A parade of colour – photo courtesy of JULIE WRIGHT



















Small fields continue, race added to Sunday’s card on Friday morning

Horse population at WOODBINE  (and other tracks throughout North America) continues to be low, partly due to tough training conditions in southern Ontario leading to continued small field sizes for days 3 and 4. There are still 10 races each day 10 races Saturday and 11 on Sunday (Friday morning a race was added to the Sunday card) but not many more than 7 or 8 horses per race.

Woodbine is doing better than HASTINGS PARK in Vancouver where tomorrow’s scheduled racing was canceled due to lack of entries –  it’s the 3rd day of the meeting.

RE-MATCH SET FOR SATURDAY – .Jockey Gary Boulanger guides Moonlit Promise to victory in the $175,000 dollar Bessarabian Stakes for owners Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings Inc. and first time stakes winner Windsor Boys Racing and trainer Josie Carroll. michael burns photo

That isn’t to say there are not some good races this weekend – the Grade 3 Whimsical for older mares at 6 furlongs, is a neat race with Sovereign Award finalist 2017 MOONLIT PROMISE hoping to get back to her good form with her return to synthetic dirt.

Owned in part by breeder John Sikura (who will be inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame this year), MOONLIT PROMISE finished 4th in the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie in her season debut at Gulfstream after a wide trip.

She was well bet in the Mar. 17 Inside Information Stakes there but after showing speed, she stopped badly.

Moonlit Promise is listed at 2 to 1 for the Whimsical but a case could be made for playing against her based on her current form. Two horses in the field have won stakes race this year – SKY FLOWER, shipping in for trainer Gerry Brooks won the Latonia Stakes at Turfway in her most recent start and is 6 for 8 on synthetic tracks.

JUST BE KIND won the Minaret at Tampa Bay Downs on dirt and was recently 4th in the Inside Information, ahead of Moonlit for trainer Reade Baker. Toss in SCOTTY’S MODEL, who did not do much at Oaklawn this winter for trainer Norm McKnight but almost beat Moonlit Promise last year, and it’s an interesting betting race.

Three entrants, Sugar Jones, Scotty’s Model and Silent Sonet are Ontario-bred and Ontario-sired.

Saturday, Woodbine, post time: 4:59 p.m. EDT
WHIMSICAL S.-GIII, C$125,000, 4yo/up, f/m, 6f (AWT)

1 Jessica Krupnick    Uncle Mo Sycamore Racing V Abbott, III Boyce 20-1
2 Sky Flower              Flower Alley Ronald Clark Brooks Dominguez 15-1
3 Just Be Kind           Sky Mesa Jus Luk Stable, Richard Mah & Reade Baker Racing Baker Garcia 8-1
Stable, Inc.
4 Sugar Jones            Old Forester Theodore F. Burnett Mattine Moran 20-1
5 Let It Ride Mom     Into Mischief Live Oak Plantation Casse Husbands 6-1
6 Scotty’s Model         Mr. Scotty Bruno Schickedanz McKnight Hernandez 5-2
7 Silent Sonet            Silent Name (Jpn) Ivan Dalos Gonzalez Contreras 7-2
8 Moonlit Promise  Malibu Moon Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings, Inc. & Windsor Boys Carroll Boulanger 2-1

Breeders: 1-Sanford R. Robertson, 2-Candy Meadows LLC, 3-John C. Oxley, 4-Hope Stock Farm, 5-Tim Thornton, Robert Watt, Doug Glass & Greg Foley, 6-Bruno Schickedanz, 7-Tall Oaks Farm, 8-Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings, Inc

On SUNDAY, just 6 Canadian-bred fillies were entered in the 7 furlong Fury Stakes, an early ‘prep’ dash for the Woodbine Oaks.

This race has lured Sovereign award finalist SUMMER SUNDAY who was unbeaten in all 3 races last year but bombed in her sophomore debut on the dirt at Keeneland. Also in the field is stakes winner GLAMANATION, owned and trained by Mike Doyle and first-time starter LUVUTOTHEMOONNBACK, a $300,000 Malibu Moon Ontario-bred owned by Tommy Town Thoroughbreds.

