ascot aug08
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Saturday, May 03, 2008


Destined for...?



Whew. Weeks of researching, combing through past performances, charts, stories on the internet, videos and what-have you.
It's all done now.
Time to make a decision.
At 6:04 TONIGHT, soon after, we will know.

This morning's news - dry that Churchill track was a moat yesterday.
It's STILL RAINING there, however...and will drizzle off and on all day.

BIG BROWN and COLONEL JOHN were close in the betting after yesterday 7 to 2 and 4 to 1...interesting.
FRONT BANDAGES for the Brownie...he burned a heel recently.

Yesterday I had my flavour of the day Denis of Cork. Later in the day, It was COOL COAL MAN.
I'm doomed.
Monba? Hmmmm, I love Easy Goer (his broodmare sire) but nah.


I picked PYRO, I love the way Steve Asmussen trains to peak on a certain day and I'm not sure Pletcher, some others, do that. I watched his work on the video the other day and was confident he''s okay but yes, I hate a bummer of a race in last start. Totally against my rules.
But I see him running a 102-105 Beyer Figure if he just comes back to the 2yo races -IF!

Visionaire i really like, using my DRF pps and Beyers..The sheets I have trouble mastering, I mean I picked the last 2 Derby winners in the Star using Beyers so I stick with that. he loves MUD too.

Big Brown, gosh, I figured he'd win or be last but I picked him 2nd in the paper.
FRONT BANDAGES? 35 and change work? post 20? If he wins, he's a superhorse.

Adriano I like a bit - I can't figure out why Edgar Prado gave up Monba and Tale of Ekati to ride him....??? Makes no sense - or does it?

Denis of Cork has looked good, he had no pace to run at in his latest and I think he can bounce back and contender.

Cool Coal Man I liked for a while after his Fountain of Youth. The race must have been really hard on him.

I am against EIGHT BELLES, it takes too good a filly to win this race, a special girl. Her stablemate won the oaks like a good thing (PROUD SPELL) and this gal should fare okay but I can't see her winning it.

Our CANADIAN HOPE - TALE OF EKATI is 3rd start off the layoff! Is another peak effort coming? Can he win at 10 furlongs? Not sure about that.

COURT VISION has a great pedigree and he has blinkers no. He's been pretty slow though.

Z FORTUNE is interesting but I can't see a SIPHONO winning at 10 furlongs.

BIG TRUCK - worse that Pyro in the Blue Grass.

COLONEL JOHN - fast workout, yes, improving form yes, lots of media people at the Derby love him, yes. That's a lot of 'weight'.

SMOOTH AIR - 'Sheets' players love this horse - if he had not got sick early in the week.

BOB BLACK JACK - Can't get him to go that far I don't think and he has that dreadful paddling action with his right fore that is just downright scary.

GAYEGO - Tough post for a Gilkded Time colt who will be hard pressed to keep up to this pace at 10 furlongs

Anyone else I didn't mention, well,, I have written about them too many times already.


Canadian owner Fipke hopes for storybook ending for Tale of Ekati

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — His critics told Charles Fipke he was on a fool's errand, combing through the Northwest Territories with microscope in hand, digging for buried treasure in the untamed tundra like a young boy who'd read one too many adventure novels.

But Fipke, an Edmonton native now living in Kelowna, B.C., is a scientist at heart. His instincts told him there were diamonds hidden in the area called Ekati in the early 1990s, a remote area about 320 kilometres north of Yellowknife. Peering through the lens one day, Fipke thumbed through the clues that sparked the biggest land rush in a century and made him a billionaire.

"Looking at the concentrate and seeing they're full of diamonds, it's pretty exciting," he said.

Almost as exciting, Fipke says with a laugh, as making the Kentucky Derby.

After spending nearly three decades losing money, if not patience, searching for the horse that could bring him to Churchill Downs, Fipke is finally in the Run for the Roses with the colt named after the mine that he turned into one of the world's largest diamond producers.

