Ontario bred Pink Lloyd continues his rise up the charts


It was a racing day that had all the elements of this great sport: excitement, drama, incredible performances and jaw dropping moments.

from Woodbine to the mighty Belmont Park, ‘Big Sandy’, two tracks that Ontarians would have been paying close attention to, there was no end to the “water cooler” moments.

A summary –

*Mike Smith and Bob Baffert dominate Belmont card

**Tapwrit wins the Belmont for Todd Pletcher

6* furlongs was run in 1:05.67 on turf at Belmont

**Songbird flies in return

*Met Mile winner Mor Spirit runs a 117 Beyer Figure

**Pink Loyd, Ontario bred sensation, posts 106 Beyer Figure in Achievement

*Gate woes at Woodbine led to disgruntled horseplayers



“In the old days I would have fainted and I would have had to be carried out of here on a stretcher” – trainer Robert Tiller on Pink Lloyd’s breaking through the gate before the Achievement Stakes


PINK LLOYD came over to the paddock “like a wild man” according to trainer Bob Tiller – Will Wong photo

A brilliant performance by the very tall Old Forester gelding PINK LLOYD was a bit overshadowed by some unfortunate incidents with the starting gate at Woodbine on Saturday.

When Pink Lloyd, the heavy favourite for the restricted Achievement, broke through the gate before the 6 furlong race was underway, it was the second startling event with the gate in a matter of 40 minutes.

Pink Lloyd was easily reined in by Eurico da Silva and the outriders but you could tell he was quite pumped up.

Interestingly, the starting gate was changed before Pink Lloyd and his Achievement friends were set up for the race again – perhaps in response to the race 7 incident (see below).

Once he was in the new gate, Pink Lloyd broke like a bullet and led all the way to win in 1:08.76, just 60/100 off the track record.

His Beyer Figure of 106 was his 3rd straight triple digit Beyer Figure.

Owned by Entourage Stable of Frank DiGiulio and family and bred by John Carey’s T C Westmeath Stud, Pink Lloyd has won 6 of 8 races, had trouble in the other 2 races, and is certainly a freak.

He is from the mare Gladiator Queen, by Great Gladiator.

Frank DiGiulio paid $30,00 for the big guy four years ago at the CTHS Yearling sale in September. It took the team 3 years to get the giant gelding to the races. Boy, was it worth the wait.


A race earlier, horse racing bettors were left with jaws dropped when a gate malfunction led to four horses in the field of 10 set to race 7 furlongs on the grass, were refunded.

Race 7, the most pivotal race on most Woodbine cards, ends the first Pick 4 and starts the next Pick 4.

The horses refunded did not mean that Pick 4 players had any type of compensation, instead, they received the race favourite (one the race was over) – Matching Vows, who finished second.



The photo shows the gates all in different points of opening. Of course when some gates open early, a horse will react and either push theirs open, or try to go forward and then be pulled back.

The stewards at Woodbine deemed that 4, 5, 6 and 10 received unfair starts and refunded wagers on the horses while still awarding owners and trainers with original prize money where they finished.

The stewards also ruled, however, the others received a fair start in what appears to be an arbitrary decision, purely subjective, and a ruling that did not sit well with horseplayers.

Offering consolations payoffs for Pick 4’s in the only suitable answer if this is going to happen. Players of PIck 4’s don’t include the favourite on their ticket because they don’t like the favourite, Inheriting the favourite when a selection of horses are refunded from the race in unfair for bettors who often play Pick 4’s to find longshots that will make the ticket pay well should it win.

(As a sidenote – virtually every grass race at Woodbine ,being times by Trakus, has incorrect splits and final time and is changed later – this race show reportedly went in 1:20.91)


More to come.


Other notable runs from Woodbine included the well regarded first time starter AURORA WAY, a long and lean jet black gelding by Giant’s Causeway, who won a 1 1/16 mile maiden allowance in 1:44.93 for owner/breeder Chiefswood Stable and trainer Stuart Simon.

The gelding posted an 81 Beyer Figure.  Whether or not the stable runs the gelding right back in the Plate would likely be based on how well Tiz a Slam does today in the Trial.

The turf course is extremely fast – 1:32.03 for one mile for the $50,000 claimer Ikerrin Road in race 3 was an amazing time. The winner is 2 for three locally and he is owned by Alpine Stables and trainer by Vito Armata.

And 38 to 1 longshot JAMAICA ME HOME won the maiden allowance race for 2yos to start off the day. Owned by Rise Again and trained by Gord Colbourne, the $3,000 CTHS Ontario yearling purchase from True North Stable showed little in her debut but led all the way in this race under Devon Johnson for a huge win. She is an Ontario bred by U Ranger.




and Plate Trial to peg Plate fave

The 62nd Woodbine Oaks is a very difficult race to handicap with 3 American invaders who all have big questions, and a collection of locals who have not been very dominant this season but with the possibility of stepping up.

The hype horses are HOLY HELENA, a Ghostzapper filly for Frank Stronach with one win in 2 races, a maiden score on dirt where she was seemingly all in to score.

INFLEXIBILITY comes in for Chad Brown off a maiden win as well, a grass win around 2 turns. She has been hyped up as Plate contender.

STALLION HEIRESS was unbeaten in 3 races on grass and is a front running type who apparently is adding blinkers for her 9 furlong, Tapeta test.

The locals are led by Enstone, 2nd in the Grade 3 Selene, a race in which other Oaks hopefuls were soundly beaten. Can they bounce back against Canadian-breds?

