110th WOODSTOCK STAKES!
and BABIES ON THE WAY
The Woodstock Stakes (named for a former location of one of Ontario's racetracks) is an old race. The first winner was CURTOLMA in 1885 when the race was 1 1/8 miles at OLD WOODBINE.
This is the 10th running of the race since it was changed to 6 furlongs on the main track.
The first 2yo race of the season is upon us at WOODBINE.
So far, the first crop sires in North America have been less than stellar - check the results from last week at Keeneland.
In today's 1st race, a 2 furlong dash without whips, there are not any first crop sires from the United States but Ontario's own PATROL (Lear Fan) has 2 in the race (I think it's his first crop, he stands at stud and then races off and on).
The one to watch is the Whywhywhy filly WHY DON'T WE, who worked in 22.99 breezing from the gate in Kentucky in her last prep.
The STEVE ASMUSSEN barn has a number of low-priced contenders today in a NATURAL PICK 3 FORMATION.
Race 4 he has SOUTHERN GUY, race 5 - HELOPSIS and in the 6th, the Woodstick Stakes, CARSON'S LEGACY is 4 to 5 in the morning line.
The 5th race is a nice event with some Queen's Plate prospects in it.
TOOK THE TIME was recently bought by Earle Mack from Becky Thomas and he is 1 for 1 in his career. The Greenwood Lake colt is trained by Mark Casse.
SEBASTIEN'S SONG, a prominent pick in the QUEEN'S PLATE FANTASY CHALLENGE is making his season debut too for Centennial Farms. He's by Cherokee Run and he is 1 for 1 in his career.
Reports come from readers that ALEZZANDRO, the champion 3yo of last year WILL NOT make his season debut this afternoon at Woodbine...stay tuned for further updates.
THE MACRAE WAY and STEVE'S too
If it wasn't for STEVE ASMUSSEN's pair of wins yesterday, the folks who love to bet favourites would have had a rough tough time.
As in almost every FRIDAY of racing at Woodbine in the history of the sport, it was FREAKY FRIDAY, with bizarre results for a lot of the races and big,big payoffs.
The day started out without incident.
CIVIL CODE was the 8 to 5 winner of the first for trainer Don MacRae, who also won the last race. Civil Code, blessed with big speed and plenty of back class, raced just 3 times last year but he won his 2007 opener then too.
The son of Arrested actually sat off the speed duel yesterday - chasing Bold Nurse and Kruzn Downthelane - before rallying 3 wide to win under Tyler Pizarro. The race was for $40,000 claiming, non winners of 3.
The STEVE ASMUSSEN train took over in race 2 when heavily favoured DOUBLE COLICO (Storm Boot) won a pace battle with CORPUS MAGNUS and went clear to win at even-money in the $32,000 claiming race for 3 and up.
He scorched 5 furlongs in 56.60, just a few hundredths off the track record.
It was the first WOODBINE WIN (as far as I can find out) for MAGGI MOSS, who has led North American owners by wins for a couple of years.
Noel Randall (trainer) claimed Double Colico.
Things got interesting by race 3, a maiden allowance, B level, that featured FIRST TIME STARTER by Distorted Humor taking all the betting support. COLD HARBOR, an big, attractive fellow owned by Fieldstone Farms, was bet down to the 2 to 1 favourite but he lost a race-long duel at 5 furlongs with another firster, CATCH UP CHRIS, beautifully prepared son of Came Home (he was a super 2yo, Grade 1 winner and fast) out of a Dehere mare.
Owned by Michael Imperio and trained by Desmond Maynard, the colt was working in New York last year and obviously had plenty of foundation.
Jockey Slade Callaghan rode and he is off to a good start.
Maiden fillies for $12,500 kicked off the first PICK4 and the PICK 7.
The winner was SAVVY SOLUTION at 50 to 1 for Wayne Rice and jockey Arienne Cox. The Virginia-bred filly was 3 wide pressing the pace all the way in her 2nd career start (she debuted for $25K at 5 furlongs) and relished the 7 furlong distance, powering clear in the stretch (okay, so the field was staggering) and holding off the ones behind her.
