(Notice - picketers at Woodbine began at approximately 7 a.m.this morning, as of 8:45 a.m., horsepeople were not given any special leeway at certain entrances..THE HBPA is working on this right now)
QUEEN'S PLATE DAY - 149
CBC TV - 4:30
It is grey and damp and cool outside this morning but this afternoon Woodbine racetrack will be drenched purple and gold and some tuxes and tails and a lot of fancy dresses and hats.
Yep, people still love the Plate and it's fun to get dressed up for the continent's oldest, continuously run horse race.
Horse racing in as strong, perhaps stronger than ever - check the wagering totals at Woodbine this year for proof.
Picketing strikers tried to slow the 2006 Plate but the place was jammed that day too.
While the race may be cluttered with a few horses who should not be in the race, we will see how good the favourites are and if any of them will move on to better things.
The Plate made headlines in the Los Angeles Times, among other papers, today as a race of the day.
Selections for the race vary but most realize that only a few of the 15 can actually win the event. The popular pick is NOT BOURBON.
NOT BOURBON and SOLITAIRE, both flashy chestnuts with white faces, were the 1-2 finishers in the Plate Trial. Only GINGER BREW, the filly, figures to stand in their way.
Trainer Brian Lynch is very confident of the filly - Thoroughblog talked to him yesterday:
“I had been thinking about the Plate for her for a while,” said Lynch, who purposely rested the filly for six weeks after the Calder Oaks romp before her dazzling Woodbine Oaks score only two weeks ago.
“She’s in great form, I think she will go forward from the Oaks.”
Indeed, Lynch told Thoroughblog,on May 20,the following:
Stronach Stables' other possible Plate starters are HANDSOME BLUE - "I haven't given up on him yet" said trainer Brian Lynch yesterday, who plans to run the colt in a 9 furlong maiden race soon and GINGER BREW (who actually is not currently eligible for the Plate), who is a big favourite for the Woodbine Oaks but who "can go 1 1/4 miles".
There have been five filly-winners of the Plate since Woodbine opened in 1956.
The last to do so, Sam-Son Farms’s Dancethruthedawn in 2001, was also returning to action two weeks after an Oaks win.
"Bourbon can give you a headache, the brews are much better," was Lynch's response to Roger Attfield's clever quip at the Plate draw (see Thursday's post on Thoroughblog).
C'MON GET HAPPY
Buffalo News' HAPPY HANDICAPPER caps Plate
courtesy The Buffalo News..
TORONTO — As time goes by, the Happy Handicapper finds himself more and more rooting for the old, er, veteran guys.
Which is why on Sunday he’s going to put a few dollars on Not Bourbon to win the $1 million Queen’s Plate at Woodbine.
Like all the Plate runners, Not Bourbon is only 3 years old, but his trainer, Roger Attfield, 68, is one of the grandest men of Canadian horse racing, a Hall of Famer who has trained three Canadian Triple Crown winners (With Approval, Izvestia and Peteski) and has been a frequent visitor to the winner’s circle at Woodbine and Fort Erie.
Six years after immigrating from his native England, Attfield won his first Plate in 1976 (Jeff Fell rode Norcliffe, the 8-5 favorite).
Since then, Attfield has won six more Plates (he’s also lost 23 times) and is one short of tying the record held by the legendary Harry Giddings Jr., who went 8 for 43 between 1907 and 1948.
But the Handicapper’s selection of Not Bourbon isn’t entirely based on sentiment. This is a pretty good colt who might go off higher than his 5-2 morning-line odds.
In two days of picking the brains of trainers, jockeys and gamblers at Woodbine last week, the Handicapper was told numerous times that the Plate’s 1v mile 1/3 would be too far for Not Bourbon.
A look at the past performances explained their attitude.
Not Bourbon (so named because he’s a son of Not Impossible and Bourbon Belle) began his career as a sprinter, a very good sprinter, over the Woodbine “Polytrack” surface. As a 2-year-old, his two wins were at 5z 1/2 n 2/3 6 furlongs, the latter in a then track-record 1:08 4/5.
Most observers dismissed him as a one-dimensional sprinter. But not Attfield. His experienced eye saw a distance runner.
“He’s got the dosage and indexes [in his pedigree] to say he can go a mile and a quarter,” Attfield said. “He’s a very fast horse, but my main concern wasn’t his pedigree, whether he can go a mile and a quarter. It was more his way of running and his aggressiveness and whether I could harness that speed.”
Working with jockey and exercise rider Jono Jones, Attfield has developed the chestnut colt to a point where he says, “At this moment we’re very happy where we are” and “I’m not worried about it [the distance question].”
Judging from his training schedule, Attfield has been strictly old school when dealing with Not Bourbon.
