April 3 – 17 days until Woodbine, Condition book due out shortly as purses still to be finalized… meanwhile, Canadians hope to make hay in the United State (after a very rough winter for us in Florida and New Orleans!) beginning Friday at Keeneland!


PYRITE MOUNTAIN in the Transylvania Friday – photo by Norm Files

**FUNNY stuff – of 39 workers at Keeneland on Saturday March 30, 10 were two-year-olds and 8 of them had ‘Kitten’ in their name!!




Birds, Mountain and Contender are Queen’s Plate hopefuls

John Oxley’s Star Contender, winner of the Cup and Saucer Stakes on turf at Woodbine last October, will carry top weight of 123 pounds against 10 rivals entered Tuesday for Friday’s 25th running of the $100,000 Transylvania (G3) at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

The Transylvania will highlight the card on the opening day of the 16-day spring meet and serves as the first of 16 stakes, 15 of them graded, for the meet that runs through April 26. The Transylvania will go as the ninth race on Friday’s 10-race program with a 5:13 p.m. (ET) post time. First post time daily throughout the meet is 1:05 p.m.

Transylvania favoritism could go to Sam-Son Farm’s Up With the Birds, a winner of his past three starts who capped off 2012 with a victory in the Coronation Futurity at Woodbine over Star Contender. Shaun Bridgmohan, who rode Up With the Birds to victory in the Black Gold Stakes at Fair Grounds on March 2, has the mount Friday and will break from post position three.

Trained by Mark Casse, Star Contender has not raced since finishing sixth in the Gulfstream Park Derby on January 1 in his lone start on dirt. Patrick Husbands, who has been aboard Star Contender in four of his five starts, has the call Friday and will break from post position nine.

PYRITE MOUNTAIN (Silent Name (Jpn)) closed well to be 4th in his seaosn debut at Gulfstream Park on the grass and he is trained by Mark Frostad.

The field for the Transylvania, from the inside out, is as follows: Amen Kitten (Alex Solis, 118 pounds), Brown Almighty (Rosie Napravnik, 118),  Up With the Birds (Bridgmohan, 118), Bambazonki (Jose Lezcano, 118), Pyrite Mountain (Julien Leparoux, 118), Jack Milton (John Velazquez, 118), Fire Guard (Joel Rosario, 118), Redwood Kitten (Elvis Trujillo, 118), Star Contender (Husbands, 123), Bethel (Antonio Castanon, 118) and Holiday Star (Joe Rocco Jr., 118).


Nipissing Brings Undefeated Record into Central Bank Ashland

Chiefswood Stables’ homebred Nipissing arrived at Keeneland on Saturday with plans to begin her 2013 campaign in the 76th running of the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1).

Nipissing is traveling the same road to the Ashland used last year by another homebred Canadian filly, Hard Not to Like, who finished second to Karlovy Vary in the 1 1/16-mile test.

Undefeated in four starts over Polytrack at Woodbine last year, Nipissing spent her winter at Payson Park in South Florida as Hard Not to Like had done the year before.

“We gave her off six weeks at the end of last year and started her back at the first of the year,” said trainer Rachel Halden, who took Nipissing out for some light exercise through light rain and fog here Sunday morning.

“At Payson, you definitely get a lot more out of them than at other places. That is also why I opted to stay there for her final breeze rather than coming here for it.”

Nipissing worked five furlongs in 1:02.30 last Thursday, her third five-eighths breeze of the month.

“I am very happy with where she is,” said Halden, a former assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield. “This is not the ideal starting point, but her options were very limited and she had run through her conditions. With Woodbine opening later than usual this year, we needed to get her a start as our main objective is the Woodbine Oaks.”

The Woodbine Oaks, the first leg of the Canadian Triple Tiara, is scheduled for June 9 at 1 1/8 miles on Polytrack. Prior to that race, sitting on May 3, is the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs.

“She is nominated to that,” said Halden, who has been training on her own for six years and has three horses here. “If she were to jump up and win here, maybe it would be a consideration.”

Steve Bahen, who has been aboard Nipissing in her four starts, will have the mount Saturday.

Entries for the Ashland will be taken Wednesday.

Gary Barber and Stoneway Farm’s Spring Venture, winner of the Mazarine (G3) on Polytrack last fall at Woodbine, worked a half-mile in :48.20 under exercise rider Jason Hoyte in preparation for a probable run in Saturday’s Central Bank Ashland. Mark Casse trains Spring Venture.

