Mel Lawson, at last year’s Hall of Fame ceremony when he was inducted by his peers. Cindy Pierson Dulay photo




There are just some people that you just want to sit and talk horses with  all day long. Mel Lawson was one of those people.

The news came down early today that yesterday, Wed. July 27, MEL LAWSON had passed away and while he had been ill for a while, the loss is a great one and hard to take.

Mr. Lawson was one of my favourites, haing been lucky enough to interview him and chat with him about his horses for the last couple of decades. He always had time to talk, he was very gracious, complimentary, funny and very clever. And he alway had a whole pile of nice family members around him too.

The black and red silks of his Jim Dandy Stable have been seen for a lot longer than I have been around but I have seen some of the great ones he has raced – who can forget Let’s Go Blue, so close to winning the Queen’s Plate in 1984. And how many times did Mr. Lawson talk about that day when he had horses in the Plate in the years following? We loved to interview him about that and his current stars – in recent years there was JIGGS COZ, UTTERLY COOL, GHOST FLEET, GINGER GOLD, and so many more.

He was loyal, wth the same trainer for years, and his horses rewarded him almost  every afternoon, most of them homebreds.

This year, his mare DESTROY was named Broodmare of the Year,  descendant of one of the first great Lawson runners, ETERNAL SEARCH, who has stamped her bloodlines on so many good horses.

Lawson too has stamped himself – his son Jim is now in charge of the Jockey Club of Canada, a horse owner, and has displayed the grace and character of his father.

I feel lucky to have met Mr. Lawson, he always reminds me of the great moments of racing and he will always remind me of great people in the business.


From Woodbine:

TORONTO, July 28 – Hall of Fame horseman Mel Lawson, who passed away

on Wednesday, was a highly regarded and significant contributor to the

thoroughbred racing industry for over 50 years.

Born on February 14, 1923 in Hamilton, Ontario, Lawson was educated at

Adelaide Hoodless Public School, Central Collegiate Hamilton and The

University of Toronto Faculty of Forestry, where he graduated in 1946.

Throughout his school years, he played as quarterback and punter for the

University of Toronto Blues, then quarterback for the Hamilton Wildcats,

winning the Grey Cup on November 17, 1943 against Winnipeg. He also

played hockey for the Toronto Marlies, then coached by Harold Ballard.

One of his greatest passions was thoroughbred racing.

Lawson decided to get into the sport of kings in the 1960s. His parents

introduced him to the world of horse racing, and after buying his first

horse in 1964, he was hooked. His red and black silks (the team colours

of his Hamilton high school) would become synonymous with success.

He started humbly and remained humble. And, for a reasonably small

owner-breeder, he did remarkably well.

Lawson and his wife, Barbara, who married in 1947, named their stable,

Jim Dandy, after the names of their three children: Jim, Dana and David.

He was a major supporter of Canadian racing, as a horse breeder, owner

and stable yard owner. Lawson’s first stakes winner came in 1966, when

Carodana won the Manitoba Derby, held at Assiniboia Downs. Another of

Lawson’s early stakes successes came on September 10, 1972, courtesy

of Pagala.

Other horses of note included Pottahawk, winner of the 1977 Natalma

Stakes, Sovereign Award winners Let’s Go Blue, the runner-up in the

1984 Queen’s Plate after emphatically winning a division of the Plate

Trial, Eternal Search, a 15-time stakes winner and Ginger Gold, winner

of the 2002 Woodbine Oaks and Canada’s champion two-year-old filly of

2001. Jiggs Coz, Utterly Cool, Ghost Fleet and Smokey Fire have also

experienced highly productive careers.

“He was a true gentleman,” said Woodbine-based conditioner Sid

Attard, who enjoyed great success with Lawson for many years. “I miss

him a lot already. He was a good person. When he won a race, he was so

happy. But when he lost, he didn’t have a long face. He was

competitive, but he never questioned what you did. He supported you.

I’ll remember him as a very, very nice man.”

In May of 2010, Lawson, who worked for 62 years at Lawson Lumber, the

family’s company, was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of

Fame, in the builders’ category. That same year, his Destroy was named

Outstanding Broodmare.