Frequent hard, fast workouts between races seem to be the key to stretching him out to longer distances. Leading up to the 7-furlong Queenston Stakes, he breezed half miles of 47 2/5 and 47 seconds. He blew out another half in 46 1/5 before the Plate Trial and last Wednesday, in his final Plate prep, he breezed a half in 46 3/5 in an impressive work Attfield jokingly labeled “a canter.”
Although Not Bourbon won the 1n-mile Plate Trial on June 1, the victory in his first race around two turns didn’t seem to impress many people the H. H. talked to.
Not Bourbon stalked the pace, took the lead at the top of the stretch, opened a 1z-length lead and then held off the fast-closing Solitaire by a neck for his fourth career victory in nine starts. Next time at a longer distance, the popular thinking goes, Solitaire will win easily.
That might be an erroneous conclusion. As Attfield points out, the close finish “was a mistake wasn’t it?” A mistake was made by the jockey, who was “giving the victory wave and then he sees him there.”
The victory, even with Jones celebrating prematurely, earned Not Bourbon a Daily Racing Form Beyer Speed Rating of “88,” the co-fastest at Woodbine’s 1n mile distance of any of the Plate entrants. (It’s the same figure as Ginger Brew earned against fillies in the Woodbine Oaks two weeks ago and as Solitaire earned as runner-up by a neck).
“You can’t take anything away from Roger’s horse,” said H. James Bond, trainer of Solitaire. “He keeps winning and horses that win should be respected.”
“That horse [Not Bourbon] is the best horse,” said Jim Bannon, TV analyst and Woodbine’s program handicapper. “He’s the fastest horse. You never think he can get the distance but he always keeps proving everybody wrong.”
After putting Not Bourbon (No. 13) on top, the H. H. is going to try to catch a couple of long shots for the rest of his exacta box.
He likes the Mark Casse-trained Took the Time (No. 15) for second place. Although he’s won only one of three races, Took the Time, to be ridden by Ramon Dominguez, has never been worse than second, has a fast-closing running style, and has been training very sharply.
“He’s a pretty good horse,” Casse said. “Everything we’ve done up to this point has been for the Queen’s Plate.”
Ginger Brew (No. 10) rounds out the ticket. The filly may be compromised by only two weeks of rest, but she’s won four out of six with two seconds and is representing the powerful stable of Frank Stronach, who also is running Jungle Brew (No. 11), an 0- for-2 maiden with a strong closing kick.
THE FIELD AND WHY THEY CAN WIN (or what would be cool if they won)
June 22, $1,000,000, 3yo, 11⁄4m, Woodbine, 5:06 PM ET
Horse Sire Jockey Trainer
1. D. Flutie Langfuhr Emile Ramsammy Michael Keogh
Gus Schickedanz is a popular owner and breeder, trainer Keogh is just as popular. Solid horsefolks, easy to cheer for. Colt has the build and inside speed.
2. Dylan’s Choice Sligo Bay (Ire) Chantal Sutherland Desmond Maynard
The little guy for sure, colt ran for $8K claiming at Tampa. Local connections plus Chantal Sutherland would make him a fun winner
3. East End Tap Pleasant Tap Tyler Pizarro Reade Baker
It would be the 1st stakes win for jockey Pizarro. Colt changed over to Baker's barn one race ago.
4. Harvest Home Smart Strike Corey Fraser Mark R. Frostad
Sam-Son Farms was rocked by the deaths of Tammy Samuel Balaz and her mum Elizabeth. This lumbering guy is not too bad and he should be better on grass.
5. Deputiformer Silver Deputy Jerry Baird Michael De Paulo
David James and trainer Mike DePaulo and longtime players locally. They had Shillelagh Slew as a Plate fave a few years back. Windfields Farm bred this guy - how appropriate would a Plate win be?
6. Silver Jag Point Given Slade Callaghan Josie Carroll
Slade Callaghan - it would be his biggest win ever, same for Earl Daynes the owner and Josie won the Plate 2 years ago.
7. Palmers Grand Slam Patrick Husbands Mark E. Casse
Mark Casse has been champion trainer in Canada twice, never won a Plate. he thought this guy may be a high claiming type but watch out for him in the superfecta.
8. Mamma’s Knight Ascot Knight Justin Stein Sam Di Pasquale
Mississauga business Mike Kowalski and his trainer Sammy D have been playing the claiming game for a while. This is a big day for them and jockey Stein.
9. Shadowless Stormy Atlantic Emma-Jayne Wilson David R. Bell
His owner and breeder Heather Takahashi always wanted a horse, bought a mare with her first bonus cheque, the mare could not race but then produced this guy before dying. It is her only horse.
10. Ginger Brew Milwaukee Brew Javier Castellano Brian A. Lynch
Filly! And how strange it she won after we were told she would not race in the Plate right after her Oaks score...