Also working toward a likely Ashland run was Martin Schwartz’s Wave Theory, who covered a half-mile in :49.20 in company with Gustavia for trainer Chad Brown.



Trainer John O’Brien continued his fine run yesterday when he saddled War of Words to win the feature NLCB Easter Guineas impressively by 1 3/4 lengths from stablemates Pot of Gold and Prince Zeshan.

Sent off as 6/5 favourite, the Anthony Wight owned gelding became the second maiden to win the prestigious Grade One event, following in the footsteps of Unquestionable which took the prize last year.
The 1,800 metres event which is the first leg of the triple crown, saw experienced jockey Emile Ramsammy put Pot of Gold in the lead from the off, with Readyfortheroad chasing.



The two Canadian-bred John Oxley 3-year-olds UNCAPTURED and DYNAMIC SKY will be in a field of about 14 for Saturday’s BLUE GRASS STAKES on the Polytrack at Keeneland.
The former, coming off a 2nd place finish to WILL HE CHARGE in the Sprail Stakes on Polytrack at Turfway, meets that same rival again and certainly has to avoid the ‘bounce’ as he ran so hard in that return.
Dynamic Sky comes off a drab run in the Tampa Bay Derby where some believe the way he was ridden cost him the race. The colt is clearly is a miler/sprinter but will get a try in the Blue Grass, no doubt from far off the pace, to see if he can gather enough points to get into the Derby.
Both colts would seemingly need top 3 placings at least to  get into the Derby.

Other Canadian-connected Blue Grass starters are JAVA’S WAR, owned by Charles Fipke and TESSERON, owned by Vern and Donna Dubinsky.

Others on tap for the Blue Grass are

Earnings and Points for Derby and Kentucky oaks horses:



REVOLUTIONARY wins the Louisiana Derby over Mylute

Steve Queen photo

thank you to Hope Stock Farm for the following letter:

Bred by George Strawbridge MUSIC MERCI (Stop the Music-Merci Croquet) was foaled, raised and sold by Hope Stock Farm at the 1987 CTHS Ontario Sale.
He was hammered down on a single bid to Bowling and Dodd for $8,000.
“Lighning Face” was athletic from the day he was born and at the farm, he was always the leader of the pack.
In an era before sales yearlings were perfect, (he was a ridgling and had an ‘issue’ with a foreleg), he was easily dismissed by anyone who looked at him at the Ontario Sale.
All the experts agreed emphatically that he would never stand training.
He went to Florida with his new pinhooker connections and from there to a 2 year old sale in California, where he sold for $50,000…significantly more than his original purchase price.
Music Merci won the Del Mar Futurity (G1) as a two year old and his final racing tally was 35 starts 12 – 7 – 4 and $1,500,071..
likely the most money ever to be won by a CTHS (Ontario) graduate.
Overall he ran 1st, 2nd or 3rd in 17 stakes races, the majority of them graded including a 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), behind Sunday Silence and Easy Goer..

MUSIC MERCI…a wonderful and little known Ontario-bred horse who was all  “heart”.

MUSIC MERCI, by Stop the Music – Merci Croquet, by Jacinto libed at United Pegasus Foundation in Tahachapi, California.

“He will be greatly missed,” the United Pegasus Foundation said in a release. “Music was a favorite of the staff and visitors and was also a favorite during UPF tours on Thursdays. He was laid to rest next to his racing buddy and pasture pal Cardmania.”


Glen Todd, owner of North American Thoroughbred Horse Company, has hired American jock Aaron Gryder to ride his horses at Hastings Park. Todd, who is headed to Pegasus Training Centre in Seattle currently, had Mario Gutierrez ride his horses most of last year but that rider will stay in California. American riders, and jocks from other parts of the world, have been invading Canada for years and have made it tricky for Canadian riders to lead the standings.


ASSINIBOIA DOWNS – Owner looking for lifeline

Winnipeg Free Press – PRINT EDITION

The Manitoba Jockey Club is convinced the Selinger government is working with Red River Exhibition Inc. to bankrupt the horse-racing track operator and turn the track and its 52.6 hectares over to the Ex.

The jockey club, a non-profit group that owns and operates Assiniboia Downs, has gone to court to fight for its survival.

In documents filed in Court of Queen’s Bench, the jockey club alleges the provincial government has decided to use a variety of illegal and improper means to cut funding to the track by more than 50 per cent in an effort to force the club to turn it over to the Red River Exhibition.

(By: Aldo Santin )