Thursday racing returns for the last 2 weeks of Woodbine…big return for Fifty Proof, Frank Stronach’s Horse Racing League hits new peak and the case for Canadian Horse of the Year


Yep, he’s back. FIFTY PROOF wins the Sir Barton in his first race in a year. Norm Files photo



Champion older horse from 2012 makes strong return

It had been a year since champion FIFTY PROOF had raced. The giant, flashy fellow, owned by a group that includes famed Kinghaven Farms, John Fielding and Ben Hutzel, had a suspensory injury, then a bone injury, but after 3 months of training, he was fit and ready for his comeback. Taking on a group who were way overmatched, FIFTY PROOF made it look easy and he probably was not event totally fit.

He ran a 95 Beyer Figure and is now headed to grass racing in Florida. Ian Black trains and Justin Stein rode.


Uh, IZITLEGAL?  Guess so – this 2yo FILLY WAS 31 TO 1, making her first strat since Aug. but led all the way to win a MSW for Ont. sired gals. She is by Legal Jousting out of Shubiz, by Shuilaan, bred by Kingsgate and Cedarcrest. Just 30 min, earlier, her full brother SILO RIDGE won his maiden at the MSW level. Norm Files photo





Gentleman Jackson (Norm Files photo) won his 5th race at Woodbine in 2012 to tie for the lead for the year’s winningest horse…owned by Frank Cirillo, trained by Marty Drexler.

1    Gentleman Jackson    10    5    1    2    $181,676    50%    8    80%    100
1    Hold That Echo    12    5    3    3    $114,088    42%    11    92%    81

but where do these 2 fit in Canada in 2012? Three horses are ahead of them…


1    Big Brother Joe      8    6    0    1    $44,536    75%    7    88%    102
1    Tethra’s Word          8    6    0    0    $41,276    75%    6    75%    86
1    Dance the Dance    9    6    0    3    $36,010    67%    9    100%    92

Balooga Bull    6    5    0    1    $120,221    83%    6    100%    114
She’s Regal    7    5    2    0    $86,225    71%    7    100%    813

Whos Hot Now    9    5    0    0    $32,449    56%    5    56%    75
You’ve Been Played    11    5    1    2    $30,392    45%    8    73%    82
High Plateau    7    5    0    1    $29,986    71%    6    86%    95
Shanghi Charlie    9    5    0    1    $43,672    56%    6    67%    89
Disco Damsel    9    5    2    0    $28,979    56%    7    78%    79
Highly Favoured    6    5    1    0    $14,934    83%    6    100%    81


PYRITE MOUNTAIN won the Kingarvie Stakes as a maiden (he was a close second in his debut against open company) by inches over Power Phil (Philanthropist). This is a son of Ontario sire SILENT NAME (JPN) and he is the first stakes winner for Frank Stronach’s HORSE RACING LEAGUE, ( a series of syndicates that originally were going to be in the $10 a share range to attract new owners. The League costs a lot more than that to join and Pyrite Mountain is owned by the Awesome Again Stable. The winner was bred by Sean Hall.





Ivan Dalos’ homebred AVIE’S QUALITY stamped himself as a leading 2yo in Canada with a strong win in the tough DISPLAY STAKES on Saturday at Woodbine, putting up an impressive 91 Beyer Figure. That number is better than most numbers earned by 2yos this year in Canada, although Uncaptured had one better, a 96 in a 5 1/2 furlong sprint in the summer.
Avie’s Quality certainly has the pedigree to be a long distance star, however, as he is by Elusive Quality out of E P Taylor Stakes winner Fly for Avie, by Lord Avie. Darley is a co-breeder and Dalos bought the youngster for $35,000 as a yearling.
Trained by Josie Carroll, Avie’s Quality was in the back of the field along the inside for most of the race. CLEARLY NOW, the pacesetter who was very rank early, stayed on okay to be 3rd while MY NAME IS MICHAEL, recently sold to a partner in the US charged for 2nd.
Strange outings in the race came from 2 Mark Casse trainees. GUNDERMAN appeared to be fading being pulled up in the stretch but then he rallied late and galloped out okay. SKY COMMANDER was moving on the turn with Avie’s Quality but then suddenly dove to the rail into ths stretch and he stalled.



There were some super performances on Saturday in addition to AVIE’S QUALITY. The 2yo QUICK TURNOVER won a maiden $40,000 claiming race and had a beautiful ride behind the pace duel by Patrick Husbands. The chestnut gelding by Value Plus out of stakes winner Penny’s Growl is owned by Debmar Stables, which had a good season with trainer Ricky Griffith, at least with its lightly raced youngsters. Quick Turnover  had been 2nd, 3rd and 4th  in her 4 races.

