TORONTO STAR FEATURE ON WOODBINE CLOSING DAY
The racetrack saved Jay Mazzuca’s life.
It is not an exaggeration to say that about many of the 2,000 men and women who groom, ride and walk thoroughbreds on the Woodbine backstretch from February to December every year.
For Mazzuca, he says his troubled younger years as a high school dropout came to an end the moment he saw the track.
“I saw beautiful racehorses, people working with them all morning long, caring for them, racing them,” said Mazzuca. “There were dorms and tack rooms to live in, I thought it was the perfect life for me. If I wasn’t here, who knows where I would be? Maybe in jail.”
WOODBINE’S JOCKS AGENTS ANNOUNCE THE CHEESE AWARDS!
With the assistance of former jockey agent Andrew (Gundi) Bankuti, agents and trainers gathered at the Woodbine race office recently to announce the winners of the cheese awards, given to, well, let’s say, popular trainers.
Who won for men and who won for women? You’ll have to watch the video right to the end. Thanks for the video everyone!
WOODBINE RACING FINAL DAYS…
Are they ways to pick some of these winners?
Well, it’s that time of season in racing in Ontario when anything goes. The betting approaches have to be altered – look for the fresh horses, hot stables, apprentice riders, think outside the box and one of my faves – bet those barns who have not won a race yet during the year.
Horses often repeat when they win at this time of year too. Closers dominate the proceedings as well.
The track is yielding very, very slow times both for pace fractions and final times. Horses are being raced back in a few days and there are a lot more horses being eased up, outdistanced and yesterday, we had a bad breakdown of a nice Ontario sired filly in NOVO.
Race 1 – appropriate that TALK ME INTO IT was a maiden winner for $32K since she is from the top stable of Nick and Martha Gonzalez and the filly is co-owned by friend Mike Coll. The Sightseeker filly was a $2,500 purchase (perhaps Coll was ‘talked into buying her? LOL) and she has won over $35,000.
Race 2 – a 3yo filly race for $20K was a close finish and KATIE IT’S FINE held on to beat MUTTAK BAY, from the red-hot Mike Mattine barn. The winner is 2 for 2 since being claimed by Sammy DiPasquale and Teddy Louie and she is a Speightstown gal who is 2 for 11 this season.
The 3rd was a 9 furlong allowance for Ontario sired fillies and mares and the race shrunk a lot when both halves on the Julia Carey-trained entry were scratched.
Trainer Sam DiPasquale was back with 2 of the 5 runners and one of them, Carolina Moon, was odds-on. The latter set a soft pace (although the 26 and 52 and change fractions look even slower because of the track and wind, but faded. Good news for Sammy D though, ON WE GO at 14 to 1, came from last and darted up the rail to win for Murray Stroud. The winner, a Bold Executive filly, was bred by Gail Wood and ridden by Danny David, who has had a resurgence of his career this season at Fort Erie and locally.
In this race, which went in a very lethargic 1:57 for the 1 1/8 miles, the 4yo NOVO broke down on the last turn and was pulled up. She was a $12,500 claim by Len Friedman in August.
Race 4 started the pick 4 and it was Ellie Boje Farms and Jim and Jean MacLellan’s NIIGON’S PRINCESS getting her 4th win of the year and zooming over $100,000 in earnings. The Niigon filly is racing for $10,00 claiming now but has won 2 straight races. Friday, she felt the whip at least 21 times but held on for the win. She was bred by George Bigliardi.
race 5 – Another one of my favourite betting approaches is the horse that wins his maiden after many tries, they often come back and win again. Let th Kitten Purr was a recent example and yesterday, VIGILARE won his 2nd straight race after winning his maiden in his 28th start. The 4yo is by Posse and is trained by Robert Gerl for a numbered company.
race 6 – BINKS FOREST is 3 for 9 at Woodbine since he arrived in the spring. This is a durable gelding who was making his 17th start yesterday and he won for the 4th time in his career on the lead under his favorite rider Jesse Campbell. The Street Cry (Ire) 4yo was claimed for $11,500 by owner/trainer Mike Wright Sr. in August.
Fip for the Coin was fractious in the gate and reared up at the break and lost David Moran. It was hard to tell if Flip for the Coin, who often hops at the start and seems like he’s in a bad mood alot, was just mad at being held, or just mad.
Race 7 – SHARINA was a logical winner of a maiden claiming race for $25,000 and it was the 5th win of the meeting for Joe Walls and family. The winner is an Orientate filly bred by Cold River Farm and the Orientate Syndicate in Ontario.
race 8 – SARAH HER HIGHNESS won and is a nice 3yo prospect for next year for the Six Brother Stable. Okay, so the turn-back from routes to a one turn distance of 7 furlongs was probably the answer for a gal who is likely a sprinter, but she looked good in her win, her 2nd in her 9th race. The filly was bred by SPIRIT RUN and is by Milwaukee Brew out of Judy B and she was a $21,000 yearling purchase. She has earned about $150,000. Billy Tharrenos trains the 2yo filly.
Race 9 The Joe Stritzel Stable had a win with trainer Greg de Gannes as CROWNS DYNASTY was a rare ‘on the pace’ winner in the 6 furlong event for $9,500 claiming. The 3yo colt had been well beaten in so many recent races, it was hard to believe he was only 11-1. David Garcia continues his wild riding roll.
