NICK EAVES said it succinctly at the post position draw for the Woodbine Mile yesterday – “We have 2 distinct meets at Woodbine – our 3-year-olds and the Triple Crown and out fall racing classics that have taken on so much prominence on the international racing calendar.”

The Woodbine president kicked off the luncheon yesterday that was held in the Woodbine tent on a drab afternoon that featured inches and inches of rain.

DION PHANEUF got those of us in the crowd who are the die-hard LEAF FANS jazzed up – he’s serious, funny, personable and excited about training camp opening today.

And, he spends a lot of time at the races in Prince Edward Island with his grandfather.

The one horse he owned never raced but who knows, maybe he can be lured into getting into the thoroughbred game?

Anyway the Leaf Captain was interesting and he made the post draw for the 13 horses in the race for Sunday.

There were not a lot of attendees because of the weather no doubt, but the European lads were there, James Cassidy was there and his horse is the early fave, The Usual Q T (named for children of a co-owner).

Of course, Cassidy must have been grinning and bearing it yesterday – his horse drew post 11 and does not want any sort of ‘give’ to the grass.

“Hope you horses like some cut in the ground, because it’s raining like heck out there,” said track announcer Dan Loiselle during the draw.

Certainly the turf may get chewd up a bit after the Summer and Natalma yesterday but perhaps lots of sun and rain will firm it up a bit by Sunday.

certainly THE USUAL Q T and VICTOR’S CRY, both from California, will be runing on turf that is far from sun-baked.

Interesting stuff from the PRESS KIT for the entrants – VICTOR’S CRY cost $150000 as a yearling and he is a ridgling; the owners of AJ SUITED RACING, a syndicate (find them on Facebook) include 25-year-old Justin Nocholson and he picked out ZIFZAF on pedigree; SIGNATURE RED had an excuse in his latest when he bombed in the Play the King , he hit his head in the gate; FAMOUS NAME’S trainer Dermot Weld said “we’re hopeing for a few showers”…

CROWDED HOUSE (named for the rock band) has a funny bio in the press kit… “To be frank, his dam Wiener Wald went winless in five starts…”

AUTEUR wore front bandages to protect a little cut/scab and he’s a large horse that has come around nicely for trainer BARB MINSHALL..


 HERE ARE THE GOODS – STRAIGHT STORY has a longshot chance in the Mile – and he’s pretty too!












Sunday, Woodbine

WOODBINE MILE S.-GI, $1,000,000, 3yo/up, 1mT


1 Crowded House (GB) Rainbow Quest Rosario Cecil 117

2 Victor’s Cry Street Cry (Ire) Nakatani Harty 124

3 Zifzaf K War Chant Leparoux Toner 117

4 Court Vision K Gulch Albarado Dutrow Jr 124

5 Straight Story K Smart Strike Maragh Goldberg 117

6 Smokey Fire Smoke Glacken Jones Attard 121

7 Signature Red Bernstein Da Silva Attard 121

8 Auteur K El Prado (Ire) Smith Minshall 117

9 Riviera Cocktail Giant’s Causeway Prado Drysdale 117

10 Woodbourne Danzig Sutherland Tiller 117

11 The Usual Q. T. Unusual Heat Espinoza Cassidy 124

12 Famous Name (GB) Dansili (GB) Smullen Weld 119

13 Grand Adventure Grand Slam Husbands Frostad 121

Sunday, Woodbine

NORTHERN DANCER TURF S.-GI, $750,000, 3yo/up,

1 1/2mT


1 Marsh Side Gone West Prado Drysdale 121

2 Windward Islands Cozzene Sutherland Frostad 121

3 Expansion K Maria’s Mon Gomez Asmussen 119

4 Memorial Maniac Lear Fan Graham Demeritte 119

5 Redwood (GB) High Chaparral (Ire) Hills Hills 119

6 Fifty Proof Whiskey Wisdom Stein Black 117

7 Perfect Shower Perfect Soul (Ire) Castellano Attfield 117

8 Spice Route (GB) King’s Best Smith Attfield 119

9 Guipago My Way Only Rosario Delmas 117

Sunday, Woodbine

CANADIAN S.-GII, $300,000, 3yo/up, f/m, 1 1/8mT


1 Lemon Twirl K Lemon Drop Kid McAleney Mattine 113

2 Points of Grace Point Given Husbands Pierce 119

3 Miss Keller (Ire) Montjeu (Ire) Castellano Attfield 113

4 Jenny’s So Great Greatness Maragh De Gannes 108

5 Magic Broomstick More Than Ready Sutherland Frostad 113

6 Latin Love (Ire) Danehill Dancer (Ire) Gomez Wachman 113



Popular owner Mel Lawson, already featured twice in the Toronto Star this year for his Hall of Fame induction and his Queen’s Plate starters, is in the news again…


by Beverley Smith

Anyone can win a poker pot with four aces.

