HAPPY NEW YEAR! Enjoy your day, embrace tomorrow and let’s hope that everyone gets their hopes and dreams fulfilled in the coming (leap) year.

(and yours truly gets a pair of binoculars and maybe some extra employment?)



Welcome to New Year’s Eve, 2011. Do you do resolutions? Whether you do or not, the last day of a year gives you time to reflect on what 2011 was like and for the racing world, there have been lots of lists of the ‘top moments of the year”.
In Canadian racing, there were plenty of top moments with the gals taking 2 big races: Inglorious in the Queen’s Plate and Sarah Lynx in the Canadian International. Pender Harbour was a local star in the boys division and in western Canada, Freedoms Traveller was a feel-good story when he won the Canadian Derby not long after the passing of his trainer Barry Brown.

Now a new year is upon us and what are some of the things that THOROUGHBLOG looks forward to from a Canadian  racing industry member or fan standpoint?


1 – The SALIX (LASIX) issue: What will happen with the  Breeders’ Cup’s proposal to ban Lasix in its 2-year-old races in 2012 as well as the American Graded Stakes Committee’s proposal to remove the grade from any 2-year-old graded stakes race that permits the runners to participate on Lasix?
Woodbine has a 2yo graded stakes race – the Grey Stakes.
The arguments for and against the use of Lasix are strong – see CANADIAN THOROUGHBRED’S OCT./NOV. ISSUE where RAY PAULICK weighs in on the debate. 


2 -SPRING  BREEDING BUSINESS : In Ontario, an influx of new stallions will be awaiting their mares this spring – will Canadian breeders be able to support them? The big owners, such as Charles Fipke, bought mares in Kentucky to breed to Society’s Chairman and Not Bourbon and of course, Perfect Soul. Other big owners are starting to lean the Ontario-sired way too: top breeding farm Shannondoe, owned by the Everatt family of St. Thomas, will be doing a lot more breeding to local studs in 2012.
It is a well known fact that the local breeders will need to step up – improve their breeding band, bolster it too – in order to compete at the ever-improving racing game at Woodbine in particular.

3 – FALL YEARLING SALES: The auctions of 2011 were all up and that is pleasing news for breeders but there is still work to be done. British Columbia had a solid racing season and a good sale even with its smaller Hastings Park track. The track moves with the times for bettors and has done well.
Alberta racing needs more racing dates and a new track but it held its own in 2011 while Mantioba also continues to scrape along.

4 – THE ‘HORSE EXCHANGE’: Yours truly has been among the few who have been waiting for the launch of Frank Stronach’s Horse Exchange but it will be a bit of time yet. However, the PAULICK REPORT got hold of some forms that lay out the, well, very cool, plan.
Anyone can buy a share in one of the syndicates of horses (20 horses each) for $10 a share and get involved in the game of watching your horses race. Tons of more details to come but the early forms are out there with each horse in each syndicate detailed.

This $85,000 YES IT’S TRUE filly is one of the youngsters offered in the Horse exchange groups soon to be set up by Frank Stronach. Dave Landry photo



5 – MARITIMER and others. The stars of the game are the horses and while we had plenty of big names in 2011, the fact that the HORSE OF THE YEAR is likely going to be an American-based, owned and bred horse (NEVER RETREAT) is a bit of a bummer for the true red and whiter’s of this great country.
MARTIMER looks like a nice prospect after a good 2yo season but can the Coronation Futurity winner emger from the winter and spring without any setbacks? Can he buck a serious jinx that no Futurity winner has won the Plate since 1976?
INGLORIOUS should be back – where will she race this season and how good is she really?
PENDER HARBOUR is a true blue battler and he’s fun to watch.
TU ENDIE WEI is American bred but she is Canadian trained and perhaps this top filly will be a force in Kentucky in the spring?
PERFECT SHIRL – Our Breeders’ Cup winner and darling of the local ranks is being primed for another campaign by Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield.
6 – HORSE FOLKS. Well, it was a year of records for trainer MARK CASSE and jockey LUIS CONTRERAS. The former beat the wins at Woodbine record of 89 held by Frank Passero, blasting by to win 119 races overall.
CONTRERAS, who came from essentially nowhere (riding in the southwest US under the radar) to clean up at Woodbine and set an earnings record of $11.5 million with 212 wins.
Contreras figures to get perhaps some more challenges in 2012 as the Woodbine jockey colony continues to expand with inport riders. With the impending return of EURICO ROSA DA SILVA PLUS jesse campbell, EMMA-JAYNE WILSON, PATRICK HUSBANDS and others, there is also the possibility that Kentucky Derby winning rider STEWART ELLIOTT will join the band.

7 – BET, BET, BET.  It’s the name of the game and what makes the industry go around. At Woodbine, the money keeps pouring in from the United States on a good local product but the folks on-track and around the ontario region are not getting in on the action. Really, they are just not getting it.
Pounding the game into the minds of Canadians is something the indsutry does not do well. Woodbine has tackled it with BET NIGHT LIVE, a 2-day a week show that brings in a fan to bet on races for the night and that has helped HORSEPLAYER INTERACTIVE continues to blossom.
But more needs to be done. Pick a horse, or a race and boost it up each weekend, or at least every few weeks. Play on some historical angles, or play up the owners (that guy really bought the horse for just $2,000?).
Attempting to get the stories out there is key, billboards, advertisements that catch the eyer.
The popularity of horse racing exploded with names like Seabiscuit in the news (movie), Secretariat (movie) , Zenyatta etc.

8 – FORT ERIE. The little track that could. Yours truly got cozy with the beautiful track this season as its morning line oddsmaker. The racing really improved in the late summer and fall but the fans who attend are not betting. There is a tiki bar and concerts and lots of personable folks around. It is the last year of the lease for the Fort Erie consortium to run it so it will be interesting to see if the track can get some help to continue on. Let’s hope it does.

9 – TV, RADIO, PRINT.  TV in Canada has done well for horse racing, radio, not so much at all, newspapers, well, it’s hit and miss. Let’s band together and get all these media types on the radio and running the papers to promote a great game that employs so many people. Don’t complain to each other folks – call your local radio station or paper and let them know how you feel!

10 – SAFE AND SOUND HORSES and owners and trainers who will take care of them and know when enough is enough. Let’s get the number of injuries and breakdowns to the bare minimum. Let’s cherish our equine athletes in 2012.



LAYNE GILIFORTE, an Ontario owner/trainer won two races in tyhe last 2 days including a win with ME THE SEA AND G T yesterday at Penn National. The 5yo gelding by Dance to Destiny won for $4,000 claiming at paid 9 to 2.

BARB PIRIE claimed easy winner TAKER HOME for $25,000 at Gulfstream yesterday. The 2yo (soon to be 3)  filly is by Vindication.