She is by Wiseman's Ferry out of Canadian mare My Regal Solution (Regal Classic-Bucky's Solution).
A strange claim of foul was lodged after the race by the rider of Leggy Miss R, who broke a bit slowly before the winner came over slightly on her.
(Hey, the camera view of the 6 1/2 and 7 furlong races are blocked by the new standardbred barns! Whaaaaaat!)
Glenn Harvey's KELYNACK STABLE got a win with NATALIES ARCHER in race 5, a $19,000 claimer for fillies and mares who have not won 2 races. The Archers Bay Ontario bred, bred by Beatrice Fisher, came from off the pace to collect tough little speed gal Caturiana. She was 5 to 1.
The tough sprinters in race 6, a $50K claimer, were no match for the glistening and speedy SIR WINSTON, who was taking a nice edge in the race for ownes John Davis and Brian Mondell,. trainer Steve Asmussen.
A winner for $60K in the winter at Aqueduct with a 101 Beyer Figure, the Dance Master gelding was too good for his Woodbine mates. After dueling Jack Grant through 44 2/5, he took off and won in 56.71 for 5 furlongs.
Jim McAleney rode both winners for the As-man.
The Smart Strike Florida-bred SHE'S THE UMPIRE, rode the rail under Gerry Olguin and won the 7th race, an allowance for 3yo fillies that was supposed to be a showcase for SIX PACK SAMMY, who was odds on and a tad overbet.
The winner, trained in Florida by Ian Howard for Luis de Hechavarria, had never crossed the finish line first in 7 races at 2 (she was placed first in one) and had blinkers off. She edged Six Pack Sammy at the finish and the latter raced on the wrong lead through the stretch.
Jockey Gerry Olguin gave the winner a nice pat as they crossed the finish line.
Audre Cappuccitti hit won with her 2nd longshot of the meeting when ONE CARD won the 8th. The Ontario-bred by One Way Love-Honor Card, Honor Grades was 16 to 1 but not that hard to come up with since he had won his career debut when fresh and was 2nd in his season debut last year.
Tyler Pizarro rode the winner, a double for the apprentice (who loses his bug within the next 2 weeks).
More bombs to come...PARRSBORO GOLD won the feature, an allowance/optional claimer, with a rally down the middle of the track to pick up where she left off in 2007. She won her finale last year and won 2nd time out in the spring.
The race was a bizarre one as the pace was slow, 2 horses battled up front, but the winner came from last in the 7 furlong event with a 6 wide mod off the turn. The wide ralliers did well in the race.
Parrsboro Gold is a red-hot mare with 6 wins in 30 races now, she is trained by Jim Smith and Dean Deverell rode.
The late Archers Bay is the sire of classy 6yo FLAT ROCK, who led from start to finish on the inside to win the finale for $12,500 claiming in 1:23 2/5. He is owned by One More Time Racing and trained by Don MacRae. Anthony Stephen rode Flat Rock.
Closing well in the race were FOUR ON THE ROCK and BLUE MON.
Notes: The track was favourable to wide, closers but the rail had its share of winners too. It seems as if it played fair but as the races get longer, you need to find the fit horses.
The first PICK 4 PAID $14,000.
The second PICK 4 paid 3 out of 4 for $1,600
Daily Racing Form's BILL TALLON hots the hot hand with selectors, picking 5 winners yesterday including One Card and Flat Rock - his best bet. Yikes!
UH OH, FIRST KEENELAND DOWN 17% - NOW LAUREL
Excerpt from GLEN GRAHAM, www.baltimoresun.com
While a picture-perfect afternoon greeted an announced 5,253 on the opening day of the 2008 Pimlico spring meeting yesterday - 600 more than last year's opener - the climate wasn't nearly as friendly for the recently concluded winter meet at Laurel Park.
