The new-look inner turf course at Woodbine, an $8 million grass track that replaced the inside Standardbred track (which replaced the inside turf course), opens with its first official race on Friday, which has a special 3:30 post time for racing. The inner turf event, a 1 mile race for $25,000 claimers is race 4. There are two more inner turf races on Queen’s Plate day and then the new course will be checked by track maintenance and turf experts.

The course, which has taken its time rooting this spring, is expected to have 5 1/2 furlong dashes eventually but earlier scheduled sprints on the course have been postponed as turf experts say sprint races will be a bit tougher on the new grass than route races. The legendary SECRETARIAT ended his career on the inner turf course at Woodbine in 1973.



SKYWIRE as a 2-year-old in Training in 2018

Who will wear the Queen’s Plate blanket of flowers just before 5:45 p.m. on Saturday?

Will IVAN DALOS get his coveted Queen’s plate win finally after two second place finishes in recent years?

Will trainer MARK CASSE and owner GARY BARBER win their 3rd Plate in 6 years?

Will yet another filly win and put Sam-Son farms back in the Plate winner’s circle?

From published handicappers to polls on websites, the selections are varied among the favourites. SKYWIRE, the flashy bay son of Afleet Alex and one of 4 bred by the late Bill Graham, is getting a lot of hype and other than morning line favourite AVIE’S FLATTER and the filly DESERT RIDE, is one of the most likely winners.

SKYWIRE, who was bought and raced by Loui Tucci as a 2-year-old, and trained by Sid Attard, sold a share in his colt before the colt won in Florida in the winter.

California invader ONE BAD BOY, foaled at Ron Clarkson’s farm in Ontario. ONE BAD BOY is listed as second favourite in the morning line odds and this speedy colt will race with blinkers off and have Kentucky Derby winning rider Flavien Prat on board.

DESERT RIDE, the lone filly, will start from the rail, selected by owner Rick Balaz of Sam-Son Farms. “That’s where Steve wants to be” said Balaz in reference to jockey Steve Bahen who rode the filly to the Woodbine Oaks victory three weeks ago. Fillies have won the last 2 Plate and tend to have a good record in the race.

The Oaks, held on the same day as the Plate Trial, won by Pay for Peace, went in much faster time than the Trial.

After those top 4, a win by any other horse in the 14 horse field would be considered a considerable upset. There are 3 horses listed at 50 to 1 and three at 30 to 1.

The POST POSITION DRAW on Thursday allowed attendees to meet some of the participants and MARK and TINA CASSE  were there. Casse, fresh off sending out the winners of the Preakness (war of Will) and Belmont (Sir Winston) praised Woodbine, his ‘home’ track and said he thinks “Skywire will be tough to beat”: and Federal Law “will not be on the lead”.

Longshots or no, there are some excited local owners who do not have big stables in the Plate.

The Di Scola Boys, Joe, Mark and John have HE’S A MACHO MAN in the field, a livery chestnut colt who trainer Josie Carroll calls her ‘sleeper’.

“We are really pumped,’ said Joe DiScola. “This is a fantastic sport to be a part of it and we are blessed to be around all these great horsepeople.”

JIM LAWSON, president/CEO of Woodbine Entertainment, spoke of the opening of the inner turf course on Friday (1 race Friday, 2 on Saturday) and the autumn=launch of DARK HORSE, a new horse racing ‘app’ that is developed for new racing fans.

The best quote from the Queen’s Plate draw?

That goes to jockey Steve Bahen (rider of Desert Ride) whose wife Rachel Halden trains Pay for Peace.

“I’m sleeping with the enemy.”

Post Horse                Trainer Jockey M/L Odds

1 Desert Ride (filly)    Neil Howard Steven Bahen 8-1
2 Moon Swings          Michael De Paulo Jesse Campbell 30-1
3 Krachenwagen       Angus Buntain Jeffrey Alderson 50-1
4 Pay for Peace          Rachel Halden Rafael Hernandez 15-1
5 One Bad Boy           Richard Baltas Flavien Prat 7-2
6 Lucas n’ Lori            Kevin Attard Kazushi Kimura 50-1
7 Federal Law             Mark Casse Jamie Spencer 15-1
8 He’s a Macho Man Josie Carroll Patrick Husbands 15-1
9 Suitedconnected     Robert Earl Barnett Gary Boulanger 50-1
10 Skywire                   Mark Casse Eurico Rosa Da Silva 4-1
11 Tone Broke              Steve Asmussen Luis Contreras 6-1
12 Jammin Still           Kevin Attard Alan Garcia 30-1
13 Rising Star              Michael De Paulo Justin Stein 30-1
14 Avie’s Flatter          Josie Carroll Javier Castellano 5-2

Longshots can pop at any time. Hey, that’s why they are called longshots!

