STAKES ARE LOADED AT WOODBINE
STREET SOUNDS, one of Canada's top 3-year-old fillies of 2007, will return to Woodbine for trainer Michael Matz on Sunday for the Grade 3 HENDRIE STAKES, a filly and mare sprint at 6 1/2 furlongs.
The Hendrie is one of 11 (!) races on Sunday, a card of big fields and oddles of intriguing races.
STREET SOUNDS (Street Cry), the morning line favourite at 5 to 2 for the 11-horse Hendrie, is coming off a big effort in the Grade 2 Madison Stakes at Keeneland when she was 2nd by a length.
The filly, bred by Anderson Farms and Rod Ferguson, appears to be a synthetic surface lover.
At Woodbine last year, she was 3rd in the Woodbine Oaks and 2nd in the Bison City Stakes.
Last spring, she won the Grade 2 Beaumont at Keeneland.
Street Sounds has never had a Woodbine jockey on board - guess who rides on Sunday?
Also in the field is MY LIST, who just won the Grade 3 Whimsical Stakes for Tucci Stable and Nick Gonzalez. The Banker's Gold mare was making her season debut when she won that race with a 90 Beyer Figure.
And Eddie Kenneally is quoted as saying that his shipper DHANYATA is "not coming all the way up to Canada if we didn't think we had a shot".
The Danetime filly is a Grade 3 winner on POLYTRACK in England and was 2nd beaten a neck in a Group 1 in 2006 as a 2yo.She returned from a long layoff at Gulfstream and had some speed before fading to 4th in an allowance race.
On SATURDAY, top sprinter LEGAL MOVE is back for his 3rd race since opening weekend and looking for his 2nd straight stakes win in the NEW PROVIDENCE.
TODAY AT WOODBINE WHAT TO DO WITH PREPS??
Trainer STEVE ASMUSSEN has a pair of 9 to 5 shots in the DAILY DOUBLE.
GLENLEARY in the first race is owned by the trainer and is a 7yo gelding who is a stretch runner and will have to hurry in the $10,000 claimer.
The barn has the 2yo YO JOE in the 2nd race. That colt, by the same sire as recent 2yo winner Fanci Candi, ran at Keeneland in a 4 1/2 furlong race and should be plenty fit for this 2 furlong dash.
The feature race, a money allowance worth almost $100,000, is race 4 and is a Polytrack route for fillies and mares, many of whom are prepping for the NASSAU STAKES.
It is a tough race to bet in the PICK 4 since the race is essentially a PREP and most are grass horses. Will the gals be asked for their very best if they don't appear to be handling Polytrack?
One gal, SANS SOUCI ISLAND has never raced on anything other than turf.
Another, AUTOBAHN GIRL, won a stake at Fair Grounds in the winter in the slop but her one race on Polytrack, at Woodbine last fall, was dismal.
THE NIAGARA QUEEN is making her first start since she went through the ring at the Keeneland sale - she wasn't sold and is back racing, now for another new trainer (she's had plenty of them), Steve Asmussen.
Play this race cautiously, preps are the trickiest bets in racing.
HEY GOOD LOOKIN'!
This a colt by LEGAL JOUSTING out of SHUBIZ, bred by Cedarcrest Farm in Ontario.
Thanks to krista Kocot for the photo.
A link to THOROUGHBLOG can now be found at www.thestar.com/sports/horse the horse racing page at the TORONTO STAR.
I have also included links at the right on my sidebar to Down the Stretch, a new newspaper for Ontario TB and STBD racing, The Game and Canadian Thoroughbred.
PREAKNESS TRASH TALKIN REUTERS NEWSWIRE STORY Big Brown trainer on high, but one man disagrees
Steve Ginsburg Reuters
Big Brown emerged from his Kentucky Derby victory in fine shape and should have little problem winning the Preakness Stakes, his trainer said yesterday.
Rick Dutrow Jr. said his unbeaten colt's biggest problem in the May 17 race will be returning to the track only 14 days after the Derby.
"If our horse can get over the two-week thing and basically go out there and run the way he has been running, he's going to be tough to beat," Dutrow said.
Big Brown captured Saturday's Derby by 4 3/4 lengths for his fourth consecutive victory and is the first horse since 1929 to win North America's top race from the 20th post.