Then there is the fresh gals Mythical Mission, Ellan Vannin and Gertie T, the first 2 did not go in the Selene and Ellan V is getting Lasix for the good young trainer Tony Gattellaro.

Selections are on Thoroughblog – the race appears to be an event that will set up with a hot pace and have a closer come flying.

The PLATE TRIAL will be a completely different race with STATE of HONOR the probably lone speed.  The race will go to the best to quicken late and it will be interesting to see if early Plate favourite Tiz a Slam can get back to the top of the crop.


Sunday, Woodbine, post time: 5:29 p.m.
WOODBINE OAKS, $500,000, (R), 3yo, f, 1 1/8m (AWT)
1 Stallion Heiress Exchange Rate Geroux Stidham 6-1   *blinkers on
2 Inflexibility Scat Daddy Rosario Brown 9-2
3 Gertie T Midnight Lute Hernandez McKnight 20-1
4 Ghostly Presence Ghostzapper Bahen Attfield 20-1
5 Holy Helena Ghostzapper Contreras Jerkens 3-1
6 Inspired Vow Broken Vow Boulanger Casse 20-1
7 Miss Adele Speightstown Moran Attfield 20-1
8 Financial Recovery Street Cry (Ire) Smith Day-Phillips 8-1
9 Enstone Tiznow Husbands Casse 4-1
10 Mythical Mission Giant’s Causeway Da Silva Pierce 12-1
11 Ellan Vannin Spring At Last Alderson Gatellaro 12-1   *first time Lasix
12 Cindervella Silent Name (Jpn) Campbell DePaulo 20-1

PLATE TRIAL, $125,000, (R), 3yo, 1 1/8m (AWT)

1 Tiz a Slam Tiznow Da Silva Attfield 5-2
2 King and His Court Court Vision Boulanger Casse 9-5
3 State of Honor To Honor and Serve Husbands Casse 2-1
4 Expedition Pioneerof the Nile Geroux Casse 15-1
5 Guy Caballero Quality Road Hernandez Day-Phillips 10-1
6 Avie’s Mesa Sky Mesa Contreras Carroll 6-1



TAPWRIT gets past Irish War Cry to win the 124th Belmont Stakes – Terence Dulay photo





Tapwrit handed trainer Todd Pletcher a third career victory in the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets, taking aim on front-running favorite Irish War Cry at the top of the stretch and then surging into the lead in the final yards to win Saturday’s 149th edition of the ‘Test of the Champion’ at Belmont Park by two lengths.
Expertly handled by Jose Ortiz, whose older brother, Irad Ortiz, Jr. won last year’s Belmont aboard Creator, Tapwrit enjoyed a ground-saving trip in third as jockey Rajiv Maragh sent Irish War Cry through moderate fractions of 23.88 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, with the half going in 48.66, three quarters in 1:14.01, a mile in 1:38.95 and 1 ¼ miles in 2:04.10.
Irish War Cry appeared to have the race in hand turning for home and held a length advantage over Tapwrit in upper stretch, but under left-handed urging from Ortiz, Tapwrit kicked into high gear to wrest control with 100 yards left and go on to victory.
“Tapwrit was getting a beautiful trip,” said Pletcher. “It was everything we talked about in the paddock before the race. We were hoping he had enough when it came to crunch time. It looked like Irish War Cry still had a little something left, but the last sixteenth, he dug down deep.”
Tapwrit’s winning time for 1 1/2 miles was 2:30.02.
It was the second victory in five starts this year for the gray son of Tapit, who took the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby in March in impressive fashion but subsequently finished fifth in the Grade 2 Blue Grass and then sixth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby. Pletcher held the colt out of the Preakness, the second leg of racing’s Triple Crown, a move that resulted in Tapwrit becoming the fourth Belmont winner in the past six years to take that path.
“[Belmont Park] is our home base and I think that’s always an advantage,” said Pletcher, who won the Belmont in 2007 with the filly Rags to Riches and in 2013 with Palace Malice, as well as getting narrowly beaten with Destin in last year’s edition. “We felt like with the five weeks in between, and with the way this horse had trained, that he had a legitimate chance.”
Irish War Cry held on to finish 5 ¾ lengths head of Patch – also trained by Pletcher – with Gormley along for fourth.
“It actually wasn’t our plan to be on the lead,” said Graham Motion, trainer of the beaten favorite. “We kind of hoped that somebody else would go for it, but he had to go to Plan B and Rajiv did a great job. At the eighth pole I thought we might be home free, but it’s the Belmont. It’s a tough race.”
Sent off as the 5-1 second choice in the field of 11, Tapwrit returned $12.60 for a $2 win bet. He earned $800,000 for his owners, Bridlewood Farm, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Robert LaPenta, and with a record of 4-1-0 from eight starts, has earned $1,143,902, almost as much as his purchase price of $1.2 million at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton yearling sales in Saratoga Springs, New York.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling that I can’t explain,” said Ortiz, the leading rider on the New York Racing Association circuit in 2016. “The distance, I was sure he could handle it. It was a great training job by Todd. I always liked him and we always had a lot of faith in him. Today he showed up. I’m very happy.”
Completing the order of finish were were Senior Investment, Twisted Tom, Looking At Lee – the only horse to have competed in all three legs of racing’s Triple Crown – Meantime, J Boys Echo, Multiplier, and Hollywood Handsome, who was eased.