ONTARIO BRED STATE OF HONOR in his final major Kentucky Derby prep



Below, the work of the day as seen by many was that of ALWAYS DREAMING, trained by Todd Pletcher:

More on the Kentucky Derby at end of this post.


SPORT OF QUEENS RACING starts first horses today

Fans own shares of 2 fillies













The first racing club of its kind in Thoroughbred racing in Ontario has its first starters today at Woodbine when QUEENS HONOR, the first horse purchased by the syndicate, and CALLIELIKEDHERBREW compete in maiden races.

The creation of AMANDA ROXBOROUGH and FRANCINE VILLENEUVE, both former jockeys and very accomplished horsepeople, was a huge undertaking that was hatched late in 2015. Small gatherings and some media coverage beginning in 2016 led to the first shareholders, who paid just over $400 to buy a share in the group. In the early summer, QUEENS HONOR was purchased privately from a sale in Maryland and the To Honor and Serve filly soon began training at Fort Erie with Villeneueve.

QUEENS HONOR had plenty of prepping last year as a juvenile and then went to the farm for the winter to grow and mature. She has been training at Woodbine this spring and she drew the rail post in race 6 today, a maiden allowance at 5 furlongs. Emma-Jayne Queen will ride.

Earlier in the day, ‘Callie’ who has a smaller number of owners as her shares are more expensive, races in the 2nd event.

Some 150 shareholders will be located in section 207 at Woodbine today cheering on their horses.

The SOQR club has included a monthly event for members with farm visits, backstretch, lunches at the track and  guest speakers. It has been a lot of hard work for Roxborough and Villeneuve to bring this syndicate together, a labour of love.




Friday’s card was held on a breezy day and every race but one was won by a closing runner.
One of those winners was the 3-year-old colt MALIBU SECRET, making his first start since his lone outing last summer for Sam-Son Farms and trainer Malcolm Pierce. The Queen’s Plate hopeful was unhurried in this 7 furlong maiden allowance but he rallied wide off the turn and won going away in 1:23.80, good for a 78 Beyer Speed Figure.
The son of Malibu Moon is out of the Dynaformer mare Aint No Tellin, who is a daughter of Wonder Where Stakes winner Misty Mission. The latter is dam of graded SW Irish Mission as well as this year’s Woodbine Oaks contender Mythical Mission. Eurico da Silva rode.

Race 1 was the prep for the Grade 3 Selene Stakes coming up on May 21 and in an upset, GRIZZEL (Ire), making her first strat on the Tapeta, had a nice trip and drove to a good win with an 80 Beyer Figure, 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.45. The daughter of the Danehill stallion Kodiac (GB) had won 2 five furlong grass races in England last year and she raced twice in Florida for trainer Mike Doyle. David Moran rode.
Moran would win again in race 3 on favoured MISTY SPIRIT, making her 2nd strat of the meet and 7th start of the year already. The Colonel John filly won for $10,000 against other maidens for Natural Eight Stable and Alber and Bill Thareennos trains.

Race 2 – MIDNIGHT BREW rallied from well bet under the hot riding Gary Boulanger to win for T and T Racing Team and trainer Francine Villeneuve. The filly was making her first start of the year and she won this non-winners of 2 race for $20,000 in her 9th career race. Villeneuve has 11 horses at Woodbine currently and 2 starters on Saturday are the first ones to race for the syndicate she began with Amadna Roxborough last season, Sports of Queens Racing.

Race 4 – Well, 26 races in and MOLINARO DEPUTY has won her maiden. The 5yo mare by Paullinus was making her 2nd start of the meeting and she rallied from off the pace in this 5 1/2 furlong dash, angled out wide under a heady Rafael Hernandez and drew off. Vito armata picked up his 4th win of the meeting already.

Race 5- Another hot stable is that of ‘Sir’ Laurie Silvera and his homebred IRON SHORE rode the rail from just off the pace and won this $10,00 claiming race to beat non-winners of 2 under Omar Moreno.

Race 6- 7 furlongs for fillies and mares, an optional claimigni event for $40,000 and Patrick Husbands guided WEST L.A. GIRL from last to win in her season debut for Gabe Grossberg and trainer Mark Casse. This gal is an Ontario bred by Singing Saint and it was her 3rd win in 11 races. She was bred by Devonleigh Farm.