The visitation will take place at Smith’s Funeral Home, 485 Brant

Street (one block north of City Hall) BURLINGTON (905-632-3333) on

Thursday, July 28, 2011 from 7-9 p.m.

A private family service and interment will take place on July 29. In

lieu of flowers, the family would respectfully ask that donations be

directed either to the Toronto General Hospital or the Joseph Brant

Memorial Hospital in Burlington.


THURSDAY NEWS!! – LONG WEEKEND COMING UP…MANITOBA DERBY ON MONDAY, plus big races like the JIM DANDY, HASKELL..hey QUEEN STREET BEACH  is the latest star at Woodbine and he was a $1,000 BUY BACK AT AUCTION!..

A story THOROUGHBLOG is following up is another sad tale – CASH IS IN THE BOX is currently in a QUEBEC FEEDLOT, she’s a 4yo filly by Outofthebox, she won $24,000 for some folks, and she raced this year, but she went through OLEX and her days could be numbered….do you know this horse???

 Lots of stories going around the racing world these days and one of the headlines is the recent parting of champion jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva and his agent Don Parente. The pair rose to the top over the last few years but Da Silva has said it is time for a change.

With Tom Patton in limbo as his longtime jock JONO JONES is returning home to Barbados for some time (rumours are that he is thinking about retiring), Patton takes over.


Meanwhile the LUIS CONTRERAS train continues to roll along with the DAILY DOUBLE score last night on COUSIN KEVIN, the Steve Asmussen colt in race 1, making his 2nd career start for Louisiana breeders Millennium Farm. The Shaniko colt was in for $23,500.


Contreras guided 8 to 5 shot OUR WISH to win race, that  colt, a 3yo by Include, was dropping off te claim from $20,000 to $12,500 and won for Nick DeToro for hs 2nd win in 6 races.




QUEEN STREET BEACH is now 3 for 3 in his career for owner/breeder EUGENE MELNYK and what an interesting story this dark bay gelding is. He won the Deputy Minister Stakes last night for trainer Mark Casse.

  QUEEN STREET BEACH is a true Melnyk bred as he is by the owner’s stuf PAYNES BAY out of the mare HOPEFIELD, by the owner’s deceased sire and Queen’s Plate winner ARCHERS BAY.

  Queen Street Beach was one of several Melnyk-breds, (Florida breds) offered for sale in 2009 at the AUGUST OBS YEARLING SALE). Most of them brought anywhere from $1,300 to $1,500. This guy was not sold for $1,000.


Yep,. $1,000.

The mare, HOPEFIELD had a lot of workouts in her early days and looked like she had some talent but she never raced. This is her 2nd foal. HOPEFIELD is out of Katyroadpink, an Allen’s Prospect mare, bred in Virgina, and she never raced.

A good horse comes from anywhere and this gelding is very good.




The 2nd leg of the LOU CAVALARIS MARATHON SERIES went to HOLY SCHNEIKIES, who won the 1st leg too. This is a super geldiog who has really come to life in long grass races and he is by that super sire Harlan’s HOliday. The Ace, TC and Kingview Stable 4yo  is now 5 for 19 in his career with earnings of over $145,000.

More turf in race 4, the first leg of the PICK 4 – MASKED MAIDEN, who has a big white face and is impecably bred for the grass, won her 2nd career start in the maidenallwance at 1 mile. Owned by Debbie Oxley and breeder Nuckols Farm, the Sky Mesa out of Cataballerina by Tabasco Cat, the filly had missed winning her debut by a neck.

Race 5 was decimated by scratches – a route race for $20,000 claiming mares. Still, with just 5 horses, it was almost a triple dead heat! GOLDEN GIRL SUE had a tough trip as the inside speed all the way and she was pressed by LADY D’WILDCAT. Those 2 battled to the wire and were joined by Sister Friend and the first 2 tied for the win.

Golden Girl Sue is a Tino Attard trainee for Brenda Goodlet and she was making the all-important 3RD START OFF THE LAYOFF. The Wildcat gal was coming off a 2nd place finish for $25,000 for Larry Falloon and Marty Drexler.


