Canadian trainers MALCOLM PIERCE (2 stakes win at Keeneland this weekend) and NICK GONZALEZ, (3 stakes wins at Woodbine already this spring) are among the hottest horsemen in North America...
Photos above - Pierce student STERWINS at Fair Grounds earlier this spring , taken by Vanessa Ng. Keeneland.com has this pic on its site of DANCEROFTHEREALM, a Great Britain bred trained by Pierce, winning another stakes race, one day before Sterwins took the Ben Ali (photo by Z, from Keeneland Association).
Lots of big news in Canadian racing from this weekend - the HOT CANADIAN BRED LIST has changed a bit (see my rankings at right).
One reader asked where Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk - he had been at the bottom of the list but dropped when he ran a 60 Beyer at Gulfstream.
The list is not just a Beyer Figure list but a stakes class, Beyer Figure, etc.list...
STERWINS TAKES GRADE 3 AT KEENELAND IN POLY DEBUT (with files from keeneland.com) Scores at 13 to 1, "Leo' finishes 4th
Canadian-bred STERWINS made a successful switch from turf to Polytrack Sunday at Keeneland to win the $150,000, Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes for four-year-olds and upward.
His Beyer Figure according to Daily Racing From was 103.
It was the first start on a surface other than grass since December of 2006 for the five-year-old Canadian-bred son of Runaway Groom. He charged from off the pace to upset heavily favored Go Between.
Sterwins,a dirt winner, had been racing on the grass since late 2006. He won a stakes race in December in Fair grounds but had nibbled in big turf races at Fair Grounds since then.
“He’s always trained good over the Polytrack,” said winning trainer Malcolm Pierce. “We were just waiting for one of those turf races to get rained off one day, but it just never happened. We ended up entering him in here and taking a shot.”
Last of six in the early stages of the 1 1/8-mile race, Sterwins rallied on the outside under Shaun Bridgmohan, took the lead in midstretch and pulled away by 3 ¼ lengths at the finish.
Go Between, who brought a win in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic and a second in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) into the Ben Ali, took second. He was 1 ¼ lengths ahead of third-place Sir Whimsey, the winner of the Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2).
Sterwins ran the distance in 1:48.53 on the fast track and paid $28.80, $7.20 and $4 as the 13-1 sixth choice. Owned by Melnyk Racing Stables, the winner improved his record to six wins in 17 starts and increased his career earnings to $552,726.
“He’s one of those horses that always makes a nice run at the end,” said Bridgmohan. “Thanks to Malcolm; he told me to get him (Sterwins) to the outside when I go to make that move, and it made all the difference in the world.”
Champion Canadian-bred Leonnatus Anteas finished 4th.
STERWINS is out of Sweet Vale, an unplaced mare who has a 3yo of this year called Cliff Cottage and a 4yo, Steward Hill.
MAKING QUITE A LIST MY LIST OVERCOMES apparent speed bias to win, GONZALEZ leading trainer
Trainer NICK GONZALEZ is in the midst of a dream spring. Gonzalez and wife Martha collected their 3rd stakes win of the young season in the WHIMSICAL (grade 3) yesterday with Tucci Stables' MY LIST.
The Banker's Gold Kentucky bred was the last to move at the hot pace 9set by marina Ballerina and a very brave Shot Gun Ella) and nabbed BEAR NOW, the heavy favourite, at the wire. Shot Gun Ella was 3rd.
My List earned a 90 Beyer Figure.
The Polytrack at Woodbine seemed to be strongly favouring speed all day - cheaper runners who went 22 flat on the pace in the last race almost won....but MY LIST was one of the lone closing, winners.
My List has improved steadily since she was a 2yo.
Last year she won 3 of 11 races and ended the season with her first stakes win in the Bessarabian.
The filly was originally a $1,200 yearling purchase and was bought as part of a package from Gonzalez by the Tucci family.
"I bought the filly just for a joke - for $1,200 - for my wife
(assistant trainer Martha)," said Gonzalez. "I sold her to (Tucci Stables) and I'm glad I did. They were nice enough to let us keep training her. Two years and almost a half million dollars later, thing have been good for everybody connected."
The victory elevated My List's career earnings to $443,265. She is now
"She was there to win today," said winning rider Eurico Rosa da Silva,
who was also aboard for the Bessarabian performance. "When you go six
furlongs there is always a lot of speed. The way the speed was today, I
preferred to stay (off the pace) with her because I knew she'd make a
good move. She ran a big race."
