WET AND WILD - CURLIN IN THE SLOP??
Lots of rain everywhere today - Woodbine's Polytrack will be fast but will we be off the grass?
(Photo top right is LA LORGNETTE who is honoured with a race in her name today at Woodbine...she won theOaks and the Queen's Plate!...from the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame website)
BELMONT was canclled yesterday because of rain....will the turf Grade 1's lose some horses that might come to Woodbine next weekend??
Belmont's big day is not the only fun.
TURFWAY PARK has Kentucky Cup day...Canada has cheering interests in BEAR NOW, FATAL BULLET, MAREN'S MEADOW and JULIET'S SPIRIT in various races.
OAK TREE at Santa Anita has tons of action with stars too - ZENYATTA anyone?
A field of Curlin spoilers Eight take on his run at a record
By Jennie Rees • firstname.lastname@example.org • September 27, 2008
ELMONT, N.Y. -- Horse of the Year Curlin -- with North America's all-time earnings record within his grasp -- is the heaviest favorite among the quintet of Grade I races today at Belmont Park. But no one is taking his victory for granted in the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup, certainly not his competition.
The 1¼-mile stakes attracted a nine-horse field on a day where trainers could have easier spots at Turfway, Hawthorne or Santa Anita.
Trainer John Kimmel considered the Kentucky Cup Classic and Hawthorne Gold Cup but opted to stay home with Timber Reserve, even though an off track could force him to scratch the 2007 Pennsylvania Derby winner, who has spent more time sidelined by injury or foot problems than running.
"We're kind of looking forward to taking on Curlin," Kimmel said. "He loves it here, and he's doing so well. We really felt like we'd roll the dice and hope things aren't so bad."
Mambo in Seattle, who lost the Travers by a nose, takes on older horses here instead of going in last week's easier Super Derby at Louisiana Downs.
"A horse like (Curlin), when they get beat, it's a circumstance," Louisville-based trainer Neil Howard said. "He's got to wake up on the wrong side of the bed or a little something happen. … We did this because we've seen the (Mambo in Seattle) run a fantastic race at 1¼ miles. He's bred for it, and it gave us an extra week."
Curlin might look vulnerable to some because he beat 40-1 Past the Point by only 1¼ lengths in Saratoga's Woodward. Trainer Steve Asmussen had been wary of running Curlin at Saratoga because of the track's tendency to favor speed. Curlin was carried very wide on the first turn and backside and had his hands full chasing down the front-running Past the Point.
"Nobody is looking past Saturday at all," Asmussen said. "If anything, the Woodward showed us the circumstances in which it can be very hard to win a race of that caliber."
Trainer Todd Pletcher sends out Churchill's Clark Handicap winner A. P. Arrow along with Ravel, who ranked among the favorites for last year's Kentucky Derby before a leg injury.
A. P. Arrow is owned by Michael Paulson, son of the late Allen Paulson. Allen Paulson campaigned Cigar, whose record of $9,999,815 in earnings is in peril.
The Gold Cup's $450,000 first-place check would put Curlin at $10,246,800.
"(Michael Paulson) did mention that it would be great if A. P. Arrow could step up and prevent it from happening," Pletcher said. "But that was not part of the decision-making process to run him."
With the rainy forecast (racing was canceled yesterday at Belmont), an off track seems inevitable. That's fine with Curlin's camp -- one of his best races was the Breeders' Cup Classic in the slop.
PREVIEW OF TODAY BY HANK WECSH
Curlin in East, Grade I stakes in West highlight exciting day
September 27, 2008
On the right coast today, you've got reigning Horse of the Year Curlin poised to become the sport's career earnings leader, the first to post an eight-figure total, taking on eight rivals in the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup, one of five Grade I stakes on the program at Belmont Park.
On the left coast, you've got Santa Anita poised to trump that with a card containing a record six Grade I stakes races.
If that isn't a big enough mess of big races, it'll do until the actual Breeders' Cup mess of 14 comes along Oct. 24-25 at Santa Anita.
