the best of the preps has awesome match-upKENTUCKY DERBY CRUNCH TIME

Santa Anita Derby, Blue Grass, Wood Memorial Saturday


Ah, spring and horse racing. No better time of the year. Woodbine’s main track has opened and the season begins in 2 weeks (!).

Keeneland opens its 16-day meeting today with the Transylvania Stakes on the grass, featuring one of Woodbine’s top 2-year-olds of 2017, ADMIRALTY PIER, trained by Barbara Minshall.

The weather for this year’s ‘spring’ has been not very funny all over and as the snow begins to fall in southern Ontario, the weather is also supposed to get cold and nasty at Keeneland. A sloppy track, frozen track, snowy track would not be helpful to its opening weekend of racing.

The focus of racing this weekend are the three ‘prep’ races (rich graded stakes events on their own) for the May 5 Kentucky Derby.

The WOOD MEMORIAL at Aqueduct is a 5:55 p.m.,  the Blue Grass at 6:23 and the Santa Anita Derby is at 6:30 p.m. With just the ARKANSAS DERBY remaining (next weekend), the major Derby horses should be well sorted out.

CANADIAN/ONTARIO-BRED FLAMEAWAY, bred by Deb Holmes of British Columbia and born at Woodlands Farm in Hillsburgh (Gail Wood)  is in post 12 for the Blue Grass at 6 to 1 in the morning line odds. Trained by Mark Casse for John Oxley, the son of Scat Daddy – Vulcan Rose (his half sister ELLAN VANNIN is retired and having babies at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm) has been working hard this spring in his races in Florida.

A versatile fellow who is a bulldog on the pace, this is easily his toughest test with the 9 furlong distance and company being hurdles. He has proven to be a hard trying fellow so if he can win or be 2nd, he deserves a shot in the Derby.

His main rival is Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Champion 2yo GOOD MAGIC, who will move forward off his season debut when 3rd in the Foutnain of Youth.


Saturday, Keeneland, post time: 6:23 p.m. EDT
TOYOTA BLUE GRASS S.-GII, $1,000,000, 3yo, 1 1/8m

1 Zing Zang                  Tapit Jackpot Farm Asmussen Bridgmohan 30-1
2 Sporting Chance     Tiznow Robert C. Baker & William L. Mack Lukas Saez 10-1
3 California Night     Midnight Lute Three Diamonds Farm Maker Gaffalione 30-1
4 Kanthaka                 Jimmy Creed West Point Thoroughbreds Hollendorfer Leparoux 10-1
5 Quip                          Distorted Humor SCR SCR
6 Marconi                   Tapit Bridlewood Farm, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith & Pletcher Moore 15-1
7 Blended Citizen     Proud Citizen Greg Hall & SAYJAY Racing, LLC O’Neill Frey 15-1
8 Gotta Go                Shanghai Bobby Lothenbach Stables, Inc. Wilkes Landeros 30-1
9 Tiz Mischief          Into Mischief Frank L. Jones, Jr. Romans Lanerie 30-1
10 Free Drop Billy   Union Rags Albaugh Family Stables LLC Romans Ortiz, Jr. 5-1
11 Good Magic          Curlin e Five Racing Thoroughbreds & Stonestreet Stables Brown Ortiz 2-1
12 Flameaway           Scat Daddy John C. Oxley Casse Lezcano 6-1
13 Machismo             More Than Ready Ron Paolucci, Ashley Quartarolo & R & C Ritchie Quartarolo Radosevich 20-1
14 Arawak                 Uncle Mo C T R Stables LLC, R3 Racing LLC & Steven Keh O’Neill De La Cruz 30-1
Also Eligible:
15 Determinant K Tapit John C. Oxley Casse Gaffalione 20-1



The best of the preps has awesome match-up – can he Justify the hype?

JUSTIFY. Beautiful image by Julie Wright.

Two starts, two wins. Total of 16 lengths.

They call him Big Red. Saturday we will find out if JUSTIFY (yet another monster by the late Scat Daddy) is the real deal, a Derby horse.

Is this the year that the first horse since 1882 (Apollo) to win the Kentucky Derby without having raced as a 2-year-old?

First things first. He has to meet the very good BOLT D’ORO, a top 2yo of 2017 who ran an amazing race in his 3-year-old debut to just miss in the San Felipe Stakes to McKinzie, who is now off the Derby trail.

From the Los Angeles Times:


ARCADIA, Calif. (April 4, 2018)–It’s game on in Saturday’s Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby as multiple graded stakes winner Bolt d’Oro faces off with rising superstar Justify and five other sophomores at a mile and one eighth in the race that has produced 17 Kentucky Derby winners. Owned and trained by Mick Ruis, Bolt d’Oro, a two time Grade I winner, finished second, beaten a head in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes on March 10, but was awarded the victory via a stewards’ inquiry.

