Tomorrow night it’s a sold out house at Woodbine to celebrate the champions of 2011 at the SOVEREIGN AWARDS and then usher in 2012! It’s a great few days coming up, let’s put our worries aside for a few days and celebrate horse racing, its horsepeople and those of us who love it and are lucky enough to work in it!!



100 horses on opening day, Wesley Ward invades again!

Will it be deja vu on opening day of the Woodbine meeting this Good Friday? American trainer Wesley Ward sent a vanful of horses to Woodbine last week and has 5 horses entered in 4 races for the first of 167 days of the season. Ward won 5 races on the 10 race, opening day card last year.

The stars of 2011 are back: LUIS CONTRERAS, who could be riding in this year’s Kentucky Derby, is up for Champion Jockey at the Sovereign awards tomorrow night and he had a successful winter; EMMA-JAYNE WILSON is fit and ready from a winter in Florida and she was the 3rd leading rider last year; PATRICK HUSBANDS, EURICO ROSA DA SILVA (back from an injury suffered last fall); JESSE CAMPBELL AND JUSTIN STEIN are all in action too.

The featured race on opening day is the $100,000 DEBUT STAKES, for Ontario sired older horses at 5 furlongs and the fan’s will likely make PASO DOBLE the favourite. The Mark Casse trainee was unplaced in this race last year after a sluggish start from the rail post. The ones to watch in the race also include the fleet RED EAGLE, a $1,200 purchase at auction and a super advertisement for his sire LEGAL JOUSTING (IRE) and GYPSY RING, a finalist for champion sprinter of 2011.

Michael Burns photography
Woodbine media release notes:

The 2012 Woodbine Thoroughbred racing season kicks off on Good Friday, April 6, with a number of exciting promotions for fans, including ‘Your First Bet Is On Us’ and the racetrack’s first-ever Woodbine Fan Photo contest, which features a prize of dinner for four at Woodbine’s Favourites Dining Room.
Woodbine’s customer service staff will be giving away mystery cash cards worth anywhere from $2 to $1,000. Registration will take place between 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. on the 3rd floor, east. Guests must be 18 years and older to register. Full rules & regulations are available on
People will also be greeted by several members of the jockey colony at approximately 11:45 a.m. at both the north and west entrances, who will welcome back the fans by posing for pictures and signing autographs.
There is also an opportunity to win dinner for four at Woodbine by entering the #WOFanPhoto contest.
Fans are encouraged to submit photos of themselves, the horses, jockeys and racing action from opening day at Woodbine. One winner will be chosen by 2011 leading rider Luis Contreras at the end of the day’s racing card.
To submit an entry, fans are asked to Tweet a photo to @WoodbineRacing with the hashtag #WOfanphoto. Fans can also submit a photo via email to and the image will be retweeted using the @WoodbineRacing account.
Steve Lym, Woodbine’s Director of Racing and Racing Secretary, anticipates another banner campaign, especially with the inclusion of prominent added-money events on some of the calendar’s most notable days.

On June 24, Queen’s Plate day, there will be five stakes in total, including three graded events, the Grade 2, $250,000 King Edward Stakes, presented by TVG, the Grade 2, $200,000 Highlander Stakes, the Grade 3, $150,000 Singspiel Stakes, as well as the $150,000 My Dear Stakes.

“Fans enjoy our big racing days, so adding a few key stakes races to each of those cards will enhance the race-going experience,” said Lym. “With the steady training and workout schedule we’ve seen this winter and spring, field size and quality of racing will be especially high early in the meet.”
Jason Portuondo, the popular TV face of Woodbine Thoroughbred racing from 1999 through 2002, is returning as the on-air host for the racetrack’s network broadcast offerings.

Portuondo has showcased his talents at some of the country’s finest and biggest media outlets, spending time at 680 News, Sportsnet, CHCH and G98.7.

He will handle co-hosting duties with Laura Diakun, on Monday night’s Bet Night Live Standardbred show and Wednesday evening’s Bet Night Live Thoroughbred show on The Score.

The Mississauga native will also host Woodbine Racing Live on Sunday afternoons, as well as the organization’s Special Presentation broadcasts, also seen on The Score.


Prospective worked out at Churchill Downs earlier this week , 5 FURLONGS IN 1:00 1/5, for his run in the April  14 Blue Grass Stakes. He recorded fractions of :14.60, :27.20 and :39.40 before completing the final quarter mile in :21.80.

John Oxley’s Malibu Moon colt is trained by Woodbine’s leading trainer Mark Casse and ridden by Luis Contreras.

FASTESTWHOGETSPAID – not eligible to the Plate but Henny Hughes fellow nominated to Woodstock Stakes, has 82 Beyer from recent sprint stake win at Oaklawn
Hawthorne 3/31/2012 Dirt 5F 1:02.00 Breezing 5/39

PRINCE RAPHAEL, the promising 3yo from the Debbie England barn, worked a super 5 furlongs on April 1 in 1:00 on the dirt training track. The son of Shakespeare is owned by Douglas Reddington and breeders Oslen and Cristina Belle.

MENLO CASTLE and RUN IN ARUBA, two solid Plate contenders for trainer Ralph Biamonte,
Crupi’s New Castle Farm, Inc. 3/27/2012 Dirt 4F 50.80 Breezing 4/11 Crupi’s New Castle Farm, Inc. 3/20/2012 Dirt 4F 49.80 Breezing 2/9 Crupi’s New Castle Farm, Inc. 3/13/2012 Dirt 4F 50.40 Breezing 4/11

DIXIE STRIKE Churchill Downs 3/27/2012 Dirt 5F 59.60 Breezing 1/4

DRAGO’S BEST, maiden with the big Beyer Figure (92) from a  sprint race, competes this weekend at Woodbine