Her trainer Mark Casse has won 4 stakes races with firsters in the last 5 years from 19 starters.



Canadian-breds Flameaway and Wonder Gadot try Derby and Oaks next week

FLAMEAWAY, bred by BC’s Deb Holmes, is a gritty and sassy fellow. He is derby bound – AMBER CHALFIN PHOTO/horse-races.net

FLAMEAWAY will try to become the 3rd Canadian bred to win the Kentucky Derby while WONDER GADOT the 2nd Kentucky Oaks winner foaled in this country. The latter seems to have a slightly better chance at success than the former but both will be in big fields in front of huge crowds so anything goes. FLAMEAWAY, who frolicked as a foal with his buddy SILENT STING (who won the Queenston Stakes last weekend) was bred by Deb Holmes and he is owned by John Oxley. WONDER GADOT is owned by Gary barber and was bred by Anderson farms.

Wonder Gadot  had a workout Friday morning, a half-mile on her own in :48.20 with exercise rider Froylan Garcia aboard for trainer Mark Casse.

Fractions for the work, which was the 14th fastest of 75 at the distance, were :13.20, :25, :37, :48.20 and out five furlongs in 1:01.20.

“She did it well within herself and galloped out well,” said Nick Tomlinson, who is overseeing the Churchill Downs string for Casse. “(Assistant) David (Carroll) and his crew did an amazing job with her (this winter at Fair Grounds). It makes our job easier.

Wonder Gadot initially was slated to work Saturday, the same day as Derby stablemate Flameaway.

“I talked with Mark last night and he said to just go ahead and go today,” Tomlinson said. “That would be seven days out (from the Oaks) and make it easier on Saturday.”

Canadian-breds in KENTUCKY DERBY (Since 1966, plus Northern Dancer ): 13 2-1-0

State of Honor 2017 19th

Danzig Moon 2015 5th

We Miss Artie 2014 10th

Victory Gallop 1998 2nd

Knockadoon 1995 7th

Talkin Man 1995 12th

Regal Classic 1988 5th

Granacus 1988 11th

Sunny’s Halo 1983 1st

Giboulee 1977 7th

George Lewis 1970 14th

Fleet Allied 1969 7th

Northern Dancer 1964 1st



Two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher put his 2018 Run for the Roses arsenal on full display Friday morning at Churchill Downs under a cloudless sky with four workers.

Three Pletcher workers were on the track during the special 7:30-7:45 training period for Derby and Kentucky Oaks horses. Audible (Javier Castellano up) worked a half-mile in :49.40; Magnum Moon (Nick Bush up) worked a half-mile in :47.40 and Vino Rosso (John Velazquez up) worked a half-mile in :47.20.

At 9 o’clock, Noble Indy (Florent Geroux up) worked five furlongs in 1:01.60.

KENTUCKY DERBY ENTRANTS – here is a handsome fellow – LONE SAILOR, a son of Majestic Warrior STEVE QUEEN PHOTO/horse-races.net

Also working toward next Saturday’s $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) was Lone Sailor for trainer Tom Amoss. With jockey James Graham aboard, Lone Sailor worked a half-mile in :48.


Derby horses scheduled to work here Saturday are Good Magic, Flameaway, My Boy Jack, Free Drop Billy and Promises Fulfilled.

At Santa Anita Friday morning, undefeated Justify worked seven furlongs in 1:25.20 for trainer Bob Baffert.

Three Oaks hopefuls worked five furlongs: Chocolate Martini a bullet :58.80 with James Graham aboard, Coach Rocks (1:00.20 with Tammy Fox up) and Heavenhasmynikki (1:01 in company with Jake Radosevich aboard). Working a half-mile were Wonder Gadot (:48.20 with Froylan Garcia up), Patrona Margarita (:50.80 with Simon Camacho up) and Classy Act (:47.40 with Brian Hernandez Jr. up).

Oaks hopefuls scheduled to work here Saturday are Monomoy Girl, Sassy Sienna, Blamed and Kelly’s Humor.

AUDIBLE/MAGNUM MOON/NOBLE INDY/VINO ROSSO – Two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher put his four-horse Derby contingent through their final works over a fast track for next Saturday’s race.

