AND WELCOME BACK TO WOODBINE!.. Sunday’s news, the first 2 days of Woodbine, notes and photos, and ESKENDEREYA and his big Wood Memorial Beyer Figure, a kentucky Derby fave!


GRAZETTES LANDING (yellow cap, white bridle) storms to the front in the Debut Stakes on Good Friday to kick off Woodbine for 2010.


DON’S FOLLY, far left, was a closing 2nd. photo





What incredible weather Toronto had for the first couple of days of racing for 2010. It’s a long year of racing

– 167 days (hooray!) so the competition will get tougher to handicap but favourite players had a fun day on

Good friday.

The Daily Double was won by two heavy chalks – both inavders from parts south and both trained, owned and

ridden by Americans.

“It’s a special thing,” said Jesus Castanon when asked about winning the first race of the meeting. Castanon

was in town just for yesterday and had ridden at Woodbine last summer on one occasion.

He said the Polytrack was ‘lovely’ after he got home NEVERRGUWITHRICHIE to win the maiden allowance opener.

The DEBUT STAKES continued a roll for last year’s Sovereign award winning owner and breeder EUGENE MELNYK. HIs homebred GRAZETTES LANDING, who had racked up some huge Beyer Figures last year before bombing in one Florida outing, darted to the lead in the stretch while well off the rail to win for trainer Mark Casse. Neither Melnyk  nor Casse were in town.

Grazettes Landing ran 5 furlongs in 56.99, 2/5 off the track record. He’s by  Paynes Bay (who stands at Norse

Ridge Farm in King) and out of the Alydeed mare Grazette. The 5yo dark bay had a closing Don’s Folly behind him in 2nd (Tethra) and longshot PASO DOBLE (Bold n Flashy) was third.

Big disappointments in the race were DRUNKEN LOVE and STUCK IN TRAFFIC, who did not have the speed to keep up.

Melnyk’s other winner was the undefeated horse CLIFF COTTAGE, who is 3 for 3 now, thanks to a starter allowance

win yesterday at 7 furlongs under Corey Fraser. Cliff Cottage is a half-brother to this year’s Barbados Gold

Cup winner STERWINS.

The DAILY DOUBLE was won by American trainers LARRY RIVELLI and STEVE ASMUSSEN and the latter won 2 races on the card.

On SATURDAY, the prep for the WOODSTOCK STAKES was fully expected to be a match between graded stakes winner WESTERN SMOKE and the Jim Hatchett trainee from Florida WILDCAT FRANKIE.

It didn’t turn out that way. Frankie sped to a clear lead and appeared to be comfortable and on his way to a win while Western Smoke didn’t seem to be too happy with the chasing style. Meanwhile, Ontario bred FASTIN BEAR was outrun early but then mowed down Frankie in the stretch while racing on the wrong lead to win for bear Stables and trainer Reade Baker. It was one of 2 wins for jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva on the card.

Fastin Bear won the Simcoe Stakes last year and the Forest Camp – Regal n’ Bold, Bold Executive colt is now 3 for 4  in his career. George Farr bred the colt.

Trainers quick off the mark in getting their first wins included Paul Attard, who had John and Marilyn Hillier’s BEAR LAHANINA ready to win the first race for $60,000 claiming; ROBERT TILLER sent out his own SELECTIVE HEARING, whom he owns with assistant Tom Lottridge to win a maiden allowance and that one is a Trajectory gelding bred by Gardiner Farms and the Pakulski family; MIKE DEPAULO won the 4th, a maiden allowance for ONtario sired fillies with Frank Romano’s MISS REGINELLA, a Bold Executive gal bred by Paul Buttigieg; MIKE DOYLE sent out SANS SOUSI, a stakes winner, to win an allowance race for her 3rd win in 21 races. She’s a Bold Exeuctive gal owned by Doyle and Eaton Hall Farm.

And GREG DE GANNES saddled his first winner of the meeting for new client BRUNO SCHICKEDANZ when WOULD IF I COULD strolled away to a big win in the finale for $10,000 claimers.

Oh, and American trainers STEVE ASMUSSEN, WESLEY WARD and MIKE PINO won 4 of the 10 races with the former winning another pair to go to 4 after 2 days.

Other notes:

*Four no. 1 horses won on the 10 opening race card but the races were essentially all short (one seven furlong race) and the track seemed to play fairly on day one.

Perhaps there was more to an outside flow on day 2 as a lot of outsid cloers were doing well.

*The newly organized graphics on the Woodbine in-house tv show are pretty good – the odds across the top of the screen instead of the traditional – on the left side is decent. There seems to be a lot more going on on the screen however, with a large round logo for NTRA or something on the right hand bottom corner that takes away from what we want to watch. Less is more gang….let’s get all those logos off there or make them a lot smaller.

Better news is that the odds are available on top of the numbers during the running of the race, nice touch, but the little graphic of the racetrack beside it is clutter.

*A sizable chunk of apron and the old ‘clubhouse side’ seating is blocked off as contstruction gets underway

for the escalators and new slots area. There is still a lot of track apron and seating from the finish line and

up to the top of the stretch almost.

If The Queen comes, however, the Royal Box is essentially smack-beside a big way that cuts off the people from the construction.

*Opening day wagering of $2.1 million was a bit on the low side considering the holiday and the gorgeous

weather. Wagering yesterday was just $1.6 million.

*After years of trying to get the track to change the program pages to read  “Probable Favourites” at the

bottom of each race (the order of probable favourites according to the morning line), the simulcast channel

puts up the Morning Line Selections before each race in the same list as newspapers and selectors. They are not selections!!