Not so in horse racing, where the rules of the game and the law of averages don’t always apply.

With a racing stable of just a handful of horses – this year he started out with five, and he’s now down to three – owner-breeder Mel Lawson has always defeated the law of averages. And on Sunday, he’ll try to do it again with his homebred Smokey Fire, racing against some talented international horseflesh in the $1-million Woodbine Mile at Woodbine Racetrack here.

Lawson, now 87 and a retired lumber merchant from Hamilton, started a tiny breeding dynasty when he purchased a speedy black filly called Eternal Search for $50,000 about 30 years ago. Eternal Search became Canada’s champion sprinter of 1981 and top older mare in 1982 and 1983.

Eternal Search’s daughter, the aptly named and brilliantly fast Destroy, has produced an array of stakes winners for Lawson, including Utterly Cool, (named after an ice cream parlour near Lawson’s childhood cottage at Long Point, Ont.) winner of the Cup and Saucer Stakes as a two-year-old by 10 lengths, and stakes winner Ghost Fleet, (named after the Ghost Fleet of Long Point, because there had been so many shipwrecks there), that ran in the Queen’s Plate this year. And now Smokey Fire, a full brother to Utterly Cool, who fractured a bone and was sidelined earlier this year.


Top European Yards Raid Woodbine

By Alan Shuback

Two of Europe’s biggest stables will be represented at Woodbine on Sunday, and all three of the horses they are sending over have good chances in their respective races. Coolmore has Latin Love in the 1 1/8-mile Canadian Stakes, while Juddmonte has Redwood in the Northern Dancer Turf and Famous Name in the Woodbine Mile..

David Wachman may be a name unfamiliar to racegoers on this side of the Atlantic. He is, basically, Coolmore’s second string trainer in Ireland after Aidan O’Brien. He is also John Magnier’s son-in-law. In Latin Love, Wachman (pronounced Watchman) saddles a Danehill Dancer filly who is in the form of her life, having earned a Racing Post Rating of 108 for her recent win in the listed Kilboy Estates Stakes at the Curragh at the Canadian distance of 1 1/8 miles. She has picked up the services of Garrett Gomez and would love to see some rain as her best form has always come on good to soft or soft ground.

Latin Love finished 1 1/2 lengths in front of one of her main rivals on Sunday, Miss Keller, when second in last year’s Kilboy Estate. In her previous effort going 1 1/8 miles, she was second in the Group 3 Dance Design Stakes to Chinese White, who closed out her career in June by winning the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes while in foal.

Latin Love and Miss Keller should both be running late and could make a nice, cold exacta.


Trainer Cassidy has simple advice for jockey in Woodbine Mile: Be patient

By: Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

TORONTO – Trainer Jim Cassidy will have some simple advice for jockey Victor Espinoza heading into the $1-million Woodbine Mile: Be patient.

Espinoza will be aboard The Usual Q.T., the four-year-old gelding from California that was installed Thursday as the early 3-1 favourite for the Grade 1 race. One of the biggest challenges foreign jockeys face on Woodbine’s E.P. Taylor turf course is a longer than usual stretch, which makes timing a horse’s final kick tricky.

“Victor and I have had conversations about that in the past,” Cassidy said. “The stretch here is a lot longer than we’re used to.

“The thing Victor will have to remember is when he thinks it’s time to go to hold his breath.”

Cassidy said Espinoza likely asked The Usual Q.T. to go a little too early in the Dubai Duty Free turf race in March. The Usual Q.T. was fourth in that event.

“He made a move like he was going to win the race…,” Cassidy said.

But Espinoza and The Usual Q.T. will have more to deal with Sunday (The Score, 5:40 p.m.) than just the longer stretch. The duo will break from the No. 11 post in a tight 13-horse field.

“The outside is not where you want to be,” Cassidy said matter of factly. “But the larger the field the less problems you tend to have because everyone has to pay attention for the safety factor.”

Cassidy said ideally he’d like to see his horse standing third or fourth before moving into a position for a strong final kick. However, The Usual Q.T. does give his trainer plenty of race options.

“He has enough speed to go on the lead if we wanted,” he said. “I won’t, but the nice thing about this horse is you can put him wherever you want.