Delighted with the colt's shape since the Derby, Dutrow is confident Big Brown can succeed in the Preakness and head to the Belmont Stakes with a chance to win the elusive Triple Crown.
"It's the best he's come out of a race since we've had him," Dutrow said. "He just came out of it so good. I'm just so happy. I feel good about him."
Big Brown will probably face eight other colts in the 1 3/16-miles Preakness at Pimlico in Baltimore.
"I'm feeling we have the best horse in the race, the fastest horse," Dutrow said. "He's shown that he can go this far. I'm glad to see the competition in there.
"It's not like it's a stellar-packed field. Anyone can see that."
Despite Dutrow's optimism, Woodbine-based trainer Reade Baker, who will saddle Kentucky Bear for the Preakness, made it clear he was not about to concede the race to Big Brown.
"Let's not get Big Brown in the hall of fame a little too soon," said Baker, whose colt closed in the stretch to be third in the Blue Grass Stakes.
"He certainly was the best of (the Derby) horses on a very unique racing surface, with all the rain and what they had to do to the track. I'll admit he was the best of those.
"That certainly doesn't make him better than anyone else."
JOCKEY CLUB FORMS SAFETY COMMITTEE- discussions begin
The Jockey Club Chairman Ogden Mills Phipps Thursday announced the formation of a seven-member committee to study every aspect of equine health. The issues to be reviewed by the committee include breeding practices, medication and track surfaces.
The committee will be comprised of Chairman Stuart Janney III, John Barr, Jimmy Bell, Dr. Larry Bramlage, Donald Dizney, Dell Hancock and Dr. Hiram Polk Jr.
HERE IS SOME REACTION....
BALTIMORE SUN EXCERPT... by Sandra McKee
...committee member Hiram C. Polk Jr., a thoroughbred owner and breeder and professor of surgery at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, said the task is far-ranging.
"The unsoundness of the contemporary racehorse is a hugely [complicated] thing," he said. "You're talking about shoes, the way they're bred, conditions of racetracks, how the tracks are maintained, how the horses are trained, the weather, medication, whips, vet practices. It's an incredible list -- a lot of little things put under the microscope."
The committee, which will begin by reviewing recommendations from the two Welfare and Safety of the Race Horse summits staged over the past two years, will hold its first meeting Wednesday.
Though the committee will have no power to make the industry implement its suggestions, Polk said the idea is to use the cachet of The Jockey Club to get safety issues "put on the fast track and moved along."
BUT ARE SYNTETHIC SURFACES THE ANSWER??
ART WILSON at the WHITTIER DAILY NEWS writes about the new COMMITTEE and TRACK SURFACES...
... but on the subject of synthetic tracks, the committee needs to formulate an independent study covering all aspects of the surfaces, including potential health risks not only to the horses, but to the jockeys, track workers and fans alike.
Even Frank Stronach, chairman of Santa Anita's parent company, Magna Entertainment Corp., admitted to health concerns regarding his track's surface during an exclusive interview on Magna's own Horse Racing TV on April 20.
Trainer Melvin Stute sits in Clockers' Corner in the mornings now and wonders what's happened to all the Blackbirds that once inhabited the area. Some have their suspicions, but it's all just conjecture now and needs to be addressed and studied.
Shirreffs, a harsh critic of the synthetic surfaces, claims the reduction in catastrophic breakdowns during the afternoons is more than offset by the casualties during morning workouts.
"And the horses that get hurt in the morning are the promising young horses," he said.
Said Stute: "I've had nine horses put down in 40 years, and five of them have been since the synthetics."
It's really quite simple. If each track's racing office would keep an official, unbiased record on the number of morning breakdowns and compare it to the pre-synthetic days, we'd have something to go by. As it is now, it's all speculative.
Trainer Brian Koriner says he's never had so many horses with foot problems.
"I'm not sold on them," he said of synthetic tracks. "I haven't talked to a trainer who is completely sold on them. They are very inconsistent."
Yet there are just as many trainers who like artificial tracks, such knowledgeable horsemen as Mike Mitchell, Doug O'Neill, Richard Mandella, Dan Hendricks and David Hofmans.
Who's right? Are artificial surfaces good or bad for the sport?
Until we get more data from independent sources, we won't know for quite a while.
For every argument supporting synthetic surfaces, there are just as many against.
