MUSIC TO THEIR EARS – Midnight Aria – a claim to remember – 98 BEYER TO WIN PLATE

(and then heavy rain was followed by more rain!)

American JESSE CAMPBELL wins Canada’s biggest race on MIDNIGHT ARIA – Queen’s Plate talk below. Michael Burns photo


The Storm, after the Storm!

QUEEN’S PLATE DAY was a stunning success from the Hats & Horseshoes promotion to the wagering to the races. Heck, only Mother Nature messed things up as she unleashed a monsoon on the track about 2 hours before the Plate, rendering the Polytrack almost sloppy and ensuring that inside speed runners were going to be tough to beat.

No sooner does the whoosh and whirl of Plate day quieten when all of a sudden, another monsoon hit the track area yesterday afternoon and into the evening. By 10 p.m., Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with photos of a flooded Woodbine east gate and some barn areas. Even photos of backstretch workers in little dinghys could be viewed.

Clean-up has begun this morning, there is no training on Polytrack or the training track.

Certainly there will not be any grass racing tomorrow for the Wednesday evening card and it would be dicey to think there would be turf racing on Friday as well.

Now, on to the weekend’s wild action:



Today is consultation day for horsepeople to discuss the transition panel’s latest recommendations. It will be held at Woodbine at 1 p.m.
It’s nice to be able to stick Sunday’s rousing day at the races in the province’s face – a whopping $9.7 million was bet on the card, a record for Plate day.
The attendance was up, according to Woodbine, and it was a wild and raucous day. Every race got a rousing cheer when they were at the post, out of the gate and coming to the wire.
Great feeling – hope some people come back to play the horses.

The Hats & Horseshoes was done right – I sifted through some 500 photos that were put up on Facebook of any the people who walked the red carpet and got their photo taken for free.

There were people with fancy hats and fascinators, wild dresses (like the one with the lollipops! and even a Lady Gaga looklike).

The Horseplayer Now/Night School tent helped out people to bet, and there were announcements when the races were about to go off.
The food trucks, mmmm. loved the GORILLA CHEESE food truck and the lumberjack grilled cheese!
Had a blue Diamond drink, tangy and fruity in a souvenir glass and caught a lot of the atmosphere on a very hot and sticky day.

Horse racing is still popular folks – let’s get these people to come back now for some of other big races.

Fashion galore on the red carpet at Woodbine




MIDNIGHT ARIA is a colt you can cheer for, ever since he was mentioned in this space months ago right after he was claimed by the Tucci family at Gulfstream. The colt has “a great mind” and a lot of “composure” according to his very likable training team of Nick and Martha Gonzalez, and hey, he was galloping along on the lead with his ears pricked on the vet wet and speed favouring Polytrack on Sunday afternoon – you knew early that he had a huge advantage.

UP WITH THE BIRDS was too far back, was a bit delayed along the inside as he started a rally. PYRITE MOUNTAIN was hard held early, too far back and wide. NIPISSING was flat but that was not unexpected after her hard Oaks race.

The Coronation Futurity jinx continues and favorites continue to get slammed in Canada’s greatest race.

The time of 2:04.72 was the slowest since Big Red Mike’s 2:04.89 but it yielded a 98 BEYER SPEED FIGURE  from the scribes at DAILY RACING FORM.

Note that the 98 Beyer is the THIRD HIGHEST winning Plate Beyer since Wando’s 111 in 2003…interesting. INGLORIOUS received a 99.

On to the Prince of Wales – July 30 on a Tuesday evening.
MIDNIGHT ARIA could face a small field in the 1 3/16 mile event on the dirt.

Winning breeder YVONNE SCHWABE, incidentally, bought the colt’s dam off of the Tucci’s when the mare went wrong when she was claimed by that group.
Remember Midnight Aria’s half brother WANNA RUNNER? He was expected to be the 2006 Plate winner but he bombed at 8 to 5. Still, Wanna Runner was a multiple stakes winner of over $600,000.



ARIA and symphony – in the driving rain, the brave colt MIDNIGHT ARIA holds on to win 154th Plate.

Terence Dulay












WOODBINE UNDER WATER – MORE RAIN TO COME – Clean up has begun at the track after 126 MM of rain (a record) fell late yesterday. The tunnel to the main track got flooded and this morning, shedrows were a gooey mess (Renee Kierans photo).





More Sunday:

Jim and Susan Hill have never been to the races together and won a race. So, the Calgary couple  were on cloud nine when they won two graded stakes races on Sunday with horses trained by READE BAKER.

SOLID APPEAL is headed to the BEVERLY D stakes at Arlington Park on Arlington Million day after her 3rd win of 2013 in the Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes. She posted a 95 Beyer. This gal was a $100,000 weanling purchase at Keeneland November and she took 7races to win her maiden. Now she’s a monster on the grass and Jesse Campbell loves riding her.

She is 5 for 14 now with almost $400K in earnings and she is by Successful Appeal.

