ON THE ROAD TO FARMS IN ONTARIO
Winter in Ontario.
Snow on trees, beautiful, snowbanks at the end of the driveway, not so much.
It's bitterly cold most days right now, another duvet cover of snow will settle through the course of this afternoon.
But at training farms throughout the regions north of Toronto, horses are already putting in their paces on indoor tracks.
Older horses are trotting and cantering, the newly turned 2-year-olds are bobbing and weaving as riders teach them steering, lead changes and manners.
Up at Kinghaven Farms in King City, trainer Ian Black has two dozen furry folks up and going while trainer Phil England also has a string in training.
Kinghaven looks about the same as it did 20 years ago when With Approval was a 3yo in training for his eventual Triple Crown assault.
The dark blue tack boxes with the white 'K', the coffee room, the standing area on the indoor training track where many-a-trainer/manager has stood to watch the next stars.
Champion turf male RAHY'S ATTORNEY is back in training as well as getting his fair share of playing-in-the-snow time.
Stakes filly GLITTER ROX likes to greet visitors with plenty of antics and DON'S FOLLY is back, he was a stakes winner at 2 who has not raced since 2007.
Over at Jeff Begg's WINDWAYS FARM, north of King, mares are getting ready to foal, in fact, the farm has welcomed two babies already.
In the paddocks enjoying the snow are so many familiar faces including Queen's Plate winner VICTOR COOLEY, a rambunctious sort who wanted to take a bite of his visitor!
Just over 2 months until the Woodbine season starts!
CANADIAN THOROUGHBRED SIRE BOOK
THIS ONE'S FOR PHIL
$7,000 yearling, now 117 Beyer Figure monster
He is by Untuttable out of Heaven's Gate by Septieme Ciel and his name is THIS ONE'S FOR PHIL.
Phil, winner of the SUNSHINE MILLIONS DASH at Gulfstream on Saturday, is actually a close relative of the Canadian champion ETERNAL SEARCH.
The 3yo's 2nd dam is FINALLY FOUND, a daughter of BON DEBARRAS, the dam of Eternal Search.
Also in the family - Queen's Plate winner NIIGON.
Phil is in the news these days for this pattern of races:
(first race of his career... 43 - 33 - 71 - 71 - 79 - 66 - 75 - 76 - 117 most recent race)
FROM DAILY RACING FORM/WASHINGTON POST
Latest supertrainer feat raises suspicion
By Andrew Beyer
WASHINGTON, D.C. - When a 3-year-old delivers a phenomenal early-season performance, racing fans get excited. They hope that the youngster will be a star of the future, maybe a Kentucky Derby winner, maybe even the Triple Crown winner that the sport has awaited for decades.
But after a gelding named This Ones for Phil scored a remarkable victory Saturday at Gulfstream Park, many fans - or at least the cynical ones - had a different reaction. This Ones for Phil epitomized what is wrong with the modern American racing game.
Thoroughbred racing has become less a test of horses than it is a competition among trainers. The most successful have been dubbed "supertrainers" because they achieve results almost without precedent. They compile winning percentages that dwarf the records of horsemen enshrined in the Hall of Fame. They acquire horses and transform them in ways that history's greatest trainers never dreamed of. Accordingly, bettors disregard the normal logic of handicapping when they evaluate horses saddled by Rick Dutrow in New York, Bruce Levine or Jason Servis in New Jersey, Marty Wolfson in south Florida, Kirk Ziadie and Jamie Ness at Tampa Bay Downs, Jeff Mullins in California and countless other miracle workers.
Wolfson pulled off an amazing feat when he saddled a pair of modestly bred 2-year-olds, one colt and one filly, in stakes races Oct. 18 at Calder. Both delivered explosive performances to win by more than 10 lengths, and the two of them ran what were arguably the two fastest races by any of the nation's 2-year-olds in 2008.
The colt, You Luckie Mann, was favored to win Saturday's Sunshine Millions Dash at Gulfstream, and he would have but for the presence of a rival in the care of another supertrainer. This Ones for Phil started his career in claiming company at Calder Race Course, raced eight times during the summer and fall, and won twice without running notably fast. He had been trained in those eight races by Kathleen O'Connell, a capable horsewoman but a mere mortal, before the animal was sold and placed in Dutrow's care.
Even people accustomed to improbable wake-ups under such circumstances were astonished by what happened Saturday.
