“MAKE ME PROUD LITTLE SIS” – Inglorious (left) talks family tree with half sister DIXIE STRIKE
Dana Wimpfheimer photo
Media and horsepeople gathered for the post position draw for the WOODBINE OAKS yesterday in the Woodbine tent and were graced by a fun interview with Canadian mogul skier Jennifer Heil.
Some of the players for the Oaks were on hand (as well as the Plate Trial, which, with its huge 11 horse field is a much more interesting race) and certainly the busiest was MARK CASSE.
Casse and jockey Patrick Husbands fielded questions from people on the merits of DIXIE STRIKE, who is 6 to 5 in the morning line to win the 9 horse Oaks.
The filly is a half sister to last year’s Oaks winner, Inglorious.
The Oaks is missing one of the top fillies on the grounds, HARD NOT TO LIKE, but that grey gal is going into the Queen’s Plate instead.
A passionate horse racing fan, such as myself, enjoyed talking the horses with some of Woodbine’s finest yesterday. The longtime farms join up with the younger owners for one of Canada’s classics.
It’s very cool to see JIM SABISTON with his first OAKS runner. Here is an owner/breeder (Longview Farms, Stouffville, Ontario), who has been a top consignor/breeder in the province for decades. ROSE AND SHINE, a horse he co-bred, is a longsahot for sure, but she has beaten Dixie Strike twice as a 2yo.
Bill Graham’s WINDHAVEN last had an Oaks starter in 1991 (!) and it won it in 1989 with Blondeinamotel. This year, Graham not only has HORSESHOE HILL in the Oaks (a Street Sense homebred) but the promising PEYTON in trhe Plate Trial.
Mike Doyle trains both runners.
COLEBROOK FARMS, in Uxbridge, is owned by John Brnjas and the horses are trained by hs daughter Ashlee. Brnjs is a main player in the Ontario industry, stands stallions and races and breeders. He entered his unbeaten filly WAITINGINTHEWINGS at a supplementary cost of $12,500 for a chance at the Oaks. The filly is by Niigon, who stands at Colebrook.
As long as the local industry stays afloat (the talk of the government/slots woes were set aside from festivities yesterday), then it will be fun to see American owners such as John Oxley and Robert Evans get more into the Canadian-bred, Ontario bred scene.
Evans only recently started picking up Canadian breds and one of his first, the very tall and leggy IRISH MISSION, is in the Oaks. This flashy chestnut, bred by Sam-Son Farms, was picked out by Patrick Lawley Wakelin at auction 2 years ago. In fact, it was the personable bloodstock agent who loaded up the gal after the sale onto a van to Maryland late at night and as he said ‘she is a cool customer’.
The filly is trained by Mark Frostad, who said the daughter of Giant’s Causeway was a bit backward early on, but she is coming around.
Incidentally, IRISH MISSION is currently the favourite to win the Oaks among fans voting on the WOODBINE WEBSITE, after about 30 voters.
Frostad has won three Oaks.
Evans has raced American bred stakes winners Marsh Side, New Normal and Akronism at Woodbine and the latter’s first foal, AKRON MOON, is in training at Woodbine.
BANTEE (named for the sire, Dixieland Band and the mare’s Steph’s Tee) goes for the Alberta power team of Jim and Susan Hill. This is a long and beautiful filly who won her maiden last time only to be disqualified. She will be a longshot but the Hill’s won the Breeders’ Stakes 2 years ago with 60 to 1 shot Miami Deco. Reade Baker trains Bantee.
BANTEE does not wear shoes on her hind feet.
The big name owners such as Oxley and Eugene Melnyk will be in attendance at Woodbine on Sunday.
So far, the long awaited rain has finally come, a huge amount is expected today (Friday) and more Saturday. There is also a chance that it will drag on through Sunday.
Not expecting grass racing today or tomorrow (Saturday, except for Nassau Stakes) and perhaps no turf Sunday.