Not too many in plate history were more stunning than TJ’s Lucky Moon in 2002. This guy’s jockey will be on one of the favourites this year!



Historical Beyer Speed Figures

Don’t miss this story from earlier in the week with the historical Beyer Speed Figures and recent form of starts.

Where did the 2019 Plate starters come from?

  • From $9,000 yearling Lucas n’ Lori to $220,000 Federal Law and expensive homebreds, the Plate field

AVIE’S FLATTER – Owner and breeder Ivan Dalos from Toronto won the Sovereign Award for Outstanding Breeder at the 2018 Sovereign Awards, his first. He has raced champions and has come close to winning the Plate with AMIS GIZMO and AMI’S HOLIDAY.

This guy is his best chance and trainer Josie Carroll has been training him up to the race after two US outings on the turf.

Dalos bred his mare Avie’s Empire to the A.P. Indy stallion FLATTER to get this bay colt who has won 4 of 6 races.

DESERT RIDE – The lone filly is a Sam-Son Farms homebred by Candy Ride (ARG) from the Distorted Humor mare Fun in the Desert, whose half brother EYE OF THE LEOPARD is a Queen’s Plate winner.

FEDERAL LAW – Gelding was bred by Jim Dandy Stable of Jim Lawson and this Scat Daddy gelding from the Strong Hope mare Gravelly Bay was a $220,000 Keeneland yearling. He was also offed as a 2-year-old in training at Goffs UK in April but was bought back for $261,000.

His second dam is Outstanding Broodmare in Canada DESTROY, dam of three stakes winners and daughter of the great Canadian mare ETERNAL SEARCH.

HE’S A MACHO MAN – Longtime owner and breeder and trainer PAUL BUTTIGIEG bred this colt by Mucho Macho Man from the Lemon Drop Kid mare Amelia Go Home. Bought for $47,000 at the CTHS Ontario sale. Buttigieg bought Amelia Go Home as a yearling in 2013 in October in Kentucky for $30,000. She never raced. Her first foal was an Old Forester filly Buttigieg bought back for $12,000. He’s a Macho Man is her second foal. The DiScola Boys own this improving colt.

KRACHENWAGEN – Bred by Derek Buntain and raced by the family’s Greenoaks Farm this is an Ontario bred by Ontario sire Head Chopper from the Trajectory mare Plantana who never raced but has produced three useful sprinters.

LUCAS N’ LORI was bred by SILVER SPRINGS STUD, owned by Steve Johnson in Kentucky and Campbellford’s GARRY PARR. This gelding is from the mare HONG KONG DANCER who was 4th in the Woodbine Oaks, 14 lengths behind EYE OF THE SPHYNX, who is the granddam of DESERT RIDE!

Lucas n’ Lori cost $9,000 at the CTHS Ontario yearling sale.

HONG KONG DANCER raced for owner Peter Ho and she has had a number of foals and a couple of minor winners. She was bred to EXHI (Maria’s Mon) in  2015 and that stallion, who won the Lexington Stakes, Marine and Victoria Park Stakes has been at stud at numerous different farms. He is currently in Arkansas.

MOON SWINGS was bred by the late Bill Graham, foaled at Windhaven in Caledon East and is by maibu Moon from England swings by Kitten’s Joy. He was a $120,000 yearling at Keeneland Sept. 2017

ONE BAD BOY was bred by Ron Clarkson and is a Twirling Candy ridgling from the Stormy Atlantic mare Cumulonimble. The mare was a multiple stakes winner in Illinois bred races in Chicago and she preferred races up to 1 1/16 miles. She was bought in 2013 for $60,000 by Clarkson at the Keeneland November sale and he sold that first foal, by Majestic Warrior, for $5,500.

The mare has since produced MS BAD BEHAVIOR  – sold b Clarkson for $75,000 and now earner of $320,000 as a miler. He sold a yearling last year at the CTHS sale from this mare to Derek Chin for $90,000.

ONE BAD BOY was a $65,000 (US) Keeneland sept. yearling.

