Aaaah, she’s a fine Lassie. ROSE AND SHINE, with her yellow and black blinkers and white, red and blue silks, is in the featured Ontario Lassie Stakes today but what does Jake the ace handicapper say? See below for the answer…

M Burns photo




It will be a flurry of action as 11 races today and 13 tomorrow wrap up the 2011 Woodbine racing season.
Yesterday – GERRY OLGUIN won 4 races on the 10 race card as he finishes up a solid year once again.

Riders not around are EMILE RAMSAMMY, who had another strong season but is in Trinidad this weekend, and QUINCEY WELCH was not riding yesterday.

Winners yesterday on a day that started with sleet and rain and ended sunny but cold included the super gelding SAFETY ZONE (86 Beyer), who won another optional claiming race for Eugene Melnyk and trainer Josie Carroll. The pretty bay fellow held the rail and the lead all the way through 1 1/16 miles (the rail bias yesterday was quite noticeable) and he is a stakes winner who has been well travelled (he had a tough trip in the Barbados Gold Cup last season).

Leading trainer MARK CASSE sent out another pair of 2yo winners – UNLIMITED SPIRIT won his maiden for $32,00 for Centennial Farms (Niagara) who had a big year with its sprinter PASO DOBLE, and BLUEDACIOUS, owned by WinStar, won a maiden allowance in race 3.
Both fellows were ridden byPatrick Husbands, who is also finishing up the season with flair.

Ted Burnett’s L’AVENUE is headed up to the farm for a winter break after winning an allowance race (5th race) for Ontario sired gals. The Old Forester gal is a 2 turn specialist and she led all the way to win the non-winners of 3 for Ted Burnett’s Josham Farms and trainer Mike Mattine.

Breeda and John Hayes got some Christmas money when CUVARA, starting from the rail, rode that path to victory in race 6 under David Moran. Moran, who energetically rode the Cuvee 3yo through the stretch of the $20,00 claiming race, had a solid season in his first year riding at Woodbine.

CLASSY BREW won for the Let It Ride Stable and partner and trainer Paul Attard – the 9th race for $16,000 maiden fillies. The 3o filly was a rare rallying winner as the early runners went way too fast on the pace.

GRAPES won the finale for Howard Walton and trainer Sid Attard – yep, he came up the rail to win as the favourite in the $9,500 claiming race.

I left the 2 most interesting winners for last:

The cleverly named RISING DOUGH, a 2yo by PEAKS AND VALLEYS (rising) out of Crumpet won his maiden in race 4, an allowance for Ontario sired guys. He is a homebred for Stablemates.
SCOTT FAIRLIE trains the gelding.

TAPIT’S BREW roared up the rail to win race 7 for Heritage Hill Farm. The win in the $32,000 claiming race was run in fast time, 1:23, and the pretty chestnut was ridden by Tyler Pizarro.

SCOTT FAIRLIE trains this one too.

There has been talk that perhaps we won’t see Fairlie training next year – one of the track’s top conditioners for years could be making the move to jockey agent (Stewart Elliott/Tyler Pizarro perhaps) for 2012!




Rank Owner Name    Starts    1st    2nd    3rd    Earnings    Win%    Top3    Top3%

1 Melnyk Racing Stables 80    29    10    6    $1,654,201    36%    45    56%
2 Bear Stables, Ltd.          151    32    17    19    $1,558,224    21%    68    45%
3 Donver Stable                   68    14    3    9    $1,541,402    21%    26    38%



Two year old fillies are featured on the 11-race card today and while Jim Sabiston’s ROSE AND SHINE has been getting the press, JAKE, the dogged handicapper for the ‘Blog says the winner of the Lassie (get it, Jake the dog wanted to make a pick in the Lassie?)..







DRF’s Bill Tallon, echoing a lot of concerns about some of the instances in Woodbine racing that have bettors perplexed and not happy:

The off-season should give the Woodbine Entertainment Group, the Ontario Racing Commission, and the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency a chance to look at some issues of concern to Woodbine horseplayers.

These include:

◗ More accurate reporting of first-time gelding information.

◗ Listing on the program the assistant trainer in charge of the local operation when a stable’s head trainer is based elsewhere.

◗ Explanations to the public by stewards when a horse pulls a dramatic form reversal.

◗ Instituting a rule that protects the bettor when the stronger part of an entry is a late scratch.




Hard to believe Gulfstream starts today – kind of takes the special feeling out of it like it had when it started up a new year.