Trained by Bob Baffert, who seeks his record eighth Santa Anita Derby win, Justify, who has won his two career starts by a combined 16 lengths, has become the talk of the racing world and is widely thought to be Baffert’s top Derby hopeful.

Throw in Jerry Hollendorfer’s Grade III stakes winner Instilled Regard, and Saturday’s Derby has the look of a select showdown with 170 Kentucky Derby qualifying points at stakes. (100 to the winner, 40 to second, 20 to third and 10 points to the fourth place finisher).

Owner: Ruis Racing, LLC Trainer: Mick Ruis
A $630,000 yearling purchase, this Kentucky-bred son of Medaglia d’Oro won his first three starts, including the Grade I Del Mar Futurity Sept. 4 and the Grade I FrontRunner Stakes here on Sept. 30 prior to running third as the 3-5 favorite in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 4, a race in which he was severely compromised by an outside draw. Sidelined due to a minor ailment following the Breeders’ Cup, he overcame a four-month layoff to duel with Baffert’s Grade I winning McKinzie the length of the stretch in the San Felipe, coming up a head short when ridden for the first time by Javier Castellano. With three works to his credit since, Bolt d’Oro is by all accounts, training forwardly for Saturday’s Derby and with a star-studded resume in-hand, looms the horse to beat.

Owner: China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, LLC, Starlight Racing and WinStar Farm Trainer: Bob Baffert
A striking physical specimen, this chestnut colt by Scat Daddy has a tremendous stride and appears to have a limitless future. Unraced at two, he broke his maiden going seven furlongs on Feb. 18 by 9 ½ lengths, after which Baffert gushed “It’s not too late,” when asked about the colt’s Derby prospects. Stretched out to a mile for his second start on March 11, Justify cruised to a 6 ½ length win under Mike Smith and was believed headed to the Grade I Arkansas Derby on April 14, but was re-routed to the Santa Anita Derby by Baffert following a minor setback to McKinzie over the weekend. Although Baffert has allowed that Justify is his most talented 3-year-old, Justify, who at this point has zero Kentucky Derby qualifying points, must run first or second to “make the gate” the first Saturday in May.

Owner: OXO Equine, LLC Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Purchased for $1,050,000 at a March 2-year-old in training sale, this Kentucky-bred colt by Arch broke his maiden going a mile and one sixteenth by 4 ¼ lengths in his third start here on Oct. 29. Subsequently third, beaten less than one length by Baffert’s highly regarded Solomini in the Grade I Los Alamitos Futurity on Dec. 9 (McKinzie finished a head in front of him, but both Instilled Regard and McKinzie were moved up a notch following the disqualification of Solomini), Instilled Regard then shipped to Fair Grounds in New Orleans, where he took the Grade III Lecomte Stakes by 3 ¾ lengths. Fourth as the 7-5 favorite in the Grade II Risen Star on Feb. 17, Instilled Regard will hope to bounce back as he runs out of his own stall and is ridden for the first time by Joel Rosario on Saturday.

Race 9 of 13 Approximate post time 6:30 p.m. PT

Instilled Regard–Joel Rosario–124 5-1
Orbit Rain–Brice Blanc–124 50-1
Bolt d’Oro–Javier Castellano–124 6-5
Jimmy Chila–Mario Gutierrez–124 30-1
Pepe Tono–Victor Espinoza–124 20-1
Justify–Mike Smith–124 4-5
Core Beliefs–Tyler Baze–124 20-1



Don’t forget the New York boys

The high striding colt ENTICED (Medaglia D’Oro) is the big fave in the 9 furlong Wood, a race that has slipped a bit as a one that yields a Kentucky Derby winner.

News from, Heather Pettinger:

Godolphin Racing’s Grade 3 Gotham winner Enticed is set for a return appearance in New York on Saturday for his final race ahead of the Kentucky Derby and has been tabbed as the 6-5 favorite in a field of nine for the 94th running of the Grade 2, $1 million Wood Memorial for 3-year-olds at Aqueduct Racetrack.

As part of the official Road to the Kentucky Derby Championship Series, the 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial is the final stop in New York en route to the “Run for the Roses” on May 5 at Churchill. With 170 total qualifying points up for grabs, the Wood is worth 100 qualifying points to the winner, 40 points to second, 20 to third and 10 to fourth.

The Wood Memorial will be part of a live national broadcast on NBC Sports Network from 5:30-7:30 p.m. ET, which will also include coverage of the Grade 2 Blue Grass at Keeneland and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park. Post time for the Wood Memorial is 5:55 p.m.