Wolfson's You Luckie Mann went to the front, but This Ones for Phil made a powerful four-wide move on the turn and blew past the leader to score by more than two lengths. The winner sped six furlongs in 1:09.10 on the same day that high-class older female sprinters covered the distance in 1:10.55, and the effort earned This Ones for Phil a Beyer Speed Figure of 117. No horse so young has ever earned such a high number since the Daily Racing Form began publishing these ratings in 1992.
Not only was the performance extraordinary, but so, too, was the degree of improvement by This Ones for Phil. In his eight starts for O'Connell, the gelding had never earned a figure higher than 81. Dutrow had managed to improve his form by nearly 15 lengths.
WRONG TURN FOR FORT ERIE
The news was not so good on Monday when another deadline for FORT ERIE RACETRACK went by with only another deadline put up.
But this time, the deadline is merely 5 weeks from the start of the season.
While the Ontario governement examines a proposal by the town of Fort Erie to borrow $35 million to buy the track from Nordic Gaming (which reportedly bought the track from Woodbine for just $10.00), horse people will not possibly be able to get horses ready for the opening of the season in early May.
BOB SUMMERS of the BUFFALO NEWS gives a report:
Talks continue as deadline extended at Fort Erie
By Robert J. Summers
NEWS SPORTS REPORTER
A much-anticipated High Noon arrived at the Fort Erie Race Track Monday.
But there was no gun fight. Just a continuation of the wrangling over the future of the financially-troubled 111-year-old facility.
Track owner Nordic Gaming Corp., which had set a noon deadline for word on a $35 million Ontario government loan to finance the sale of the track to a new owner, extended that deadline after the Ontario Racing Commission earlier granted a two-month extension of the track's racing license, which was due to expire on Saturday.
"Because of that [license extention until March 31], we can basically extend that [Monday deadline] because it gives everybody more time to work on this thing," said Nordic spokesman Stephen Ayres.
Track spokesman Daryl Wells Jr. said the extension "will allow us to investigate further into the offer .‚.‚. to purchase the racetrack. We can still have simulcasting and off-track betting."
James Thibert, the Town of Fort Erie official who has spearheaded the plan to sell the track to a new not-for-profit corporation, said "we remain optimistic" but disclosed a letter detailing some misgivings of the provincial government.
And a spokesman for horsemen complained about the further delay as the possible May 2 opening day grows closer.
"I am not one bit happy about the extension," said Sue Leslie, president of the Ontario Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, which represents horse owners and trainers.
"I could have lived with an extension of a week or so, but to put this off for two more months .‚.‚. We've been listening to this for two years. .‚.‚. If the Province of Ontario is not interested in helping Fort Erie and its horsemen, it should declare themselves so they can let horsemen make decisions fortheir lives," Leslie said. "To hang them up for two more months. What are they supposed to do?"
DONCASTER FARM and trainer PAULA LOESCHER won a race at Mountaineer Park yesterday with CAN'T BE PETE. The 5yo One Way Love-Pete's Heiress, Peteski gelding won the $5,000 claiming event with a very wide run from the backstretch to the top of the stretch to score by 3/4 of a length.
Stakes placed SOLITAIRE and stakes winner winner COOL GATOR are a couple of Canadian breds entered in a 9 furlong turf allowance today at Gulfstream.
Both were players in the Queen's Plate trail last year with the latter doing well on the trail as a maiden but then the latter getting injured before he raced in Canada.
James Bond and Joe Orseno are the trainers respectively.
ADENA SPRINGS WINS (5TH STRAIGHT) BREEDER/OWNER ECLIPSE
From the NTRA, here are the point totals of the Eclipse Awards, offered up Monday night.
Voter participation rate: 242/282 = 86%
Two--Year--Old Male (Name, First--Place Votes)
Midshipman, 195; Vineyard Haven, 32; Old Fashioned, 7; Donativum (GB), 5; Desert Party, 1; Run Away and Hide, 1; Street Hero, 1.
Stardom Bound, 236; Maram, 2; Springside, 2; Rachel Alexandra 1, Sky Diva, 1.
Big Brown, 219; Raven's Pass, 21; Conduit (IRE) 1; Tale of Ekati, 1.
Proud Spell, 90; Eight Belles, 71; Goldikova (IRE), 41; Indian Blessing, 20; Music Note, 20.
Curlin, 239; Albertus Maximus, 1; Commentator, 1; Go Between, 1.
Zenyatta, 240; Ginger Punch, 2;
Indian Blessing, 138; Ventura, 88; Intangaroo, 13; Indyanne, 1; Voter Abstentions, 2.