The Budweiser Woodbine Oaks is scheduled as the ninth race on a ten-race card on Sunday at Woodbine, going to post at 5:17pm ET. On the undercard of the Oaks is the $150,000 Plate Trial Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings, carded as race 8 at 4:42pm, and the $100,000 Alywow Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on the turf, carded as race 6 at 3:40pm. The Trial and the Oaks will be televised on CBC in Canada from 4:30-5:30pm, while the whole card will be on HPI-TV in Canada and TVG in America.
JENNIFER HEIL, already retired and in her 20s, was a guest at Woodbine.
M. Burns photo
PP Horse Trainer Jockey M/L Odds
1 Waitinginthewings Ashlee Brnjas Jesse Campbell 20-1
2 Bantee Reade Baker Gerry Olguin 20-1
3 Awesome Fire Nick Gonzalez Emma-Jayne Wilson 20-1
4 Northern Passion Mark Casse Luis Contreras 5-2
5 Black Bird Rock Mark Casse Eurico Rosa da Silva 12-1
6 Dixie Strike Mark Casse Patrick Husbands 6-5
7 Rose and Shine Ralph Biamonte Omar Moreno 8-1
8 Irish Mission Mark Frostad Alex Solis 6-1
9 Horseshoe Hill Mike Doyle Justin Stein 20-1
The PLATE TRIAL is an intriguing contest and not many hopefuls are not in the 11 horse field. One, STRAIT OF DOVER, one of the early Plate faces, is absent as he has been battling a minor illness.
The Trial is the last chance for some 3yos to make the Plate field.
INCREDICAT, who faded in the Marine along what appeared to be a dead rail, is going to try again for the Kinghaven Farms and partners. The Discreet Cat colt has a new rider in Alex Solis.
DEAD ON had a huge run at Fair Grounds during the winter and was a popular pick for the Plate at that time. He had to sprint last time in the Queenston and he stalked a slow pace in a race that did not go his way. He is from the powerful Sam-Son Farms.
Theer are some intriguing rider changes:
CLASSIC BRYCE has been ridden by Eurico da Silve when 2nd in the Wando and Marine, but now Contreras rides. Da Silva is on Making Amends, who was 2nd in the Queenston to Beeker Street. Payton had Emma-Jayne Wilson before but now has Justin Stein, while Wilson stays with BIG CREEK, who is in from New York. PERFECT TAY had Husbands for the Wando, now has Olguin and Husbands stays on Beeker.
The blinkers on BIG CREEK is intriguing for this learning type.
Waiting for the top ones from the Trial will be COLLEEN’S SAILOR, ULTIMATE DESTINY, HARD NOT TO LIKE, STRAIT OF DOVER, GOLDEN RIDGE among others.
PLATE TRIAL STAKES
Post Position/Horse/Trainer/Jockey/Morning Line (n/a)
1 / Incredicat / Alex Solis / Ian Black
2 / Dead On / Todd Kabel / Malcolm Pierce
3 / Classic Bryce / Luis Contreras / Darwin Banach
4 / Peyton / Justin Stein / Mike Doyle
5 / Big Creek / Emma-Jayne Wilson / Todd Pletcher
6 / Beeker Street / Patrick Husbands / Josie Carroll
7 / Menlo Castle / Omar Moreno / Ralph Biamonte
8 / Making Amends / Eurico Rosa Da Silva / Mark Casse
9 / Drago’s Best / Tyler Pizarro / Josie Carroll
10 / Perfect Tay / Gerry Olguin / Lorne Richards
11 / River Rush / Jim McAleney / Reade Baker
TORONTO SUN FEATURE ON OAKS – by Richard Mauntah
TORONTO – Would the real Queen’s Plate Trial please stand up?
While the $150,000 Plate Trial Stakes goes off at Woodbine on Sunday with a field of 11 looking to prove they belong in the June 24 classic, the Woodbine Oaks, which takes place one race later, has been a proving ground for Plate contenders the past decade.
And the way things have gone for Canadian-foaled three-year-olds so far, it’s not hard to believe a filly can win the Plate for the second consecutive year.
One filly, Hard Not To Like, is going straight to the Plate off her troubled sixth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks and is already considered a contender. She could be joined by two fillies trained by Mark Casse who will be showcased in the 1 1/8-mile Oaks.