The hottest horses in many of the BC divisions will be on display at either Belmont Park or Santa Anita this weekend. Names like Ginger Punch, Proudinski, and Mauralakana at Belmont. Zenyatta, Hystericalady, Street Boss, Well Armed, Tiago, Wait a While and Spring House at Santa Anita.
But racing fans from coast to coast will zero in on the Jockey Club Gold Cup for both its instantaneous and long-term ramifications revolving around Curlin.
Curlin has compiled earnings of $9,796,800 on 10 wins from 14 lifetime starts. The 4-year-old Smart Strike colt won his first three starts of 2008, among them the $6 million Dubai World Cup, to extend a streak to five straight that started with the 2007 Jockey Club Gold Cup.
A runner-up showing in his only grass start, the Man O War at Belmont in July, resulted in scrubbing plans to take on Europe's toughest in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. And, back on dirt, Curlin took the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga last month.
The winner's share of the $750,000 purse in the Jockey Club Gold Cup is $450,000, a figure that would enable Curlin to surpass Cigar ($9,999,815) as the richest North American-based racehorse ever.
Cigar was retired 12 years ago and the time he's held the record is second only to Kelso's ($1,977,896) 15 years before being supplanted by Affirmed ($2,393,818).
“It's so exciting to think he might break the record,” said Jess Jackson, majority owner of Curlin, on a national teleconference earlier this week. “It's not about the money, it's about his place in history. . . . I think Curlin has already proven he's one of the best, and I think one of the best in the last half-century, if not the century. That's just an owner's selfish view of the horse he loves, but that's the way I feel. It's an honor just to be included with horses like Cigar.”
Racing fans would like to see Curlin included with horses like Big Brown in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita. But Jackson was noncommital about anything beyond the Jockey Club Gold Cup.
He didn't eliminate the BC Classic as a possibility but included it with the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs and the Japan Cup. Jackson, who has expressed wariness about running Curlin on an artificial surface, confirmed that he has been to Santa Anita to inspect the new Pro-Ride surface.
But the San Francisco native is content to wait for Curlin's Jockey Club Gold Cup result and monitor the races at Santa Anita before making a decision regarding bringing his stable star to his home state.
The Pro-Ride surface will get a first-class test today and tomorrow when five of the eight $250,000-and-up Breeders' Cup prep races will be run over it. Four today and one tomorrow.
A Zenyatta-Hystericalady duel is expected over 1 1/16 miles of it in the $250,000, Grade I, Lady's Secret, the fifth race on the program with a scheduled 2:33 PDT post.
Street Boss, winner of the Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar, tangles with last year's BC Sprint runner-up Idiot Proof in the Grade I, $250,000 Ancient Title over six furlongs at 3:08 p.m.
Del Mar Debutante winner Stardom Bound goes against 11 other 2-year-old fillies in the 1 1/16-mile, $250,000, Grade I Oak Leaf Stakes at 4:14 p.m.
Pacific Classic runner-up Well Armed faces 11 rivals as the 7-2 opening-line favorite in the $500,000, Grade I Goodwood, a prep for the BC Classic, at 5:15.
On the turf course today:
Del Mar Handicap winner Spring House is the 2-1 opening-line favorite in a field of seven for the $250,000, Grade I, 1¼-mile Clement L. Hirsch Memorial at 2:02 p.m.
Wait a While is the 9-5 favorite of 10 scheduled to go postward in the $400,000, Grade I, 1¼-mile Yellow Ribbon at 4:45.
HE HAS THE 'KEY' - OGH
MIKE KEOGH sent out two winners for Gus Schickedanz in the late Pick 4 on a day when first or second morning line favourites won virtually every race.
HALF SISTER, the half sister to champion WANDO (and a half sister to Full Sister...never mind), broke through with a win in an allowance/optional claiming race after a steady diet of stakes races.
The More Than Ready dark bay was put on the lead by Emile Ramsammy, dueled through easy fractions of 23 and 46 in the 7 furlong grass race and then edged clear and held off the chargers.
