COMING UP AT WOODBINE THIS WEEKEND:
The WONDER WHERE STAKES, 3rd jewel of the Triple Tiara, is 1 1/4 miles on turf that is likely to be yielding tomorrow. A big field features 3 to 1 favourite NICKI KNEW (her mum is a 1/2 sister to turf champion THORNFIELD) plus MONEY MY HONEY (her mum was a Grade 1 winner on turf) and other interesting ones.
SUNDAY is Chinese Cultural Centre day and the Grade 3 Seagram Cup features TRUE METROPOLITAN and JIGGS COZ in a rematch of the Dominion Day Stakes (in which the former had a brutal journey).
Also on Sunday, Horse of the Year SEALY HILL pops up in an allowance race on the grass after arriving back from California.
THURSDAY AT WOODBINE
Eight races on a stormy day and a fair strip but boy, those route races for the lesser horses are slow events.
The feature was an Ontario sired allowance, non-winers of 3, for fillies and mares and LA GRAN LESLIE was the first winner for trainer Shelley Fitzgerald with her 18th starter.
The Compadre mare lumbered down the middle of the track late in the 1 1/16 mile race, tail swishing and drifting out, but she won by 2 lengths as one of the favourites.
Owned by Let It Ride and partner, the filly has won 3 of 24 races.
JOANNIE NOT JO won for the 3rd consecutive time,all since stretching out to 1 1/16 miles, winning race 1 after an outside stalking trip. The Century City 3yo gelding, bred by Richard Lister in Ontario, is 5 for 11 in his career for G T Heat Stable and trainer Steve Owens. He started the roll for $16,000 claiming and won for $32,000 yesterday.
Also on a winning streak streak is INTREPID INSPECTOR, who just won his maiden on July 11 with the drop to $12,500 in his 11th start. He won again yesterday for $12,500 for Colebrook Farms and trainer Ashlee Brnjas. The 3yo is by Valid n Bold, a Colebrook stallion.
Congrats to SKIP CODE, the graded stakes winner from 2 years ago who finally won for the first time since his Grey Stakes score. The quirky grey gelding by Skip Away was dropped to claiming for his last race against open $40K claimers and he was 4th.
He led all the way to beat non-winners of 3 for $40K yesterday for owner Charles Laloggia.
Who ran faster that Skippy? Well the fast front running APALACHEE STORM ran like a wild horse to win a maiden allowance in race 4 for Ontario sired rivals. Displaying a long, smooth stride, the Ciano Cat 3yo gelding out of Apalachee Dancer won big despite no rating at all and he could be a good one - he ran slightly faster than Skip Code.
Apalachee Storm is owned by Michael Van Every, who bred the gelding with the late Susan Jane Anstey. Interesting that the gelding was 5th beaten 25 lengths in his season debut at a sprint distance.
WEST COAST MISS looked good winning her maiden in her 3rd race as a 2yo as a big longshot in race 5 for $25,000 claiming. The white faced Hard Buck Florida-bred seemed to be the first Woodbine winner for jockey LEROY BROWN (let the singing begin), who is not an apprentice.
The filly had blinkers off and was coming off a race in which she was wiped out in traffic.
VICAR'S OLIVES was very resilient to hold off everyone in a maiden $16,000 race at 1 1/16 miles in race 7. Don Ross's Vicar filly, bred by Auchamore Stud, chased the front runninng Hey There Pussycat all the way.
And BOLD PENNY was odds-on and a romping winner of the last race with the drop from $19,000 claiming to $12,500 for maidens; The 4yo Bold Executive gelding
CANADIAN-BRED KEEPS WINNING
SKY DIAMOND, 8, won for $7,500 claiming yesterday in the Monmouth slop by 2 1/2 lengths. The Sky Classic-Sometimesa diamond gelding, one of a few still racing for low claiming that have made $500,000 or more, won for Leo-Sag Stable and trainer Bobby Dibona.
And AUTHENICAT earned a career best 86 Beyer Figure when she won the Passing Mood Stakes Wed. night at Woodbine.
EXCERPT - DEL MAR DECLINE
Del Mar seeing a decline in numbers
By Art Wilson, Staff Writer
Del Mar - A recording of "Where the Turf Meets the Surf" by Bing Crosby serenades the fans at Del Mar before the first race and after the nightcap each racing day, but track officials are not singing any tunes after seeing the numbers for the first seven days of the 43-day meet.
According to Del Mar president Joe Harper, on-track handle is down 11.5 percent compared to 2007, when Del Mar had the second-highest all-sources average daily handle in track history. On-track attendance is also in decline, down as much as 900 per day according to one estimate.
Because of the economy and high gas prices, it appears many Los Angeles-area race fans are staying home and betting through TVG or Youbet.com.
According to one industry source, Del Mar management may cut purses by 7 percent in the near future, a possibility that Harper would neither confirm nor deny.
EXCERPT from the TIMES UNION
Desert Party is no dud in mud
Prado, $2.1 million colt win Sanford without sun
By MARK SINGELAIS, Staff writer
First published: Friday, July 25, 2008
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- The wife of trainer Eoin Harty helped get Desert Party to the starting gate in the Sanford at Saratoga Race Course.
From there, the talented $2.1 million colt and Hall of Fame-bound jockey Edgar Prado did the rest on Thursday afternoon.
At first denied an inside opening, Prado patiently guided Desert Party to the rail and a 3 /4 -length victory on a muddy track in the Grade II feature race for 2-year-olds.
"I was very concerned about the wet track," Harty said. "Actually, my wife (Kathy) told me to run. I've got to give her full credit. She told me not to weaken."
Harty said he felt better about the off track after watching the first couple of races with Jimmy Bell, president of Darley Stable, which purchased Desert Party this year at the Fasig-Tipton sale for 2-year-olds in training.
