INGLORIOUS, climbing a bit from the dirt in the Alabama, was part of a ho-hum weekend of racing for Ontario fans – but what a warm and fuzzy Canadian Derby!

Vanessa Ng photo





Well, a big test for a Canadian-bred went awry this weekend, the stakes at Woodbine were on the sleepy side (a major storm hit yesterday in  mid-afternoon resulting in soft turf, scratches and wacky results.

Perhaps Canadian racing fans best accept the fact that when it comes to main track (aka Polytrack) stars at Woodbine, the chances they will do well on dirt in big races is probably nil.

At least that is the going thought after Queen’s Plate/Woodbine Oaks winner INGLORIOUS trailed badly throughout the Grade 1 Alabama.
Unbeaten on Polytrack, the Saratoga dirt perhaps was not to the filly’s liking yesterday, but gosh, she was always well back behind a very slow pace, she must have really not liked it. She never ran that poorly at Fair Grounds.

Perhaps there is more. Sick? Injured? In season? Hopefully we will find out once she arrives back home .

It was a huge letdown for fans who actually made the trip all the way down to the Spa, ouch, that didn’t work!

Or how about those wild and crazy folks who pounded her at the betting windows, 4 to 5 at one point, finally going off at 2 to 1, well below her 6 to 1 morning line quote.

The entire situation was bizarre to say the least and hopefully brought us back to reality – she had not run her best on dirt, and Poly horses tend to only want to do Poly.

Chatter on forums took note of the energetic ride the filly received once she was far, far behind in the stretch…. a few too many whippings?
watch for yourself:



SARATOGA SPRINGS — Sometimes things have to go wrong before they can go right. Such was the case with the 3-year-old filly Royal Delta, who came with a powerful rally under Jose Lezcano to win yesterday’s 131st running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Alabama Stakes by 5½ lengths.

Royal Delta’s march toward victory in the Alabama, which catapulted her into the fray for the 3-year-old filly championship, began when her Hall-of-Fame trainer, Bill Mott, decided to forego a start in the Kentucky Oaks last May, and instead ran her in the Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico, which she won by 2½ lengths.

“[The Alabama] became our primary goal when we decided to pass the Kentucky Oaks because she was too inexperienced,” Mott said in the winner’s circle, watching the replay on the infield board. “We went to the Black-Eyed Susan to give her an easier race.”

Royal Delta’s next scheduled race was the Mother Goose at Belmont, but she missed that when she bruised her foot.

“Maybe it was a blessing in disguise,” said Mott.

Again, Royal Delta took an off-step when she prepped for the Alabama in the July 23 Coaching Club American Oaks here, finishing a well-beaten third behind It’s Tricky and Plum Pretty.

“She didn’t settle well, she didn’t rate well,” Mott said. “She was a little strong with the rider early on, and I think it compromised her finish.

“But the Coaching Club was all she needed, in a lot of ways, not just conditioning, but mentally. It was just a matter of her relaxing and conserving energy for the final run, which she didn’t do last time.”

Read more:


Saturday, more fun stuff for Canadians (we hope) as Canadian-bred BOWMAN’S CAUSEWAY and locally trained and ridden MOONSHINE MULLIN are in the prestigious Travers Stakes.

By Staff Reports

With the 142nd Travers Stakes now less than a week away, four contenders turned in their final works over three different tracks yesterday morning.

Preakness winner Shackleford drew a crowd at Saratoga as he breezed five furlongs in 1:00.87 over the main track just after the renovation break. It was the seventh-fastest time of 37 on the morning. Shackleford, who hasn’t yet won at the 10-furlong distance of the Travers, galloped out in a strong 1:14.40.

“I thought it went perfect today,” trainer Dale Romans said. “We just wanted him to break off nice and easy and finish strong. He finished great and galloped out really good. I couldn’t be happier with the way he did it.”

The strapping chestnut colt appeared happy and on the muscle throughout his work under jockey Jesus Castanon.

“He worked pretty good as I was expecting,” Castanon said. “He has been feeling pretty excited every time I take him to the track, and he did it pretty good.”

Shackleford, who is coming in off a runner-up effort in the Haskell, will now have two days off before jogging and galloping up to the race. Romans says the colt will school in the gate and in the paddock sometime this week.

“He’s not going to get any more fit than he is right now,” Romans said. “All the big work is done, we just have to make sure he goes into the race happy.”

On the track at the same time as Shackleford was Bowman’s Causeway, who could give Mechanicville native Chad Brown his first starter in the Travers. The colt went five furlongs in 1:00.05 – third best on the morning – finishing a neck in front of workmate Global Power.

Grade 2 Sky Classic goes to longshot

KARA’S ORIENTATION posted a 98 Beyer Figure in his interesting win in the Sky Classic Stakes yesterday, a modest event that lost interest when FIFTY PROOF was scratched.
It was a weird race to be sure as the winner opened up some 17 lengths, going 22 and change for the 2nd quarter, and he held on. Crafty run for the gelding, a $20,00 claim by Max Berketa, trainer Steve Chircop and partners.

Ramsammy and the dark bay were on a mission from the start, taking the
lead and then continuing to widen their advantage, at one point 17 ½
lengths, through opening fractions of :25.78, :48.54 and 1:12.69.