She was 4 to 5.
Two races later, D. FLUTIE, named for football star DOUG FLUTIE, woke up and won his maiden after a series if disappointing outings on the grass.
The Langfuhr-Forest Flute colt, a beauty, had shown a ton of promise in the spring on Polytrack and even ran in the Plate (he was far back) but 3 grass outings since then were drab.
Back on Polytrack yesterday, he stalked a pace duel from about 6 lengths back and then rallied for a big score at 6 to 1.
While favourites did well and the track played fair there were some upsets and some really bad trips yesterday..
SOLITAIRE has now earned over $200,000 and is still a maiden! The Queen's Plate runner-up came back to Woodbine from New York for Jim Bond, was 1 to 5 in a maiden race and could not pass POOL PLAY in the stretch. The winner is a Windfields Farm bred by Silver Deputy that cost $475,000.
The 8th race was a non-descript $12,500 claimer for fillies and mares that should have been won by LOVE N LUST. The A Fleets Dancer gal made an Arazi-type move around the turn in the 1 1/8 mile race, was 5-6 wide off the turn and zoomed to the lead.
Alas, the race does not end until the finish line and somehow, she got caught on the wire by VICAR'S OLIVES (Vicar).
And what about the tough, consistent guy ANDALUSIAN. The light grey El Prado 6yo loves to run covered up but he lost all chance along the inside of a 76 furlong turf claiming race ($40,000) in the finale, had to angle out and then just missed winning behind classy old Dalavin (Native Regent).
Tough luck for Andalusian yesterday.
OTHER WINNERS YESTERDAY included owner/trainer PAUL BUTTIGIEG, whose Cat N Sassy (Sir Cat) won his maiden at odds-on in race 1 for $15K claiming...T.V. Stables had a nice 2yo winner in MEGA RUSH, who is an Ontario bred by little know stallion Megas Vukefalos, who stands at Norse Ridge Farm...SHUT IT DOWN is a serious 2yo prospect for KK Sangara. Bought provately after his debut when 2nd from Mark Casse, the Porto Foricos fellow was 2nd in te Simcoe Stakes last time and then won his maiden by a 'pole' yesterday in 1:17.98.
Lorne Richards trains.
FORT ERIE UPDATE...
from Niagara Falls This Week
Future of race track is in doubt again
By Stephen Leithwood
Sep 26, 2008
It could be the last season for the ponies in Fort Erie as the future of the local thoroughbred track is again in doubt.
Fort Erie Mayor Doug Martin has been working the phones to find out the future status of the Fort Erie Race Track.
"It's frustrating," Martin said. "I'll be perfectly honest with you, I have no idea. I've been on the phone with the province to try and get the status.
"It's completely dependant on the province coming to an agreement with the owner."
Last year the track's future was in doubt up until the 11th hour, when an agreement between the province and Nordic Gaming, the track's owners, was announced in late February. The deal came after Nordic ended up guaranteeing the race purses to cover the shortfall of what the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation was going to contribute through slots revenue, which has been dropping in recent years.
Nordic is hoping to build a $300-million destination tourism attraction on the site and is waiting to hear back from the province about its proposal.
Daryl Wells, director of communications at the Fort Erie Race Track, said the atmosphere at the track is uncertain.
"We have no idea. We submitted our proposal application and now we're going to have to just sit and wait on it," Wells said. "We're just waiting for approval from the province, before the owner decides to do something else."
Last year, Martin went to see Nordic and convinced them to keep the track open, despite knowing they would likely lose money in 2008.
The horse track and racing industry in town represent 1,200 jobs and a $380 million impact on the community, said Jim Thibert, general manager of the town's Economic Development and Tourism Corporation.
The track has yet to submit its application for race dates for 2009, but he noted that based on last year's experience there's a big difference between applying for dates and actually opening the track next year.
"Nothing says there's going to be racing," he said.