So the day’s first race was the first winner for trainer Julia Samulak this season as MONETARY MERV (Mobil) led all the way to win a maiden allowance for Ontario sired guys by almost 9 lengths at 8 to 1.
The gelding, owned by the partnership of Cocklin, Duclos and Greg Samulak, had been showing the signs in maiden claiming races and was not hard to like. but he paid well.
It was also the first win for apprentice rider KATY MORRISON, who had 18 previous rides this year.
Hot stables include that of Marty Drexler, who won the 2nd race with his $5,000 claiming KIRBINATOR. The Scat Daddy gelding has won twice for $10,000 now and he has raced 16 times this season for 2 different stables.
Race 3 was the 4th win this year for ROYAL GREATNESS, a Florida bred gelding who won for $10,000 claiming for Ace Racing and partners and trainer Scott Fairlie. Michelle Rainford, who has had a good season as main rider for the Fairlie barn, was on this Greatness gelding, who has won every other start for his last 6 races.
The Pick 4 kicked off with the well bred beginner CHEPSTOW winning the 2yo maiden race for $32,000 claiming. Owned and bred by Eugene Melnyk, Chepstow rallied wide and won under leading rider Luis Contreras. Josie Carroll trains the son of Harlington.
Race 5 was another big win for stakes winner ARTIE HOT, who now races for $10K claiming but it was his 3rd consecutive score and 4th of the season. Owned by Tucci Stables and trained by Nick Gonzalez, Artie Hot was ridden by Jesse Campbell.
The 15th win in his 75th race pushed the son of Black Minnaloushe over $500,000 in earnings.
That race was a bit curious since Mark Casse trainee Rise to Glory, a winner last time out, was listed as scratched on the field page before the race. The gelding did race and was unplaced and claimed.
race 6 Ellen Shoeman’s DELIGHTED SEASON, an Ontario bred by Langfuhr, was brought along nicely for his 3rd race off a one-year layoff by trainer Marc Blouin and he won at a fat 9 to 1 under Omar Moreno for $20K. It was his 2nd win of his career. The colt’s 65 Beyer Figure from his last race was the highest last-race Beyer in the race.
race 7 – KHULNA came from far back to win an allowance race at 3 to 1 for Vera Simpson and Mike Dube’s Currghamore Farm and that stable always gets hot in the late stages of the year. Khulna, by Tejano Run, is 3 for 13 in his career now. Jesse campbell rode as Emma-Jayne Wilson was off sick for the 2nd day this week. Reade Baker notched his 60th win at Woodbine for 2012.
Race 8 – Hey, isn’t this what late season racing is all about? 132 to 1 shot (yes, 132 to 1!) MIGHTY MONARCH came from 13th, and then 12th into the stretch, to win the $6,250 claiming race for Greenoaks Farm and trainer John MacKenzie. David Garcia rode the winner.
The gelding had been 0 for 9 this year for a variety of different trainers, was 3rd time without Lasix, 2nd time with blinkers and had a bullet workout since a drab recent race. Go fish!
STUCK IN TRAFFIC, a stakes winner of over $600,000, was well beaten in this race.
Wednesday...The first racing card of the final week of the 2012 Woodbine season was Wed. night at Woodbine and there was some popular names on the winner’s ledger.
Certainly the victory by 8-year-old RONALDINO, his 15th in his 32nd race, was fun to watch. Here is an old timer who had not raced since July when he was winning for $19,000 claiming. He has always been carefully managed by Mark Fournier for owners Jack Fournier and Dan Burwell. The BC-bred by Katahaula County has rewarded his care with over $325,000 in earnings over the years.
WHIP IS IN SESSION
Norm Files photo
There has been a rash of whip fines at Woodbine as riders have been flailing away all of a sudden and the stewards are taking note. Three riders, Gerry Olguin, Eurico Da Silva and Gerry Olguin, all received fines this past week.
PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF WHERE YOUR HORSES GO
It is the time of year where racehorses are going on vacation somewhere. Not all, however, will continue their racing careers and that leaves their owners wondering what to do with them.
Sending horses to auctions in Ontario is almost a certain way to ensure your horse will end up being sent to slaughter. That is fact.
We have seen it time and again in recent years and very much so in recent weeks.
Thorougblog has been following the plight of a group of 9 thoroughbreds who raced as recently as late November at Woodbine and found their way to Claremont auction, north of Toronto. Some of the these then ended up in pens in Ottawa, with their future very much unknown.
SOMARVELOUS, an earner of $200,000, was among the group, as was E Z IRISH, a winning 3yo filly who broke down at Woodbine on Aug. 3 and was vanned off.
These horses have all been purchased by numerous donators and thanks to Transition Thoroughbreds , LongRun and many other anonymous and generous folks, these horses have been bailed out.
Show heart, make sure you know where your horses are going.
SYSTEM FENCING AMONG THOSE FEELING THE PINCH
Brothers Dwayne and Kevin Job have endured many ups and downs in the 25 years they have co-owned and operated System Fencing Ltd., a Rockwood, Ont.-based business closely tied to the horse-racing industry.