So with QUEEN STRTEET BEACH an easy key in the Pick 4, everyone was alive heading into the last race. Too bad DANISH SPIRIT messed up most everyone’s tickets as he won his maiden in his 21 st start (he’s a 6yo). He is owned by Linda Theil, who bred the son of Alphabet Soup.

The last race went to LESSON LEARNED, an even-money shot for Solo Mehta, Carmen Attard and trainer Kevin Attard. The gelding won for $10,000 claiming with blinkers off.



Pamper yourself with free stuff on Monday at the Fort

The summer of fun continues at Fort Erie Race Track this Civic holiday long weekend.

Sunday, July 31st will be Family Day at the historic border oval.  The day will consist of an abundance of fun activities for kids including clowns, a bouncy house, pony rides, games and arts and crafts.

First race post time for Sunday is 12:45.  Activities for the kids will begin at Noon and run throughout the live racing card.

Monday, August 1st Fort Erie celebrates Ladies Night for the second consecutive year.  The event was held for the first time last July and proved to be one of the most popular days of the season.  Post time for the holiday Monday card will be 4:00 pm.

Located in the picnic area next to the walking ring there will be a variety of booths to pamper patrons.  Booths include hand scrubs, eye brow sugaring, manicures and massages.  This season, F8 Salon and Spa will be doing a number of makeovers for several lucky ladies.  There will be a variety of local artists, decorative candles, and jewelry available as well.  Patrons can fill out ballots to win numerous prizes which have been generously donated by local businesses and spas.

Fans will also have an opportunity to meet some of the track’s popular female jockeys who will sign autographs and give out free photos.

Stick around after the races are over for a free concert by Toronto’s Off The Wall at the Tiki Bar patio.

THOROUGBLOG will be on hand on onday for Ladies Night, handicapping the races, calling a race (!!) and enjoying the racing…come on down!


Canadian-trainer/ridden Mullin in the field, Diana also has locals




MOONSHINE MULLIN, by Albert the Great, invades Saratoga from Woodbine. JANIS MAINE PHOTO




Saturday, Saratoga, post time: 5:12 p.m. EDT

DIANA S.-GI, $500,000, 3yo/up, f/m, 1 1/8mT


1 Unbridled Humor Distorted Humor Velazquez Motion 118

2 Jstarndmdnight (Ire) Dnehill Dancer (Ire) Bravo Biancone 118

3 Dyna Waltz (GB) Dynaformer Prado Sheppard 118

4 Zagora (Fr) Green Tune Castellano Brown 118

5 Bay to Bay K Sligo Bay (Ire) Garcia Lynch 120

6 Aruna Mr. Greeley Dominguez Motion 118

7 Aviate (GB) Dansili (GB) Leparoux Mott 120

8 Giants Play K Giant’s Causeway Maragh Clement 120

9 Mekong Melody (Ire) Cape Cross (Ire) Solis Attfield 118

10 Romacaca Running Stag Baird Canani 118

Saturday, Saratoga, post time: 5:45 p.m. EDT

JIM DANDY S.-GII, $500,000, 3yo, 1 1/8m


1 Moonshine Mullin Albert the Great Wilson Baker 117

2 Dominus K Smart Strike Leparoux Asmussen 121

3 Brilliant Speed Dynaformer Velazquez Albertrani 123

4 Scotus K Successful Appeal Garcia McPeek 119

5 Will’s Wildcat K Eurosilver Albarado Baker 117

6 Stay Thirsty K Bernardini Castellano Pletcher 119

7 Alternation Distorted Humor Dominguez Von Hemel 121



MOONSHINE MULLIN comes into the paddock at Saratoga. The Reade Baker trainee is schooling for the Jim Dandy.

Janis Maine Photo





SARATOGA SPRINGS – Tom Albertrani began his career as a hotwalker.

Born in Brooklyn in 1958, Albertrani would head out to Belmont Park as a 13-year-old to walk horses for his uncle – trainer Jack Abatemarco.

He rode for six years, winning just 49 races, before becoming an assistant trainer for Hall of Famer Bill Mott, and then going halfway around the world to work for the powerful Godolphin Stable in Dubai.

