It is the last day of 2016 and time to look forward to a brand new year – 2017. Yearlings turning 2, mares expecting foals and the juveniles turning 3 inspiring classic dreams. There are many challenges ahead for horse racing in North America, plenty right here in Ontario. It is a resilient and hard working industry and the start of a new year always kicks in that hope.
Speaking of hope – a new broodmare-purchasing initiative about to be announced by the CTHS AND HBPA of Ontario will be exciting news for all prospective bueyers at four upcoming sales…stay tuned for more details..
Plenty of web sites have year-end reviews of racing on the continent or locally (www.horse-races.net or www.woodbineentertainment.com) but Thoroughblog will recap Canadian racing for 2016 by taking a look at the upcoming voter package for the Sovereign Awards, set to be issued in the coming weeks.
SOVEREIGN AWARDS – It’s not just about the money
What horse or horseperson had the most impressive/successful racing season in Canada in 2016?
The question is certainly subjective and Sovereign Award voters have been challenged by it for years. With some 30+ voters for this year’s awards, it is more important than ever to consider all aspects of a championship year.
Simply winning the most purse money does not warrant a champion. What horse dominated his or her division, no matter where they raced?
What were some of the impressive displays of horsemanship?
Voters, come at each division with an open mind and reward the truly deserving horses and horsepeople.
Here is a division-by-division peek:
2-YEAR-OLD FILLY – It is difficult to say that whoever wins this year’s Champion 2yo filly Sovereign was the best of the year.
The major races in Ontario – the Princess Elizabeth, Mazarine and Natalma, were won by 3 different horses (Ghostly Presence, Gale Force and Victory to Victory) and the Mazarine winner Gale Force is not eligible for a Sovereign (not enough starts in Canada).
The Natalma is now listed as a Grade 1, not sure it was a Grade 1 field that Victory to Victory defeated in the grassy, 1 mile race but she will likely be voted champion in a weak category. There were plenty of nice locally-bred 2yo gals such as Cindervella, Ellan Vanin and Conquest Vivi and American-bred Let It Ride Mom, a stablemate of Victory to Victory, is also a worthy contender.
2-YEAR-OLD COLT – The contenders here appear to be TIZ A SLAM, the CHiefswood Stable colt who won the Cup and Saucer on turf and also won on the Tapeta and a pair of Mark Casse trainees.
KING AND HIS COURT was an iron-horse even if he is just a baby. He was stakes placed twice for owner and trainer Alex Patykewich before the Gary barber and co. team landed and scooped up the son of Court Vision. He won the prestigious Coronation Futurity and Display Stakes and really had a remarkable, alebit not very flashy, campaign.
Golden Hawk won the Grey Stakes impressively after winning his maiden but then the unbeaten Tapit colt broke down in Kentucky and we did not get to see him again. The colt could win this award posthumously since his Grey win was very impressive but the ‘King’ was a blue-collar worker all year.
3-YEAR-OLD FILLY – CAREN. Robert Marzilli’s determined filly was one of the best racehorses in Canada all season long. Four straight stakes wins, including a Grade 3, three other stakes placings in 7 races in Canada. The Society’s Chairman filly, trained by Mike DePaulo, was amazing in 2016.
In any other year, BC-bred SNUGGLES would by champion. The Rosberg filly won every race by one in 6 tries (lost by a neck) and won the Grade 3 Ballerina at Hastings Park along other stakes races.
3-YEAR-OLD COLT – If you consider this a main track category and not grass, which is essentially the reason why grass categories were added to the awards, then AMIS GIZMO did pretty well in his division in 2016. He was an unlucky loser of the Queen’s Plate, but crushed in the Prince of Wales and Ontario Derby (Grade 3) and the Plate Trial.
CONQUEST ENFORCER will get votes since he won the Queenston at Woodbine on Tapeta, the Charlie Barley on grass and two turf stakes in the US including last weekend’s Mathis Mile at Santa Anita.
Canadian derby winner READY INTAGLIO was a bear out west and deserves mention too.
OLDER MALE – BREAKING LUCKY, so close to winning two Grade 1’s this year (beaten a neck to Shaman Ghost in the Woodward when 4th and 2nd in the Clark to Gun Runner at Churchill Downs) won the Seeagram Cup and placed in 4 other stakes, 3 graded, should get the most voting points in a close finish with reigning older mare ARE YOU KIDDING ME, who won another 3 graded stakes races in 2016 but was drubbed by ‘Lucky’ in the Clark.