For instance, they originally were supposed to be maintenance free and save the tracks all sorts of money. That's proven to be wrong.
"I like synthetics, but I think they wear out," trainer Clifford Sise said.
Synthetic tracks will have been a California staple for two years by the end of 2008. It's not time to toss them aside, like critics claim, nor would it be proper to embrace them as a cure-all for the safety of the horses and riders.
This industry needs to start pulling on the same end of the rope, or the concerns and arguments that exist today will still be around in 2010. The clock ticks, and we all wait to see what's next.
ALEX BROWN, working at Woodbine for Steve Asmussen and curator of the anti-slaughter movement at alexbrownracing.com said..
"I am all for exploring how we can improve our industry to benefit the horse, but I have two major concerns...
First, its seven members all seem to have a vested interest in the current game. If we are to truly scrutinize our sport we need at least one person who is wholly independent of the sport. That person should not be too hard to find; our sport is small and getting smaller.
My second concern, assuming we see some positive recommendations from the committee, is how these recommendations will be implemented. Will they have teeth? We do not have a racing “czar.” We have many independent racing jurisdictions which compete with one another for horses and horseman so they can generate a betting handle.
If we are going to scrutinize our sport, let’s make sure it is an effective review with actionable outcomes."
RANDY MOSS has lots of ideas over at
including BANNING WHIPS...
And although Saez's whip almost certainly had nothing to do with the fate of Eight Belles, state racing commissions should bow to public sentiment and immediately enact rules to abolish the whip or dramatically limit its use. The sentiment that jockeys need whips to control their mounts may be overrated -- Jerry Bailey thinks so -- and nothing contradicts the claim that racehorses love their work more than the sight of them being beaten through the stretch. In Europe, limits were long ago enacted restricting the number of times a horse can be hit, and the force with which a jockey can deliver a blow. In Australia, lighter whips are used that inflict less discomfort. But instead of asking our stewards to count whip strokes, perhaps we should raise the bar one step higher and do away with whips altogether.
These aren't new ideas. Racecaller Trevor Denman has been an outspoken opponent of whips for as long as I can remember, and many within the sport have sounded the alarm about thoroughbred infirmity and medication since well before Barbaro.
FORT ERIE FEATURE... FROM THE ST.CATHERINES STANDARD- excerpt
After 29 years Desruisseaux finds overnight success Posted By Harlan Abbey
The new name atop the Fort Erie Race Track's trainer standings is Allen Desruisseaux, an overnight success after 29 years on the backstretch.
Desruisseaux and his wife Cathy were not from racing families, but lived near the farm of trainer Lawrence Langley. Cathy began galloping horses in the morning for Langley and a little later, they bought their first thoroughbred, Dance To Music, for $500.
"I bet $100 to win on her," he recalled. "She won, we sold her right afterwards for $2,000 as a broodmare and with all that and our share of the purse money (I think it was $900 at the time), we furnished our first apartment."
After many years assisting trainer Dan Taylor and others, Desruisseaux passed the head trainer's exam last fall and started out the 2008 season by winning with his first starter, Better Than Bitter, at Woodbine. She won the seventh race at the Fort Saturday (Chad Beckon up, $5.10 to win) and Just Fine (Cory Clark, $11.20) won the third race Sunday. The new head trainer missed a hat trick when Belle of the Brawl (Clark) was second to African Rainbow, trained by Jimmy Woods, in the first race of the season.
"I thought she'd win, too, but she started looking at the crowd in the grandstand, slowed down and was caught," Desruisseaux said.
Three jockeys are tied for first in those standings with three wins, including apprentice Richard Morrow, whose wins this year (and two last year) means his apprentice allowance dropped from 10 to five pounds.
Morrow, a Welland native, also rode the weekend's longshot winner, Tethra's Dream, who paid $78. Trained by Rodney Quinn at Woodbine, Tethra's Dream, according to Morrow's agent Scott Lane, had lost his two starts at Woodbine by 40 lengths combined, hadn't shown any speed and ran all over the track before drawing away to win by three lengths Saturday.
Morrow won Sunday's first race on Baileysinheritance ($7.50) with good handling according to the official race chart.
Other riders with three wins for the first two days of the season were Beckon, who finished second four times Sunday, and veteran Chris Griffith.