UPDATE - FRESHMAN SIRE CONTEST TEAMS LINK IS UP!
Look on my sidebar for the link to the FRESHMAN SIRE CONTEST teams..I made this page...make sure all looks good. TWO-YEAR-OLD RACING will be underway fully very soon!
I will put a top 10 chart on there once a few weeks go by to keep tabs on the leading sires (although the official score will be done through a data-base at year's end)
Are you coming to Woodbine on Saturday? Vote on my poll...
WOODBINE PREVIEW - Saturday is opening day!
Entry day is WEDNESDAY for the first card of racing for the 2008 WOODBINE meeting.
Rain will be steady for a day or two early this week while the temperature rises. Things will get very cold again later in the week.
The opening day feature, the LA VOYAGEUSE STAKES, has 14 nominations currently but horses can be supplemented to stakes now, so the noms lists will always be short.
SHILLA figures to be tough in the La Voyageuse.
The April 12 ACHIEVEMENT STAKES has only 10 noms for $150,000 (Ontario-bred 3yo's).
That race, a sprint, is the first points race for the QUEEN'S PLATE FANTASY CHALLENGE (see more below).
STUCK IN TRAFFIC figures to be a big favourite if he competes.
And on APRIL 13, the STAR SHOOT STAKES for 3yo fillies has 18 noms including Amiercan stakes winners MORE HAPPY (Bob Baffert) and WONDERFUL LUCK (Steve Asmussen).
The STEVE ASMUSSEN barn at Woodbine is set to be full of horses by tomorrow.
LA VOYAGEUSE NOMS - OPENING DAY FEATURE!!
AUTHENICAT ch.f.3 Vinery Stables LLC and Fog City Stables Inc. Josie Carroll
BOLDCORP dk b/.f.3 Hill, Jim and Susan Reade Baker
CALL THE POSSE ch.f.3 Vinery Stables Josie Carroll
DANCING DAHLIA dk b/.f.3 Laurie Silvera Laurie Silvera
DANCING DORIS dk b/.f.3 Doris Carey Laurie Silvera
DAWN RAID dk b/.f.3 Woodford Racing LLC Mark E. Casse
ESCARPMENT b.f.3 Windhaven Michael J. Doyle
EXECUTRIX dk b/.f.3 Tucci Stables Nicholas Gonzalez
KID SPARKLE b.f.3 Norseman Racing Stable Paul Attard
MISS JUICEY b.f.3 3 Sons Racing Stable Ltd. Robert P. Tiller
REPORTEDLY dk b/.f.3 Kinghaven Farms Ian Black
SHILLA b.f.3 Victura Farm Nicholas Gonzalez
SHORT SHORTS dk b/.f.3 Anderson, Doug, Eskudt, Rita and Kingfield Racing Stable, Ltd. Catherine Day Phillips
SPIN MOVE ch.f.3 Woodford Racing LLC Mark E. Casse
TROTTIN' TO A WIN
HARLEM ROCKER (photo at right from the Adena Racing Venture website) romped in his 2nd career start yesterday at Gulfstream (even with jockey Eibar Coa seemingly pulling him up before the wire) and earned a lofty 95 BEYER FIGURE.
The Canadian-bred 3yo can now be considered a strong contender for the QUEEN'S PLATE along with COOL GATOR, who finished 5th in the Florida Derby on Saturday.
Harlem Rocker is owned by Stronach Stables/Adena Racing Venture and trained by Todd Pletcher.
The grey is by Macho Uno and out of Freedom Come, Lit de Justice, a very fast mare who raced mostly at 6 furlongs.
If you are interested in ADENA RACING VENTURE (the 2008 juveniles are ready to be bought), check out the site at..www.adenaracingventure.com
BIG BROWN horse
Undefeated BIG BROWN (Boundary) is not only big and brown, but he has a white spot behind his left elbow! This image is of him after the FLORIDA DERBY romp. Thanks to Amber Chaffin and www.horse-races.net.
A reader asked about the low Beyer Figure (106) for Big Brown for the Derby - i have projected at least a 110. The track was faster than I thought that day - a few races later, older horse ELECTRIFY just about broke the record for 9 furlongs.
Thus the variant would have been high, as in the track would have been fast by some 15 plus points.
QUEEN'S PLATE FANTASY CHALLENGE!
The media division of the QUEEN'S PLATE FANTASY CHALLENGE is about to close and fans are invited to submit their teams for the 2008 Contest.
This year there are currently 132 eligible horses for the Plate/Triple Crown and from this list, a team is chosen.
Points are gathered from the Plate preps and wins by any eligible horse.
(Note: the Woodbine Oaks for fillies is also a point-getting race but only 12 fillies are on the list of Plate noms)
Check www.woodbineentertainment.com for information on the Fantasy Challenge and the Plate.
GERRY HEATS UP
GERRY OLGUIN ended his stint in California the right way.
The Woodbine-based jockey won the $100,000 Santa Paula Stakes yesterday at Santa Anita on the unbeaten sprinting filly LETHAL HEAT.
Lethal Heat was fifth on the backstretch and second coming into the homestretch, passing early leader Peisinoe and holding off a rally from P.S.U. Grad for the 1 3/4-length victory.
The winner covered 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:14.91 and paid $16, $6 and $4. P.S.U. Grad paid $6.40 and $4.80. Highland Torree was third and returned $6.80.
The heavy favorite, Lovely Isle, was fifth.