OLDER FEMALE – Often a weak division and since the Ontario events were won by all different horses (Ice Festival, Midnight Miley, Goodyearrforroses, etc.) this should be TOUCHING PROMISE’S year.
A three-time stakes winner in BC for Russ and Lois Bennett, this tough mare was placed in the Grade 3 Ballerina in another great season.
Her purses are not high but the record speaks for itself.
TURF FEMALE – LEXIE LOU goes out with another Sovereign as she won 3 turf stakes races in a remarkable comeback season.
**Note – GOODYEARFORROSES races in a Grade 3 on the grass today at Santa Anita and could bolster her case for the Turf female trophy…
Updated – GOODYEARFORROSES won the Robert Frankel Stakes at Santa Anita on dec. 31, the race came off the turf and was run in slop and the Grade 3 listing is currently in limbo. Goodyearforroses now looms a contender for Older Mare Champion vs Touching Promise and others.
TURF MALE – A variety of graded turf winners this year will lead to a convoluted picture..DANISH DYNAFORMER, UP WITH BIRDS won turf route races, so did GLENNVILLE GARDENS.
The 3yo CONQUEST ENFORCER won a Grade 2 in the US on turf.
SPRINTER – PASSION FOR ACTION had his sewn up early in the year but tailed off in a busy campaign. His stablemate NOHOLDINGBACK BEAR won a Grade in the US while champion of 2015 CALGARY CAT ran an amazing race at the Breeders’ Cup. Last year’s sprint champion STACKED DECK also powered his way to another stakes winning season.
FEMALE SPRINTER – RIVER MAID from the Very Dry Stable gets the edge as she beat Midnight Miley and Southern Ring.
HORSE OF THE YEAR – Hard to go past CAREN as she dominated in Canada against her own kind on 2 surfaces. BREAKING LUCKY was consistent as was AMIS GIZMO.
Up next – the human categories…
QUEEN’S PLATE WINNER IN $75,000 TURF STAKE IN LA.
Saturday, Fair Grounds, post time: 4:40 p.m. EDT
WOODCHOPPER S., $75,000, 3yo, 1mT
PP HORSE SIRE JOCKEY TRAINER ML
1 Explosive Kowboy Kodiak Kowboy Mena Lovell 20-1
2 Hay Dakota Haynesfield Velazquez Berndt 6-1
3 One Mean Man Mizzen Mast Albarado Flint 9-2
4 Inside Straight Super Saver Franco Diodoro 12-1
5 Royal Lion Kitalpha Johnstone Stuart 30-1
6 Zapperini Ghostzapper Hernandez Foley 8-1
7 Mav Henrythenavigator Bridgmohan Cox 10-1
8 Sir Dudley Digges Gio Ponti Geroux Maker 5-1
9 Wildcat Wish Wildcat Heir Negron Loza 10-1
10 Cordon Archarcharch Reznikov Vashchenko 20-1
11 Ikerrin Road (Ire) Iffraaj (GB) Flores Casse 10-1
12 Way Striking Smart Strike Eramira Diodoro 10-1
13 Tiznoble Tiznow Murrill Stidham 15-1
14 Dolphus Lookin at Lucky Saez Sharp 10-1
15 Seeking the Soul Perfect Soul (Ire) Hernandez Stewart 6-1
GONZALEZ TEAMS WITH STRONACH FOR TROPOCAL PARK RUN
Saturday, Gulfstream, post time: 3:01 p.m. EDT
TROPICAL PARK DERBY, $75,000, 3yo, 1 1/16mT
PP HORSE SIRE JOCKEY TRAINER ML
1 JR’s Holiday Harlan’s Holiday Jaramillo Garoffalo 20-1
2 Berliner Bernardini Lopez Gonzalez 10-1
3 Mighty Mo Uncle Mo Cruz Mott 15-1
4 Franklin Towers City Zip Lanerie Cibelli 15-1
5 Two Step Time Two Step Salsa Gaffalione Maker 15-1
6 Gimlet Lemon Drop Kid Zayas Pletcher 6-1
7 Tonedaddy Curlin Luzzi Mattine 30-1
8 Inspector Lynley Lemon Drop Kid Velazquez McGaughey 4-1
9 Oscar Nominated Kitten’s Joy Leparoux Maker 3-1
10 Giant Run Giant’s Causeway Bravo Albertrani 15-1
11 Stockyard Scat Daddy Castro Pletcher 12-1
12 Strike Midnight Smart Strike Lezcano Gyarmati 9-2
Entered for Main Track Only:
13 Direct Message Bernardini Bravo Albertrani 10-1