Race 8 – Fastest race of the day by Beyer Figures was the 83 put up by BEAR’S PROFIT who got a lot of pats in the winner’s circle from trainer Denyse McClachrie and connections. Owned by Ryan Kerbel, this big 6yo rallied from far back under Husbands to grab the win at 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.73 for an 83 Beyer Figure.

Race 9 – Jockey ISMAEL MOSQUIERA got his first win of the meeting with a quiet ride on the classy 8 year old DANGER BAY, who led all the way, th elone front runner to score on the day. The Norseman racing Stable ridgling is trained by Sid Attard. The son of Stormy Atlantic had been beaten in double digits or eased in all 4 races in Florida this winter on the dirt. This was his 10th career win and 9th on synthetic.



Canadian-bred STATE OF HONOR had his ears pricked as he zipped along in his workout and this giant son of To Honor and serve carries his head high and looks happy and eager. He still has to prove he can pass horses in the stretch run.

ALWAYS DREAMING (Bodemeister) has been a handful all week, tossing his head and being quite hard to hold in his gallops. He got to zoom along this morning (not before he tossed his head and fought his way to full speed). He really moves this colt and I am not sure he gets tired. Of course 10 furlongs, Derby day, other speed – not a place to be rank early.

He’s one of 5 possible starters for trainer Todd Pletcher.

GUNNEVERA (Dialed In) , who I was thinking looked like a solid play a while back, had an average workout this morning, as one would say, workmanlike. His style and power are ideal for the Derby.

PRACTICAL JOKE (Into Mischief)  – Chad Brown has put BLINKERS on this bay colt, a fellow who has had some super races but his hanging tendencies either mean he is not comfortable with longer distances or his is racing beside his buddies. He had a strong workout in company this morning.

TAPWRIT was very strong in company with his one-eyed stablemate and Derby hopeful PATCH. Loping along outside of a determined Patch, Tapwrit (by Tapit) comes off a clunker in the Blue Grass but if you toss that effort out…

BATTALION RUNNER worked inside of a mate and was beaten to the wire and then urged on into the clubhouse turn. Not the greatest work I have ever seen.

More observations from watching works and gallops all week:



Horse             Trainer    Points      Earnings Comment

1. Practical Joke        Chad Brown 74 $966,000 – by Into Mischief,  blinkers could curb this guy’s hanging tendency is a concern, he is improving fast for Chad Brown
2. Always Dreaming Todd Pletcher 100 $589,000 – Fast improving colt won Florida Derby with ease..could be any kind, by Bodemiester
3. Gunnevera             Antonio Sano 84 $1,137,800 – Dull in the Florida Derby off huge run in the Fntn of Youth – by Dialed In

4. Classic Empire Mark Casse 132 $2,093,820 – He’s brilliant, quirky, been washy this week but Champion 2-year-old of 2016 rebounded in Ark Derby, by same sire as American Pharoah (POTN)

5. McCraken Ian Wilkes 40 $385,048 – Has looked great this week;  Was unbeaten, then had minor ailment, then lost Blue Grass behind slow pace, son of Ghostzapper
Others expected to start:

6 Girvin Joe Sharp      150 $849,800 –  Battling a Quarter crack, swimming; Unbeaten on the dirt in 3 races, by Tale of Ekati, won Louisiana Derby
7. Gormley John Shirreffs 125 $884,000 – High, choppy stride on Santa Anita Derby winner
8. Irap Doug O’Neill 113 $744,000 – Won his maiden in the Blue Grass, by Tiznow
9. Irish War Cry Graham Motion 110 $672,660 Huge move forward to win Wood Memroial impressively, but 21 length drubbing B4 by Gunnevera?
10. $ Thunder Snow (IRE) Saeed bin Suroor 100 $1,621,063 – Godolphin colt – won UAE Derby…by Helmet (AUs), a sprinter/miler