In 2003, he returned to the United States as the full-time trainer for the Darley Stable, and three years later he saddled Bernardini, the champion 3-year-old of 2006.

“He was kind of a unique horse,” Albertrani said of Bernardini, who won the Preakness that year. “You don’t find one of them in your barn every year.”

Bernardini, who won six of eight races in 2006, would go on to capture the Jim Dandy, Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup before running second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“He was a special horse who always had a lot of potential right from the start. Hopefully this horse will develop, too,” the trainer said.

Albertrani was talking about Brilliant Speed, who finished third in the Belmont Stakes on June 11.

“Dynaformer’s (Brilliant Speed’s sire) getting better in time, that is exactly what I’m seeing,” Albertrani said, who trains for several outfits now, including Live Oak Plantation, which owns Brilliant Speed.

Brilliant Speed drew post three in Saturday’s $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes, the local prep race for the Travers on Aug. 27. He was made the co-third choice at 7-2 in the seven-horse field.

Read more:

MANITOBA DERBY MONDAY, (holiday Monday!)

feature story from WINNIPEG SUN…Emile Corbel was starting to wonder if he was going to be relegated to spectator duty for the 63rd running of the Manitoba Lotteries Derby.

The longtime trainer at Assiniboia Downs came to the conclusion in late June that the horse he was planning on entering in the Derby, Indefinite, wasn’t going to get into the starting gates for the $75,000 race.

However, Corbel made a couple of calls to his contacts in the industry and a tip he received led to the purchase of a grey, three-year-old colt named El Grayling, which had been based in Kentucky before shipping to Woodbine in Toronto on June 30.

“He was my last shot — after that I was quitting looking for one,” Corbel said Wednesday. “When Indefinite wasn’t going to make it, I was very disappointed. But when El Grayling came up, I looked at him and saw he was bred for the distance. I was excited when I saw the horse come off the van. He’s a very sound horse.”


Cecil hails his superstar as Canford blown away

Sir Henry Cecil saluted Frankel as ‘the best I’ve ever seen’ as the unbeaten superstar crushed Canford Cliffs to win the QIPCO Sussex Stakes.

Racing’s marketeers billed the head-to-head between the country’s top two milers as the ‘Duel On The Downs’.

They should have called it the ‘Slaughter On The Slopes’.

Tom Queally, widely criticised for aggressive – but winning – rides aboard Frankel in the 2,000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes, set a modest early pace on the son of Galileo, with Richard Hughes slipstreaming the 8-13 favourite on Canford Cliffs.

And when Queally asked his partner to extend running into the final two furlongs, Frankel exploded clear of a powerless Canford Cliffs for a five-length triumph.

Departing from his usual understatement, Warren Place legend Cecil (below) gushed: “He’s the best I’ve ever seen.

“He’s the best in my lifetime. I’m just very lucky to train him.

“I don’t want to sound facetious but I’m not surprised at how he won, although it’s an awful thing to say.

Read more:

MORE ON FOREVER GRAND, 2nd in the Queen’s Plate


“He’s won $1.2 million as a racehorse before we got him, he had a chip on his ankle so he couldn’t carry the weight of the riders anymore,” Profit explained. “If we wouldn’t have got him, he wouldn’t be (alive). He won horse of the year last year for us through (the World Professional Chuckwagon Association).”


J C’S PRIDE, 2yo at Saratoga, 101 Beyer Figure

The Hennessy colt J C ‘S PRIDE won his maiden in his 2nd strat yesterday at Saratoga, broke the track record for 5 furlongs and earned a 1010 Beyer Figure. The $200,000 2yo is out of a Silver Deputy mare.



Spectators at Ascot on Saturday 9th July were treated to something very different when the ‘Central Saint Martins Design Challenge Stakes’ came under orders. The race was the finale of a competition to find innovative new designs for jockey silks from the prestigious design college in London, with the winner, Henry Griffin’s colours taking centre stage on the historic Berkshire course.

Forget the hoops, stripes and circles that have been familiar on jockeys’ outfits for almost 250 years, these colours were inspired by fruit machines with oranges, lemons and cherries, the number seven and a lucky horse shoe all featuring.