11. Jungle Brew Milwaukee Brew Jim McAleney Brian A. Lynch
Another maiden! Jim McAleney makes this story - he picked up the mount yesterday. Last year he was the rider for Mike Fox at one point, then he got hurt. This year his mount Cool Gator got hurt. His main man Reade Baker's horse fell and caused this colt's jockey to be injured. Wild stuff.
12. Solitaire Victory Gallop Robert C. Landry H. James Bond
Windways' Begg family has bred lots of good ones including Plate winner Wild Desert. This is another product. Have to cheer for trainer who is the best of all nice guys and Landry is easy to cheer for too.
13. Not Bourbon Not Impossible (Ire) Jono C. Jones Roger L. Attfield
His trainer Roger Attfield is one Plate win away from the record, set in 1911-1942 by Harry Giddings. Winning that many Plates is something.
14. Sebastian’s Song Cherokee Run David Clark Alec Fehr
This guys is owned by a bunch of Niagara Falls businessmen who just got into racing 2 years ago.
15. Took the Time Greenwood Lake Ramon A. Dominguez Mark E. Casse
Earle Mack likes Canadian racing (he just won a big race in the US yesterday too) Casse has never won the Plate. All American ties with this guy but how about the breeder,LINDA MASON, a local gal who would hit the jackpot.
Bear wins by a bloody lip, Debbie England sends out 'Barley stakes winner
It's wasn't pretty but BEAR NOW held on to win the Hill 'n' Dale stakes at Woodbine yesterday, the second year in succession she has won the $100,000 race.
The Tiznow miss, a graded stakes winner last year who was just 3rd in a big graded event at Pimlico only to have minor throat surgery after, opened up a long lead early in the race and was going quite fast.
Things looked safe turning for home but then, according to jockey Jerry Baird, she started looking around.
Baird checked several times to his outside in dep stretch and almost caught caught on the rail by a charging Serenading, owned, coincidentally,by HIll 'n' Dale Farms' Sikura family.
But Bear Now held on and made her multitude of backers happy - she was 4 to 5.
After the race the Tiznow filly, owned by Danny Dion's Bear Stables and trained by Reade Baker, got a good hose down as she was bleeding lot from her mouth, perhaps from a bitten tongue.
Later, MARLANG scored a mild upset in the $100,000 Charlie Barley Stakes on the grass for 3yo's. In that race, the 3 to 5 shot FLYING DISMOUNT, in from New York for Christophe Clement never got out of a gallop it seemed as he travelled with his head low and trailed.
Marlang, a Langfuhr-Marienburg fellow who was making his 3rd start of the year would up battling on the pace with longshot Gun Highway and both kept going as they didn't go fast on the pace.
Marlang is owned and was bred by Gus Schickedanz, who gave trainer Debbie England this colt to train last year.
"I've always liked this colt, he's good looking, he took some time to develop," said England.
"I always wantd to run him the grass."
A top horseperson for years, England has trained champions like Diva's Debut. This stakes win should get her back into the Woodbine media guide, from which she has been absent for many years!
The Stronach-Lynch mob got off to a big start on Plate weekend when 1 to 5 shot PERFECT BULLET and his entrymare ABOVE SPIRIT (trained by Seean Smullen) finished 1-2 in the 1st race on Satturday, an allowance event.
The 4yo Perfect Bullet won his maiden in his Woodbine debut and is a promising colt bby El Prado out of champion Perfect Sting.
The pace was 25 and 49 4/5 and Perfect Bullet was well off the pace under Jono Jones (who will try and beat up on a couple of Stronach runners in tomorrow's Plate) but he bullied his way past runners on the last turn and took the lead before holding off his mate.
So while Perfect Bullet rallied from last to win the 1st race behidn those slow splits, the 2nd race went to front runner GREY BOUNDARY in a maiden claimer and he went 23 3/5 and 47 2/5.
Puzzling for sure. But Grey Boundary was 2 to 1 and a virtual certainty to win on the class drop from Castle Peak Farm and trainer Tom Marino. The Ontario bred is by Boundary (sire of Big Brown) out of Grey Pearl. He was ridden by David Clark.
Another 1 1/16 mile race, this time an allowance for Ontario bred older guys and D BOLD RULER, newly gelded this year, was up in time to beat Sand Cove in a good stretch battle.
A Bold Executive gelding, he is a "new horse" according to trainer Laurie Silvera, who had the fellow geled at the end of last year.
Bred by Queensview Farm, D Bold Ruler is owned by Riviera and York Tech Stables.
LOLA B., first time Lasix and the only 2yo filly in a big field with a race under her girth, was an impressive maiden winner yesterday in race 4. A Florida bred by Suave Prospect, the Stephen Organ owned, Tino Attard trained gal strolled past front runner Poppin in deep stretch to win the maiden allowance. She had lost her debut for $50K claiming. Poppin, by City Zip, is an Ontario-bred.
