WOODBINE: BIGGEST STORIES OF 2018 – EURICO, NORM, KK, WONDER GADOT, TURF
KILLAG KATIE zipped past the finish line in front in race 14 at Woodbine on Sunday to wrap up the 2018 season after 133-racing days.
The Kentucky bred filly by Candy Ride (Arg) owned and bred by Mark Breen, defeated allowance company in the 7 furlong race under, fittingly, the track’s leading jockey, Eurico da Silva, who had an astonishing 2018 season. The filly is trained by Catherine Day Phillips who had a career year (read more below).
Thirty-five races were run on the last three days of the season in pleasant Dece,ber weather. The final stakes race of the year was last weekend’s Valedictory Stakes, a Grade 3 won by Pumpkin Rumble owned by Bill and Al Ulwelling and trained by Kevin Attard.
Adding three wins on Sunday, Da Silva extended his record for most wins in a single Woodbine meet to 237. The Brazil native has topped the Woodbine jockey standings five times in his career. Da Silva, who recorded 29 stakes wins, also topped all jockeys for earnings with his mounts banking $10.9 million. He finished the 2018 season with a commanding lead over Rafael Hernandez (168 wins), Luis Contreras (119 wins), Gary Boulanger (93 wins) and teenage apprentice jockey Kazushi Kimura, who cracked the top five with 89 wins.
Contreras won his 2000th North American race on the last day of racing.
Da Silva and Kimura both rode a ton of winners for the Norm McKnight barn which blasted the record for most wins at Woodbine in a season (read more below).
Woodbine will report on its business figures later on but what is known is that on-track wagering will be down again (approximately 5 per cent) while overall wagering will be up in the 3 per cent range. Getting fans to bet on-track is a challenge facing many tracks in North America.
The product at Woodbine is a good one and in 2018 more were run and even more will be coming in 2019 as a new inner-turf course is set to open in the spring. Unfortunately, the main turf course was a source of some difficulties for Woodbine late in the season. Poor late season weather put a damper on grass racing but turf races continued to be written, leading some of the jockeys to protest by delaying racing on a Wednesday night.
Wonder Gadot was the most popular horse at Woodbine in the spring and through mid-summer as she raced well in the US, almost won the Kentucky Oaks (Grade 1) and then beat the boys in the Queen’s Plate and Fort Erie’s Prince of Wales Stakes. The Ontario bred 3-year-old was bred by David Anderson, who has taken his father’s Anderson Farms to the top of the breeding ranks in Canada once again.
LEADING JOCKEYS BY WINS
Eurico Rosa Da Silva 856 237 173 119 $8,345,386 28%
Rafael Manuel Hernandez 889 168 133 119 $5,649,794 19%
Luis Contreras 864 119 147 119 $5,103,947 14%
Gary Boulanger 628 93 85 84 $4,242,311 15%
*Kazushi Kimura 593 89 66 75 $2,326,433 15%
Patrick Husbands 442 78 72 62 $3,388,644 18%
Emma-Jayne Wilson 407 48 52 55 $1,877,374 12%
David Moran 601 44 62 85 $2,034,768 7%
Jerome Lermyte 245 36 29 31 $1,625,273 15%
Jesse M. Campbell 290 34 28 44 $1,329,390 12%
*Daisuke Fukumoto 361 34 39 33 $847,923 9%
TOP 10 TRAINERS AT WOODBINE BY WINS
Trainer Starts 1st 2nd 3rd Earnings Win % Top 3%
Norman McKnight 406 — 128 89 53 $3,280,365 32% 67% —
Mark E. Casse 516 — 105 81 74 $5,630,761 20% 50% —
Kevin Attard 298 — 55 47 27 $2,020,164 18% 43% —
Jim Ensom 255 — 48 51 37 $1,280,979 19% 53% —
Robert P. Tiller 220 — 42 26 30 $1,503,089 19% 45% —
Sid C. Attard 228 — 41 31 30 $1,515,587 18% 45% —
Josie Carroll 152 — 30 22 19 $1,630,916 20% 47% —
Catherine Day Phillips 151 — 29 29 21 $1,690,708 19% 52% —
Nicholas Gonzalez 206 — 27 33 26 $893,838 13% 42% —
Ashlee Brnjas 180 — 22 30 28 $867,196 12% 44%
It was one of the most remarkable training feats in Canadian racing history as NORM MCKNIGHT set a record for wins with 128, besting the previous record of 119 set by Mark Casse in 2011.