Cindy Cox and Lisa McCallum-Smith and trainer Greg Cox have a nice prospect in CHIEF CHATO (a famous Indian chief). This 2yo by Tomahawk – U R Eneggy by Bold n Flashy was bred by the team and he was a super 3rd in his debut after a tough trip.
He was an easy one to pick to win the 4th race Saturday and he was a nice 5 to 1 to kick off the Pick 4. The gelding battled on the pace all the way under Steve Bahen and while that seemed to be scary tactics since he rallied so well in his debut, he out-dueled Silver Striker (Vibank) and held on to win by a length with a 56 Beyer.

Race 5, a $10,000 claiming race for older horses marked the first win of the year of the longtime nibbler QUARTERBACK, owned and bred by Petra and Yvonne Schwabe.
The Polytrack played very slow all day so sprint races that went in 24 4/5 and 48 for the first half mile should not be scrutinized too closely. The track is just very slow.
QUARTERBACK made his move off the turn and then held off Looks Purrfect to win by a neck for trainer Kevin Attard.
in a rarity, POWERMOUSE was pulled up early in the race (he was under a hard hold early and then eased up in early stretch) as his rider Gerry Olguin “apparently was hit in the face by a clod”, said the EQUIBASE chart.



The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) would like to formally thank Liberal Leadership candidate Dr. Eric Hoskins for building a platform around respect for rural Ontario and horse racing industry as a whole.

The past year has been extremely painful for horse racing, as the entire industry has been devastated by the government’s plans to cancel the Slots at Racetracks Program, which set to take affect in March 2013. The industry is in crisis, with 60,000 jobs at risk, over half of which are in rural communities, where jobs are harder to come by. Ontario’s horse breeding industry operates on a multi-year cycle and has already taken a crippling blow this year due to the government’s plans.


OHRIA is pleased to see that Dr. Hoskins acknowledges that the current government’s race to build new casinos, needs to be reviewed, and horse racing needs to be an integrated part of Ontario’s overall gaming strategy.
The President of OHRIA, Sue Leslie, believes Eric Hoskins platform is a step in the right direction:
“I am happy to see Dr. Hoskins taking a stance on rural issues.  The Horse Racing and Breeding Industry has endured countless blows by the current government as they have continued to move forward with plans that will kill our industry and hurt Ontario’s rural economy and traditions” said Leslie.
“We sincerely hope the other candidates will follow suit, and we will be watching closely.”
In his detailed platform, Hoskins says he will ensure the Horse Racing Industry is an “integral part of the provincial gaming strategy” and plans to develop a strong government partnership with the sector.  Hoskins also commits to helping rural Ontario through job and education programs, transit strategies, and tax credits for employers hiring rural employees.
America has its own discussions going  about who should be its Horse of the Year for 2012 (Royal Delta, Wise Dan, etc.). and Canada appears to have a wide open race for the same title.
There were a lot of cool performances by eligible horses this year (3 starts in Canada, 2 for juveniles) but certainly had MARKETING MIX been eligible, she would be a serious factor, so might PROSPECTIVE.
Who is eligible to be Canada’s Horse of the Year?
Here are some of the leading contenders:
*HUNTERS BAY 3 for 6 leading contender for champion older horse, graded SW, Grade 1 placed
Grade 3 Dominion Day, Grade 3 Eclipse, 2nd Grade 1 Woodbine Mile to WISE DAN $471,000
Beyers 91, 94, 107, 88 , 101
*STRAIT OF DOVER 3 for 3 leading contender for champion 3yo colt

  3yo won Queen’s Plate but then was injured $725,000 earnings, 84, 90. 95 Beyer Sp Figures

*TAYLOR SAID 6 for 7 $262,000, contender for champion older horse
Grade 3 Longacres Mile, 5 stakes wins
98, 104,98 91 93 98

*UNCAPTURED, leading contender champion 2yo colt
6 for 7 in 2yo races, $510,000, Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club, Grade 3 Iroquois
Beyers58, 95, 88, 91, 75, 90 76
The last time a 2yo was named HORSE OF THE YEAR was 1986 when RULING ANGEL was a surprising winner. Juveniles are tough to vote for, they are only racing against other 2yo’s.
STRAIT OF DOVER had an abbreviated campaign, TAYLOR SAID was a monster and has since been sold for big money to Dubai and HUNTERS BAY ended the year with a 2nd in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile to probable US HORSE OF THE YEAR…WISE DAN.
HUNTERS BAY appears to have the edge.