First up was Lawana and Robert Low’s undefeated Magnum Moon. With Nick Bush aboard and working in company with Maraud, a graded-stakes winner of the grass, Magnum Moon worked a half-mile in :47.40, the fourth fastest of 75 at the distance.

Churchill Downs clockers caught Magnum Moon in splits of :12.40, :23.80, :36, :47.40 with a five-eighths gallop out in 1:00.40 and 1:13.80 for six furlongs.

“I’m lovin’ it, just like McDonald’s,” said Bush, who was the exercise rider for Derby winner Always Dreaming last year.

Next up was Audible with jockey Javier Castellano up. Owned by China Horse Club International, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing and WinStar Farm, Audible covered a half-mile in :49.40 in company with National Flag, winner of the Bay Shore (GIII).

Fractions on the move were :12.20, :24.20, :37.40, :49.40 and out five furlongs in 1:02 and three-quarters in 1:14.60. The half-mile was the 39th fastest of the morning.

Third in the order was Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable‘s Vino Rosso with jockey John Velazquez up. Working in company with the 4-year-old stakes winner Outplay, Vino Rosso worked a half-mile in :47.20, the fastest of 75 at the distance.

Fractions for the work were :11.40, :23.40, :35.40, :47.20 and out five furlongs in 1:00.40 and six furlongs in 1:13.40.

At 9 o’clock, WinStar Farm and Repole Stable’s Noble Indy worked five furlongs in 1:01.60 with jockey Florent Geroux aboard. Working in company with maiden winner Regal Quality, Noble Indy posted fractions of :13.20, :25.60, :37.40, :49.60, 1:01.60 and out six furlongs in 1:14.60. The five-eighths move was the 24th fastest of 43 at the distance.

“This was an important day and we got perfect conditions. All four handled the surface well,” Pletcher said. “Sometimes you come in and worry that they won’t like the track, but they all got over it well.

“Magnum Moon was very good and had good energy. He galloped out strong and I was very happy with him.

“Audible was very good. Javier was happy with him.

“Vino Rosso was good and Johnny was happy with him. All three of those were similar with Magnum Moon and Vino Rosso quicker and Audible a good gallop out.

“Noble Indy showed good energy and Florent got along well with him.”

Pletcher said the plan is for Geroux to ride Noble Indy in the Derby. Pletcher’s other jockey is Luis Saez for Magnum Moon.



A lot of Kentucky Derby buzz each year involves the APOLLO CURSE – the remarkable record that no horse that did not race as a 2-year-old has won the Kentucky Derby since Apollo did it in 1882.

That is one long trend but one that some believe could come to an end this year. JUSTIFY and MAGNUM MOON are unbeaten, impressive 3-year-olds who will be in the 20 horse field next Saturday and either one could be good enough to win.

But it the experience of racing and the crowds when we talk about the Apollo curse, it’s real. Sure, horses have run very well in the Derby even if they did just begin their career – BODEMEISTER was 2nd a few years ago before he went on to big things.

Since horses are raced less these days, it seems likely that one day, a horse that was unraced as a juvenile will win the Derby, even if it is 10 furlongs on the first Saturday in May, a tall order.

As for APOLLO, he upset a big favourite in the 1882 Derby. Here is some bio stuff:

Apollo made his first three starts as a three-year-old in April 1882 in New Orleans. He finished second in his first start on April 11 in the Pickwick Stakes, run at a distance of ​1 1⁄4 miles. He then finished second in a couple of one-mile heats a week later. On April 26, he broke his maiden in the Cottrill Stakes over a distance of ​1 1⁄2 miles.[2]

On May 16, Apollo entered the 1882 Kentucky Derby, then run at a distance of ​1 1⁄2 miles, as part of a field of fourteen. The 4-5 favorite was Runnymede, a multiple stakes winner, while Apollo was grouped with two other horses as a field entry at 10-1. Apollo broke near the back of the pack but worked his way up to sixth after a mile. Runnymede was in third, positioned on the outside to avoid traffic. Turning into the stretch, Runnymede made his move and took the lead in deep stretch, looking the likely winner. However, Apollo closed with a “cyclonic rush” and caught up in the final strides, winning by half a length.

