It’s the holiday season, very wintry in southern Ontario and days are filled with festive gatherings, shopping or just chillin.
And still plenty of racing news. The important merger announcement (see the post “Unity” has given Ontario horse racing something to build on and be excited about as 2018 approaches.
WOODBINE HORSEPEOPLE STOLL ROLLIN
Many Woodbine owners, trainers and staff are still working busily with their horses in southern locations.
Today, a number of top Canadian horses are in action on big cards of racing at Fair Grounds and Gulfstream.
Older horse, turf male and/or sprinter contender FIELD OF COURAGE is cross entered in 2 stakes races at Fair Grounds today – Mark Casse trains the son of Marchfield who won the Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine this year.
TOWER OF TEXAS, who just won the Labeeb Stakes at Woodbine for trainer Roger Attfield, is in the Tropical Turf at Gulfstream today along with stablemate SHAKHIMAT.
Ivan Dalos’ top older mare GAMBLE’S GHOST is in the Rampart Stakes at Gulfstream.
Trainer Malcolm Pierce is busy at Tampa Bay Downs.
PEGASUS WORLD CUP
Who is gunnin for Gun?
GUN RUNNER, the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, and the sometimes pretty good GUNNEVERA are among the two confirmed runners for the Jan 27 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park.
The wheeling and dealing of horses and slots in the race being bartered about is in full swing for next Friday’s closing.
The latest to land in the field is TOAST OF NEW YORK, who recently won a race off a 3-year-layoff.
Margoth’s multiple graded-stakes winning millionaire Gunnevera has secured a spot in the starting gate for the world’s richest Thoroughbred race, the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park.
Venezuelan owner Salomon Del-Vallee has reached a deal with Pegasus stakeholder William Gallo of Gallo Stables and Bella Inizio Farm to run Gunnevera in the second edition of the unique and ground-breaking event on Jan. 27.
“We are excited to be partnering with the connections of Gunnevera,” Gallo said. “Part of our business diversification is to find innovative and forward-thinking investments within the industry, such as the Pegasus World Cup.”
Gunnevera will remain in the Gulfstream Park West barn of trainer Antonio Sano and train up to the 1 1/8-mile Pegasus for 4-year-olds and up, which will be supported by seven stakes, four graded, worth $1.025 million in purses.
“Mr. Gallo has made a commitment throughout the industry and feels innovative concepts are vital to growth and success,” said Gulfstream Park-based trainer Jena Antonucci, Gallo’s spokesman and partner in Bella Inizio Farm. “We are thankful to those involved in seeing this opportunity come together, and can’t wait to root Mr. Sano, Mr. Del-Vallee and Gunnevera to victory.”
The vision of Frank Stronach, Founder and Honorary Chairman of The Stronach Group, is the first event of its kind in Thoroughbred racing and is designed to promote the sport of horse racing while creating a lucrative opportunity for owners of world-class Thoroughbreds.
“The future is bright for Gunnevera, and we are excited to run in the Pegasus and partner for this great race,” Del-Vallee said.
Gunnevera owns five wins and $1,627,200 in purse earnings from 14 lifetime starts. In his most recent effort, he finished in a dead heat for fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) with Arrogate, impressive winner of the historic inaugural running of the Pegasus World Cup over a field that included two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome.
Three of Gunnevera’s wins have come at Gulfstream – his maiden triumph in July 2016 and the Fountain of Youth (G2) and Tangelo Stakes this year. He also finished third in the Florida Derby (G1). During the Triple Crown he was seventh in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and fifth in the Preakness (G1).
Gun Runner, the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner expected to be crowned 2017 Horse of the Year at the 47th annual Eclipse Awards ceremony Thursday, Jan. 25 at Gulfstream Park, will make his final career start in the Pegasus World Cup.
Among those being considered for the race are Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) winner Forever Unbridled and Clark Handicap (G1) winner Seeking the Soul, both trained by Dallas Stewart for owner Charles Fipke; Cigar Mile (G1) winner Sharp Azteca and Brooklyn (G2) winner War Story, fifth in last year’s Pegasus, both from the barn of trainer Jorge Navarro; Travers and Pennsylvania Derby (G1) winner West Coast; Pacific Classic (G1) winner Collected; and 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Toast of New York.
TOAST OF NEW YORK, 3 year layoff, stud duty, Pegasus?
Jamie Osborne’s six-year-old entire had not been seen since being agonizingly beaten by a nose in the Breeders’ Cup Classic of 2014, an absence of 1,130 days during which time he had a spell at stud in Qatar.
Sent off at 2-1, despite having plenty in hand on the official figures, he was ridden for the first time in a race by Frankie Dettori and took up the running before the turn into the straight, showing the right sort of attitude close home to hold off Petite Jack.
Toast Of New York was initially retired following a tendon injury when being prepared for the Dubai World Cup of 2015.
Dettori told At The Races: “Jamie has done a great job to get him in this shape first time out.
“He still feels a little rusty, but after three years off I can’t emphasize enough how brilliant everyone has been to get him back.
“He’s only 70 percent at the moment, but he still won. That’s a step forward and should improve him a lot. After three years that was a great effort.”
Wearing a hood for the first time, Toast Of New York threw Dettori off on the way to the start.
Thankfully the stalls were not far from the chute and he was able to be walked to the start, with Dettori jogging alongside.
Always prominent in the race itself, Dettori had enough confidence to kick on some way out and it is a credit to Osborne and his team he was fit enough to win after such a layoff.
Although he did have upwards of 20 lb in hand on his best form, his rivals were all rated over 100, adding extra merit to the performance.
Toast Of New York was bought by Al Shaqab Racing after his near-miss at the Breeders’ Cup, and their racing manager Harry Herbert said: “I think everyone involved is relieved to see him not just win, but be back on a racecourse again.
“This is a phenomenal performance from Jamie and Jimmy (McCarthy, assistant), who has ridden him in all his work.
“It’s been a patient journey but so exciting and I’ve been excited to see a bit of the build-up. The trainer’s expectations were pretty high, he liked what he’d seen and felt the flame burned bright still.”
He added: “He’s still an entire and covered 15 or so mares in Doha and got 10 in foal. There just wasn’t the support for him as a sire.
“Our vet told us his tendon injury wasn’t that bad, but it’s not very often you see a horse his age still an entire and coming back to racing.
“Frankie said he felt big and burly and I loved the way he got him balanced, but I take my hat off to Jamie, it’s wonderful to see. It’s a fairytale.
“We’ll have to see what the next stage is, to launch him back into the Pegasus (World Cup Invitational Stakes at Gulfstream Park in January) will be considered, obviously we don’t have a slot but they usually become available.
“Good Friday (All-Weather Championship Finals Day), it’s all possible, the (Dubai) World Cup must be an obvious target, he was bought to do that it’s just taken a while to get there.”
TALKIN HORSE RACING WRAPS UP WITH EPISODE 10
Horse racing television, internet shows, magazine style with features and tips are a rarity.
You can’t really find such a show in Canada but Talkin Horse Racing (and its predecessor Talkin Horses) has been prominent on the airwaves for 4 years.
This year’s internet show, funded by the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association of Ontario, a board of passionate horsepeople, ended a week ago with Episode 10.
The show brought us new owners, experienced horsepeople, how to get into the game, how to bet and more.
Enjoy the last show and thank you for watching…all our videos are up on our YouTube channel.