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Monday, June 02, 2008





Eibar Coa didn't know what to think as he continued walking by the press corps after the Plate Trial Stakes yesterday.
The New York based jockey had come in to ride his hero, the undefeated HARLEM ROCKER in the $150,000, 1 1/8 mile test and the pair were 1 to 5.

We questioned the horse's presence at Woodbine, his first trip at 2 turns, the Polytrack. Why did he pass up the Preakness? The Ohio Derby? Why did an assistant make it sound like the colt's training was just average?

Well, a huge amount of money was bet to show on the horse.
He looked just fine in post parade.
But after breaking a step slowly and racing 3 wide around the first turn, things started to go the wrong way.
The pace was slow, 48 and change, but that did not seem to be the excuse.
"I still thought I could go past but he never picked up the bit," said Coa.
"The only thing I can think of is that he didn't handle the Polytrack."
If this was the colt that was going to give BIG BROWN a challenge, perhaps Mr. Brown is not that invincible next Saturday.

In one of the more stunning results at Woodbine in recent years, Harlem Rocker, THE Harlem Rocker who might have raced in the Preakness Stakes against Big Brown, floundered while the flashy colt with the big heart, NOT BOURBON, held off a charging SOLITAIRE to win the Trial.

A tiny Plate field just ballooned to perhaps double-digits.

The race was run in fast time - the fastest TRIAL SINCE 1980 when the race was moved to 9 furlongs.
But the 1:49.73 was awarded only an 88 Beyer Figure.

Nevertheless, NOT BOURBON with his aptly named sire, Not Impossible, shocked not only his Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield but also his rider Jono Jones.

"I didn't think he could go 7 furlongs," said Jones after the race. "But Roger has done an amazing job with the horse."

Attfield credited Jones just as much, citing the work the rider has done with the hot-headed colt.
"Jono felt that he could have moved a little bit later than he did too - if they went a bit farther. He's a dead fit horse,now I just have to keep him happy for 3 weeks."

Attfield has won 7 Plates and one more would tie him with Harry Giddings Jr. who won 8 Plates in the early 1900s.

Not Bourbon's sire is deceased. His dam is the millionaire BOURBON BELLE, who won or placed in 26 stakes races, mostly sprints.

Many people exclaimed that SOLITAIRE would be favoured for the Plate off of his big effort in just his 2nd career start. Owned by Bill Clifton, the Victory Gallop-Ring Star, Great Gladiator colt was closing fast and just about caught up to the Bourbon.
Trainer James Bond talked up the horse on THE SCORE show earlier in the day.

Solitaire was bred by Windways Farm - which bred 2006 Plate winner Wild Desert.

SEBASTIAN'S SONG ran a big race as well in a 3rd place finish. The Cherokee Run colt made an early move in the race, 3 wide to take a clear lead before tiriing.
He is owned by Centennial Farms (Niagara) and trained by Alec Fehr.
The stable also has NIAGARA THUNDER heading to the Plate and JAVIAR CASTELLANO is confirmed to ride that colt.

A maiden race earlier in the card put JUNGLE BREW into the Plate picture.
The gorgeous Milwuakee Brew colt didn't win - he was a fast closing second after trailing a very slow pace - but in 2 starts he has made a strong impression.

Trainer Brian Lynch was pointing the Stronach Stables colt to the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie and not the Plate but with the failure of Harlem Rocker, perhaps Jungle Brew will represent the stable on Plate day.

















After the Belmont dust settles, it will WOODBINE OAKS day at Woodbine.
This Thursday is the draw for post positions.
A field of 9 to 12 is expected with GINGER BREW the heavy favourite for Stronach Stables.
The chestnut Milwaukee Brew miss will have a stablemate in the race too - Money My Honey.













The wagering at Woodbine was $3.1 million - a grand total of $6.1 million for Saturday and Sunday.
That's good considering a nasty strike by Ontario Lottery security blocked the track entrances for several hours and there were a lot of unhappy racing fans.

Freshman sire TOMAHAWK had two more starters at Woodbine yesterday - they finished 1-2. LONG PANTS wore down the very fast COSTALIVIN to win the 4 1/2 furlongs dash in 52.09. Long Pants is owned by Kingfield Racing, Doug Anderson and Rita Eskudt and trained by Catherine Day Phillips.

Champion CATCH THE THRILL was very game in an allowance win on yesterday's card. The A.P. Indy filly had not won since she was a 2yo and was making her season debut for Sam-Son Farm. Incredibly, the filly paid $21.

BOLD EXECUTIVE bombers BOLD MANEUVER, trained by longshot specialist Gail Cox, and PROMOTION TIME finished 1-2 in a maiden allowance turf event at 7 furlongs. Bold Maneuver is out of the Black Tie Affair mare Lusty Affair and was bred by Mark and Norman Casse.