Tale of Ekati qualified for the Derby by edging a tiring War Pass in the final yards of the Wood Memorial. He has blossomed under trainer Barclay Tagg, who guided Funny Cide to wins in the Derby and Preakness in 2003.

At first blush, the swashbuckling Fipke and the perpetually cranky Tagg make the Derby's oddest combination of owner and trainer. Their hairline - or lack thereof - may be the only thing they have in common.

Yet Fipke has a way about him that puts others at ease. Early on Friday morning Tagg, Fipke and good friend Jack Werk stood outside Barn 48 at Churchill Downs laughing among themselves as Tale of Ekati prepared for a light gallop on the track.

"There were a lot of trainers that were more flamboyant, but I don't care about that," Fipke said. "We want to get the job done and do things right."

It's what led Fipke to Tagg in the first place. Knowing he had a talented two-year-old on his hands last spring, Fipke crunched the numbers before coming up with Tagg.

Now the man who sleeps at the houses of generals in Angola while monitoring his mining operation there and talks faster than a jackhammer has formed a partnership with the tight-lipped Tagg, who's nearly as high strung as some of the horses he trains.

Where that partnership will lead Saturday is anybody's guess. Tale of Ekati will start from the No. 2 post and at 15-1 in the field of 20 is not among the favourites. Fipke, however, has made a career out of beating the odds.

The Ekati mine opened in 1998 and now employs 1,500 people and produces 13,000 carats of the world's most expensive jewels daily. There's even a book "Fire into Ice: Charles Fipke & the Great Diamond Hunt," that immortalizes Fipke and Stewart Blusson's daring search for the precious stones.

He's hoping for a similar storybook ending with this Tale. But even if Saturday afternoon passes without Fipke and Tale of Ekati living happily ever after, he's already planning on a sequel.

Ever the scientist, Fipke stables some of his horses in Kentucky because of the limestone bedrock buried deep beneath the bluegrass. The mineral finds its way into the water, providing horses with valuable calcium that he feels makes them stronger than those raised elsewhere.

"If you're going to be in this, you've got to have every advantage," he said. "You've got to do the things it takes to win."

And if Tale of Ekati can beat the odds Saturday and land in the winner's circle, Fipke says he'll be a beaming Canuck.

"I would be proud as a Canadian to win the Kentucky Derby," said Fipke, adding Canadians like Frank Stronach and Eugene Melnyk are already prominent on the international horse racing scene. "I'm Canadian through and through."

Fipke spends most of his time in B.C., but is also busy mining for diamonds in several locales, including Ontario, Quebec, Morocco and Greenland.

Fipke became interested in horse racing after watching the great Secretariat sweep through the Triple Crown in 1973.

"That was my inspiration, when Secretariat won the Belmont (third jewel of the Triple Crown) by 31 lengths," he said.

Now Fipke wants to win the first gem of the American Triple Crown himself.

"This (the Kentucky Derby) is the greatest race in the world and to win it would be just fantastic."

Canadian thoroughbred racing fans will be familiar with Fipke, who raced Perfect Soul to a Sovereign Award turf title in 2003. That was under the tutelage of Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield.

When asked about the Queen's Plate, Canada's most prestigious thoroughbred race, Fipke said he has that as a goal as well.

"I want to win the Plate too," he said. "I told Roger that."

Fipke says his best prospect for this year is Not Bourbon, second in the Achievement Stakes at Toronto's Woodbine Racetrack in early April.



By Robert J. Summers

Draw overturns ‘wow’ factor

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — During the three months of televised prep races leading up to today’s Kentucky Derby, four winning horses made the Happy Handicapper stand up and say, “Wow!”

Big Brown turned in the most impressive performance of the spring in the March 29 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.

