Brad Paisley, Sam Roberts band concert kicks off big Plate/Canada Day weekend

Away from the races, plans to begin creating that festival feel for the Queen’s Plate weekend are underway at Woodbine. Concerts and events begin Friday June 29 and carry over through the Plate night.  Canada Day celebrations are on Sunday.

The marquee event, the 159th Plate, the 1 1/4 mile Canadian classic for 3-year-olds foaled in this country, is taking shape. It is a bit of an unusual year as a foal crop that is close to the lowest point in recent years but on the way up now means there is a dearth of  top 3-year-olds at this time.

Trainer MARK CASSE holds a strong hand with TELEKINESIS, owned by American BARBARA BANKE, WONDER GADOT, owned by American Gary Barber and NEEPAWA, owned by King City’s Chiefswood Stables of Robert and Mark Krembil.

Wonder Gadot and Dixie Moon are two imposing fillies in the race this season having finished 2-1 in the Woodbine Oaks. 36 fillies have won the Plate, 3 in the last 7 years.

Nick Nosowenko’s COOLER MIKE has been confirmed a starter according to the trainer’s Twitter feed and he reports he has enlisted JESSE CAMPBELL to return to Woodbine and ride the son of Giant Gizmo.

LUIS CONTRERAS is expected to partner AHEADBYACENTURY as Rafael Hernandez is taking the reins on SAY THE WORD, owned by Sam-Son Farms.

Probable starters:

TELEKINESIS – won Plate Trial
ROSE’S VISION – 2nd Plate Trial
BOYHOOD DREAM – 4th Plate Trial
DIXIE MOON – Woodbine Oaks
WONDER GADOT – 2nd Woodbine Oaks
STRIKE ME DOWN – stakes placed last start, winner
SAY THE WORD – winner
NEEPAWA – stakes place winner
COOLER MIKE – stakes placed winner


CANADIAN-BREDS AT ROYAL ASCOT (including John Gunther!)

As a yearling, SERGEI PROFOKIEV commanded a lot of attention at auction – SARAH SEITZ PHOTO

Big moments for Canadian breeders next week

SERGEI PROKOFIEV and VAN BEETHOVEN (the horses, not the composers) will represent two Canadian/Ontario breeders on Day One of the prestigious ROYAL ASCOT MEETING on TUESDAY next week. Both start in the Group 2 COVENTRY STAKES.

DAVID ANDERSON is soon headed to England to watch Sergei Profokiev, a colt he bred in St. Thomas, Ontario and sold for $1.1 million last year at Keeneland. The colt is a 2 time winner in 3 races and is a son of Scat Daddy (sire of Triple Crown winner Justify) from the placed Tapit mare Orchard Beach, an Ontario-bred who raced at Woodbine with trainer Roger Attfield.

Sergei Profokiev is 9/4 in the betting for the Coventry.

Van Beethoven, incredibly also a son of Scat Daddy,was bred by Steve and Kathleen Kemp’s BALLYCROY TRAINING CENTRE in Loretto, ON. The colt is out of My Sister Sandy by  Montbrook and he was sold privately to Michael Tabor, Mrs. Derrick Smith and John Magnier. He has won a stakes race recently for trainer Aidan O’Brien.

A human Canadian-bred, JOHN GUNTHER, who bred American Triple Crown winner JUSTIFY and has been in racing news non-stop for weeks, could top that feat if his own colt WITHOUT PAROLE wins the famous ST JAMES PALACE STAKES, also on Tuesday.

“To be at Royal Ascot and win the St James’s Palace Stakes would be the biggest experience of my life, believe me.” – John Gunther of Vancouver, BC

WITHOUT PAROLE – photo from William Hill racing


By James Burn
UPDATED 7:48PM, JUN 10 2018

The man responsible for producing Saturday’s Triple Crown hero Justify was still floating on cloud nine on Sunday, when he claimed that Royal Ascot success for his St James’s Palace Stakes favourite Without Parole would eclipse even the thrill of his pivotal part in the story of US racing’s new poster boy.

John Gunther, 72, who grew up on the prairies in Alberta, Canada, was at Belmont Park on Saturday to witness the Bob Baffert-trained Justify become the 13th Triple Crown hero, an occasion he described as amazing.

However, Gunther will soon switch his attentions to Royal Ascot, where the promising Without Parole – whom he also bred and still owns in partnership with daughter Tanya – will be on duty in the St James’s Palace, for which he is the general 3-1 market leader.

Click here to read the full story.

NBC SPORTS – Historical broadcast of Royal Ascot

NBC Sports presents daily live coverage of the Royal Meeting in Ascot, Berkshire, England – one of the most prestigious horse racing meets in the world – including the first-ever NBC broadcast of the race on Saturday, June 23, at 9 a.m. ET.

Live coverage of the event begins Tuesday, June 19, at 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN, with daily telecasts of the full five-day Royal meeting on NBCSN through Friday, June 22. In total, NBC Sports Group will present 22 hours of coverage over the five days.

Royal Ascot is one of the world’s most valuable horse racing events, attracting many of the world’s finest racehorses. The event features 30 races, including eight at the world championship “Group One” level.

Highlighting the American contingent is trainer Wesley Ward, who has won nine races at Royal Ascot over the years. He is scheduled to bring 10 horses to Ascot this year, highlighted by Lady Aurelia, who is looking to win her third straight race at The Royal Meeting. She races in the King’s Stand on Tuesday during NBCSN’s first day of coverage.