AT RUIDOSO DOWNS...KUBA A NOQUA won the Aspen Cup Stakes with an 84 Beyer Figure for 1:10.20 at 6 furlongs.
The Ontario bred is by Marquetry out of Baby Millie by Gallapiat and was bred by Sue Foreman.
The filly has been through 3 sales - Steve Attard was listed as buyer at Woodbine two years ago for about $40,000, then Foreman sold her that fall in Kentucky for $30,000 and last spring she sold for $42,000 by Eisman Equine in Florida.
The filly has won 3 of 5 races.

And in response to some comments - KING'S SILVER SON was euthanized after a race on Woodbine's Polytrack on Sunday...and ARRAVALE was making her first LOCAL start of the year, a correction from yesterday's post. THOROUGHBLOG regrets the error.


  • At 11:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    There are a lot of excellent short films put together on the Racing channel which are really intersting to watch.

    However when it comes to the interviews following the races, T think the interviewers should be able to come up with better questions than " how did it feel when you won the race?" or "How does it feel to have the favourite for the Queens Plate?"

    I just watched Roger Attfield on Tv being asked these questions. This man must have so many intersting stories to tell. Surely somebody could come up with a bit of spontaneity to get him chatting and see where the conversation goes.It is always the same lazy questions which go nowhere, and are pretty embarrassing to watch.I suppose they just copy the hockey broadcasters who always ask the "How did it feel questions"

    Cant they find somebody who can do it differently with a bit of imagination? It is all so predictable,and it should not be.

  • At 12:34 PM, Blogger the_drake said…

    I think the Polytrack had more to do with Harlem Rockers performance than the competition...lets not go over board here. You don't win the Withers with a 106 by accident, any horse in the Trial would have got their heads ripped off in that race. I know everyone loves to dance around when a big horse comes to Woodbine, but seriously. Put the bunch he ran against on dirt and he would be in front by a pole. Lets also not forget that a lightly raced MAIDEN almost won the race, and should go on to win the Plate.

    As for Tomahawk he really doesn't have much market value anywhere down south, his only dirt win was an allowance with a so so beyer. If his horses can start winning races outside of OSS competition he might get some attention, but he looks to be the perfect fit for the restricted Ontario market, he's making the OSS "superstar" sires we had here look pretty ordinary.
    As for D'Wildcat (who somebody mentioned earlier), he was a G1 winner on dirt in the States and when the Ontario breeders abandoned him, like they do to everyone in their second year (look at the drop in numbers to Tomahawk as well) the right move was made, get him to a market where the breeders will support him, instead of the flavour of the year market we have here.

    Finally, Fort Erie should have a draw where a lucky fan gets to make the morning line everyday. It will be a hell of a lot better than the number jumble they put together there now.

  • At 4:01 PM, Anonymous Derek C said…

    Hi Jen.
    Keep up the good work.

    Can anyone update me as to the progress of Todd Kabel and Michelle Rainford when last reported, Michelle was to return to riding Races in early Spring,
    But so far she has not appeared.
    Also can anyone give me any info on ex Toronto jockey Don Hale ??
    Many Thanks
    Derek C.

  • At 5:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    agree with the drake. Don't be too hard on HR-- still a good effort and time for a horse who hs nver run on Poly; note all the horses ahead of him have ONLY run on Poly.

    I saw the Withers and this horse is good, but maybe he is really good only on dirt and average on Poly.

    Real question is why go to Plate now if he hates Poly. Better to take him back to the dirt, restore his confidence, and meet Big Brown in the Travers!

    Leave the Poly to the Poly horses...

  • At 5:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sylvester Ollivierre is now the new trainer for Herbert W. Chambers. I think the first horse runs Wednesday night, Teacher Boyne in the 5th.

  • At 7:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The race in which Harlem Rocker ran at Woodbine this past weekend was not a true indicator of this horses ability, Having saw this horse ship to woodbine in the early hours of the morning, unload, gallop 1 day, then race on a surface he had never set foot on ,come on...... give this guy a break....He never picked the bit up in the race; his rider said, He never picked the bit up the moment he got off the van Saturday morning...He looked lost in his morning gallop. I think he was not ready to run this past weekend. I would suggest that if he runs in the Plate there will be a diffrent horse show up....3 weeks team Stronach..Lots of time to bounce back.....Brian Lynch and team Stronach will have this colt coming over the webbing for his next outing....this you can count on.........good luck,,,knocked down, but not out...P.S... he won't have to ship in for the next race, he will be staying right here....