He rushed to the front from the far outside (No. 12) post, set the pace in very fast fractions, opened a three-length lead in the stretch, and drew away to win by five. The final time for the 1n mile 1/3 was 1:48 and Big Brown earned a Beyer Speed Rating in the Daily Racing Form of 106, highest in any two-turn prep race by a Derby entrant.

A week later in the Santa Anita Derby, Colonel John — who seemed impossibly beaten with 300 yards to go — passed three horses in the blink of an eye and came flying home to win by a half-length. He also covered the 1n miles in 1:48 and earned a Beyer figure of 95, fastest of the Derby preps run on the newfangled artificial surfaces found at three tracks on the Derby trail.

On March 22 on the artificial surface at Turfway Park in suburban Cincinnati, Adriano fanned out at the top of the stretch, kicked into gear, and pulled away as the easiest of winners in the Lane’s End Stakes. None of his 10 opponents there went on to qualify for the Derby, but about a month later, jockey Edgar Prado — whose credentials include the 2006 Derby win on Barbaro and a 2007 Hall of Fame election — decided that he preferred Adriano as his Derby mount, forsaking rides on Monba and Tale of Ekati.

Pyro posted the “wow” race Feb. 9 at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Pyro was last of 11 when the field in the Risen Star stakes turned for home. But by the end of the 1 1/16-miles, he was pulling away. Pyro won again in similar fashion, but then finished a disappointing 10th, 11z len 3/4 th 1/3 behind Monba in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. His handlers blamed his dislike for Keeneland’s artificial surface.

The Handicapper was going to make this quartet his top Derby selections in the order presented. But when Big Brown drew the No. 20 post with several fellow front-runners close to his inside, he decided — despite the much-publicized confidence expressed by trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. — to demote Big Brown to fourth and make his selections Colonel John (No. 10), Adriano (15), Pyro (9) and Big Brown (20).

Millson: Oaks day
Larry Millson, May 2, 2008 at 10:57 AM EDT

LOUISVILLE -- Friday morning: There was the menacing flash of lightning at 5 a.m. Then another. There was a low growl of thunder. It was more like background noise. No sharp claps.

Not another one of those mornings, I was thinking. Walking around the backstretch, ducking for shelter where possible, feet getting wet and muddy and wondering if the computer in my backpack was going to be too damp to function. Besides, it is Oaks day, which is not quite as big as Derby day but still well attended.

It is 10:30 a.m. now and so far there has been no rain. It is still hazy, but the sun has made an appearance and it is warm enough to make a jacket unnecessary.

Talked to a few people including former jockey Sandy Hawley, who is here for Woodbine Entertainment. He kind of likes Court Vision as a horse to put in triple wagers on the Derby. He was closing third in the Wood Memorial won by Canadian-owned Tale of Ekati.

Had a nice chat with Bennie Stutts, Jr., who trains Smooth Air in the Derby. He's just happy to be here. Nice change from talking to some of the big trainers who look like they are on a corporate golfing jaunt.

Refreshing is a word that comes to mind. That also applies to Charles Fipke, who owns Tale of Ekati.

He was asked who is mentor was when he got involved with thoroughbred racing.

“I didn't really have a mentor,” he said. “The thing that really inspired me and has always inspired me is Secretariat. It won the Belmont by 31 lengths and I just think he was like an awesome role model. I eventually did get a mare by Secretariat.”

Asked about drawing the No. 2 post position in the field of 20: “I was devastated when I found we had 17th on the post draw. We had 17th pick and got post two and we were very delighted with it.”

He said the reason for his good fortune was in his wallet and he produced a five-leaf clover from one of the compartments.

Someone asked him how many horses he has in training: “I don't like commenting on the horses I have because I think the more horses you have the less intelligent you are. Like I'm a moron.”

Then he said, “I think I have about 30 horses in training.”



