If you are interested in the Kentucky Derby trail, don’t miss any action today. How about the Queen’s Plate? The first stepping stone to that June 21 race, the 150th edition of the classic, is today’s ACHIEVEMENT STAKES at Woodbine.

Read on!


• There was quite a good crowd for the first Friday afternoon of racing at Woodbine, Good Friday meant more than $2.1 million was bet.

Indeed, the line up for the one beer stand open was dozens and dozens of people long and most of the bars and dining rooms were hopping.

There were a lot of FIRSTS yesterday at Woodbine – day 3 of the meeting.

American trainers VLADIMIR CERIN and STEVE ASMUSSEN each won a race, their first of the year. The former had 3 horses in and won the 2nd race with the $100,000 claim from a year ago ESSENCE OF CHARM, who slowly wore down Gus Schickedanz’s TAPENADE to win the maiden allowance at 5 furlongs in 57.89. The winner was ridden by Gerry Olguin.

Asmussen won the 3rd race with the well bred chestnut MERKEL, in for $37,500 claiming and originally a $150,000 yearling purchase. Merkel battled on the pace all the way under Luis Contreras, who seemingly has invaded from United States to ride at Woodbine this season.

Speaking of firsts – there were impressive first time straters that won short races yesterday. NOT JUST A RUMOR, was the real deal as she was heavily bet in race 1 and won her debut for Norsemen and Hali Racing Stables with a steady, wide rally, drew off by more than 6 lengths and earned an 80 Beyer Figure.

Later TETHRA’S WORD, owned by S.A. Stable and trained by Ross Armata Jr. Lumbered her way to a 10 ¾ length debut score for $16,000 claiming and ran a 74 Beyer Figure at 5 furlongs. The filly is by Tethra and is a half sister to speedy stakes winner Shot Gun Ela.

OTHER WINNERS – CLOSING SPEED was pounded down in the betting, to 4 to 5 in the featured 7th race for 3yo fillies. A layover on the field on the ‘sheet’ numbers, the Kentucky bred, who just won her maiden at Santa Anita, circled up to lead of the turn for Woodford Racing and trainer Mark Casse but then was all out to hold off the troubled BEAR’S LIGHTNING and WILD CHANT. The winner ran a 67 Beyer Figure for 6 ½ furlongs.

DANCING CHARM, owned and bred by longtime Ontario breeder JOE SHIEWITZ, galloped away to win the 9th race, an allowance for Ontario sirerd gals. The Dance to Destiny filly, trained by Don Pleterski, is a Woodbine Oaks candidate. Her Beyer Figure at 5 furlongs was 64.

Jockey BETH WYARD and trainer SCOTT FAIRLIE won their first race of the season when SMART BLONDE won a $25,000 claiming race for 3yo fillies. The Gary Wellwood owned gal is by Champali and was bred in Ontario by Stubbs Investments.

GIANT ACT almost broke the track record for 5 furlongs when he sizzled the distance in 56.95 in race 6. The regally bred 6yo horse is owned by Hayman Fung and trained by Yvon Belsoeur. The horse was making his first start since a drab 3-race stint at Philadelphia Park in the winter. He was winning for $12,500 claiming yesterday.

Trainer Nick Gonzalez won another race on the season – the last race for $10,000 claiming with HAVEUBEENTOLDTODAY, who won the first race race of the 2008 season. The Kentucky bred rallied wide to win at 10 to 1 under Chad Beckon.

Mountaineer shipper COLE’S GOT SOUL led all the way to win the 4th race for $20,000 claiming for owner /trainer DOROTHY GENTNER. The 4yo New York bred was dropping to claiming for the first time in his 12 race career.



• The Canadian-bred 3yo colt SOUTHDALE, a Queen’s Plate eligible owned and bred by Rod Ferguson, debuted in the last race at Keeneland yesterday, was 12 to 1 in the mornign line and went off as the 5 to 2 favourite. A sleek dark bay son of Street Cry, Southdale, saddled by Roger Attfield (Ian Black trains the colt at Woodbine) had a lovely learning experience, ran fast but didn’t win. Under Edgar Prado, the colt stalked the pace from the inside, roared into 3rd spot around the turn looking like a winner, but then stalled and landed 3rd. His Beyer Figure was a sharp 80.



• PASSAGER, a 6yo gelding recently shipped in from Europe, was a close 2nd in the Grade 1 Makers Mark Mile in a bog at Keeneland yesterday and could be a top miler for trainer ROGER ATTFIELD this year. The son of Anabaa is owned by Johanna Louise Glen-Teven and made a bid to the flank of the regally bred MR, SIDNEY late in the race only to be repelled.

Mr. Sidney, by Storm Cat out of an A.P. Indy mare, is a budding turf star as well for trainer Bill Mott.



• Today’s THOROUGHBRED DAILY NEWS reports that SQUARE EDDIE will race in the April 19 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland should his 6 furlong workout this morning go well. The Canadian-bred Smart Strike colt has been trying to comeback since an injured shin. He is the favourite for the QUEEN’S PLATE in June but his connections have not shown any interest in racing their colt in Canada.



• Today’s $150,000 ACHIEVEMENT STAKES is just 6 furlongs but the local 3yos have to start somewhere on their way to the June 21 Queen’s Plate.

EL BRUJO wil be heavily favoured off the layoff base don his good record last year and his steady training in New Orleans and Kentucky. The Camdy Ride gelding is a homebred for Jeff Begg’s Windways Farm and trained by Malcom Pierce.

Curiously, Emma-Jayne Wilson is not riding the gelding after riding him throughout 2008. PATRICK HUSBANDS has been granted the mount.

Trainer NICK GONZALEZ has 3 horses in the Achievement including Garland Williamson’s well bred Tomahawk colt WIN AND REIGN.