McKnight and his son/assistant Brad, sent out 100 more horses to the races in 2018 than they did last year when they recorded a lifetime best 99 wins. Norm won the trainer’s title for the first time last year.
McKnight has already packed up van loads of horses to race at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas this winter. The Streetsville, ON resident spent his first winter at Oaklawn this past winter and won 16 races from 80 starters to land 8th in the standings behind Steve Asmussen. The Oaklawn meeting begins Jan. 25.
From 13 wins in 1999, his first full year of training at Woodbine, McKnight was up in the 20-win range from 2009 to 2015 (29). In 2016 he won 59 races, last year he had 99 and this year, 128.
The huge season did not come without cost, however, as a number of other Woodbine trainers and their owners have been unhappy about the success.
Certainly the sharp rise in McKnight’s wins and purse earnings is cause for pause, but a plethora of small fields combined with his aggressive approach to entering his horses are major factors. In late summer, however, McKnight and veterinarian Dr. Brian Van Arem were both sanctioned for shock-waving horses that were in the entries, inside of the allowed time.
Woodbine has requested a stiffer penalty of Dr. Van Arem and that hearing will begin in February.
Mark Casse’s 105 wins was the second time that trainer has won more than 100 races at Woodbine. Kevin Attard’s 55 wins was a career best at Woodbine, topping his mark of 48 that he won in 2015. Attard finished the year with a flurry to take his 4th straight top 3 finish.
Jim Ensom sent out 48 winners, most as substitute for Martin Drexler who was suspended for the season due to a pair of clenbuterol positive tests. Ensom’s 100th career win was Silent Blaze who won on the weekend. The Orangeville resident previously trained his own horses but in 2017 his runners were conditioned by Drexler. This year, Ensom’s own horses won a career high 19 races. His stable runs under the 1569389 Ontario Inc. name.
Both Robert Tiller and Sid Attard had solid years and Catherine Day Phillips set a personal best with 29 wins as did Ashlee Brnjas, who won 22 races.
KREMBILS, SCHICKEDANZ TOP OWNERS
Robert and Mark Krembil’s Chiefswood Stable won 6 stakes races this year, 31 races and had the most purse earnings of over $1.9 million. This was a career-year for the farm which races mostly home-breds.
Bruno Schickedanz won 76 races, topping last year’s season and had a 31% win rate.
New to the top 10 was Joe Guerrieri’s Joey Gee Thoroughbreds which won 28 races and just shy of $1 million.
LEADING OWNERS AT WOODBINE BY PURSE EARNINGS
1 Chiefswood Stable 146 31 23 25 $1,981,658 21%
2 Bruno Schickedanz 245 76 37 30 $1,579,138 31%
3 Gary Barber 105 19 25 20 $1,571,236 18%
4 Stronach Stables 130 28 13 20 $1,211,072 22%
5 Ivan Dalos 103 22 11 6 $1,157,133 21%
6 Sam-Son Farm 85 19 16 4 $1,012,025 22%
7 Joey Gee Thoroughbreds 187 28 19 29 $950,320 15%
8 Fitzhenry, Sean and Dorothy 22 5 4 4 $772,623 23%
9 Live Oak Plantation 66 14 11 12 $734,468 21%
10 Ramsey, Kenneth L. and Sarah K. 79 16 18 9 $648,441 20%
IT’S THE HORSE OF COURSE
The best of the equine set won the stakes races in 2018. As mentioned, Wonder Gadot led earners and had a super run through the summer.
MR HAVERCAMP, an Ontario bred by Court Vision, stamped himself a star on the local circuit and his 2nd place finish in the Woodbine Mile (Grade 1) could get him the Sovereign Award for Champion Turf Male (with kudos to Johnny Bear again, last year’s champ who once again won the Grade 1 Northern Dancer). Mr Havercamp was good on the Tapeta surface too and could be named the Champion Older Horse.
Owned and bred by Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry, Mr Havercamp was one of 2 stars for the Toronto couple. Their filly DIXIE MOON won the Woodbine Oaks in a stunning upset of Wonder Gadot.
Both Mr Havercamp and Dixie Moon are in Florida having both being well beaten in stakes races at Gulfstream last weekend.