With 63 qualifying points, Enticed, by Medaglia d’Oro and out of multiple Grade 1 winner It’s Tricky, is already armed with enough points to make the Derby’s 20-horse field, but the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee won’t be taking a stroll through the park as he looks to add a third graded stakes win to his resume in a final tune-up for the “Run for the Roses” on May 5.

“He’s doing very well,” said McLaughlin, who captured the Wood Memorial with Frosted in 2015. “He’s training great. We’re happy with him and we’re there trying to win an important race. Even if it doesn’t have Grade 1 status, we feel like it is a Grade 1. It’s a huge race for a horse in his career, especially for a stallion prospect. Only one horse wins the Derby and 19 are hot and dirty, so this is a very important race on Saturday.”

As a 2-year-old, Enticed finished third in the Grade 1 Hopeful in his stakes debut and closed out his juvenile campaign with a head victory in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club in November at Churchill Downs.

The colt finished a well-beaten fourth in his seasonal return in the Grade 2 Holy Bull on February 3 at Gulfstream Park before returning to New York for the Gotham, where he was reunited with jockey Junior Alvarado and turned back to a one-turn mile, taking advantage of his outside post to power home a clear winner and punch his ticket to the Derby.



Mouth watering racing. That is how one can explain the Keeneland spring meeting and for Canadian racing fans, it is a great time to get a look at our big stars from 2017.

Beginning today with ADMIRALTY PIER in the Transylvania there are many locals in action over the next 3 days: AMI’S MESA, FLAMEAWAY, ARE YOU KIDDING ME, DIXIE MOON, DRAGON BAY, SUMMER SUNDAY, SHAKHIMAT and DREAM IT IS to name a few.

• Ivan Dalos’ Ami’s Mesa, in the running for 2017 HORSE OF THE YEAR (April 19 Sovereign Awards), is ready for her encore on dirt in Saturday’s $300,000 Madison (G1).

The 5-year-old Ontario-bred mare, who had raced exclusively on all-weather surfaces and the turf, made her dirt debut in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) at Del Mar. After breaking from post position 14 in the 7-furlong race, she came within a nose of winning the whole thing.
“The only question going into the (Breeders’ Cup) was the dirt,” trainer Josie Carroll said of the three-time graded stakes winner. “After the Breeders’ Cup, she got five weeks off at the farm in Florida.”

Ami’s Mesa returned to the work tab at Palm Meadows training center in Florida in February and has had eight works there coming into the Madison. Her most recent work was a half-mile in :49.15 on March 29. She arrived at Keeneland two days later.

“After the Breeders’ Cup, Mr. Dalos wanted to focus on good races for her, so we will see how it goes this year,” Carroll said. “In the Breeders’ Cup, he wanted to see how competitive she’d be with the best sprinters.”

The Madison is no easy spot for Ami’s Mesa’s return. Two Grade 1 winners and seven other graded-stakes winners are included in the field of 13. Ami’s Mesa will be ridden by regular partner Luis Contreras and break from post position 10.

Hoolie Racing Stable’s undefeated Dream It Is heads a field of nine 3-year-old fillies entered Thursday for Sunday’s 33rd running of the $150,000 Beaumont (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select.

The Beaumont, run over the Beard Course of 7 furlongs, 184 feet on the main track, will go as the eighth race on Sunday’s nine-race program with a 4:57 p.m. ET post time. First post time Sunday is 1:05 p.m.

The Beaumont also is the penultimate points race on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks (G1) with 17 points up for grabs on a 10-4-2-1 basis for the first four finishers.

Trained by Barbara Minshall, Dream It Is won her first two starts on the all-weather surface at Woodbine before shipping to Saratoga and winning the Schuylerville (G3) by 9 lengths in July. Luis Saez has the call and will break from post position three.

 Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry’s homebred DIXIE MOON, a top 2-year-old filly of 2017, returns to racing in the Apalachian (Grade 2) on the grass at Keeneland on Sunday. She meets up with  eFive Racing Thoroughbreds’ undefeated Rushing Fall, winner of last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) at Del Mar in which Dixie Moon was 6th.

Trained by Chad Brown, Rushing Fall, bred in part by Toronto’s John Fielding, returns to Keeneland, where she dominated the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G3) by 3¼ lengths prior to winning the Breeders’ Cup.

Regular rider Javier Castellano will be aboard Sunday and break from post position two.



A 21 minute webinar was held on Thursday to go over details of the funding announcement by the provincial government for horse racing. Complete with 20 slides and details from speakers, the webinar outlined some of the  roles of various groups including the new Ontario Racing Management.

See more here.





Good news for bettors


As part of a release of reforms from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) “Moving Ahead: Horse Racing Regulation in Ontario” project it was announced that Official Race Reports will soon be available from every race run at Ontario tracks. This is welcome news for fans to learn more about what happened with regards to disqualifications, inquiries and other race incidents.