Total wagering at Laurel this winter was down 17.3 percent from last year, dropping from $3.56 million per day to $2.943 million, according to figures released yesterday. Dropping from 71 dates in 2007 to 59 this year, all-sources handle totaled $219.8 million in 2008 compared with $291.8 million last year.
Maryland Jockey Club president and general manager Chris Dragone called it "troubling and not unexpected," with the horse racing industry struggling across the nation.
"I'm not here to make excuses - the numbers are bad," Dragone said. "I could claim the weather was bad or whatever - that's not the case - our numbers are down, and they are troubling. If you're going to ask me what I'm going to do to correct them, obviously I think the thing to do is continue to try to put more horses on the track, better the field size, and make it a better product to wager on and try to make the customer experience better to have people come out."
Dragone, who cited the struggling economy as a prominent factor, said consistently drawing people to the track is a constant challenge with new factors involved. Racing fans also have simulcast, out-of-state wagering hubs, along with Internet and telephone wagering options. While the majority of the Maryland Jockey Club's marketing remains focused on bringing people to the race course, Dragone said it's important to look at other ways to reach the audience. One example is the club has increased its marketing budget in promoting off-track betting, which Dragone said will help increase in-state numbers.
CANADIAN PREMIER of FIRST SATURDAY IN MAY in ELORA...
(see yesterday's post)
KENTUCKY.COM, MARYJEAN WALL
ONE LAST CHANCE FOR DERBY HOPEFULS Lexington is last stop with graded money By Maryjean Wall MWALL@HERALD-LEADER.COM
The Johnny-come-lately of Derby preps, the Coolmore Lexington Stakes, has evolved for some into the most important prep.
Some call it the Last Ditch Derby: the last chance for some to win enough graded stakes earnings to get into the top 20 eligible to run in the Kentucky Derby.
It's been quite an evolution for the Lexington Stakes, a race few took seriously until trainer D. Wayne Lukas launched Derby winner Charismatic in this 11/16-mile event.
Now the race is on every radar screen as horses progress along the Derby campaign trail. Several in Saturday's field of 11 are considered possible entrants in the Derby if they can win sufficient money at Keeneland. It's their last chance, with no other graded stakes offered for Derby hopefuls prior to the first Saturday in May. Tomcito, the Peruvian-raced colt, is one example of a horse whose connections intend to take to the Derby -- if he wins enough money Saturday to get on the list. Tomcito, who will have Jorge Chavez riding, is a Kentucky-bred son of Street Cry who sold for $7,500 at the Keeneland September Sales. He was sent to Peru and is reigning Horse of the Year there after beating older horses at 11/4 miles and even 11/2 miles. His trainer, Dante Zanelli Jr., is slightly concerned about the shorter stretch at Keeneland that the colt will face in the Lexington Stakes.
Atoned will be a top choice if not the favorite at post time. Trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Cot Campbell of Dogwood Stable have been non-committal about their Derby intentions if Atoned should win the Lexington. Campbell has hinted that this race might be a nice prep for the Preakness Stakes May 17. Hard to say if these folks might change their minds if Atoned, with Edgar Prado up, wins the Lexington. Atoned was fourth last time out in the Illinois Derby, which was won by Recapturetheglory. Atoned preceded that race with three consecutive runner-up finishes in the Tampa Bay Derby, the Remsen Stakes and the Dover Stakes. Pletcher will also send out Behindatthebar, an allowance race winner at Santa Anita subsequent to running fifth in the El Camino Real Derby at Bay Meadows. One Lexington starter who already is on the Derby Top 20 list in earnings is Salute the Sarge. Trainer Eric Guillot said this week he probably will not go to the Derby; the Preakness might be an option. If the distance in the Lexington Stakes proves problematical for Salute the Sarge, he will be turned back to sprinting, according to Guillot, with his target the King's Bishop Stakes.