PINK LLOYD came back with a vengeance off his undefeated, Horse of the year season in 2017. He won the Jacques Cartier, Achievement and New Providence and later took the Vigil and Kenora Stakes for another super season. The classy sprinter owned by Entourage Stable did suffer losses, however, 3 of them including his last 2 starts of the season. He bled through Lasix in the Overskate Stakes which would be his last start of the year.
Pink Lloyd should win his 2nd straight Champion Sprinter Sovereign Award.
Topping all horses by wins was Jim Ensom’s MARTEN LAKE, who won 6 of 11 starts, $162,000 and rose up the ranks from a $12,500 starter allowance to $60,000 claiming. The 7-year-old by Trajectory, claimed in the fall of 2017 for $12,500, was bred by Alexis and Katie Ward.
LEADING HORSES BY WINS
Marten Lake 11 6 4 0 $162,573
Pink Lloyd 8 5 0 1 $298,616
Silent Contempt 11 5 1 1 $71,890
Love That Lute 7 5 0 0 $40,146
LEADING HORSES BY PURSE EARNINGS
1 Wonder Gadot 2 1 1 0 $534,080
2 Mr Havercamp 4 3 1 0 $385,580
3 Desert Encounter (IRE) 1 1 0 0 $368,544
4 Oscar Performance 1 1 0 0 $368,064
5 Dixie Moon 6 2 2 0 $348,578
LEADING HORSES BY WINNING BEYER SPEED FIGURES
PINK LLOYD 106 (Apr 21, Jacques Cartier Stakes)
OSCAR PERFORMANCE 104 Woodbine Mile
DESERT ENCOUNTER 104 Can. International
STARSHIP JUBILEE 104 Canadian S
LONG ON VALUE 104 Highlander S.
YORKTON 103 Bold Venture S
PINK LLOYD 101 New Providence, Achievement S., Vigil
CARIBOU CLUB 101 Connaught S.
HBPA AND WOODBINE AGREE TO FOUR-YEAR DEAL
Woodbine Entertainment and the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association of Ontario (HBPA) jointly announced today that they have reached an agreement in principle for a new four-year racing deal which includes an increase of $22 million in guaranteed purses and capital investment in Thoroughbred racing.
“Reaching this agreement in principle before the end of the 2018 meet demonstrates the strength of our relationship with the HBPA and our collective commitment to provide world-class racing opportunities to Ontario horsepeople,” said Jim Lawson, President and CEO of Woodbine Entertainment. “We look forward to welcoming back our loyal horsepeople for another exciting Thoroughbred season in April 2019 as we continue to grow our sport throughout the province.”
“The HBPA is pleased to have reached an agreement with Woodbine that will provide clarity to Ontario owners and trainers for the next four years,” said Sue Leslie, President of the HBPA of Ontario. “It is our hope that this agreement will provide confidence and assure our members that the HBPA has and will continue to work closely with Woodbine to ensure that horse racing has a long sustainable future.”
The new four-year agreement in principal, which runs through 2022, includes $18 million allocated towards total guaranteed purses. This significant increase further establishes Woodbine as a top Thoroughbred racetrack in North America for total purses paid per year.
Woodbine Entertainment has also committed to invest $1 million each year for a total $4 million commitment for further Thoroughbred racing capital improvements over the length of the deal.
“Woodbine is committed to continue making investments that ensure the long-term sustainability of the horse racing industry,” said Jonathan Zammit, Vice President of Thoroughbred Racing Operations at Woodbine Entertainment. “The purse commitment made by Woodbine provides a significant bump in purses for the first year of the new agreement, in place for the 2019 meet with continued growth throughout the deal.”
The previous agreement was set to expire in March of 2019.
“From an owner’s perspective, this is very exciting. We welcome this news as we can now start focusing solely on preparing for a great 2019 season,” said Bill Diamant, Vice President of the HBPA of Ontario. “We also appreciate that the new deal recognizes our hard work through increases in purse allotments and continued investment in our sport. We are all committed to growing the horse racing industry throughout Ontario and this new deal certainly demonstrates that.”
The 2019 Thoroughbred racing season will consist of 133 race dates, beginning on April 20 and running through December 15.
TOUGHER URGING RULES COMING TO BRITAIN
Tougher penalties in big races are likely to be introduced to improve horse racing’s public image over welfare.
Nick Rust, chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority, has told BBC Sport that “a new structure for penalties and deterrents for overuse of the whip” will be announced in January 2019.
He added that there were “no firm timelines” for changes, but it is understood senior figures in racing are preparing for a possible ban on the use of the whip within three years.