The Royal Meeting is the center of the British social season and a pivotal week in the calendar of the Royal Family, who arrive every day by the world famous “Royal Procession” – with the first carriage carrying The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

1. Royal Ascot Schedule
Day 1 – Tuesday June 19
2.30: Queen Anne Stakes (Group One)
3.05: Coventry Stakes (Group Two)
3.40: King’s Stand Stakes (Group One)
4.20: St James’s Palace Stakes (Group One)
5.00: Ascot Stakes (Handicap)
5.35: Wolferton Rated Stakes (Listed)

Day 2 – Wednesday June 20
2.30: Queen Mary Stakes (Group Two)
3.05: Queen’s Vase (Group Two)
3.40: Duke Of Cambridge Stakes (Group Two)
4.20: Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (Group One)
5.00: Royal Hunt Cup (Handicap)
5.35: Jersey Stakes (Group Three)

Day 3 – Thursday June 21
2.30: Norfolk Stakes (Group Two)
3.05: Hampton Court Stakes (Group Three)
3.40: Ribblesdale Stakes (Group Two)
4.20: Gold Cup (Group One)
5.00: Britannia Stakes (Handicap)
5.35: King George V Stakes (Handicap)

Day 4 – Friday June 22
2.30: Albany Stakes (Group Three)
3.05: King Edward VII Stakes (Group Two)
3.40: Commonwealth Cup (Group One)
4.20: Coronation Stakes (Group One)
5.00: Sandringham Stakes (Listed)
5.00: Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes (Handicap)

Day 5 – Saturday June 23
2.30: Chesham Stakes (Listed)
3.05: Hardwicke Stakes (Group Two)
3.40: Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed)
4.20: Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Group One)
5.00: Wokingham Stakes (Handicap)
5.35: Queen Alexandra Stakes (Conditions)



*At Woodbine Mohawk Park tomorrow night is the North America Cup on a stakes-laden card of Standardbred racing

Older horses headline the stakes race on Saturday and Sunday at Woodbine. Ontario-sired guys compete in the STEADY GROWTH STAKES on Saturday and the winners of the last 2 editions, KEEN GIZMO and WHERE’S THE WIDGET are in the field along with the returning MR HAVERCAMP, a finalist for Champion 3yo male last season.  Mr. Havercamp is owned by Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry who may still be in the clouds after their filly DIXIE MOON won the Woodbine Oaks last weekend.

On Sunday, the Grade 3 Trillium Stakes for fillies and mares is headed by GRIZZEL (IRE) and GAMBLE’S GHOST and the race is the 9th on a long, 12-race card. The 12 races include a few events that were part of the cancelled card on Wednesday when the track experienced a power outage.



After one session (Thursday)

NICK GONZALEZ was on the buyer’s list at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales June auction yesterday, taking a Canadian bred Not Bourbon colt for $13,000.

Hip No. 211, a son of Scat Daddy consigned by Top Line Sales LLC, Agent, was sold to Carlo Vaccarezza for $650,000 to top the first session of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s 2018 June Sale of Two-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age. The dark bay or brown colt, whose eighth in :9 4/5 at Thursday’s Under Tack session was the sale’s co-fastest at the distance, is out of Satulah, by Gone West, a daughter of graded stakes winner War Thief.

Ontario -breds in sale with workout time – breeding; consignor and buyer

42 out     C Trappe Shot Miss Olive Oil ON Jose Munoz Withdrawn Out
177 33.1    F Magician (IRE) Ristretta ON Point of Gravity Thoroughbred LLC Yendri Pena 30,000
194 22.3    C Not Bourbon Rouge Lady ON RiceHorse Stable (Brandon & Ali Rice) Nick Gonzalez 13,000
206 out    F Mucho Macho Man Samsal ON Top Line Sales LLC, Agent XVI Withdrawn Out
239 out    F Kitten’s Joy Silver Holiday ON de Meric Sales, Agent I Withdrawn Out
244 out    C Street Sense Siwa ON Grassroots Training & Sales LLC Withdrawn Out
266 10.2   F Exchange Rate Spider Dust ON Eddie Woods, Agent III Hidden Brook, Agent 85,000
777 10.3   F To Honor and Serve J’s Hot Shot Lady ON James Layden, Agent  sells today↓
832 10.4   C Shackleford London Snow ON McKathan Bros., Agent I
885 10.3   C Big Screen Tell No One ON Santa Fe Thoroughbreds, Agent II
925 22.2   C Wilko Iron Baby Angel ON Santa Fe Thoroughbreds, Agent



The popular Manitoba-bred filly ESCAPE CLAUSE returned from Canterbury Downs to win last weekend’s LA VERENDRYE STAKES – Assiniboia Downs photo

Horse of the year ESCAPE CLAUSE returned to her home province last weekend and won the La Verendrye Stakes at 1 to 9 at Assiniboia Downs. The Going Commando filly won easily in 1:11 for 6 furlongs for a 76 Beyer Speed Figure. She is owned by True North, Don Schnell and Barry Arnason.

Ivan Bigg from the Insider Newsletter gives us some of the hot horses and people from last week

Hottest jockeys:    Chavion Chow, Prayven Badrie, Kayla Pizarro (3 wins)
Hottest trainers:    Jerry Gourneau, Don Schnell (3 wins)
Biggest longshot:   Dreaming Ez $37.30 (Friday race 4)
Biggest 20-cent superfecta:   $1,888 (Friday race 4)
Stakes champion(s): Escape Clause (La Verendrye), Amaretto (Hazel Wright Sire Stakes) and Plentiful (Free Press)

Read more about Escape Clause’s win.