*Re: RACING IN THE PAPERS – Well, you probably know by now that race results, in chart form, will no longer be printed in the TORONTO STAR, for thoroughbreds or standardbreds – it’s all on the web now and that’s the way it

is.Charts of races are ‘space eaters’and they can be accessed, and read, easier on-line.

*Incredibly, the Toronto Star, Globe & Mail, National Post and Daily Racing Form did opening day features on the Same subject – apprentice rider Omar Moreno, who didn’t do much on opening day.

Last year all the pre-season stories were on jockey Todd Kabel.

*new agent STEVE ROBERTS had a winner on the opening day card when his jock DAVID CLARK won the 4th race on Sam

DiPasquale and Mike Kowalski’s KAHLUA ON THE ROCKS.’

*GEORGIA SONG was a 7 to 1 winner of race 7 and it was her first arce in more than 1 1/2 years. The

Songandaprayer filly is Florida bred conditioend by Josie Carroll.

*Champion VAN LEAR ROSE has been retired and will be bred this spring. She is owned by Kingview Farms.

Kingfield’s JAMBALAYA is expected to be back racing this season.


GEORGIA SONG, by Songandaprayer, came off a 1 1/2 year layoff to win on opening day for trainer Josie Carroll. Norm Files photo











 BETTY JO WILLIAMS, is one of several 10 pound bug riders at Woodbine. The Orangeville native worked for Mark Casse during the winter, won 4 races at Mountaineer last year and rode SIR HEART THROB to a 2nd place finisher on opening day. Her agent is David O’Connor.

Norm Files photo





If opening day at Woodbine Friday is any indication, the local horsemen had better be ready for some tough


The 167-day racing season opened with a pair of American trainers taking the daily double and another – Steve

Asmussen – winning two of the 10 races.–american-invaders-steal-show-at-woodbine



Horses losing betting battle

Internet gambling, slots are slicing into racing’s share of bettors’ spending

By BILL LANKHOF, Toronto Sun

In many fashions the scene today is as idyllic as that portrayed in antiquarian prints of 151 years ago when

horse racing first came to a backwoods city track that has evolved into Woodbine.

This week, as the backstretch awoke for Friday’s opening of the thoroughbred card, the frost still lies like

lace on straggling evergreens that line a training track, horses’ hooves echo with a rhythmic thud-a-thud, like

the sound of an orchestra of beating hearts.

Minutes from the choke of rush-hour traffic, birds sing, and walking through row on row of barns, home to

almost 2,000 horses, there is the sweet blend of hay, manure and honeysuckle in the morning — the essence of

country perfume.


(below) SARAH K ANDREW captures the Kentucky Derby fave.apr4esk1.jpg

Sporting front bandages for the first time, the floppy eared colt ESKENDEREYA, by Giant’s Causeway, romped in the WOOD MEMORIAL even with his rider John Velazquez moving all around to look behind him as they pulled away by more than 9 lengths.

The colt, owned by Zyat Stable, bred by Sanford Robertson, is a big fave for te KENTUCKY DERBY now, no questions.

Pletcher, who is 0 for 24 in the Derby, has a bunch of other contenders but this one is the real deal. Apparently the track surface at Aqueduct had burned the heel of another of his runners earlier in the card to he put vet wraps on the front legs of Eskendereya and two other stakes starters.

It was comical, meanwhile, to watch AWESOME ACT being guzzled and wrangled hard by Julien Leparoux early in the Wood. The Gotham winner was well off the slow pace and it was easy to see the method to the madness but geez, people are betting on these horses.

AWESOME ACT deserves a look come Derby time.


(printed also in Thoroughbred Daily News)

Year Starter Finish

2000 Impeachment (Deputy Minister) 3rd

More Than Ready (Southern Halo) 4th

Trippi (End Sweep) 11th

Graeme Hall (Dehere) Eased

2001 Invisible Ink (Thunder Gulch) 2nd

Balto Star (Glitterman) 14th

2002 Wild Horses (Saint Ballado) 18th

2004 Limehouse (Grand Slam) 4th

Pollard’s Vision (Carson City) 17th

2005 Flower Alley (Distorted Humor) 9th

Coin Silver (Anees) 12th

Bandini (Fusaichi Pegasus) 19th

2006 Bluegrass Cat (Storm Cat) 2nd

Keyed Entry (Honour and Glory) 20th

2007 Circular Quay (Thunder Gulch) 6th

Any Given Saturday (Distorted Humor) 8th

Sam P. (Cat Thief) 9th

Scat Daddy (Johannesburg) 18th

Cowtown Cat (Distorted Humor) 20th

2008 Cowboy Cal (Giant’s Causeway) 9th

Monba (Maria’s Mon) 20th

2009 Join in the Dance (Sky Mesa) 7th

Dunkirk (Unbridled’s Song) 11th

Advice (Chapel Royal) 13th


It was a walk in the park for SIDNEY’S CANDY, by Candy Ride (Arg) as he led all the way to win the rich Santa Anita Derby for Jenny Craig. But that was not the story of the race.

The story was the preposterous trip that favoured LOOKIN AT LUCKY (Smart Strike) had in the race and his noble 3rd place finish after trouble.

Lookin at Lucky was going to be in trouble off the slow pace anyway but he was sideswiped on the turn and brushed the rail and lost many lengths.

Later jockey Garret Gomez and the rider of a fading Who’s Up, Victor Espinoza, got into a kerfuffle, Gomze taking a swing at Espinoza at the scales and then pushing and shoving each other.

Sidney’s Candy, who had a 95 Beyer Figure coming into the Derby, did not have a Beyer assigned to yesterday’s race yet.

The colt is from the Canadian breeding family of Crelita, brought to Canada by Kinghaven Farms ‘bud Willmot.