints would be jammed with people betting on hockey, baseball, basketball and football. Tourists would flock. You can't get a hotel room in Las Vegas on Super Bowl weekend or when NCAA March Madness is rolling. People love to bet and will travel to do it.

Set up gigantic sportsbooks. Put one at Woodbine, where they're still trying to get that $350 million fun-city project off the ground, and another at Exhibition Place. Put them in Windsor and Niagara Falls. On NFL weekends you wouldn't be able to move. While the bettors were here, they might like their hotel, or find a couple of good restaurants or a nice golf course.

This idea also would get sports gambling out of the corner stores, where it is being pitched to underage kids, and into a controlled environment. You don't see any kids in the sportsbooks in Vegas.

Legalizing this one more form of gambling also would provide the government with many billions in revenue, rather than let it all escape through the Internet to offshore joints in the Caribbean or, worse, to sites run out of that Mohawk reserve near Montreal. Already, billions of dollars in worldwide Internet gambling takes place there with zero return to our governments.

Meanwhile, stupid games like Ontario's Pro-Line, which pay out a tiny fraction of what they should, are fighting a losing battle to Internet sites. So are racetracks, which cannot compete with websites that have zero overhead.

Let the government legalize and regulate the gambling, as was done in the U.K. a few years ago, and watch the money roll in. Put that revenue into sports programs for amateurs and kids and put it into the professional events, the car races and such, if it's really necessary.

Gambling is both the largest industry in the world now and also the largest growth industry. It cannot be stopped, no matter what out-of-touch lawmakers think about banning Internet betting sites and credit card access and so on. Likewise, the moral horse long ago left the barn; our province shamelessly hucksters all forms of gambling as a source of revenue.

Absolutely, social costs are part of the cost of doing business, but here's news: Kids who get hooked on Internet poker and develop a problem (and plenty do) are going to be looking for treatment, some of them, and guess who's going to pay for that? The same province watching shrinking revenues from sports betting and racetracks because they don't have the smarts to compete on a world scale.

It's an easy call at this point. Open it up, run it correctly and take the percentage that now flies away on the Internet. You'll have tourists beating down the border trying to get in and play their favourite teams, too.


  • At 9:13 AM, Anonymous steve said…

    Yeah, that's exactly what we need, more gambling opportunities to completely suck the last remaining pennies from people who just don't understand that the only winners are the operators and the government. The real effect on gambling will be seen in about 20-25 years where not only will more people be on welfare, but their kids will have learned that gambling is an acceptable way to spend more money(that you probably don't have) and that the risks and consequences are never weighed. The ordeal will be far greater when everyone figures out that it is an addiction and not a sport!

  • At 12:25 PM, Anonymous Cangamble said…

    Steve, no doubt that gambling, drugs and alcohol have ruined many a family, but there is no way to stop it.
    Most people gamble moderately enough, or drink moderately enough that it never is a big problem.
    But with respect to internet gambling coming to Canada, look at the options available now. Internet horse racing through WEG, Pro-line, Slot machines, full casinos, and lets not forget lottery tickets available just about on every street corner.
    The idea of allowing a company to set up in Canada will just get lost tax dollars to stay here.
    It should be legal as should prostitution and pot.
    Why lose the tax dollars for things Canadians engage in and will engage in no matter what the penalty is.
    As for the government making the money, sure it does. But that money comes back to create jobs and pay for welfare bums.

  • At 12:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Jennifer...your headline is incorrect...Perkins does not think internet betting should be expanded...he says that facilities should be built(like a Vegas sportsbook) throughout the province to take single bet wagers...unlike the 3 game pro line ticket...he (and correctly so) say that all the gambling money is going off shore through the internet...why not keep the money in Canada.

  • At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Cangamble said…

    Anon, Perkins article says open it up. If you want the share that Canadians are betting on the internet, you have to open up betting on the internet.
    And it has to be done at completely competitive odds that one can get elsewhere. In other words, it can't be run the way WEG runs horse racing right now.


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