There were a lot of winners yesterday who were blown out in previous starts.
DEMI SONG became the first winner of the meeting for trainer WINSTON WILKINSON (who was 0 for 21) when he returned to Polytrack yesterday and rallied up the rail to win the $12,500 claiming race.
the class drop aside (he was 2nd for $25,000 in his season debut), the gelding was 6th beaten 20 lengths at odds on in his last start at Fort Erie.
Clasy guys tumbling in class that were claimed were Dancingonthegreen and Likely - perhaps both headed to Fort Erie.
BELLA CREEK dropped in for $20,000 claiming for her season debut in her latest outing and was also blasted. At the same level, she rallied to win yesterday at 16 to 1. She is an Ontario homebred by GDS Stable and Lorna Perkins and by Trajectory.
SID ATTARD has been on a roll of late, CAPTAIN RAUCOUS was a 7 to 1 winner of the 8th as he stalked a 3 horse speed duel and rallied 4 wide to win for Tucci Stables for $32,000. He is New York bred by Subordination.
Lorne Richards is another steady trainer and he shortened up the very fast TIVERTON and watched him scorch 7 furlongs in 1:21 and change to win the allowance, 10th event. The kentucky bred by Unaccounted For ran a 94 Beyer.
The finale went to turf debut runner SEPTEMBER SQUARE, a full brother to a grass debut winner and a son of top turf sire Compadre. The recent claim won for All day Stable and Wille Armata, who continues to have a super meeting. The 3yo gelding was 15 to 1.
The news was not so good for another BEAR - KENTUCKY BEAR, who was last in the Colonial Cup afer leading all the way to the top of the stretch in silly, storm like conditions...
Also at Colonial yesterday, READY EDDIE, B. g. 5, More Than Ready —Authenic Deed, by Alydeed. won his 5th race in an allowance event. He has earned $152,000 and was bred by Belvedere Farm Inc., Alex Brancato and Gail Wood in Ontario.
At Mountaineer, NEVER LEFT OUT, B. f. 4, Salt Lake—Paint Her Gold, by Strike the Gold won an allowance race for her 5th score in 27 starts.She was bred by Jacquie Armstrong in Ontario.
At Suffolk, HI POPPY, B. g. 4, War Deputy—Hey Seattle, by Seattle Slew, bred by Mickey and Phyllis Canino, won and allowance race at 1 1/16 miles by 2 lengths. he's won 5 of 26 starts.
BREEDERS' STAKES? Possibly for maiden winner TIGER BUD yesterday at Monmouth. He is a Hold That Toger-Golden Needles 3yo owned and bred by John Gunther in Ontario. He won a 9 furlong grass race in his 4th career start.
AND ON QUEEN'S PLATE DAY - A FINAL THOUGHT
Let's get people hip - protect our horses
Still so many people who work in horse racing (not on the backstretch) in various aspects of the business, front offices, television etc. are not hip.
WOODBINE ENTERTAINMENT, a leader in so many ways of all tracks in North America, offers a percentage of purses to LONGRUN THOROUGHBRED RETIREMENT and today, joins with LongRun to celebrate the horse.
Special saddle towels, designed by Robyn Olguin, will be on each horse and then auctioned off next week on EBAY.
Cheer on your horse and then buy your towel.
And shame on anyone who enjoys the game and the business who does not recognize that the horses ARE the sport. Make a donation to LongRun today.
I will leave you with this story from yesterday:
CANADIAN BRED TALK OF THE BLOCK SAVED
In 24 hours, a flurry of activity including phone calls, donations and transportation, removed 8 thoroughbreds from SUGAR CREEK AUCTION house in Ohio.
One of them is 'Studly' , later found to be TALK OF THE BLOCK, a son of Louis Quatorze.
Talk of the Block can still be found on the Canter Ohio website actually.
His last trainer/owner Arnold Allen was offered the horse for sale:
MUST SELL ASAP***
Talk of the Block – Well-bred dark bay stud has a short hind sock, small star & a snip; he stands 16.0hh. Owner describes Talk as a very quiet horse that shows no studdish behavior. He is sound but needs to rest his knee after hitting it on the gate; he has no stall vices. Asking $1500. $1000 Contact Allen Arnold at 216-315-3498. Stabled in Barn 23 at Beulah Park.
Talk of the Block had been pulled up in his last race in April at Beulah Park.
A multiple winner of over $67,000, the stallion won races for his owner/breeders Audre and Gord Cappuccitti and also ran very well for Sheila Mohan and Dominic Polsinelli and Ian Alderson at Fort Erie.
He found his way to the U.S. this year.
But Studly is safe in a Virginia adoption home today.