Gonzalez, who also won the La Voyageuse with Shilla, and the
Achievement Stakes with Stuck In Traffic, can't explain the impact of
the 'Da Silva factor' on Kentucky-bred My List.
"It's one of those intangible things about racing. You don't understand
why they work, but they work," he explained. "(Eurico) was our
substitute rider a couple of times when other riders had taken other
calls. He won a stake with us with Artie Hot and with My List. We
weren't going to take him off either horse. He got the job done today."
My List wintered in Ontario, under the care of Martha Gonzalez. Going
into the Whimsical, the stable was confident it had a nice
"There was really no reason, when we saw how she matured from three to
four, that we didn't think she could be just as good, if not better,
this year," he added. "She was always a good-sized filly, but mentally
she's gotten a lot better.
"Today wasn't her best distance. She was having trouble getting up
going three-quarters last year. When she goes a little farther, she'll
still be good, too," said Gonzalez, perhaps referring to the filly's
next dance, the 6 1/2-furlong Hendrie Stakes (May 11).
For Gonzalez, he's right back next weekend with SHILLA in the Fury Stakes...
The 2yo's trained by WESLEY WARD at Keeneland and heavily bet and romp.
So how could home homebred filly MY SWEET NATALIE be 5 to 1 yesterday at Woodbine when she met some other gals and colts in a 2 furlong race?
The daughter of BRING THE HEAT (remember that 2yo filly he sired last year..she set a world record at Keeneland in her debut) was long gone.
Gerry Olguin was the rider.
Fillies finished 1-2-3 in the dash as the Steve Asmussen miss Fanci Candi (Wertaloona) was 2nd and the Roar of the Tiger gal Can'tstopthiscat was 3rd.
The 4 to 5 choice DUBLIN LANE, a colt by 1st crop sire Alke, galloped out smartly.
RONNY WERNER sent up a horse to Woodbine too and collected the bulk of a $66,000 purse. The maiden filly CAPE OF BRADFORD sped to the lead and coasted home over a charging Athean's Gift to win the 5 1/2 furlong race in her 2nd career start.
The daughter of Cape Town was just a $14,000 yearling purchase.
MISS DOROTHY put her class on display when winning the 1st race in front runing fashion as the second favourite. The 6yo Stormin Fever mare was diving down in class for her season debut (she was blanked in 9 races in 2007) and she romped under Na Somsanith.
The mare won 5 of 11 races in 2006 but as is often the case with claiming horses, bounced off the big year last season when racing in very tough events.
She is owned by Gary Wellwood and L. Titchner and trained by Scott Fairlie.
Later, Fairlie sent out class dropping SPRINGLEDGE to a front running win for $12,500 for Norseman Racing.Like Miss Dorothy, the mare did not win last year and thus she was dropped in class seeking an edge.
The Fairlie-Somsanith team tried to steal the 2nd race too, for $19K non-winners of 3, but BOLD CORREDOR, who won his 2008 opener 8 days previous, could not last the 7 furlongs on the pace. The winner was BLUELICK, who suddenly got into winning form late last year after 13 tries to win his maiden. He won 2 of his last 4 for Bill Pearce and Norm DeSouza, the latter who took over the training of the Exploit gelding in December.
Incredibly, the gelding was bet down to 5 to 2 from his 12 to morning line...!
First-timer FRISKY WHISKEY over the rail post and challenges inside and outside while on the pace to win his debut in race 4 for Ontario-sired maiden allowance 3yo's. The Whiskey Wisdom colt out of Wookin Good by Bold 'n Flashy was bred by George Ledson and he is owned and trained by Laurie Silvera.
The colt was well prepared to break sharply and put others away on the pace.
It was easy for him to hold off DRUNKEN LOVE in the stretch. That gelding,also by Whiskey Wisdom, is becoming a bizarre bridesmaid. His season debut yesterday was the 5th time he had been 2nd in his 6th career start.
Apparently the Jam Jar homebred ICE MAKER was taking a big edge in race 5. The gelding raced just once in 2007, 3rd at 5 furlongs for $20,000, and was unplaced in one outing in February of this year.
He sped to the lead and held on to win at 7 furlongs yesterday for $10,000 for trainer John Ross.