With Kara’s Orientation four lengths in front at Dan Loiselle’s
stretch call, Smart Bid, who would finish second, and Hailstone, a head
back for third, came calling, but could not collar the colt.

And while the blueprint for victory didn’t go quite as planned, no
one was complaining.

“I was very concerned early on,” said trainer Steven Chircop. “I
wanted him in front by about three or four lengths in a perfect world.
To see him open up like that, you’re kind of wondering, ‘When’s he
going to stop?’ But the horse has been doing amazing.”

The Sky Classic was the four-year-old’s third triumph in five starts
this year and sixth in 21 career starts for owners Max Berketa and
Pinnacle Racing.

“He was a little aggressive, a little strong with me in post
parade,” noted Ramsammy. “We had a hard time with him, but then
we finally got him settled in and it worked out well.”

Kara’s Orientation, who was second in last year’s Grade 3 Canadian
Derby at Northlands Park one year ago to the day, kicked off his 2011
campaign with a head score in a seven-furlong Polytrack race at

He paid $16.80, $6.50 and $4.10, combining with Smart Bid ($3.60,
$3.30) for a $64.80 exactor. Hailstone ($5.30) completed a $305.30
triactor. Fifty Proof was scratched.

SATURDAY – Yearling sale BUY-BACK, NIIGON’S TOUCH (could have had her for $8,000) won the Eternal Search Stakes for 3yo fillies, Ontario sired. The daughter of Niigon posted an 82 Beyer Figure in her 3rd career win for owner/breeders Chiefswood Stable.




5th-APX, $33,880, Msw, 2yo, f, 5 1/2f (AWT),
1:07 1/5, ft. STRUCK IT LUCKY (f, 2, Smart Strike–Hummingbird
Red {MSP, $120,970}, by Red Ransom), a $300,000 FTSAUG yearling, was sent off at 5-2. The dark bay
filly saved ground while rating just in behind the early leaders. She was forced to wait for racing room turning
for home, angled to the outside in upper stretch and wore down the leaders late to win going away by 2 1/4
lengths. My Tee Time (El Nino) was second. The winner is a half-sister to Scarlet Butterfly (Theatrical {Ire}, GSP,

O-Glen Hill Farm. B-Sam-Son Farm (ON). T-Thomas F Proctor.


Lexington Herald-Leader report

Hurting for new fans, racing plans TV, online outreach

By Janet Patton —

The sport of horse racing is shrinking every day.

Its fan base is drying up, losing 4 percent a year to death and disinterest.

There are fewer horses being bred, born or raced and, when they do run, they run less. Racetracks, particularly those without expanded gambling to fatten purses, are scrambling to attract enough entries to put together a “full field.”

Bettors, who fuel the sport through pari-mutuel wagering, prefer races with more horses. These days, they are betting much less, largely because of the economic downturn.

And if the industry doesn’t act now, the situation could be much much worse by 2020.

To those in the racing and breeding businesses, this is no surprise.

To get a feel for the depth of the problem, The Jockey Club commissioned a new, in-depth evaluation from McKinsey & Co. that was unveiled Aug. 14 with several suggestions for how tracks and others in the horse industry can fight back.

The study found that racing is not attracting new fans.

Betting, fans said, is too complicated and too hard to figure out, especially on account-wagering Web sites.

Horse racing is the only legal online betting, but the industry has been too slow to leverage Web tools.

Less than 1 percent told Jockey Club consumer researchers that their first involvement with the sport came through online sources. Most, 53.7 percent, got into racing because a friend or relative took them to the track as an adult.

Read more:

Freedoms Traveller wins Canadian Derby



FREEDOMS TRAVELLER, by Peacenfreedom (Free House), captured in action by RYAN HAYNES




EDMONTON – They sat in the main grandstand with all the other regular folks.

“The lady beside me was holding her ears, I was screaming so loud,” said trainer Lianne Knechtel.

“I just about jumped on her lap.”

Freedoms Traveller won the Canadian Derby for her and owner Randy and Donna Feddema of Carstairs Saturday at Northlands Park. And they looked like three two-dollar bettors gone berserk.

“She sat two seats from me,” said Donna.

“She was grabbing me screaming ÔWe won! We won!’ I don’t know what happened after that.”

Owners of a horse in a $300,000 stakes race Ñ the richest race west of Woodbine Ñ sitting in the grandstands instead of the clubhouse with the other owners?

“We’re just common, ordinary working people,” said Donna.







AT THE FORT ERIE RACE TRACK: Tough when jockeys lose the ‘bug’
By Harlan Abbey Special to Niagara Falls Review

Former Fort Erie Race Track jockey champion Robbie King compared losing the five-pound advantage for an apprentice rider to “losing your water wings and being thrown into the deep end of the pool.

“My last day as an apprentice, I ‘rode the card’ (had mounts in all nine races). The next day I rode two, the next day none and I thought my career was over. The five-pound ‘bug’ got you into the barn in the first place, although not everyone believes the weight off is that much of an advantage. But a lot of the owners do.”

Another former Fort riding champion, Steve O’Brien, said new journeymen “should keep their heads down and let their riding do the talking.”

So far this season, Brian Cheyne has kept on a winning pace since losing his bug and Ryan Pacheco got his first journeyman win Sunday for trainer Stanley Smith on Simply Bold ($12.40). Tuesday, he had five mounts and had two wins and a second. Cheyne had a win Monday and two thirds Tuesday.