Salute the Sarge won the San Miguel Stakes March 29 at Santa Anita, his only start this year. While the Lexington Stakes is the last-ditch chance for several colts to get in the Derby, so it also is for trainers D. Wayne Lukas and Bob Baffert. Where they once dominated the Kentucky Derby, these two trainers can only hope to get into this year's race by winning the Lexington Stakes. Baffert recently acquired Samba Rooster for the Lanni Family Trust and Mercedes Stable. The colt has won only his maiden race but has picked up a check in four other starts. Red Sandy, racing out of the Lukas stable, is in a similar situation, only recently winning for the first time in four starts.
One of the Lexington Stakes hopefuls to watch will be Racecar Rhapsody, owned by Jerry L. Carroll and partners. Carroll is owner of Kentucky Speedway and former owner of Turfway Park. Racecar Rhapsody is only a one-time winner but ran fourth in the Grade II Lane's End Stakes and fourth in the Delta Jackpot. With this experience, he's run competitively with some serious Derby candidates including Adriano and Z Humor. Others in the Lexington Stakes field include Felon, winning his first race last time out by 61/2 lengths at Turfway; Big Glen, winner of the Rushaway Stakes by a neck over Miner's Claim; Riley Tucker, who has won only one time but ran second over Keeneland's course in the Transylvania Stakes on opening day, and St. Joe, who won an allowance race here on opening day.
STAMPEDE CANCELS AFTER 5TH SNOW, SLEET etc
Canadian bred IT'S LAUNCH TIME (Trajectory-Charlity Country, Country Store) won the 4th race at Stampede Park last night in a driving snowstorm. The Ontario bred, a half-brother to stakes winner LEGAL MOVE, won the allowance/optional claimer by a nose for Vargo and Castiglione and trainer Monica Russell.
Ontario-bred BETHUNE (Mutakkdim-Seduction, Vice Regent) won the last race that was run on the card. He won a nail biting duel with Driftin Cowboy and came out on top after a 5 minute photo finish delay. The 5yo was bred by Hedgestone Management.
The races were eventually cancelled as the track was getting pelt by a snowstorm. It looked pretty ugly on the replays offered at HPI.com
KAHNAWAKE RESERVE IN QUEBEC GAMBLING SITES etc. EXCERPT from the TORONTO STAR LISA WRIGHT in the Business section today...
The fact that Kahnawake doesn't collect taxes and has been allowed to operate outside federal gambling law rankles the Woodbine Entertainment Group, who argue their market share is being eroded by illegal online gambling. Liberal MP Roy Cullen, whose Etobicoke North riding includes Woodbine, met a week ago with Justice Minister Rob Nicholson – who also has the Fort Erie Race Track in his riding – to talk about the online gambling issue. If no action is taken, he vows to introduce a private member's bill so that the issue will be debated and dealt with in Parliament. "I think something is going to happen. My preference would be to open it up and regulate it," says Cullen. Grand Chief Delisle said the justice minister's office assured him and MIT last month that nothing was imminent. "There's always a concern that people are keeping an eye on us," he says. Meanwhile Nicholson's director of communications said the minister is consulting with various stakeholders to discuss the matter. "Internet gambling is illegal under the Criminal Code, with some narrow exceptions. It is the responsibility of each province to administer and prosecute, and for the police to enforce (it)," says Genevieve Breton in an email. Opinion on gambling is mixed locally. A few ladies, who were selling raffle tickets at the post office near the Caisse Populaire bank to raise money to send local athletes to the upcoming North American Indigenous Games, said they didn't like what it brings to the territory, and they're relieved that two referendums on bringing in a casino here, like the Mohawks have in Akwesasne, resulted twice in a thumbs-down. "It's a negative influence on our young people," said one mother who did not wish to be identified. For their part, the owners of Snake's Poker Club abide by the etiquette and regulations of the gaming commission. The month-old establishment has even advertised on AM radio stations in Montreal. "It's perfectly legal here. The rest of it is just government against the Indians. It's the same old story," says co-owner Ben McComber. And as Montreal resident Jason Gracie quips: "I'm not a gambler. I'm a poker player."