11. J Boys Echo Dale Romans 63 $305,000 – Huge outing in the Gotham,followed by flat outing in the Blue Grass (behind slow pace), son of Mineshaft
12. State of Honor Mark Casse 62 $309,564 Ontario-bred won his maiden at Woodbine at 7 furlongs, has been 2nd or 3rd in5 straight stakes races since then, by To Honor and Serve
+ Conquest Mo Money Miguel Hernandez 60 $496,000- NOT LIKELY TO RUN – GOING TO PREAKNESS
13. Tapwrit Todd Pletcher 54 $295,570 – Nice run to win Tampa Bay Derby – very slow in Blue Grass behind modest pace
14. Malagacy Todd Pletcher 50 $570,000 – by Shackleford, speedster not certain to run
14. Hence Steve Asmussen 50 $481,129 – He is a big, handsome colt who has looked great; by Street Boss, won Sunland Derby, Steve Asmussen trains..improving colt
15. (must be supp.) $$ Fast and Accurate Mike Maker 50 $320,712 – Longshot winner of Spiral in slow time, son of Hansen
16. Battle of Midway Jerry Hollendorfer 40 $224,000 – Broiled in mad pace battle in the Santa Anita Derby, son of Smart Strike
17. Patch Todd Pletcher 40 $200,000 – by Union Rags but a winner of a maiden race in 3 starts, 2nd in La. Derby
18. Battalion Runner Todd Pletcher 40 $140,000 – speedy colt is light on racing but big on ‘numbers’ and he’s by Unbridled’s Song from a Tapit mare
20. Cloud Computing Chad Brown 40 $115,000 – not likely to run

19. Untrapped Steve Asmussen 34 $210,000 – by sprinter Trappe Shot, distance is not for hi,
20. Lookin At Lee Steve Asmussen 32 $428,600 – by Lookin at Lucky and he is always closing. Luis Contreras rode him when 3rd in Ark Derby
21. Sonneteer Keith Desormeaux 30 $236,000
22. Royal Mo John Shirreffs 30 $213,000
23. Local Hero Steve Asmussen 30 $140,000


The KENTUCKY OAKS is on Friday, the day before the Derby and horses making a good impression this week include LOCKDOWN and FARRELL.(Malibu Moon). The latter has won 4 straight races and is the likely favourite.

The exciting Union Rags filly PARADISE WOODS is expected at Churchill Downs today.

14 fillies can start.

Friday morning I liked the look of WICKED LICK (McLean’s Music) who had a solid workout in company.


Rank Horse Points   Owner(s) Trainer          Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Farrell                     170 Coffeepot Stables (Bob Cummings & Annette Bacola) Wayne Catalano $573,407
2. Miss Sky Warrior 160 Arlene’s Sun Star Stable (Arlene London) Kelly Breen $592,840
3. Ever So Clever      106 Clearview Stable (Bernard Cleary) Steve Asmussen $312,750
4. Sailor’s Valentine 100 Semaphore Racing LLC (Dana E. Haugli) & Homewrecker Racing LLC (Ricki & Ron Rashinski) Eddie Kenneally $307,014
5. Paradise Woods 100 Steven Sarkowsky & Martin J. & Pam Wygod Richard Mandella $240,000
6. $$-Salty 100 Gary Barber, Baccari Racing Stable LLC (Chris Baccari) & Chester Prince Mark Casse $150,350
7. Abel Tasman 70 Clearsky Farms (Bernard & Eamonn Cleary) Bob Baffert $280,000
8. Daddys Lil Darling 60 Normandy Farm (Nancy K. Polk) Kenny McPeek $439,240
9. Tequilita 50 Dorothy Alexander Matz Michael Matz $227,540
10. Lockdown 50 Juddmonte Farms Inc. (Prince Khalid Abdullah) Bill Mott $120,000 (Career: $168,000)

11. Wicked Lick 49 Lee Mauberret Brendan Walsh $118,428
12. Vexatious 40 Calumet Farm (Brad Kelley) Neil Drysdale $80,000
13. Jordan’s Henny 40 E. Ervine Woolsey & Ralph Kinder Mike Tomlinson $66,410 Gulliver Racing (Phil Bongiovanni), Robin Christensen, Dan Legan
& Sharon Alesia Peter Eurton $1,298,000
14. Someday Soon 20 Tommy G. Ligon Will VanMeter $52,667

15. Mopotism 16 Reddam Racing LLC (J. Paul Reddam) Doug O’Neill $145,000
Shane’s Girlfriend 12 ERJ Racing LLC (Erik Johnson), W. C. Racing (Josh Kaplan
& Glenn Sorgenstein) & Dennis O’Neill
Doug O’Neill $268,000
16. Torrent 12 Westrock Stables LLC (Scott & Joe Ford) Ron Moquett $52,500
— Tapped 11 LNJ Foxwoods (Larry, Nanci & Jaime Roth) Jerry Hollendorfer $68,000
17. Summer Luck 11 Gary Barber Mark Casse $52,700