Benny the Bull, 107; Midnight Lute, 86; Street Boss, 40; Bustin Stones, 3; Fatal Bullet, 3; Visionaire, 1; Commentator, 1; Voter Abstentions1 .
Male Turf Horse
Conduit (IRE), 175; Einstein (BRZ), 31; Grand Couturier (GB), 11; Hyperbaric, 5; Kip Deville, 5; Red Giant 4; Court Vision, 2; Henrythenavigator, 1; Champs Elysees (GB), 1; Spirit One (FR), 1. Voter Abstentions, 6.
Female Turf Horse
Forever Together, 137; Goldikova, 94; Cocoa Beach (CHI), 6; Ventura, 3; Mauralakana (FR), 2.
Good Night Shirt, 217; Be Certain, 1; High Action, 1; Voter Abstentions, 23.
Horse of the Year
Curlin, 153; Zenyatta, 69; Big Brown, 13; Raven's Pass, 2; Einstein, 1; Goldikova (IRE), 1; Peppers Pride, 1; Voter Abstentions, 2.
Stronach Stables, 47; IEAH Stables, 46; Stonestreet Stables LLC and Midnight Cry Stables, 29; Mr. and Mrs. Jerome S. Moss, 27; Godolphin Racing, 24; Zayat Stables 16; Augustin Stable, 13; Maggi Moss, 11; Robert Cole, Jr., 10; Darley Stable, 4; Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, 2; H. Joe Allen, 1; J. Paul Reddam, 1; Juddmonte Farms, 1; Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum, 1; WinStar Farm, 1. Voter Abstentions, 8.
Adena Springs, 139; Stonerside Stable, 60; WinStar Farm, 13; Juddmonte Farms, 9; Brereton C. Jones, 4; Eugene Melnyk, 1; Edward P. Evans, 1; Fares Farm, Inc., 1; George Strawbridge, Jr., 1; Hal and Patti Earnhardt, 1; Maverick Production, 1; Monticule, 1. Voter Abstentions, 10.
Steve Asmussen, 187; Robert Frankel, 15; Larry Jones, 9; Bob Baffert,7; Rick Dutrow, 5; Jerry Hollendorfer, 4; Bill Mott, 3; John Shirreffs, 2; Mike de Kock, 1; Anthony Dutrow, 1; Scott Lake, 1; Mike Maker, 1; Kiaran McLaughlin, 1; Todd Pletcher, 1; Howard Wolfendale, 1. Voter Abstentions, 3.
Garrett Gomez, 210; Rafael Bejarano, 11; Robby Albarado, 9; Russell Baze, 3; Kent Desormeaux, 3; Ramon Dominguez, 1; Alan Garcia, 1; Julien Leparoux, 1; Joe Rocco, 1; Mike Smith, 1; Voter Abstentions, 1.
Pascacio Lopez, 150; Inez Karlsson, 34; Abel Mariano, 18; Sebastian Morales, 3; Sheldon Russell, 3; Lyndie Wade, 2; Chamisa Goodwin, 1; Xavier Perez, 1; Grant Whitacre 1. Voter Abstentions, 29.
Award of Merit and Special Award
The winner of the Award of Merit, voted on by a panel of representatives from the three presenting organizations and previously announced, is Alice Headley Chandler of Mill Ridge Farm. The Award of Merit is presented to honor outstanding lifetime achievement in the Thoroughbred industry.
WHERE'S THE MONEY?
IN QUARTER HORSE RACING IN ONTARIO!
News Release - 2009 Quarter Horse Program Budget Approved
The Governing Board of the Ontario Racing Commission has approved the 2009 budget for the Ontario Quarter Horse Racing Industry Development Program in the amount $7.45 million, an increase of 31% from 2008 budget levels.
The Program budget support for the racing program at Ajax Downs in 2009, includes more than $4.6 million in purses, purse incentives and added money for stakes racing.
The budget to support the Ontario Quarter Horse breeding sector, including Breeders Awards, Stallion Owner Awards, and bonuses to breeders of stakes winning horses, increased to $880,600 – a 29% increase over 2008 levels.
ONTARIO RACING COMMISSION SEEKS FEEDBACK
release from the ORC
You are invited to comment on the proposals for 2009 rules changes received and reviewed under the ORC's Rules Amendment Process.
Proposals for changes to the Rules of Racing were received from the industry in mid September. Industry input on these proposals happens at two levels: first, the proposals were reviewed by the Rules Amendment Working Groups, which were set up by the Executive Director to provide input and advice on the changes and, second, individuals and associations can provide their comments on the proposals through this current phase.