Too much rain meant that the Grade 2 Highlander stakes had to come off the turf – it could be downgraded to a Grade 3, but whatever surface does not matter to the unbeaten in sprints GO BLUE OR GO HOME, a son of Bluegrass Cat, also bought at the Keeneland Nov, sale as a weanling.

The blocky bay gelding was long gone on the lead and ran a 98 Beyer to win the 6 furlong dash over  Super Chunky a 7yo invader.

The SINGSPIEL STAKES was run in the driving rain and was the last grass event of the day – good thing, the 1 1/2 miles was run in 2:41 and change. The winner was FORTE DEI MARMI, who jumped out of a slump to be the 5th straight winner of this race for trainer Roger Attfield. Forte dei Marmi is 8 for 30 in his career now with earnings of over $750,000.

The CLARENDON STAKES was about as emotional a win for the owners as perhaps a Plate win.

Joe and Maria Stritzl have been in the business for decades and own a farm in King. Ont. They raced champion 2yo Dawson’s Legacy years ago. In the last few years, one of their trainers has been GREG DE GANNES, who died suddenly this past winter at Palm Meadows training centre.

One of the last yearlings de Gannes bought for the family was SPIN THE KING, a colt by first year sire Giant Gizmo out of the aging mare Muriel, by  Bold Executive. He paid $50,000. On Sunday the colt won his second career start and it was in the $150,000 stakes event.


 Gritty SPIN THE KING would not let favoured Go Greeley go past on his outside in the Clarendon. Terence Dulay photo




Alison Langley, Nigara Falls Review

It was a galloping sense of deja vu for Fort Erie horse trainer Nick Gonzalez.

His horse, Midnight Aria, won the prestigious Queen’s Plate at Woodbine Racetrack on Sunday.

“We’re very proud of him,” Gonzalez said.

“It’s a long race, a mile and a quarter, he went to the front and stayed there the whole way and that’s a very difficult thing to do.”

This is second time Gonzalez has won the first race in Canada’s Triple Crown of Racing.

His first Queen’s Plate title came in 2010 with his horse Big Red Mike.


through July 9

1    John C. Oxley    51    12    8    10    $1,137,134    24%    30    59%
2    Chiefswood Stable    35    10    4    5    $894,625    29%    19    54%
3    Tucci Stables    25    3    3    10    $792,208    12%    16    64%
4    Sam-Son Farms    37    6    5    4    $741,125    16%    15    41%
5    Hill, Jim and Susan    27    8    3    2    $591,717    30%    13    48%
6    Bear Stables, Ltd.    50    10    3    3    $389,265    20%    16    32%
7    Gary Barber    14    4    2    0    $300,968    29%    6    43%
8    Winview Racing Stable    19    6    2    1    $295,829    32%    9    47%
9    Frank D. Di Giulio, Jr.    30    5    7    5    $294,993    17%    17    57%
10    Debmar Stables    33    2    7    8    $293,916    6%    17    52%




A memorable day for owner/trainer ALEX PATYKEWICH, whose 2yo filly SKYLANDER GIRL flew to victory in the My Dear Stakes in her 2nd lifetime start. She was ridden by Jim McAleney.

The filly is by Stroll out of champion Heliotrope by Northern Score. Interesting that HELIOTROPE, who raced for Richard and Jo Ellen Shaw and won over $660,000 on the track has been traded about so many times despite being a champion runner. She did not produce much from her first 6 foals – just 2 modest winners. She was sold in foal to Harlington in 2009 at Keeneland for $12,500 to Richard Lister.

Then she was sold by Lister in 2010 in foal to Stroll for just $2,100 to Auchamore Stud, which bred SKYLANDER GIRL.

Patykewich bought her for $3,500 at auction last year from Beth Hancock, agent.

Wow. Patykewich is a career winner of 66 races, that was his biggest win.

The SWEET BRIAR TOO Stakes was a much talked about event before and mostly after it was run early in Saturday’s card. ACTING NAUGHTY did the rpedictable bounce-back and won the 7 furlong dash by a neck over DIXIE STRIKE but it was the ourney of YELLOW BOAT that caused the most talk. The newcomer to the circuit was in heaps of trouble throughout the race and was the best horse, finishing 4th.

More drama in the CHARLIE BARLEY when the talented GOLDEN SABRE came off the maiden win and rallied to win the 1 mile grass stakes race but he was green and not straight. When Clearly Now also ran wild and drifted out in the stretch, KID DREAMS lost a path. It was tough to decipher but in the end, the winner, a Sam-Son Farms colt, was disqualified and the unlikely SKY COMMANDER was placed 1st at 24 to 1.

PHOTO BELOW : SKYLANDER GIRL, taken by Norm Files – 65 Beyer in the My Dear



Vernon Morning Star

Horse racing is returning to Vernon’s Kin Race Track.

The first day of races is scheduled for July 14, with races also set for July 28 and August 18.

“This will mark the 120th year of racing at the site, the oldest race track in Canada,” said Ed Woolley, president of the Okanagan Equestrian Society.

The gates open at noon with the parade to post for the first race at 1:15 p.m.