But Desert Party, who went off as the 4-5 favorite, appeared to be in trouble in front of a sparse crowd of 10,124 on a rainy day at the Spa.
The son of Grand Slam was squeezed early in the six-furlong race when he tried to slide inside past pace setter Officer Ipod.
Desert Party then fell back to last in the four-horse field as they made the turn.
"I had a pretty anxious moment on the turn," Harty acknowledged. "I thought I'd lost all chance there."
However, Prado showed all the confidence of a man who is to be inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame on Aug. 4.
Prado moved Desert Party along the rail to take charge in the upper stretch and edged away to win in 1 minute, 12.23 seconds and earn the victor's share of the $150,000 purse. Officer Ipod finished second, followed by Vineyard Haven.
WHITNEY AMONG BIG RACES ON
'CHALLENGE' DAY TOMORROW
The big stakes card tomorrow at SARATOGA (featuring GINGER PUNCH, BUSTIN STONES and others) is on ABC television.
July 26, $750,000, 3yo & up, 11⁄8m, Saratoga Race Course, 5:46 PM ET
PP Horse Sire Jockey Wt. Trainer
1. Commentator Distorted Humor John R. Velazquez 120 Nicholas P. Zito
2. Solar Flare (Arg) Salt Lake Gabriel Saez 115 J. Larry Jones
3. Notional In Excess (Ire) Edgar S. Prado 116 Mark A. Hennig
4. Cowtown Cat Distorted Humor Rafael Bejarano 114 Todd A. Pletcher
5. Merchant Marine Tiznow Rajiv Maragh 113 H. Allen Jerkens
6. Tasteyville With Approval Michael J. Luzzi 115 Patrick J. Kelly
7. Rising Moon Runaway Groom Cornelio H. Velasquez 115 Richard E. Dutrow Jr.
8. Grasshopper Dixie Union Robby Albarado 116 Neil J. Howard
9. A. P. Arrow A.P. Indy Ramon A. Dominguez 116 Todd A. Pletcher
10. Student Council Kingmambo Shaun Bridgmohan 117 Steven M. Asmussen
11. Timber Reserve Forest CampJavier Castellano 115 John C. Kimmel
FUNNY STUFF, ALSO FROM TIMES UNION
by TIM WILKIN
Win and You're In, but only if you pay
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Win and You're In. How does that sound?
To me, it sounds like if you win something, you're going to get something. Doesn't it sound like that to you?
The Breeders' Cup rolls its Preview Day into Saratoga Race Course on Saturday. Eleven races are on the card and four of them are big-time graded stakes races. The Whitney, Go for Wand and Diana are all Grade I events; the Alfred Vanderbilt is a Grade II.
The winners of these races get a ticket to run in the Breeders' Cup, the most glamorous day of racing in the United States.
Win and You're In. Win one of these races at the Spa or any of the other 53 designated races across the land and you will have a spot in that particular Breeders' Cup race. For example, if your horse wins the Whitney at Saratoga, you automatically qualify to run in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Win and You're In.
But you've still got to pay to run your horses on racing's richest day.
I was talking to trainer Bobby Frankel about the Win and You're In concept the other day. He'll be running the very talented mare Ginger Punch in the Go for Wand on Saturday. Ginger Punch won the Go for Wand last year and then went on to win the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Monmouth Park.
Frankel doesn't think too much about the Win and Your In.
He figures if a horse like Ginger Punch wins the Go for Wand, she is going to run in the Breeders' Cup anyway.
If the Breeders' Cup really wants to jazz up the Win and You're In program, Frankel has this neat idea. Win a Breeders' Cup race and you earn your way into the Breeders' Cup. You don't have to pay the entry fee. Now, I like that idea.
"That makes sense," Frankel said. "I won (the Go for Wand) with Ginger Punch and I still had to put up $80,000 to get in (to the Breeders' Cup Distaff). That makes no sense."
The Breeders' Cup Classic field can be no bigger than 14 horses. There are six Win and You're In races designated for the Classic.
If six different horses win them, seven other Classic horses are chosen by an international racing panel and the final spot goes to the horse with the highest earnings. But everyone pays to get in.
If a horse is nominated to run in the Breeders' Cup Classic, it costs $125,000 to enter. If he isn't nominated, it costs $450,000. Ouch. Win and You're In but don't forget to send the check.
D. Wayne Lukas, another Hall of Fame trainer, doesn't have a problem with Win and You're In. He says it puts an emphasis on horses running in big races and not skipping. If they win, then they have their spot in the Breeders' Cup.
"It has some merit but I don't know if it's a cure all,' Lukas said.
Greg Avioli, the president of the Breeders' Cup, knows there are concerns from horsemen. One of the biggest he has heard comes from the horsemen about winning and then still having to pay.
"We've talked to people about it," he said Thursday from his office in Lexington, Ky. "It would be a much stronger promotion if you are automatically in (to a Breeders' Cup race) whether or not you are nominated."
AND MORE ON BREEDERS' CUP
(and somewhat of a follow-up from my opinion piece yesterday)
Press credential applications have been sent out for the 25th Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita on Oct. 24 and 25.
It is the greatest day of racing and in its 25th year, should be better than ever with a whole bunch of new races.
Some people have questions,however, about the contract that goes with the credential... there could be a bit of a snag for folks who might want to attend the races and take photos.
Reportedly, the contract that must be signed involves some new requirements (and I would appreciate anyone else who has read this contract to clarify or provide more info or give their opinion) for photographers.
It seems as if one can take photos for one's own source - website, publication etc. - but cannot sell photos of the event to any other publication.
I think this is different than in other years (the contract did not actually note that this is not allowed and there will be serious consequences if not honoured) and IF true would be too bad and another example of promotion of the sport being held back by a few individuals.