The Board of the ORC will be reviewing these proposals along with any input received through this comment phase. Any proposals that are approved by the ORC Board will be announced through the issuance of directives later in the spring.
The ORC wishes to thank all the members of the various Working Groups for their interest and contribution.
Go to the ORC website at www.ontarioracingcommission.ca and access the proposed changes from the Featured Showcase on the Main Page, or by clicking 2009 Proposed Rule Changes
While slaughterhouse expansion begins in Canada and perhaps new ones built in the United States (see Monday's post), the Alex Brown Facebook page continues to build awareness and actually do things to help our retired racehorses.
On the TOP BUNK list of racehorses who have made $500,000 or more that are competitng for $5,000 claiming or less, another one - EASY GRADES - has just been retired.
Ontario horsewoman REBECCA MOTTIN sent the following letter to LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and other places in memory of Magic Flute:
In Memory of Magic Flute
The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition estimates that thousands of horses are killed in Canadian slaughterhouses every week. Over 100,000 horses were slaughtered in 2008, a horrifying 200% increase from two years ago. As someone who believes in the innate beauty and nobility of equines, I find it heartbreaking that even one horse would be fated to die in the kill pen of a slaughterhouse, let alone such an large number of horses.
And for me in the end, it does come down to one horse: Magic Flute.
Magic Flute was killed in a slaughterhouse in October, 2008. I was devastated when I heard this news. My connection to Magic Flute is only an emotional one, but for a horse I only saw in person once, he held a special place in my heart. Magic Flute’s sire was Canadian Triple Crown winner Peteski who was my childhood hero. I discovered the beauty, history, and thrills of thoroughbred racing at an impressionable age and the exploits of this fast chestnut horse in 1993 helped to strengthen my love of the sport. I followed his career avidly, visited him as a stallion, and now continue to place flowers on his grave during my occasional visits to Kentucky.
Although not a pedigree expert, my love of Peteski inspired me to discover the names of some of his sons and daughters. I tried to follow their racing careers as much as I was able. This hobby has now extended to granddaughters and grandsons, and I feel lucky whenever I encounter the name of one of these horses in the racing program.
This was how I discovered Magic Flute. I remember being at Woodbine one summer day, several years ago, and watching this horse, who looked so much like his sire and carrying the same Rising Son silks, storm down the stretch to a solid victory. This set me to dreaming. What if someday in the future, after he retired, I could purchase this gelding as a riding horse? He was so much like his sire, the horse of my dreams, that I would have loved to say that he was mine. It wasn’t possible at this point, but maybe someday....
And when Magic Flute crossed my path again it was too late.
I am so sorry Magic Flute. I feel like I have let you, and a part of my childhood, down somehow. If I had known that you were sitting in a barn or out in a field somewhere unwanted I would have offered you a safe home. That’s what makes your death so hard to take, that you had to make the trip to the slaughterhouse needlessly. For all those proponents of slaughter, who argue that they provide a needed service “disposing” of unwanted horses, they should know that all of these animals were at one time loved, were the vessels of dreams, hopes, and aspirations, and could be that way again. A horse is “the projection of peoples’ dreams about themselves - strong, powerful, beautiful - and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence” (poet Pam Brown). What does it say about ourselves if we allow horses to suffer such a horrific, undignified end?
I want to thank Jennifer Morrison who first published the fact of Magic Flute’s slaughterhouse death. As sad as this news was, I’m glad I know it. It has motivated me to take a more active role in bringing an end to horse slaughter. Thanks also to Alex Brown who takes the time and braves the emotional turmoil of visiting slaughterhouses to attempt the identification and rescue of ex-racehorses. Alex found Magic Flute and I’m sure would have helped organize his rescue if things had turned out differently. Thank you to both of these individuals for promoting the well-being of horses and urging an end to slaughter through all the different medias they have available to them. It is encouraging to see so many people come together to help horses. This gives me hope and I do have hope for change. After all racing is a sport that is built on hope. Hope that that unraced 2-year-old will be a stakes winner, that the Triple Crown will finally be won, that you’ll pick the winner in the next race. Racing would not subsist if not for hope. Therefore we must have hope that we can effect change.
For it was not just Magic Flute that met his death in a slaughterhouse that day, but many other horses. We must do all we can to help the horses of the future so that they do not need to follow the same path. It is for this reason that I am donating some money to the LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society to help some other thoroughbreds who were luckier than Magic Flute.