PROUD SPELL is such a tough and honest filly and won the KENTUCKY OAKS in a quagmire yesterday after a good trip. The way she took off in mid stretch was impressive.
The filly is out of Pacific Spell,a daughter of Langfuhr, the Canadian-bred Grade 1 winner.
The Proud Citizen filly sets up the Oaks-Derby doubles as such...
(photo of PROUD SPELL yesterday by CINDY PIERSON-DULAY,

Thoroughbred Times Today

Proud Spell-Big Brown double paying $37.80

Horse Win odds Will pay
1. Cool Coal Man 36-to-1 $436.00
2. Tale of Ekati 45-to-1 312.20
3. Anak Nakal 57-to-1 778.00
4. Court Vision 14-to-1 132.20
5. Eight Belles 8-to-1 212.00
6. Z Fortune 17-to-1 143.60
7. Big Truck 20-to-1 848.40
8. Visionaire 22-to-1 235.60
9. Pyro 5-to-1 55.80
10. Colonel John 4-to-1 54.80
11. Z Humor 67-to-1 644.80
12. Smooth Air 40-to-1 369.60
13. Bob Black Jack 26-to-1 514.80
14. Monba 30-to-1 281.60
15. Adriano 24-to-1 297.00
16. Denis of Cork 27-to-1 224.20
17. Cowboy Cal 42-to-1 593.80
18. Recapturetheglory 47-to-1 578.60
19. Gayego 21-to-1 227.00
20. Big Brown 7-to-2 37.80


GINGER PUNCH lept over a big puddle in the middle of the stretch run of yesterday's Louisville Handicap but still won easily for Stronach Stables.
The Awesome Again champion is out of the candian-bred mare NAPPELON, by Bold Revenue.
While the Stronach team came back to win the ALYSHEBA Stakes with GIANT GIZMO (Giant's Causeway), trainer Michael Matz watched CHELOKEE break down in the race. Chelokee is doing okay in a vet clinic as of this morning.
In some of the turf stakes, horses appeared to be bobbling and stumbling as the rain fell hard.


Not to be lost in the shuffle is the 9-race card at Woodbine yesterday and all the smaller training barns that won races.

The track was playing somewhat slow on the pace but the winds seemed to have an effect on the early fractions which were slow.

ERIKA WINKELMAN sent out J. Forster's BEAUTIFUL LILY to win race 1 for $8,000 claiming in front running fashion. The Perigee Moon mare was well rated by Martin Ramirez.

ALISON CROOK won the 3rd race for Bru-Mel Stables. The trainer must have not liked the filly's slow break form the gate but a nice ride, saving ground along the rail and waiting, by MATT MOORE got the filly the win for $16,000.
Heavily favoured AWESOME EXCHANGE,from the Steve Asmussen barn, was a flat fourth.
MARK FOURNIER, training at Woodbine now for Bruno Schickedanz, won the 4th with 2nd time starter MINSTREL'S HONOUR, a homebred by Minstrel Dancer.
The fillyrallied 4 wide around the turn, not a great trip, but powered ahead under Melanie Pinto.

JOHN CIRILLO owns and trains COOL RECEPTOR, a grey Trajectory-Glace Bay filly who was up to win her maiden in race 7 for $20,000. The filly was one of several closers who reeled in the very faster but staggering LA GRANDE MISTOU, who went too fast on the pace.

And trainer CONRAD BELAIRE won the finale, the featured allowance race for Ontario-sired guys. TREE RINGS, who came close to winning last year and showed lots of promise, motored down the middle of the track to win the 5 1/2 furlong dash at 18 to 1 for Bill McGowan. Tree Rings is by Compadre.

MATT MOORE won 2 races and is getting in the groove. Bad news later on the card though, his journey on BLASTING CAT was perplexing. race 6 - the gelding flew past horses before nearing the quarter pole, while wide, took the lead early, blew the turn, came back on but stalled.

BIG NUMBERS betting-wise - $2.5 million on a small card of racing with not big fields. Wow.


