DESERT ENCOUNTER is a 7-time winner overseas and a rugged gelding – MICHAEL BURNS PHOTO

EP Taylor & Nearctic on Woodbine’s big day

The cooler weather is here, the leaves are tumbling off the trees, and Woodbine’s last big day of racing for the year is this Saturday with the 81st Canadian International (sponsored by Pattison). It is the race that was once held at Long Branch racetrack down by the bottom of the 427 highway. It was on the dirt too.

It became a a turf race in 1958 and a truly International event when the legendary SECRETARIAT won it in the dark and the rain in 1973. He earned just over $92,000 for the victory.

An influx of major grass races and the Breeders’ Cup has hurt the race a bit in the last 20 years but it is still a favourite event on the calendar. Plus, the E.P. Taylor is just as prestigious and the Nearctic adds more spice to the day.

The turf should be firm as it has been windy and cool in the last 24 hours so horses such as KHAN are going to find the going not to his liking.

The top contenders are THUNDERING BLUE,  SPRING QUALITY, JOHNNY BEAR and DESERT ENCOUNTER but US trainer Chad Brown has sent a pair – front runner Funtastic and improving Focus Group.

Good betting race. Selections for the day will be up on Thoroughblog later today.

81st Canadian International (G1). All horses will carry 126 pounds except 3-year-old colt Bandua who carries 121. The International goes off at 5:41pm ET as the 9th race on Sunday, and will be shown live on TSN3 in Canada from 5:00-6:00pm. 

Post Horse Trainer Jockey Odds

1 Markitoff Michael J. Maker Irad Ortiz Jr. 20-1
2 Thundering Blue David Menuisier Fran Berry 2-1
3 Khan Hank Grewe Clement Lecoeuvre 10-1
4 Funtastic Chad C. Brown John Velazquez 8-1
5 Tiz a Slam Roger L. Attfield Steve Bahen 20-1
6 Spring Quality H. Graham Motion Edgar Prado 4-1
7 English Illusion Sylvain Pion Rafael Hernandez 15-1
8 Bandua Jack Sisterson Adam Beschizza 20-1
9 Johnny Bear Ashlee Brnjas Luis Contreras 8-1
10 Desert Encounter David Simcock Andrea Atzeni 6-1
11 Focus Group Chad Brown Jose Ortiz 10-1



Sky Racing Hosts Climbing Everest Charity Challenge Charity around $9 million (Can) Everest richest turf race in the world (1:15 a.m.)

Participating in Sky World Racing’s Climbing Everest promotion for a chance to win a $5,000 (USD) donation to a charity of his choice, Woodbine track announcer Robert Geller will be represented by Vega Magic. The six year old chestnut gelding will be leaving from Gate 7 in the $13 million (AUD) TAB Everest in Sydney, Australia at Royal Randwick on Saturday (October 14 at 1:15am EST).

To celebrate the world’s richest race on turf, Sky Racing World has invited popular North American industry identities to participate in Climbing Everest. The participants of the promotion drew gate numbers earlier this week and the gate positions have been assigned to horses for the TAB Everest at Royal Randwick racecourse. The participant who has the winning TAB Everest horse leave from their gate will receive the $5,000 (US) donation to their charity of choice courtesy of Sky Racing World.

Geller will be cheering on Vega Magic and hoping to earn the donation for Longrun Thoroughbred Retirement Society. Vega Magic is a dual Group 1 winner, who finished second in the inaugural running of the race last year.

More Everest notes: VEGA Magic may make a bold bid to lead throughout in the $13 million The TAB Everest (1200m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

No. Horse Barrier no. Trainer Jockey Weight

Post time 1:15 a.m.  – available on, HPI

1 Redzel 1 Peter & Paul Snowden Kerrin McEvoy 58.5kg
2 Santa Ana Lane 9 Anthony Freedman Ben Melham 58.5kg
3 Le Romain 11 Kris Lees Glyn Schofield 58.5kg
4 Trapeze Artist 6 Gerald Ryan Tye Angland 58.5kg
5 Vega Magic 7 D&B Hayes & T Dabernig Damien Oliver 58.5kg
6 Brave Smash 4 Darren Weir Hugh Bowman 58.5kg
7 Home of the Brave Scratched James Cummings N/A 58.5kg
8 US Navy Flag 3 Aidan O’Brien Ryan Brown 58kg
9 In Her Time 8 Kris Lees Corey Brown 56.5kg
10 Shoals 2 Anthony Freedman Tim Clark 56.5kg
11 Viddora 12 Lloyd Kennewell Joe Bowditch 56.5kg
12 Graff 10 Kris Lees Brenton Avdulla 53kg
17 Osborne Bulls 5 James Cummings Tommy Berry 58.5kg
13 Cleary Innocent N/A Kris Lees N/A 58.5kg
14 Dothraki N/A Peter & Paul Snowden N/A 58.5kg
15 Jungle Edge N/A Mick Bell N/A 58.5kg
16 Pierata N/A Gregory Hickman N/A 58.5kg
18 Spright N/A Garry Frazer N/A 56.5kg



Friday morning’s wild run by Canadian-bred SERGEI PROKOFIEV at Newmarket in a GROUP 3 race has trainer Aidan O’Brien thinking Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf…

David Anderson bred the Scat Daddy – Orchard Beach colt and sold him for $1.1 million at auction last year. Read more about the colt here.



Woodbine’s race times, in particular for turf races, have been disputed, incorrect and simply a mess for more than a year but this week’s news that a GPS system is being employed means no more head scratching for handicappers.

Equibase Company has installed a global positioning satellite (GPS) system at Woodbine Racetrack, Golden Gate Fields, Laurel Park and Pimlico, and has been named the official timer at these tracks, it was announced today. Equibase’s GPS technology partner, Total Performance Data, is based in the United Kingdom and has more than a dozen tracking systems deployed there.

“Since the earliest days of the company, Equibase has sought a viable system of collecting data through automated tracking,” said Jason Wilson, president and chief operating officer for Equibase. “We are excited to be making substantial progress in this area and pleased to have partnered with both Woodbine and The Stronach Group.”

“We have been using GPS timing since the beginning of July and have been pleased with not only its performance but the flexibility it offers,” said Jonathan Zammit, vice president of Thoroughbred Racing Operations for Woodbine. “We are also keen to explore future capabilities of the system.”

The benefits of GPS, in addition to timing, include the ability to provide comprehensive data for each runner during the entire running of the race, which can be used to drive on-screen graphics as well as positions and margins for charts. In addition, GPS has great promise to track workouts, which would add race-like accuracy to those morning preps.

Plans call for Equibase to expand the number of installations over the next 12 months



Bill Finley updates today…

Op/Ed: In Belinda Vs. Frank, I’m Rooting for Horse Racing