The press release reads:

In 2017 the AGCO launched a Race Reports pilot project, and today the AGCO is pleased to announce the expansion of the program to all racetracks in Ontario, as each racetrack becomes operational in 2018, starting with Woodbine Racetrack on April 21, 2018.

The pilot was initially launched at The Raceway at Western Fair in April 2017, and over the course of the last eleven months, the AGCO expanded the pilot to include Woodbine Mohawk Park, Flamboro Downs and Rideau Carleton Raceway.

The Race Reports include details on in-race calls made by AGCO Race Officials and other insights impacting each race card. Daily race reports have been advocated for by the betting public for additional wagering insights, and by participants for improving consistency.

Details on the outcome of the 2017 Race Reports pilot project, including feedback received from industry through a recent survey, will be released in the Spring 2018 issue of the AGCO’s Race Line newsletter.

For more on the rules process changes issued by AGCO this week see the link below.

This package of reforms reflects the work of:

The Equine Drug Program Working Group;
The Health and Safety Working Group; and,
An AGCO internal review of the Rules of Racing, with the objective of updating the rules to reflect the current state of industry practices and reducing the administrative burden on licensees.


Photo by Michael Burns


Thoroughblog has been seeking the whereabouts of 2013 Queen’s Plate winner MIDNIGHT ARIA, who left Canada in 2016 for Saudi Arabia. The 8-year-old stallion by Midnight Lute, who upset the Plate for Tucci Stables, trainer Nick Gonzalez and jockey Jesse Campbell, was sold for $40,000 (US) at the 2016 Fasig Tipton Winter Mixed Sale in Kentucky. A shrewd claim by the Tuccis and Gonzalez in the winter of 2013, Midnight Aria was sold as a racing/stallion prospect to Thamer Abdullah Alkanhal.

The horse raced twice in January, 2017 in Saudi Arabia in races at 1800 and 1600 metres but was 14th and 15th in those races.

He was raced by Fahad Suliman Alfouzany and Sons. Midnight Aria has not raced since then and is not at stud, according to sources in contact with Saudi Arabian horse racing. Thoroughblog is awaiting more updates on the status of the horse.

You can watch his two races from last year by clicking on his name and then ‘Starts’ (he wears pink and white silks).





Racing clubs for new horse owners are popping up al over tracks in North America (Lone Star park is the newest one). Alberta’s Evergreen Park is in year two.


News story from Evergreen Park:

The first horse for the Evergreen Park Racing Club 2018 has been named.

Club manager Norm Tremblay has announced that Diamond Cut, a mare foaled in 2012 in California, will be the first horse to join the Club stable for 2018.

Diamond has 41 career starts with seven firsts, six seconds and six thirds and has won $168,061 in her career with an average of $4,099 per start. She has raced five times this year with two firsts and a third and has earned $11,270.

Before being purchased for the Club, Diamond was owned by Fitch Racing Stable and bred by Donald R. Dizney.

EP Club head trainer Robertino Diodoro has been training Diamond, who has done all of her racing in the United States. She has been at Turf Paradise in Pheonix since November, but has also raced at Santa Anita, Del Mar, Golden Gate, Los Alamitos and Emerald Downs since her first race in October of 2014.

Diamond’s most recent race was on March 17 at Turf Paradise where she won in a runaway.

Tremblay is expected to announce the purchasing of other Club horses in the next few weeks.

He said Diamond, and any other Club horses, will be moved to a farm near Phoenix to rest up and be ready for the racing season in Alberta, which starts in May in Edmonton and Lethbridge. He says the Club horses may race in Edmonton or Lethbridge or both depending on track and race conditions at those facilities.

The Edmonton-Lethbridge visits would be more for conditioning than being part of a full racing schedule as they get in shape for The Horses At Evergreen Park in Grande Prairie in July and August.

The racing season in Grande Prairie kicks off on July 7 and continues every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until August 26 with the Alberta Derby planned for Sunday, August 5.

Last year Club horses won four races – two by Red N Black Attack and one each by Command the Land and Xtreme Spell.

Horse race fans are reminded they can get in shape for the EP season by visiting the Pines Restaurant & Casino. There are several screens in the facility where races from around North America are shown. There are programs available for all those races as well as two betting machines to play the ponies.

Pines staff just recently went through a learning session with renowned betting expert Fraser Rawlinson so they will be able to answer questions you might have about horse racing.




The Hastings Horse Sale Preview takes place this Saturday at 1:00pm.

The viewing area will be in the Grandstand Patio area as its been for the last 2 years. Several horses will breeze and official times will be announced. Complimentary Refreshments will be available.

List of horses with pages.