Race 6 on Saturday at Woodbine

1 – Bucephalus – Tyler Pizarro – Kevin Attard

2 – Win and Reign – Jim McAleney – Nicholas Gonzalez

3 – Foxy Lion – Chad Beckon – Nicholas Gonzalez

4 – Silver Rocket – Dave Clark – Gail Cox

5 – El Brujo – Patrick Husbands – Malcolm Pierce

6 – Mega Rush – Eurico Rosa da Silva – Mike DePaulo

7 – My Bad – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Nicholas Gonzalez



• John and Glenn Sikura and Dominic Dilalla have one more chance to go to the Kentucky derny with their colt PATENA should the Seeking the Gold 3yo do very well in the BLUE GRASS STAKES today at Keeneland. The task won’t be easy as THEREGOESJOJO is this corner’s pick to be the one to beat and the promising HOLD ME BACK is moving forward on the Derby trail for trainer Bill Mott.

The Blue Grass has a 5:15 post time.

Saturday, Keeneland

TOYOTA BLUE GRASS S.-GI, $750,000, 3yo, 1 1/8m



1 Patena (Seeking the Gold) Albarado 10-1

2 Join in the Dance (Sky Mesa) Velazquez 10-1

3 Theregoesjojo (Brahms) Borel 7-2

4 Cliffy’s Future (The Cliff’s Edge) Castanon 20-1

5 Mafaaz (GB) (Medicean (GB)) Hills 12-1

6 Terrain Sky (Mesa) Leparoux 6-1

7 Loch Dubh (Friends Lake) Theriot 50-1

8 General Quarters (Sky Mesa) Coa 15-1

9 Charitable Man (Lemon Drop Kid) Garcia 4-1

10 Hold Me Back (Giant’s Causeway) Desormeaux 3-1

11 Massone (Menifee) Gomez 12-1


THE ARKANSAS DERBY goes off really late, eastern time – 6:41 – and should be a 2 horse race between the grey colts OLD FASHIONED and WIN WILLY.

Saturday, Oaklawn Park

ARKANSAS DERBY-GII, $1,000,000, 3yo, 1 1/8m


1 Captain Cherokee (Sir Cherokee) Gryder 20-1

2 Papa Clem (Smart Strike) Bejarano 6-1

3 Flat Out (Flatter) Garcia 10-1

4 Poltergeist (Tapit) Hamilton 20-1

5 Ziegfeld (Elusive Quality) Court 12-1

6 Flying Private (Fusaichi Pegasus) Ocampo 6-1

7 Summer Bird (Birdstone) Rosier 30-1

8 Old Fashioned (Unbridled’s Song) Thompson 9-5

9 Win Willy (Monarchos) Berry 7-2

10 Danger to Society (Harlan’s Holiday) Velasquez 6-1





By Nick Kling

The Record

Patena needs to finish no worse than second to have a chance for the Derby. Even then his participation is not guaranteed. An interesting factor is that trainer Rick Dutrow has not done well on synthetic surfaces. His horses have earned just 2 wins from 35 starts over the last five years on the ersatz earth.




BY CHRISTIAN RED in in Coxsackie (N.Y.) and Jerry Bossert In New York


New York state police charged thoroughbred owner Ernie Paragallo Friday with 22 misdemeanor counts of torturing or injuring animals and failure to provide them with proper sustenance. The charges followed a raid Wednesday of Paragallo’s Climax, N.Y farm that found numerous horses suffering from neglect and malnourishment.

Paragallo arrived alone at the Catskill state police station at about 10:30 Friday morning, and was arraigned at the Coxsackie Municipal Offices Building at 2:20 p.m. He emerged from a New York state police car handcuffed and wearing a blue sweatsuit before entering the building.

“It’s all my fault,” Paragallo said when asked about his role in the condition of 177 horses on his 511-acre Center Brook farm. “I feel terrible.”



TIP Worth $9.6 Million Includes Increase in Awards and Bonuses

• Rexdale, ON – April 8, 2008 – The Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society (Ontario Division) is pleased to announce the release of the 2009 Thoroughbred Improvement Program (TIP), featuring $9.6 million in awards, bonuses, breeding incentives and added purse money.


Established to further develop the breeding and racing of Ontario-Bred horses in Ontario, this year’s TIP offers more than $5.8 million in program incentives including purse supplements for Ontario-bred and Canadian-Bred Stakes, Graded Stakes, participation in the Ontario Sires Stakes Program, and the Ontario Sired Racing Rewards Program, as well as $3.4 million in Breeders Awards and Stallion Owners Awards.


An added highlight to this year’s TIP includes an increase in both Breeders Awards and the Ontario-Bred Bonus for owners of purse-winning Ontario-Breds in open races in Ontario.


“Despite the downturn in the economy, we were able to not only maintain the same levels as last year, but initiate a five percent increase in both Breeders Awards and in Ontario-Bred bonuses for racing in Ontario,” said Julie Coulter, General Manager of the Ontario CTHS. “This in turn will create increased incentives for Ontario-Bred horses and put a higher value on our product.”


Also included in this year’s TIP will be the offering of a $50,000 bonus for Registered Ontario-Breds competing at both the Graded Stakes and Ungraded Open Stakes (for fillies and mares), and support of eight $100,000 Ontario-Bred overnight Stakes. Fort Erie sales credits and owners’ bonuses, along with sales credits for winning trainers of Yearling Sales Stakes will also be offered.


Developed annually by the CTHS and administered by the Ontario Racing Commission, the TIP is an award and incentive program directed toward the betterment of breeding and racing of Thoroughbreds in Ontario. For further information, please contact the CTHS office at 416-675-3602 or visit