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Monday, April 21, 2008


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. 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 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.

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
5-for-20 lifetime.

"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.


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


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



Sheraton Park
(4f) in 46.0g
very fast
sharp gate effort, continues to train forwardly, in company with Iron Legacy and Two Grand

Radio Relay
(5f) in 101.2
very fast
was going nicely at the wire

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 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


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...


  • At 8:40 AM, Anonymous KG said…

    Went to see First Saturday in May this weekend - what a finely made documentary. It is usually my wife dragging me to the local Chez Artiste but this time payback was well worth it. With the movie chronicaling the 2006 Derby most of the limelight was on Barbaro but the real story lies with those that work with the horses. Dale Romans and his family (especially his son and cousin Paul Parrish) steal the show and keep everyone in the theatre on the edge of their seat - you are thinking what will they say next. All of us "hardluck" owners empathise with the antithesis of Michael Martz through Frank Amonte - the trainer of Achilles of Troy. Take a couple hours out of your day and go see the movie.

    BTW - Drake, Turfway Park has $1 pints on Friday nights - meet you there?

  • At 8:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    In defense to Rich's comment at 8:03 yesterday that I'm "more than a disinterested observer" - if I was then wouldn't I know that Betfair took bets on other sports other than horse racing? I had no idea that they did this - I thought they were just strictly doing this with horse racing but Cangamble has educated me otherwise. Which by the way is exactly what I asked for - to be educated on the situation. (I know what I know from what I read on Jen's blog, talking to people I meet at the racetrack and from what I've read through Cangamble - but I obviously don't know as much as many of you out there).

    I can't quite "sympathize" about takout issue as I'm simply not a big enough bettor to have it effect me all that much. Yes I wager now and again and yes it would be nice when I win a bet to get as much money back as possible - but for the size of bets I've ever won, that few extra dollars or whatever it might amount to isn't all that big a concern to me.

    Obviously it is a huge concern to bigger players like Cangamble and The Drake etc (based on their comments), but remember - my observations are coming from a regular fan's perspective, not someone who is trying to make a living off of wagering.

    Am I trying to "defend" Woodbine and it's racing - I definitely am because as a fan who is there to enjoy the sport and have some fun -hearing "hardcore" guys suggest that seeing Woodbine fail would be best is totally disheartening to me. When I think of all of the joy and good times Woodbine has brought me - to have some suggest that the whole thing would be better off not here at all because they have a beef with takeouts - it really does effect me as a fan.

    I want to thank everyone for educating me further on the issues at hand, and just let you know that as a "customer" - and obviously I am just a certain type of customer - I am treated more than fine when I go to Woodbine, watch & wager on the races and have fun. Sure prices are high for numerous things - but have you seen the prices at Jays games and TFC games?
    I understand some of the concerns of many who wager a lot more dollars than I do, and understand the need to voice your opinion (as I've done), but hearing suggestions from those on that side of the coin that may in the end do more harm than good to this sport - that's what causes me to speak up.
    Love the blog Jen, it's amazing to see all of the different people that write and hearing so many different reasons to be passionate about this sport.

  • At 9:09 AM, Blogger Tom McHawk said…

    Hi Jen! I made my first trip out to Woodbine for the live racing season on Saturday. I was just wondering what the structure is that they are building on the clubhouse turn? I hope it is something good because I noticed while sitting in the grandstand that it blocks the view of the starting gate for races at 7 furlongs. It appears it will also obstruct the view of the horses on the turn once the turf races get going.

  • At 10:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    To Anon 8.49

    You are portraying yourself as a slightly naive new racing fan who loves the game,and those of us who feel take outs are outrageously high as money hungry mercenaries,who want to destroy the industry.You are wrong.

    Actually I have been in love with the sport for over 40 years. I have worked on the backside,in the mutuels, owned half a dozen beautiful racehorses and pushed a few dollars through the windows!

    I remember when Woodbine was more like a racetrack and less like a mall.I remember when the paddock was adorned with enormous oak trees and the public would get to see the horses parading before every race out in the fresh air instead of the horrible indoor whatever it is today.
    I remember when it cost 3 bucks to get in and the track was full,not like today.

    Racing,itself,is the draw.People all over the world know what the sport of kings means.You are a new devotee to this magnificent sport and we have that passion in common.
    We have to pay for our pleasure in life, but we are being over charged,big time!!!
    Some of us just won't accept that without voicing our displeasure.


  • At 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sterwins looks like GOOD horse on the polytrack. I'm sure the rider change didn't hurt either.

  • At 10:07 AM, Anonymous Jason said…

    The fact that HAWTHORNE has a bigger handle than Woodbine tells you all you need to know. Woodbine, WEG, OJC, whatever, would pretty much be out of business if not for the slots. Woodbine only has slots because of racing, they only have racing because people such as myself are willing to wager on racing. Time to give a little back to the people who make everything possible, the horseplayer. No offence to any horsemen and women who make their living at Woodbine, but you guys have had it too good for too long. 60k claimers at Woodbine running for $74k is a joke, these horses would be running for 15k in New York. Bottom line, I live in Toronto and bet with Pinnacle because I get a rebate, I won't give WEG another red cent. Match pinny's rebate and I'll come back, you can keep your baseball caps and golf shirts, thanks. By the way, Shoppers Drug Mart's Reward Program is better than HPI's points program.

  • At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Cangamble said…

    Anon, nobody wants horse racing destroyed in Canada here. But the racing model with outrageously high takeouts is a broken model and more and more average to big players are becoming very price sensitive, and it is happening at a very rapid rate right now.
    The model may have worked in the past when the stands were full of bettors like you, who weren't cognizant of the affect that takeout had on your bankroll.
    Watching WEG stick to their guns on the issue of high takeout is like witnessing a slow motion car crash.

    If a doctor tells a person that he is declining in health and if he doesn't stop smoking and drinking, he'll be dead in 3 years, the person, like WEG has a choice to make changes or die.

  • At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Mike D said…

    Does anyone know if The First Saturday In May movie will be shown in Canada, other than the screening in Elora?

    I have written to them, and havent heard anything back yet. I figure its worth a shot here while I wait.

  • At 7:05 PM, Blogger the_drake said…

    I'm an owner/breeder who has also done just about everything but ride at the track and on farms. The handle doesn't hurt my bottom line, I don't bet too often, but when I do I play Pick 6's and Pick 4's. They are the only bets these days that you can really cash nicely on. But I don't play them here because of how much WEG rakes and because they don't let you bet the others. So whenver I'm at Saratoga, Keeneland, BC or Derby I go all out.
    The reason I do care about all this (aside from the fact I do this for a living) is because there seems to be a major lack of respect to the long time and new clientel. The business model in place now would make anyone cry from laughing so hard. Give them something to be excited about and maybe things will be more fun. So what if the Jays charge $8 a pint too, look at their turnouts, not too spectacular. Why look at one failing model and try to duplicate that. WEG has to compete with many big name pro teams out there, the idea is to get people to choose racing over the others (even if for one night this summer), not set the prices the same and say "well...that's what the Leafs charge". It is depressing being in this industry and watching the "club" who call the shots let everything that is good about it slip away. If people want a real taste of how a track should be run and have a true racetrack experience, go to Saratoga (you can bring in a cooler for picnics, including drinks) or Keeneland (student day with numerous $1,000 scholarships and a betting voucher for anyone with a student card, everyday beers under $4).

    Racing should be fun for everyone involved. Its purpose is "entertainment" for the fans, handicappers and owners. Until all parties involved start getting value for their entertainment dollar it will get spent elsewhere and we will be debating this forever.


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