At Monday's council meeting, Coun. Rick Shular requested a staff report from the Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corporation and for Thibert to appear before council to deliver it.
"I'd like to know for sure the status of the 2009 race dates," said Shular. "We need a publicized and televised meeting to give us what the state truly is so that we can get some answers and we're not sitting here in the dark."
Coun. Tim Whitfield agreed, saying, "I'm curious as to why the minister responsible for this is touring Europe and the Arab states seeking foreign investment when we have an investor right here."
Martin said he would like to see the track stay open because it means jobs in Fort Erie.
"It's been around for 111 years here in Fort Erie. The impact it has on jobs in Fort Erie is absolutely enormous," he said. "Without it, we would be losing a piece of our heritage."
The goal of the $300-million development is to increase tourism and make the racetrack more of an attraction and destination for people to visit.
"Helping the slots helps with the income and thus helps the horse racing as well," he said.
Martin said he blames the race track's struggles with revenue to national issues.
"The no-smoking law, 9-11 and the drop in the American dollar, all of these things have impacted tourists coming to Canada. Numbers for Tour Ontario is down, so we've all been hit by this," he said.
- with files from Alison Bell and Gord Bowes.
UPDATES FROM AJAX DOWNS
AND ONTARIO RACING COMMISSION
First Graded Stakes Race
Attracts Record Crowd at Ajax Downs
Toronto, ON – On Sunday, September 21 a record crowd for Ajax Downs was
treated to the fastest horse racing this side of Louisiana, and the first ever
recognized Graded Stakes Quarter Horse race to run in Eastern Canada. A
representative from the American Quarter Horse Association, Darrell Hare said,
“There are great things happening in Ontario in Quarter Horse racing. I see the
potential for growth that will rival our best track in the United States, Los Alamitos
The day featured the G3 Alex Picov Memorial Championship -- with a purse of
over $129,000. A field of eight contenders smoked the 440 yards, and a close
finish saw Illbegoneinajazz prevail in 21.71 seconds flat. Strawflyin Fitness nosed
out Rockish for second.
Illbegoneinajazz is a four-year-old filly, owned by Christine Tavares and trained by
leading trainer Joe Tavares. The purse brings Tavares’ winnings in 2009 to over
$651,000. The winning pilot was jockey Tony Phillips who captured his first stake
race of the season.
The day began with a VIP Champagne Brunch hosting politicians from the
province of Ontario and surrounding regions, and dignitaries from across all
sectors of the horse industry. The brunch provided recognition for the Quarter
Horse Racing Industry Development Plan and the Slots at Racetracks Program.
Sports broadcaster Joe Tilley was the Master of Ceremonies.
The first 700 patrons to arrive received a gift bag from the Quarter Horse Racing
Industry Development Program, which included a free racing program and a
souvenir magazine highlighting the history of the track and the economic impact
of the Quarter Horse racing and breeding industry for Ontario.
The event marked the end of era and celebrated a bright new future for Quarter
Horse racing in Ontario. A new five-furlong racetrack is being prepared for the
opening of the 2009 racing season next May. The Quarter Horse Racing Industry
Development Plan can be viewed at www.ontarioracingcommission.ca.
September 26, 2008 News Release Rule Amendment Process
2009 Rules of Racing
ORC invites individuals to apply for participation on Working Groups
In the fall of each year, the ORC conducts a review the Rules of Racing to address any necessary changes for the coming racing season.
As part of that process, the ORC seeks submissions from the industry, either from the associations, licensees or from the public at large.
Working groups made up of industry representatives are formed each year to review the submissions before they are submitted to the Board of the ORC for consideration.
Working Groups to be formed
The Executive Director establishes breed specific Rule Amendment Working Groups to review the proposals and provide the Administration with input and advice.
Working Groups for TB racing would be CTHS member - 1, HBPA - 3, Racetrack operators - 2, Industry Member at large - 5.
Scheduled meeting dates: Thoroughbred Working Group October 28, 2008 Standardbred Working Group October 23, 2008