The very fast STARTICUS held on by a tiny nose to win race 9 under Corey Fraser. The Atticus 4yo won the allowance race in 1:03 in his season debut for Danny Lococo and trained Ralph Biamonte. It was his 2nd win in his 5th start.
WOODBINE SCOREBOARD - TRAINERS
Nicholas Gonzalez 17 5 1 1 $336,442
Reade Baker 18 4 2 1 $216,801
Sid C. Attard 16 4 2 1 $201,481
Daniel J. Vella 11 4 1 2 $169,504
Scott H. Fairlie 19 3 3 1 $80,826
Laurie Silvera 18 3 2 4 $133,976
Mark E. Casse 12 3 2 2 $174,050
Steven M. Asmussen 14 3 2 2 $151,300
Sam Di Pasquale 11 3 2 1 $108,790
Audre Cappuccitti 20 3 0 2 $82,577
Abraham R. Katryan 8 3 0 1 $54,965
WOODBINE SCOREBOARD - JOCKEYS
James McAleney 35 10 5 5 $490,931
Emile Ramsammy 51 8 7 11 $453,516
Emma-Jayne Wilson 54 6 5 7 $412,263
Tyler Pizarro 37 6 3 6 $237,820
Patrick Husbands 22 6 3 1 $321,217
Jono C. Jones 31 5 5 1 $246,058
Eurico Rosa Da Silva 42 5 3 3 $247,729
CANADIAN-BREDS WORKING AT KEENELAND
(4f) in 46.0g
sharp gate effort, continues to train forwardly, in company with Iron Legacy and Two Grand
(5f) in 101.2
was going nicely at the wire
BUST UP Got Country Grip finishes second in bid for 17th straight win It's not easy to win 16 races in succession, no matter what kind of horse you are.
It's next to impossible to win 17 in succession.
Here is an excerpt from the challenge that faced GOT COUNTRY GRIP on Saturday night at Remington Park..
By Robert Przybylo (from newsok.com) Staff Writer
Horse trainer Dee Keener just wanted one more shot.
He knew he could become a part of history if he had one more opportunity. Saturday night was his shot and his horse, Bust N Moves, proved his trainer correct.
The gray paint horse denied Got Country Grip the North American record of 17 straight wins, edging out the gelding in the $25,000 Mr. Lewie Memorial Handicap at Remington Park.
The signs were there. When the two met up in March at 350 yards, Grip got the best of him. But Got Country Grip had been winning all of his races by two lengths. Against Bust N Moves in March, it was only three-fourths of a length.
“That's just the way my horses are,” Keener said. “We do really well at longer distances. I don't know why that's been the case.”
The Mr. Lewie race was contested at 400 yards, and the extra 50 proved to be the difference.
While Grip stumbled in the March contest, he had no trouble getting out of the gate. Early on, Bust N Moves was as far back as third place before making his charge.
After overtaking Grip with about 100 yards to go, Bust N Moves never wilted and continued to hold the slight edge.
As has been the case with most of Got Country Grip's races, a horse pulled out. Blue Oyster Cult scratched on race day, dwindling an already small field to four.
But it's not like Bust N Moves wasn't familiar with the track. Having raced at Remington five times with two victories, the horse owned by a group from Inola was ready for the biggest night of his life.
“We just stayed with him and didn't let anything distract our own concentration,” Keener said.
The victory is Bust N Moves first since July of last year and the 10th lifetime victory.
Got Country Grip joins the list of horses that won 16 straight races. Grip is still a three-time world champion paint and trainer Brandon Parum has been named champion trainer the last six seasons.
“It had to happen sooner or later,” Grip owner Jimmy Maddux said. “There's no reason to stop racing. Tonight just wasn't our night.”
TRAINER IS batting almost 50% in Calgary
The weather outside may be frightful but at Stampede Park in the snow and sleet etc, trainer STUART SIMON is on a tear early in the season...
Stuart C. Simon 29 12 3 4 $125,956
Robertino Diodoro 50 11 6 5 $78,312
Greg Tracy 37 8 11 4 $83,282
Monica Russell 28 5 2 2 $61,778
BIG BROWN JUST WAITING
He will be heavily favoured in the Kentucky Derby it appears. BIG BROWN is the focus of a super feature in today's NEW YORK TIMES...