The two horses met up again just six days later in the Clark Stakes, with Runnymede winning “in a canter” while Apollo finished third. Runnymede and Belmont Stakes winner Forester were retroactively acknowledged as the co-champion three-year-olds of 1882. Apollo had a solid season himself, winning a total of ten races from 21 starts and only finishing out of the money once. In addition to the Derby and his maiden win in the Cottrill Stakes, he also won the Coal, St. Leger, Drummers and Montgomery Stakes.

As a four-year-old in 1883, Apollo started 30 times, winning fourteen of them, including the Merchant Stakes. He also finished second seven times and had six third-place finishes. In September alone, he won seven consecutive races.

Read more here.



Magnum Moon … 150 … $1,140,000
Good Magic … 134 … $1,838,400
Audible … 110 … $803,520
Noble Indy … 110 … $640,000
Vino Rosso … 107 … $572,500
Bolt d’Oro … 104 … $980,000
Enticed … 103 … $545,880
Mendelssohn … 100 … $1,947,299
Justify … 100 … $600,000
Flameaway … 70 … $672,260
Solomini … 54 … $716,000
Bravazo … 54 … $359,913
My Boy Jack … 52 … $622,000
Promises Fulfilled … 52 …$256,480
Free Drop Billy … 44 … $597,200
Lone Sailor … 42 … $273,347
Hofburg … 40 … $320,000
Firenze Fire … 39 … $647,500
Combatant … 32 … $350,000
Instilled Regard … 29 … $246,000
AE – Blended Citizen … 22 … $129,644



Going into the last day of the April 2-year-old sale, the average price is up 8%.

Canadian JOHN GUNTHER and his daughter Tanya, who are on a wild ride as breeders of Derby hopefuls VINO ROSSI and JUSTIFY and exciting European 3yo WITHOUT PAROLE (who they still own), sold the sales topper from day 1, a Quality Road filly from Betty Brite. Gunther told THOROUGHBLOG he actually did not want to sell the filly that he owned half of, so he bid up to $775,000 to buy her for himself.

“I didn’t want to see her but once the $800,000 bid came, I said, ‘that’s it'”.



59 out             2/15/2016 C Majesticperfection Awesome Lass ON Southern Chase Farm, Inc. (Greg & Karen Dodd), Agent 7
201 NOT SOLD   14,000 10.3 2/26/2016 F Data Link Clare’s Bernardine ON Grassroots Training & Sales LLC, Agent III J
203 NOT SOLD   50,000 10.3 Y 4/28/2016 F Miss Verrazano Verrazano Classira (IRE) ON Ends Well, Agent III 18
254 NOT SOLD   92,000 10.1 2/1/2016 F Emtadaa Pioneerof the Nile Dattt Echo ON TIP Thoroughbred Investment Possibilities, Agent II 19
415 $150,000 TMC   10.0 3/30/2016 C Will Take Charge Golden Mean ON King’s Equine, Agent XIV 2
472 $85,000 MICHAEL LAY  10.1 5/7/2016 C Fed Biz Higher World ON Wavertree Stables, Inc. (Ciaran Dunne), Agent XXXI 5
524 NOT SOLD 12,000  10.2 1/16/2016 F Overanalyze Johns Lady Friend ON Flying Fish, Agent V E
528 out 3/27/2016 F To Honor and Serve J’s Hot Shot Lady ON James Layden, Agent 1
766 $70,000 M Kato 10.0 3/24/2016 C The Factor Omi Diamond ON Randy Miles, Agent 18
809 $185,000   21.3 5/10/2016 F Malibu Moon Pink Palace ON Top Line Sales LLC, Agent XXV 14
1090 NOT SOLD 30,000  21.3 3/1/2016 F Strong Mandate Sweetstart ON Winners Circle Thoroughbreds LLC 15
1130 35,000  10.1 2/21/2016 F Atreides Toula ON Hemingway Racing and Training Stables LLC, Agent III 16
1145 NOT SOLD 10.1 2/19/2016 F Unxpected Behavior Flat Out Tweetie Pie ON Paul Sharp, Agent IV