Congratulations to some great horses and people who will be inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in August! BRUCE WALKER, JOHN SIKURA (above)  SID ATTARD AND PHIL ENGLAND (leading in Thornfield)  join some equine stars, read more below. recent interviews with Glen Todd and Phil Hronec of Winding on!


Top Canadian owner reboots racing business


Multiple graded stakes winner ROXY GAP, up for two Sovereign Awards for 2012 (ceremony is April 19) , is back with owner Eugene Melnyk. The Indian Charlie mare had been sold at the Fasig Tipton mixed sale in February for $850,000 to Fred Hertrich.
“Eugene didn’t really want to let her go,’ said Phil Hronec, manager of Melynk’s Winding Oaks Farm. “He told the [new] owner that if he had any problems with her, he would buy her back.”
Roxy Gap was back in training when she pinched a nerve in her shoulder recently and Melnyk has re-purchased one of his favourite gals.
“She just needed 30 days and she’s back jogging now at the farm,” said Hronec. “She will eventually be back at Woodbine.”

Melnyk has changed the focus of his vast thoroughbred empire, leaving behind the breeding aspect to concentrate on racing.
He sold all but four mares at the Fasig Tipton sale.
“It was a terrific sale,” said Hronec. “The horses were brigning almost double what I thought they would,”

More than half, 15 of the 28 Melnyk horses, brought six-figure prices during the one-day auction, including sale topper Pool Land, who fetched a staggering $900,000. In the end, the dispersal horses were sold for a gross of $6,871,000, an average of $245,393, and a median of $235,000.

Hronec said the stable  has plenty of good runners for 2013 with stars such as James Street, Dene Court and Indian Pond all returning for action.



Stakes winner  MOMENT OF MAJESTY is at Keeneland and had a nice workout yesterday according to the cool Clocker’s

Comments section on its website:[value]=&title=

Tuesday, Apr. 9
Moment of Majesty

Distance: (5f)
Time: 1:01
Track Conditions: 3.0

was traveling well at the finish



THOROUGHBLOG is excited about this year’s CANADIAN HORSE RACING HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES, can’t wait for the August ceremony.

The inductees this year  are all horses and people who did their great stuff while I have been covering horse racing.


BRUCE WALKER was instrumental in the career of yours truly.He is a top writer, publicist, lover of the game and a great friend to many of its stars. He has the best stories about racing and he planned arguably the BEST Breeders’ Cup party ever at SKYDOME in 1996 (ferris wheels, merry-go-rounds!).

PHIL ENGLAND has trained great ones like AFLEET, and he won big races like the Prince of Wales (remember when Benburb posted an upset for the ages?  He trained THORNFIELD whom I loved when he upset the Canadian International. Not a bad golfer either.

I followed SOARING FREE around for much of the trip to Lone Star Park when he ran in the Breeders’ Cup. Ridden by Todd Kabel, the hero of the Atto Mile ran a brave 4th that day. I have a halter of his.

SID ATTARD is one of Woodbine’s friendliest horsepeople, always approachable. He loves to talk about his horses and it’s fun to listen.

SEALY HILL – owned and bred by Eugene Melnyk, was a difficult project for trainer Mrk Casse. She was a quirky and kooky gal but was good enough to be named Horse of the Year in Canada.

I never had the pleasure to  meet JOHN SIKURA, at least not that I remember. However, when I was learning the business in the 1980s and 90s, the Sikura name was one of THE big names, Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms, daunting to someone like me who would get autographs from owners back then. His Aurora farm, some 50 plus years old, is now run by his son Glenn.


In the Veteran Horse Category, Secretariat, Penny Chenery’s “Big Red” captivated the sports world with his sensational American Triple Crown win in 1973.  The excitement continued throughout his race career and crossed the border into Canada later that year where he received a hero’s welcome and concluded his race career with his only race run outside the US, a decisive 6 ½ length win in the 1973 Canadian International Championship Stakes.  2013 marks the 40th Anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown exploits where he set three track records that still stand today.

Sam-Son Farm’s homebred Soaring Free was one of the earliest stars by Smart Strike and is being recognized in the Male Horse Category.  Under the tutelage of trainer Mark Frostad, the turf specialist won 15 of his 27 starts with lifetime earnings in excess of $2 million.  Included on his resume is a win in the 2003 Neartic Stakes, as well as 2004 wins in the Ontario Jockey Club Stakes and his second straight Play The King Stakes before achieving his most important career win in the Grade 1 Atto Mile in race record time.

Soaring Free image by Cindy Pierson Dulay


The Female Horse Category inductee is Ontario-bred Sealy Hill who was the first to win the Tiara Series (Woodbine Oaks, Bison City Stakes and Wonder Where Stakes) for breeder/owner Eugene Melnyk and trainer Mark Casse.  She also finished 2nd in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.  Her racing achievements resulted in winnings of $1.75 million dollars, as well as three Sovereign Awards.

Two inductees will be added to the Jockey/Trainer category.

Sid Attard, born in Malta, immigrated to Canada with his family in the 1960’s and began training horses in 1977.  He has visited the winners circle over 1700 times in his training career including 60 stake wins.  Attard-trained horses have earned over $47 million in purse money.  In 2001, Sid engineered a perfect season for Numerous Times who beat a world class field in the Gr. 1 Atto Mile and subsequently won a Sovereign award as Canada’s outstanding turf male.  He recorded five straight 50+ win seasons from 1994-1998 and another six straight 50+ win seasons from 2003-2008.

