Wednesday morning:  Another Woodbine expansion vote could take place…celebrating Dan Steeves tomorrow in Hillsburgh, Marketing Mix out Canadian darling and who can catch the Bird on July 7?




STEEVES, Daniel Allen – Retired from Air Canada Partner in Woodlands Farm in Hillsburgh At St. Mary’s Hospital in Kitchener on Saturday, May 25, 2013. Dan Steeves of Hillsburgh in his 62nd year. Beloved husband of Gail (Barbour) Wood. Loving son of Fraser and Dorothy Steeves of Brockville, Dear brother of Anne Steeves of Montreal. Beloved son- in-law of Dave Barbour and his wife Marjorie of Hillsburgh and the late Elinor Barbour (2008). Dear brother-in-law of Joyce Barbour and Allan Cameron of Ottawa. Ruth Barbour and Doug Jackson of Hillsburgh, Carol Barbour of Toronto and Joan Barbour of Calgary. Dan will be sadly missed by his nieces and nephews Colin Cameron, Dylan Turner and Alison Turner. Cremation has taken place.

A Memorial Service will be held on Thursday, May 30th at 2:00 p.m. From St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, 81 Trafalgar Road in Hillsburgh. Visitation one hour prior to service time. If desired donations to East Wellington Community Services or the Heart & Stroke Foundation would be appreciated as expression of sympathy. Arrangements entrusted to Butcher Family Funeral Home in Erin.



Alive and Kicking may have been the best way to describe yesterday’s opening day celebrations at Fort Erie Race Track.  Patrons packed the 116 year old Border Oval for an exciting eight race card which saw over 70 Thoroughbreds returning to one of the most beautiful tracks in North America.

Crossing the line in front for the first race of the season was A.T. Hall ridden by Juan Crawford for trainer Ken Albu and owner Heste Sport Inc.  The flashy chestnut returned $7.30 to his backers which turned out to be one of the lowest payouts of the afternoon.  Long shots galore helped bettors increase their wallet size.  The average payout over the eight race card was $23.00 with the longest price winner being Mark’s Soul who won the lone grass race of the afternoon.  The Steve Parrish trainee paid $53.30 to win, in fact, the turf race triactor resulted in a $13,541.30 return.

On track wagering for opening day was up 28% over last year.  A total of $128,779 was bet on track for the eight race program versus $100,076 on a 10 race card in 2012.  Yesterday’s handle represents the largest opening day total in recent years.

Wagering wasn’t the only department to have something to be proud of, both food and beverage and programs sales enjoyed a large increase in revenue.
“I am really proud of our staff, our horsepeople and our community for coming out to support Fort Erie,” said Chief Executive Officer Jim Thibert. “We had a record setting day and I hope this bodes well for the rest of the year.”

Live racing returns on Sunday, June 2nd with a 1:15pm post time.  Sunday will mark the return of the popular Farmers Market which begins at 11am.  Twilight racing will kick off on Tuesday, June 4th and will once again feature the popular Tiki Bar Summer Concert series.  Horns from Hell will perform a free concert after the races.


Below – RENE HUNDERUP (far left) celebrates with A T HALL who won the first race – KEN ALBU (right) trains and Juan Crawford rode. Michael Burns photo



Sue Leslie, president of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry and HBPA (Ontario) told THOROUGHBLOG yesterday that there can be another vote on expanding gaming at Woodbine if the councilors are 2/3 in agreement to have another vote. In 12 months, only 50% of councilors need to agree to have another vote in order to go forward.

It is hard to imagine that there won’t be another vote at some point since the casino in Toronto is dead and Markham followed suit last night (see below). A casino in Vaughan? Leslie said it makes no sense: the city of Toronto will not get any monies from it and if it is at the end of the subway line, Toronto residents will all ship out of the city and head to Vaughan.

A casino at Woodbine, right beside the airport, is a great stop off point for tourists coming and going from Toronto during their stay.

MEANWHILE, in Markham on Tuesday night, its council said no to reopening the casino debate:



Off since Breeders’ Cup weekend, Marketing Mix shook off the rust to close gamely between horses in the stretch under Gary Stevens, nipping a hard-charging Tiz Flirtatious by a head in the $250,000 Gamely Stakes (gr. IT) May 27 at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Marketing Mix, the 3-2 favorite in the field of seven older fillies and mares for the Memorial Day feature, picked right up where she left off for Glen Hill Farm and trainer Tom Proctor. A winner of four of seven starts and more than $1.1 million last year, she capped her season with a superb runner-up effort to champion Zagora (FR) in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) Nov. 2.



This Plate stuff is for the Birds!

FLYING HIGH AGAIN,  It’s all UP WITH THE BIRDS in the Marine, a 90 Beyer and now the Plate fave

Terence Dulay photo



It is looking like a Sam-Son Farms versus former trainer Mark Frostad showdown on July 7 for the Queen’s Plate, if things stay the same as they are now.
UP WITH THE BIRDS very easy Marine Stakes score and 90 Beyer Speed Figure makes the Sam-Son colt a big favourite for the Plate. He is by Hill ‘n’ Dale stallion STORMY ATLANTIC.

The other stake on Sunday was the Grade 3 Connaught at 7 furlongs on the turf and SOMETHING EXTRA padded his bankroll with a second consecutive win in the race. He was fast and had the inside and no one could pass him in the stretch. He posted a 95 Beyer Figure. John Menary and Gail Cox own the son of Indian Charle.

More winners Sunday

Local breeder ERICKA RUSNAK does not have a big operation but her small group of homebreds can really run. The breeder of stakes winner QUICK CODE had her homebred 2yo ‘Theo’, akak BOLD ‘N GOLDEN win his debut on Sunday in race, a MSW for 2yos. Linmac Farms bought the youngster as a yearling for $15,000 and John Cardella trains.

An allowance race for 3yo’s went to BRILLIANT COMET, who is now 2 for 2 in his career. He is an American-0bred so he is not Plate eligble. Second was Plate eligible SWEET LITTLE MAN who gave a good try to the winner. The Man is a homebred for Don Amos and a son of Jazil trained by Dan Vella.

It may not be his 4th birthday yet but COLOR UP (born on June 6 2009) won big against maidens in race 5 for Murray Stroud. The gelding was one of 3 winners for Todd Kabel on the day. More maidens in race 6 were sprinting on the grass and it was the well regarded LENNON who won his season debut and 2nd career race for Kelly Callaghan, who also traines. He is a nice prospect who cost $16,000 as a yearling and he is by Smoke Glacken.

HESA BIG DUDE was very game winning race 7 for $20,000 claiming and it was the first win for trainer Justin Nixon this year. Tamia-Delladore Bobo owns the Ontario bred by Fusaichi Pegasus.

The late Double went to ROCKINMEBABY, who was the 4th winner of the meeting for Nick DeToro and he won the $15,000 claiming race under very little pressure. Stakes winnerARTIE HOT, a recent $8,000 claim was touted by many but finished last. He was entered right  back for Friday for $8,000 claiming.

The last race was a 1-2 finish for trainer ROBERT TILLER as LINE OF BEST FIT (Trajectory) won her maiden in her 3rd career race over SILENT LOVE (Silent Name-jpn). The winner is a Frank DiGiulio homebred.