  • At 8:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Rocker's performance in the Plate Trial is just another example that any race run on a polytrack surface is a joke. Smart betters figured it out at Keeneland already, handle dropped drastically because there is no logic when betting a polytrack track. Harlem Rocker was and will continue to be considered the 2nd best 3 year old in the North America.

    The scary thing is that as of right now even with the prospect of Curlin vs. Big Brown in the Breeders Cup Classic, I would have to think that Student Council and HeatSeeker would have to be considered the favorites for the race being that they are proven synthetic runners. I hope that Churchill Downs or Belmont Park put up some big bucks during the fall and let Brown and Curlin settle it on the dirt.

  • At 6:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Am I to understand that unless we are overly excited about a sire that is advertised on your blog, you don't want to hear about it?

  • At 7:02 AM, Blogger Jen Morrison said…

    Mr or Ms. Anonymous of 654 a.m Tuesday...

    I cannot back up statistics sent to me on number of foals born, mares bred etc.. If the statistics are wrong, that is not fair to whatever horse or person you choose to slam.
    If you sign your name to the statistics, then I can print it.

  • At 9:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Looking forward to the Queen's Plate. All of Niagara will be watching their two representatives. Kudos to Centennial Farms for reviving horse racing in the Niagara region. We are all behind you. Niagara Thunder looks like a strong contender and Sebastian's Song can not be ruled out, especially after the Plate Trial.

  • At 1:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    In the past,when a horse threw a bad race, the connections would say the track was "cuppy"!.Anybody remember that? Today it is "poly".
    It's an excuse. The trainer nor the jockey want to take responsibility for the poor performance. It's the nature of Horse racing- 100 beyer today, 85 next race. You can't seriously blame it on Polytrack. We don't have to contend with those terrible sloppy or muddy tracks which were much worse. The horse was slowly away,got hung wide and then accelerated into a fast pace.
    That is a tough trip. Maybe it will be a good tightener for him for the Plate.

  • At 4:41 PM, Blogger the_drake said…

    I like the poly, but I wouldn't be running Harlem Rocker in the Plate. Take him back to the States to win some more Graded races on dirt.
    Anon 1:12,in this case the surface was a legit excuse. This was the weakest field he ever faced in his career and he never got rolling. There are lame excuses for bad races this was not one. If the race was run on the training track he wins by a pole.

  • At 5:10 PM, Blogger AscotStud said…

    There are quite a few horsemen and women at Fort Erie that weren't notified that horse racing had ceased in the Niagara Region. There are also quite a few nice mares and sires in the region including the 2nd leading Sire in Ontario (Tejano Run) who should have 2 Graded fillies running in Stakes races at Hollywood this Saturday, including a G2 (for 3yo fillies, which will probably be a tougher race than the Plate).
    Best of luck to the Centennial horses in the Plate, but don't forget about the other hundreds of people working to keep quality racing going in the Niagara Region

  • At 5:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    To the Drake

    What will you say if he runs in the Plate and wins it?

    If he runs a clunker and then goes back to the dirt and regains his form, I will say your judgment is brilliant,but I have my doubts that will happen.

  • At 6:19 PM, Blogger the_drake said…


    If he wins the Plate I would say he won because he is a superior horse, not because he likes the surface. I think 007 has the race won though, unless the Stronach filly tries for the Oaks Plate double. Not Bourbon is a game horse but will be outclassed the final 1/8th.
    Are you saying you don't think HR will regain his form,his 1st 4 races were very nice, you don't string a record like that together by accident and then get exposed in the Plate Trial (this year expecially). Some need a race over the polytrack before they excel over it, I think he may improve enough to win the race if they run him in the Plate, but I think he will turn out to be (and he already is) a much more useful horse on the dirt. You are right about horses regressing from a 106 to an 85, but that is usually on the jump, not going from a G3 at Belmont to a CAN-Restricted which would be a $50k claimer for 3yo boys if it was carded at Belmont.
    Only time will tell, and I have been wrong many times, but I don't think I am here.
    I see him (and will be there) winning a G1 on Travers day,just not sure if it will be the Travers or the King's Bishop.

  • At 7:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    I am willing to concede that maybe HR did not take to the Poly, as you say.Racehorses can be very finicky.

    Dylan Thomas won the Arc last year and then bombed in the Breeders cup. To me,he did not handle going left handed around the tight turns, but is a superior horse to English Channel, so i know you may have a valid point here.

    My original letter was to point out that HR's defeat DOES NOT MEAN that Polytrack is a joke or an abberation. Maybe he does not handle it,maybe he was having an off day, maybe he prefers going around one turn, maybe he shipped badly. We will know in a couple of weeks!

    I have been wrong before too!, but I feel that he will adjust to the new surface and going around 2 turns, and will win the Plate,with Not Bourbon second.


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