The list of 2013 Inductee Phil England pupils include Knob Hill Farm Horses of the Year horses Benburb (1992), Thornfield (1999) and the Rick Kennedy owned Afleet in 1987.  Other stars trained by him include Blushing Katy, One From Heaven, Apelia and Gr. 1 Stakes winner Schossberg.  England, moved to Canada in 1962 from the UK and worked as an exercise rider before obtaining his trainer’s license in 1966.  He won the Sovereign Award as Canada’s top trainer in 1992.

Inducted in the Builder Category is the late John Sikura Jr. who emigrated from Czechoslovakia as a teenager in the 1950s, and built Hill ‘N’ Dale Farms into a highly successful breeding and stallion operation.  He was the purchaser of the first yearling in history to sell for more than $1 million and twice was leading consignor at Keeneland.  Additional honours include being recognized with the status of Kentucky Colonel and in 1994 was awarded the Mint Julep Cup for lifetime contributions to the Ontario Racing Industry.

The first inductee in the Communicator Category representing Thoroughbreds is Bruce Walker, a renowned publicist and four-time Sovereign award winning feature writer (1985, 1991, 2002, and 2009).  Bruce is one of the founders of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame and his additional accomplishments include Election to the office of President of The Turf Publicists of America in 1972 and subsequently being awarded that organization’s Award of Merit in 1997.  He was also a founding committee member of the Avelino Gomez Award.

The Induction Ceremony will be hosted at the Mississauga Convention Centre on Thursday, August 15, 2013.




With a week until the first entries are taken for opening day at Woodbine, are you following along with the worktabs?
Yesterday’s Polytrack workout times were quick and many local stars were out for some moves:

It’s Gail (ON)     Filly     4     47.20     b     4/43
Jenna’s Wabbit (ON)     Gelding     4     48.80     b     24/43
Leinan (KY)     Filly     3     1:02.40     b     12/16

LEINAN is a leading contender for the Star Shoot Stakes on opening day.


GRYDER IS TODD’S NEW RIDER – Interview with Glen Todd

AARON GRYDER, career winner of over 3,000 race including events such as the DUBAI WORLD CUP, has landed at Hastings Park in Vancouver and will ride there for the 2013 season.
Gryder has been hired by leading owner Glen Todd to ride the stable.
Todd, a co-winner of the Sovereign Award for leading owner in Canada last year and a nominee this year, has 55 horses in training including stable star DEVIL IN DISGUISE.
Mario Gutierrez has been Todd’s main rider but that jockey is staying in California.
“Mario has to try and make it there,” said Todd. “Look, jockeys don’t have a long existence, he’s 26 now, he has the right atttitude, I hope he can make it there.”
Todd said that currently Hastings has very few jockeys, most of which are Mexican. Top apprentice of 2012 Scott Williams isi expected to ride at Hastings this year.
“I have to have a good rider for my stable, I have so many horses,” said Todd. “[Aaaron] is here to ride permanently, not just on the weekends. He has been a leading rider in northern California and he just got back from Dubai.”

Todd reported that his top runner of 2012, TAYLOR SAID, whom he sold late last year to Dubai has since been injured and operated on for a leg issue.

Todd also has a vested interest in the KENTUCKY DERBY. Last fall he bought BOSTON BOUND for $35,000 at the Keeneland Sept. with Mark Dedomenico. The colt, by Hard Spun, is a half brother to contender NORMANDY INVASION.


Hey! Here is a Legal Jousting (IRE) – Shubiz Colt.  He is a full brother to the winners Izitlegal & Silo Ridge.  He’s about twelve hours old here.
Cedarcrest Farm & Kingsgate Stud is the breeder.
photo courtesy KRISTA KOCOT.



note from Standardbred Canada.Milton Cdn Champion.

On Wednesday night the Nassagaweya Community Consultation Committee will be hosting a public meeting to discuss how the horse racing industry is moving forward with its government-led transitional program.

The meeting will take place at Mohawk Racetrack at 7:00 p.m. and include a panel of industry participants, including WEG’s Jane Holmes and Garth Essery, COSA President Bill O’Donnell, SBOA President Anna Meyers, Dianne Graham of the Ontario Equine Federation and local veterinarians Melissa McKee and Steve Noonan.
According to the Milton Canadian Champion, Ontario’s Premier and Minister of Agriculture and Food Kathleen Wynne as well as OLG President and CEO Rod Phillips have been formally invited to attend the meeting but there has been no formal notice given from either party on whether or not they will attend.

The View from the West

Winnipeg Free Press Jockey Club raises its own money

By: Wayne Anderson

In recent weeks there have been several articles concerning the funding of horse racing and the Manitoba Jockey Club, which owns and operates Assiniboia Downs.

Statements such as “after having poured almost $200 million into Assiniboia Downs over the last two decades” and “almost $10 million annually” need clarification.

These numbers are presented in the context that they are a massive subsidy and that these funds could be used for some other purpose if there were no horse racing.

This is mistaken and reflects a serious lack of knowledge about how racing is funded. The fact of the matter is that all of the funds that flow into racing are generated at Assiniboia Downs. I repeat “all funds.”


While the future of the track and racing may be in doubt, ASSINIBOIA DOWNS is in the news a teeny bit with the journey of GOLDENCENTS to the KENTUCKY DERBY.
The 3yo colt by Into Mischief is out of a Canadian-bred mare, Golden Works, who hails from a true Canadian family that includes her dam, BODY WORKS, a daughter of Bold Ruckus.