The win capped a spectacular month for the unbeaten 3-year-old filly trained and partly owned by Barry Abrams. Lethal Heat had her maiden victory in her first start on March 1, then won again before earning her first stakes victory Sunday.
Olguin is to be at Woodbine for opening weekend, April 5-6.
EMMA TO CHANGE FACE OF HONG KONG RACING?
The South China Morning News and reported Alan Aitken has followed up on the idea that perhaps agents would serve riders well in Hong Kong.
This story comes after one of Canada's top jockeys and the leading woman rider EMMA-JAYNE WILSON discussed her recent winter stint in Hong Kong...
NEW RIDERS NEED A HELPING HAND
Wilson's suggestion of an agent has merit in cutthroat environment
ON THE RAILS, with ALAN AITKEN
Emma-Jayne Wilson may not have troubled the scorers during her stint here, but the Canadian jockey certainly raised an interesting issue when she talked about wanting her agent if she came again.
Ever since retained riders ceased to be the engagement of choice in Hong Kong, the topic of agents or managers for jockeys has been the elephant in the room - impossible not to notice, but nobody likes to ask.
In other, busier jurisdictions jockeys may be riding five or six days a week and simply don't have time to look at myriad entries and make calls to dozens, even hundreds of trainers they might never have met.
Turning up to ride work and races is their full-time occupation. By comparison, riders here do have plenty of time and access to information to get a grasp of the limited number of horses and their abilities and requirements.
But, for new jockeys trying to get a toehold, that is balanced by their unfamiliarity with the environment and the cutthroat nature of that environment.
Racing in Hong Kong sets up very differently to the places most of the jockeys come from - Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
If horses run badly for several starts there, they don't drop a class and suddenly have a chance again. They get retired, or sold, or worse.
The system isn't altogether obvious at first glance and, by the time the penny starts to drop, a jockey may be months into a contract and too late to rescue the situation.
Current riders have squatter's rights - they are on the spot, know how it works and are thus better placed to look for the best rides and the new kids are left to squabble over crumbs.
It's one of the reasons why the personnel changes are so limited even over a number of years - new riders come and go quickly but the establishment of new stars happens rarely.
Yes, it's always difficult in the big league. That's life.
But there are occasions where even the established riders have background help via opinions from people who study racing form and the question Wilson has touched on is whether new riders should be forced to begin off a handicap in the strange environment with all that arrayed against them.
Historically, it simply wasn't an issue. Jockeys came to ride for a trainer and the trainer was their guide - just as sometimes a trainer now will adopt a new rider and help them over the hurdles.
With respect to Dwayne Dunn - who fully earned his rewards with high quality, consistent riding - you have to wonder if he would have ever got going at all without the strong support of David Hayes, who knew his ability in Adelaide, despite that city being second-tier racing in Australia. Likewise, Michael Rodd had John Moore to thank in part for the support that got him started and Chris Munce made good work of Douglas Whyte's offcuts for John Size to get himself started.
But if that doesn't happen, it's a difficult and frustrating place. It's hard to imagine now, but Brett Prebble's first Hong Kong stint was the epitome of that nightmare. Until that breakthrough Champions & Chater win on Precision a week before his season finished with injury in a five-horse fall, Prebble had 122 rides for two wins in 2-1/2 months and both winners were like most of his rides - good odds.
He rode beautifully from day one but wasn't able to carry them.
He didn't know the system, didn't have a sponsoring trainer and became stuck in the swirling downhill slide of poor mounts, no winners and poorer mounts. But for the stroke of sheer luck that put him on Precision that day, he would have been lost to Hong Kong racing, instead of becoming one of its dominant players.
Culturally, the idea of jockey agents is likely seen as risky as it places another interested party between the jockey and the connections of horses.
And, it goes without saying that brings betting activities onto the radar screen.
Agents would need to be licensed, their betting would need to be outlawed or monitored and subject to rules and constraints.
And then there is the suitability issue - Wilson said she would like to have her Canadian agent here and that may be comfortable for her but not the ideal, as he would be just as unfamiliar with the new environment.
Yes, there are layers of difficulties associated with it, but the path ahead for securing jockeys stands at an interesting point.
Robbie Fradd will be back this Sunday to plug a gap because he fits all the criteria - he is good enough, he is known and liked by trainers and owners, he is available and he wants to be here. Not many jockeys in the world satisfy all of those criteria and the first and last often cancel each other out, given the difficulties and discouragements involved in getting established.
The fact that jockey agents have not existed in Hong Kong is, as we said earlier, linked with the former culture of stable riders, but retained jockeys are becoming rarer than singing dinosaurs and that old support structure for new jockeys is gone.
We aren't saying that having agents would be an automatic path to making every jockey competitive, it wouldn't. But it would help equip them for the battle when they land and the idea might even have relevance in assisting to build better communication between current riders and trainers across language barriers.
Hey there! A PLEASANT TAP-MIAMI VACATION colt is another newcomer for Black Canyon Thoroughbreds at Windfields Farm in Oshawa.
STUFF FROM YESTERDAY
STORMY ENGAGEMENT was a winner at Mountaineer yesterday for $5,000. The Ontario bred by Storm Boot-Bold Engagement, Bold Ruckus won the 5 furlong race by 4 lengths. She was bred by Majestic Thoroughbreds.
A race later, Bruno Schickedanz's Ontario bred NORTHERN ROMANCE, a 5yo by Northern Trend-Kissedbyacrusader, Crusader Sword won again, this time for $5,000 claiming. He is trained by Kevin Buttigieg and was bred by the owner.