Charles Fipke is in Kentucky for his Derby colt TALE OF EKATI.
But his Canadian bred fellow NOT BOURBON is the 2nd favourite in th QUEENSTON STAKES today, a pivotal race on the road to the QUEEN'S PLATE.

The NOT IMPOSSIBLE colt ran hard when chasing STUCK IN TRAFFIC in the Achievement - will both colts bounce to the moon today?

How about KESAGAMI? He's been pointed to this race just as his older stablemate JIGGS COZ was last year and that guy won the race right off the shelf.


The TORONTO STAR has stepped up to alert folks to the plight of horse racing fans, horse lovers, animal lovers and the public to save racehorses from being slaughtered.

Let's wake up folks - those who make money in the industry - you out there who will bet the race today..everyone.

Using a Derby theme - thanks to all who helped with the story including Nick Zito and his wife KIM ZITO...the story made the front page...


  • At 7:55 AM, Blogger wendyu said…

    Great story Jen! Thanks for writing it. Very cool that it was on the front page!!

  • At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Jennifer, how about the Star's food critic, Amy Pataki, encouraging its readers to EAT HORSE and patronize the restaurants in the Toronto areathat serve it?

  • At 11:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Photos from Friday at Churchill Downs:

    Kentucky Oaks:

    Undercard stakes:

  • At 2:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As I understand it, Longrun gets several hundred thousand dollars a year from purse money to be used towards saving our racehorses. They manage to save maybe 30 horses a year and help place a few others? Can someone please explain to me how we can possibly support thousands or even tens of thousands of unwanted horses. I just don't get the math.

  • At 3:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I didn't think you were permitted to sell horse meat in Ontario. If I were to see it being sold in my local supermarket I'd be none too pleased.

  • At 6:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    RIP Great Belles. You ran a gallent race.

  • At 8:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Big Brown was really something, unfortunately it was impossible to enjoy through the tears. Watching that big dark filly go down was just like watching Ruffian all over again.

  • At 12:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Photos from Derby Day at Churchill Downs...

    Kentucky Derby:

    Undercard stakes races:


  • At 7:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Jen...just wondering how long it takes for the fantasy challenge on the woodbine site to update...??

  • At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Vicki Pappas said…

    In response to 2:44 anonymous regarding LongRun.

    We currently have and budget for 40horses in our program - that number will stay fairly constant as long as feed, and consequently board, prices don't fluctuate too much. In addition, some horses who may never be able to find permanent homes are still within our program but are being sponsored by generous horselovers - these we would not count in the 40 or in the 25-30 or so we hope to permanently place each year. So if you add up the "herd", sponsored horses and the numbers moved, plus the help we give people whose horses don't fit the parameters of our program, our impact is slightly greater that you might think at first glance. We also try to do a fair amount of work showcasing the thoroughbreds' versatility, in order to encourage their popularity as riding and show horses.

    We are very fortunate to have horselovers like Elissa Blowe on the Ontario circuit, who act as agents between owners/trainers and people in the show world looking for a sound thoroughbred to compete with - they move quite a number of Ontario's racehorses into nice homes. Plus we have outfits like Adena Springs, Sam-Son Farms and Gus Schickedanz's, who rehab and retrain many of their own homebreds when they are finished racing. Please forgive me, all you good people out there, if I have missed naming you in the above.

    Do I think we will ever be able to save every horse? Probably not. And I'm sure there will always be people around who are more interested in a few hundred dollars than in a horse's welfare. I'm also sure that this mindset is not at all exclusive to the thoroughbred world - it's the harsh reality of human nature. But, with everybody's efforts, we all can make a big difference in the lives of many of our deserving thoroughbreds.

    Vicki Pappas

  • At 2:57 PM, Anonymous Cangamble said…

    It is tempting to list those horsemen who sell thoroughbreds for meat. Maybe the bad publicity will get them out of the game or get them to change their practice.

  • At 6:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The gray horse that broke down at woodbine on saturday was put down after the races.


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