It was wild at Woodbine last night, triple dead heats, dead heats, dq's and a discombobulated tote system...
Claimers for $12,500 went in 1:09 for six furlongs, a 2yo in 56 for five-eighths on a rain-soaked Polytrack that was super fast last evening.
Usually on a Wednesday night the track has been dug up on Monday and Tuesday and the times are very slow.
The rail has been terrible for weeks too.
But it was an entirely different Woodbine Polytrack last night...
A steady rain all day long made the track rapid, the inside was groovy and speed was tough to beat...
The stakes event, an overnight race called the Mt. Sassafras was the first WOODBINE stakes win for trainer John Simms whose ARCHERS ALYANCER who shows up in a lot of tough races each year and always nibbles but never gets there, finally got there.
The Archers Bay gelding, bred by Ted Smith in Ontario, rallied in the late stages of the 7 furlong race to beat SHADOWLESS in 1:21.29.
The time was just half a second off the track record.
"It was about time we got some luck with this horse," said Simms. "He's legit. He's been knocking on the door all year."
"In the Steady Growth, he got blocked in the stretch and had nowhere to go. He was a ton (the best)," said Simms (about a race that was 5 racesd back on the 6yo's chart).
The 5 horse field turned out to be a game of strategy and the race make-up was a bit bizarre.
Off the mark, the field went in :23 while the gang all looked at each other. The big favourite, Yummy With Butter, trailed and was going to be in trouble with the slow early pace.
but then things picked up in 22 and change for the 2nd quarter and a rapid 6 furlongs in 1:08 and change and Shadowless was the first to move. Heather Takahashi's fellow ran well but could not hold off Archers Alyancer.
The winner, a stakes winner at Fort Erie, has won 7 of 31 races and over $437,000.
OTHER STUFF FROM LAST NIGHT..
A rare TRIPLE DEAD HEAT occured in race 5 for 3rd place and caused a delay in the tote system.
When prices finally went up for the 2yo maiden allowance race, there was not a payoff for one of the 3 third-place finishers and led to more of a delay.
Indeed, the fact that BOB'S RING, MY BAD and BARE WITH ME all tied for 3rd (AND ALL WERE FIRST TIME STARTERS!) in the SUPERFECTA race led to mass confusion with payoffs..there were numerous triactor and super payoffs.
That race was won by the highly touted HAWKEY STAR who was everyone's pick to win first time out in his career but he blew the start and rallied to be third.
The son of first crop sire TOMAHAWK (Out of Tour d'Star by Tour d'Or), bred by Joe Doi, made no mistakes last night as he took off from the start of the 5 furlong race and won big in 56.75.
Earlier in the night there was another dead heat - two gals tied for the WIN in race 4 for maiden allowance fillies.
This was a strange race as trainer READE BAKER had 2 fillies in the field including 2nd favourite MADAME TOUMANOVA.
It was his first-time starter CHUSAN, however, who battled on the rail all the way, came off the rail in the stretch and drifted out, fended off everyone and then landed in a dead heat with favourite CORBIN'S BAY.
Anyway, the story gets stranger...there were numerous claims of foul in the race and the jockey on one Baker horse claimed foul on the other (Madame Toumanova against Chusan) plus Corbin's Bay.
The filly that got squeezed, Sweet Endeavour surely would have finished close than 4th and after a long delay, the dead heat changed into a win for Corbin's Bay (Paynes Bay) for Eugene Melynk.
Chusan is a homebred owned by Curraghmore Farms' Vera Simpson.
LUNDY'S LANE, sporting the same name as Kingfield Farms stakes horse from the 1980s won his maiden in race 1 for $20,000 claiming in only his 2nd start.
The longshot was the first winner for trainer Darren Glennon, who trains for Jeanne Ryan.
The Ciano Cat 2yo was bred by Gardiner Farms and he was 4th in his debut at Fort Erie behind the promising Lone Endeavour.
BEAROAK won race 2 for trainer braham Katryan and owner Carlo d'Amato. The Prime Timber 3yo was dropping from maiden allowance to $20K claiming.
SLY ILLUSION got it done for the Old Timers Stable and trainer Alex Bankuti in race 3. He was always 2 lengthsin range in the $12,500 event and could not be caught at 8 to 1. The 6yo Ontario bred won the $12,500 race for non-winners of 3 in 1:09.72.
Race 7 - front running WOOFYS POWER got the advantage from the get-go and won her 3rd career race from her 12th start in the allowance for Ontario sired gals. She is owned and was bred by Audre Cappuccitti.
The finale had the stewards working overtime again.
The winner was never in douct - DASHINGALLTHEWAY won the $12,500 claiming event for K K Sanagar on the lead all the way for her 4th win in her 17 race completing a tumble from the allowance level to the bottom claiming level.
But 5th place finisher Feverish Dream wiped out U R Energy off the turn and was demoted to last place.
Whew...tough night at the office.
SPEAKING OF TOUGH...WendyU (her photos can be seen on flickr.com) caught this eager equine one morning at Woodbine last weekend.
CRUSH THAT CUP!!
Read a review of the book here..
CURLIN TO WORK MONDAY BETWEEN RACES
from THOROUGHBRED DAILY NEWS
Reigning Horse of the Year Curlin (Smart Strike) will take to the Santa Anita Pro-Ride surface for a public workout Monday between the fourth and fifth races.
AOur biggest concern with Curlin is the difference in the way the track plays between morning and afternoon said assistant trainer Scott Blasi.
"This is going to be a smooth 5/8ths [mile] in company. We'll come on the
track up in the quarter- mile chute and just jog off from there and break off at
the 5/8 pole. He'll working with another horse of ours named Hawaii Calls
STANDARDBRED BARN TO OPEN
The time has come.
Woodbine's harness folks are coming back to race and they will get to move into that huge very lavish, standardbred barn on the clubhouse turn that should be nice but certainly has blocked viewing of Woodbine races from most points at the track
Excerpt from the GUELPH MERCURY
New digs welcome Woodbine fall meet
October 09, 2008
Harness racing on the nation's premier circuit shifts back to Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto tonight after a successful summer at Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville.
When the horse trailers start to roll into Woodbine, horses and horsepeople will be greeted by both a five per cent purse increase and a lavish new race paddock built on the infield near the first turn.
The $11 million, 62,000-square foot facility will replace the 14-year-old paddock that will soon be demolished to make way for a hotel as part of the massive $750 million WoodbineLive! development that received the biggest tax break in the history of the city of Toronto this summer.
The new paddock is 10,000 square feet bigger than the old facility and will include 125 stalls, a number of industry offices, a television studio and a second-floor lounge overlooking the track's first turn.
"It's an absolutely magnificent building," said Bruce Murray of Guelph, the Woodbine Entertainment Group's vice-president of standardbred racing.
WEG has spent considerable time and money making its facilities environmentally friendly and the new paddock is no exception. There's environmentally sensitive lighting in the building and rainwater is being diverted to infield ponds, not the parking lot.
An adjacent retention/quarantine barn with 32 stalls can be used by either standardbreds of thoroughbreds.