THE EPSOM DERBY TOMORROW
Oaks this morning
FROM ‘THE INDEPENDENT’: Camelot set to face smallest Derby field in over a century
The withdrawal of three stablemates at the final declaration stage for the Investec Derby at Epsom tomorrow means that Camelot will face the smallest field since Orby likewise met just eight rivals in 1907. Imperial Monarch will instead contest the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly on Sunday, while the further defection of Tower Rock and Father Of Science leaves just Astrology, the front-running winner of the Dee Stakes at Chester, to escort the hot favourite from Ballydoyle. Astrology will be ridden by Ryan Moore.
BELMONT STAKES – just to show you how hard it is to make sure everything goes right….
MARIO GOES TO VANCOUVER YESTERDAY TO ‘CLEAR HEAD’
Super Mario is taking it easy this weekend in Vancouver before heading back to Belmont Park for what surely will be the pressure cooker of all cookers, Belmont Stakes week.
OH CANADA – Becoming Canadian citizen as big as winning the Belmont, says jockey
Monte Stewart, The Canadian Press
“Even when I say I don’t try to think about it too much, it gets you once in a while. But I think what’s important is, I have a lot of support and I feel comfortable.” – Mario Gutierrez
SURREY, B.C. – Mario Gutierrez is harbouring a dream that he considers just as big as winning the Belmont Stakes.
The 25-year-old jockey from Veracruz, Mexico, who will attempt to steer I’ll Have Another to victory June 9 in the Belmont – the third jewel in horseracing’s coveted Triple Crown – wants to become a Canadian citizen.
“I can’t really talk about that because I don’t want to get (in trouble with Canadian) Immigration,” Gutierrez told the Canadian Press late Thursday night following a media availability session with reporters in Surrey, B.C.
“I’ll tell you when I get it,” he added with a smile.
With a victory in the Belmont, Canadian-owned I’ll Have Another and Gutierrez would become the first horse and jockey since Affirmed and Steve Cauthen in 1978, to win the Triple Crown.
Gutierrez fell in love with Canada while honing his skills for six seasons at Vancouver’s Hastings Racecourse.
He and I’ll Have Another, owned by Paul Reddam of Windsor, Ont., hit the big-time in the U.S. in May with victories in the vaunted Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
HASTINGS EYES BIG SCREEN FOR BELMONT
Bob MacKin, Vancouver Courier
Last June Vancouver had Stanley Cup fever. This year it’s four-footed fever.
Perhaps the most-picturesque track in horseracing will become a live site with a 40-foot-screen to view the Belmont Stakes on June 9. Hastings Racecourse graduate Mario Gutierrez and I’ll Have Another will race for the Triple Crown in New York’s Belmont Stakes at 3: 30 p.m. Horseracing’s hat-trick has not been achieved since 1978.
The 25-year-old Mexican’s first Hastings win was aboard Cherokee Freedom on June 10, 2006. That was, coincidentally, the same day as the Belmont.
“[Gutierrez] doesn’t get excited in the saddle, he’s got an unbelievable sense of timing, he’s got real soft hands,” said Cherokee Freedom co-owner Rob Fiorvento. “He understands a race, he understands positioning.”
Canadian slaughterhouse firm no longer accepting Thoroughbreds
By Glenye Cain Oakford
Viande Richelieu, the company that operates two of Canada’s four equine slaughterhouses, appears to be backing away from accepting Thoroughbreds for slaughter after their unusual move of returning slaughter-bound former racehorses Canuki and Cactus Cafe.
The two Thoroughbreds left Beulah Park’s barn area May 1 after their owner, Barbara Price, allegedly sold them to trainer Mark Wedig. Ohio stewards investigating the horses’ whereabouts ruled Price off for a year and fined her $1,000 for impeding the investigation and providing false information. About three weeks later, Wedig presented Canuki and Cactus Cafe to West Virginia state veterinarian John Day in connection with Mountaineer Park officials’ inquiry into the horses’ whereabouts.
read more at WWW.DRF.COM