PAY FOR PEACE – Bred by trainer Brian Lynch who trained the dam Dancing Bay, a stakes placed gal owned by Dansanray Stables. Dancing Bay, by Ontario sire Sligo Bay is out of a Bold Executive mare and she has rock solid Ontario breeding. Pay for Peace, a dark bay gelding is owned by Americans Team Penney and Carem Stables and is by Ontario sire SILENT NAME (JPN).

RISING STAR was born at Bill Graham’s Windhaven along with Moon Swings, Skywire and Jammin Still. This guy’s mum, Purple Trillium, a winning daughter of turf champion mare Perfect Sting, was bought by Graham carrying Rising Star,a  son of Ghostzapper, for $100,000. Graham then sold the Ghostzapper guy for $325,000 as a yearling. Quite a score.

Rising Star was claimed for $40,000 in April.

SKYWIRE – one of four raised at Windhaven in Caledon east and he is by Afleet Alex from the Gone West mare Meandering Stream. Graham bought Meandering Stream for $260,000 from none other than SAM-SON FARMS in foal to Giant’s Causeway in 2007. He sold a handful of her foals for not much more than the $260,000. Colebrook Farms in Ontario raced a son of this mare, Conspire.

SKYWIRE was a $47,000 yearling and then bought the next year for $45,000 as a 2-year-old in training.

His 3rd dam is the great Canadian broodmare NO CLASS.

TONE BROKE – Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry (Dixie Moon, Mr. Havercamp) bred this dark bay colt from their mare MENDOCINO BEANO,a daughter of Smart Strike bred by the Fitzhenrys. Mendocino Beano was stakes placed and she is the dam of fast miler STALLION HEIRESS.

JAMMIN STILL is yet another Bill Graham creation and he was an $87,000 yearling purchase and by Take Charge Indy from Cat’s Garden by Tale of the Cat. Graham raced Cat’s Garden.

SUITEDCONNECTED is from the first crop of foals by Ontario sire ROOKIE SENSATION who stands at Adena Springs. He is from the mare KALEIDOSCOPE KERRY, owned by the late Domenic Triumbari who was stakes placed and by champion One Way Love. This is a total Ontario bred female family and this 3-year-old has several winning siblings. He is owned by Joe Triumbari.


Ontario – In addition to the Queen’s Plate, Ontario’s big track has a pile of stakes races on Saturday and Sunday.  We get to see 2017 Plate winner HOLY HELENA in the Grade 2 DANCE SMARTLY on Saturday, the amazing US turf miler SYNCHRONY in the Grade King Edward, Grade 2 winner CARIBOU CLUB in the Grade 1 HIGHLANDER and Sunday’s Grade 3 Dominion Day has champion Are You Kidding Me and the ison City Stakes will put the Woodbine Oaks 2nd and 3rd place finishers BOLD SCRIPT and SPEEDY SOUL.

British Columbia – Hastings Park offers BC 3-year-olds race Sunday in the $50,000 Chris Loseth Stakes while the fillies compete Monday in the Supernaturel Stakes.

Alberta – Four stakes races at Century Mile on Saturday, Sunday and Monday

CEO Verlik sees positives in Alberta racing rejuvenation

from – Curtis Stock

Kent Verlik used to deliver the news. Good and bad. Now, as Chief Executive Officer of Horse Racing Alberta, he’s hoping to help only make good news when it comes to horse racing in this province.

“Overall things are positive,” said Verlik, who as a youngster was a paper boy at the Edmonton Journal – rising up through the ranks to becoming a district manager, telemarketing manager and winning a contest for increasing circulation. Later in his career he became a distribution manager for Sun Media and Netmar Systems where he was responsible for all aspects of newspaper circulation which included clients like The Edmonton Examiner and This Week newspapers.

“The atmosphere is good and there is a lot of optimism. There is confidence in the industry right now. The big breeders are still there. Some of the smaller breeders who have left or are sitting on the sidelines are wondering if they should come back into the business. This is a critical year for us to show that things are turning around. Good things are going on.”

“We’ve attracted some new stables, the facilities are good and we are attracting good crowds. We are getting the people out but they aren’t betting as much as we had hoped,” said Verlik, who replaced the big shoes of Shirley McClellan.

Ajax Downs Quarter Horse Racing

Special Holiday Monday  card including the $55,500 Ontario Sires Stakes Maturity