CHASING 221 – PART 2 – BATTLING THE ELEMENTS
On Wednesday morning, well before the sun has even had to chance to get close to the horizon, a stream of cars and pick ups begin filing into the Woodbine backstretch. All you see are headlights and taillights and the breath of the east-gate security guard into the bitter cold.
It is -10 Celcius on this Nov. 14, wicked working conditions for humans and their horses.
By 5 p.m, when the sun is hightailing it out of here, those same backstretch workers will be readying their horses for racing tonight. And it is going to be cold.
For jockeys, even though they are only out in the elements for about 10 minutes, the cold is biting. They don’t have a a strip of fat on them so the frigidity goes to the bones.
Eurico Da Silva is focused heading into tonight; focused on his horses he will ride for six different trainers in seven of the eight races. He is not thinking about that looming record, that mark of 221 riding victories at a Woodbine meeting set 27 years ago by Mickey Walls.
Eurico has 198 wins at Woodbine through 107 racing days (he missed the first 6 of the season), a remarkable number. With 20 racing dates left and 23 wins to tie the record, there is reason to believe he might just do it.
Mickey Walls won his 221 races in 141 racing days at Woodbine * (still being confirmed). Luis Contreras came close at 212 wins in 2011.
Post time tonight is 6:45 p.m. and Eurico will be in action in the night’s first race:
WEDNESDAY NIGHTS MOUNTS:
1st Race – Woodbine – Wednesday, November 14th, 2018
3 Glittering Snow (ON) 3/1 Eurico Rosa Da Silva 119 2 F b Kevin Attard
3rd Race – Woodbine – Wednesday, November 14th, 2018
7 Hidden Appeal (ON) 8/5 Eurico Rosa Da Silva 121 5 M L Kevin Attard
4th Race – Woodbine – Wednesday, November 14th, 2018
3 Money Talker (KY) 5/2 Eurico Rosa Da Silva 119 9 G L Norman McKnight
5th Race – Woodbine – Wednesday, November 14th, 2018
3 Hedeman (ON) 6/1 Eurico Rosa Da Silva 115 2 G L Renee D. Kierans
6th Race – Woodbine – Wednesday, November 14th, 2018
6 Tomato Bisque (KY) 4/1 Eurico Rosa Da Silva 118 3 F L b Catherine Day Phillips
7th Race – Woodbine – Wednesday, November 14th, 2018
2 Colleen’s Sailor (ON) 4/1 Eurico Rosa Da Silva 121 9 G L Jim Ensom
8th Race – Woodbine – Wednesday, November 14th, 2018
1 Hush Buffy (ON) 4/1 Eurico Rosa Da Silva 118 3 F L Robert E. Neumann
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PART 1 – CHASING 221
That is the magic number, the record number of wins in a season by a jockey at Woodbine put up by Mickey Walls 27 years ago. In 1991 there were some 30 more racing dates at Canada’s most famous horse racing track but many a top rider has tried to get close to that longstanding mark.
Woodbine’s current leading rider Eurico da Silva, and by current I mean 5-time title winner in his 14 years riding here, has a good chance of breaking the Walls record. Before racing on Friday, Da Silva has 188 wins with 24 racing dates to go. That is 33 more wins to tie the record, less than two wins a day. And he has done this minus 6 racing dates that he missed to start the season due to a suspension he incurred late last year.
Da Silva has been winning about 1.5 races a day although the delightfully determined, horse-loving rider went 0 for 5 on Wednesday night but that doesn’t happen often. He has 29 mounts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (before scratches) many who are low odds in the morning line.
Mike Luider, his similarly focused agent who has had a hand in building the tremendous career of jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson, says it will be after this weekend that they might start to seriously think about zeroing in on the longstanding record.
“At the beginning of the year I made a goal for him to get to 200 wins,” said Luider. “We haven’t really had a conversation yet [about the record] and we have to have a couple of strong weekends yet. With so many variables, such as the weather, there are things that can be beyond our control.”
Da Silva is winning at a 27% rate this year.
“The biggest challenge has been sorting business out,” said Luider. “It would be nice to say we just jump from horse to horse, ones we want to ride, but that’s not the way it works. We could win a couple of races on one horse but if that one is entered against one we won a few on, which one do you take?”
Indeed, there are ‘politics’ involved in the process of booking mounts for jockeys. There are stables that the jockey has agreed to ride exclusively for and that means saying ‘no’ a lot to owners and trainers who have good horses ready to win.
“It’s a very unique job where you try to make decisions with an inadequate amount of information. How do you read horses on a daily basis?”
One thing is for certain as Friday racing gets ready to start. The fans embrace Eurico as his horses are almost always low odds and you will see him riding a lot for the top two stables at Woodbine, Norm McKnight and Mark Casse.
It should be a fun final 5 weeks of the season.