Jockey Mike Smith drank out of the Stanley Cup and then watched as Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby helped Jimmy Fallon drink too – the Caps won the Stanley Cup just days before Smith rode Justify to the Triple Crown win = photo courtesy Jimmy Fallon Twitter















We hoped for a successful and awesome last 7 days of racing and we got it. From Woodbine to Belmont to Ajax Downs, there were amazing displays of speed and stamina, thousands of enthusiastic fans placing or bob or two than helped lead to record numbers.

Wagering on the Belmont Stakes and the Belmont card was – in fact it was the 2nd highest handle at that track in history. The $137 million bet was 2nd only to…2014 when Tonalist upset California Chrome.

Betting on the 8-race card on Sunday at Ajax Downs Quarter Horse racing was up a staggering 102% over the same day last year with the same number of races. The track continues to build on its numbers in wagering and attendance.

Woodbine’s $6.4 million wagering on Saturday – the Woodbine Oaks and Plate Trial highlighted the card – was on par with Oaks day last year ($6.5 million) although the Belmont Stakes was part of the action this time around.

Coming up this Saturday night, the best 3-year-old pacers on the continent are at Woodbine Mohawk for the NORTH AMERICA CUP!



Post-race drama aside when horsemen questioned the ride on Restoring Hope, owned by Gary and Mary West, in the Belmont, JUSTIFY is now the 13th American Triple Crown winner, three years after the great AMERICAN PHAROAH did it.

JUSTIFY’s AMERICAN TRIPLE CROWN SWEEP got a bit more attention than the same feat by AMERICAN PHAROAH. Interesting that some mainstream media really tuned into this colt, a bit more moreso than they did with the Pharoah.

Is it the fact that he has never been beaten? Is it his fancy looks? His Canadian breeder JOHN GUNTHER and his daughter Tanya?

How about the fact that the colt was unraced 111 days ago? Remarkable.

Was neat to see comments from radio hosts and other non-sports people on Twitter, etc. about Justify even if they had never watched a race before.

The Belmont win was quite stirring. Yes, he managed to slow it down a lot on the pace down the backstretch. But when the big guys came, Vino Rosso, Hofburg and then finally the surprising GRONKOWSKI, he turned them back.

He just kept on going.

He is only the 2nd Triple Crown winner to go undefeated. (Seattle Slew, 1977) and the first to do so without having raced as a 2-year-old.

His Belmont Stakes time of 2:28 FLAT was well off the time of American Pharoah but his Beyer Figure was still an acceptable 101.

The Gunther family will be celebrated for their amazing breeding program. They sold Justify for $500,000 as a yearling.

Let’s see what this special colt has for us next – but let’s also remember how great AMERICAN PHAROAH was..take a look at this video from NYRA:



88 Beyer Speed Figures for DIXIE MOON and TELEKINESIS on Saturday – Plate next


The Woodbine Oaks had some some drama on Saturday despite the tiny 5-horse field. Champion 2-year-old filly of 2017 WONDER GADOT hopped at the start and was 3 wide around the first turn as she tried to find a place behind front runner Fair Hill. When Dixie Moon made the early move to the lead, it was too tough for Wonder Gadot to seal the deal.

You could see blinkers on WONDER GADOT in the Queen’s Plate with perhaps john Velazquez coming up to ride (Husbands will likely take Trial winner Telekinesis)

DIXIE MOON, a tall, tough chestnut filly who went unsold as a yearling  for Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry of Toronto, held off the charge of Gary Barber’s champion 2-year-old filly from a year ago to win the 63rd Oaks worth $500,000.

Trained by Catherine Day Phillips, DIXIE MOON was perfectly ridden and trained to the minute in this 3rd race of her season.


She ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.37, just a shade quicker than the Plate Trial of 1:50.40.

The Fitzhenrys, who had their biggest year in racing as owners last season (they have been breeding to sell but had Dixie Moon, Mr Havercamp and Guy Caballero in their stable last year) were overwhelmed by the win.

As they were greeted with a round of cheers and applause up in the Woodbine Club’s members lounge, Dorothy broke down in tears and Sean as still a bit stunned.

“I never thought the finish line was going to come,” said Sean.

Fittingly, the June/July issue of CANADIAN THOROUGHBRED magazine has a feature on the Fitzhenrys this month – check it out….


Fitzhenrys Hit Breeding Paydirt



Telekinesis passes Plate test

TELEKINESIS, son of Ghostzapper, won the Plate Trial – Terence Dulay Photo –











Telekinesis, bred by Bill Graham of Caledon, ON, will likely be the betting favourite in 3 weeks come Queen’s Plate day.

The colt was fairly convincing in the 9 furlong Trial, even if he did get away with very slow pace fractions.

Patrick Husbands was giving trainer Mark Casse his fifth win of the afternoon in the 1 1/8 mile Plate Trial, a $125,000 race for Canadian-bred three-year-olds which is a stepping-stone to the $1 million Queen’s Plate at 1 1/4 miles on June 30.

“He was travelling so easy,” said Husbands, who was riding Telekinesis for the first time in a race. “By the time I left the gate, he had one ear back and one ear forward and that’s a sign that a horse is comfortable under you.

“So I got about the three-quarter pole and he still had one ear forward and one ear back, he showed me that he was just playing with that horse.

“Down the lane, I was squeezing him a little bit. He did just enough to win the race.”

Telekinesis had moved quickly into the lead from his No. 2 post and controlled the pace through a quarter in :25.06 and a half in :49.66 with Rose’s Vision in hot pursuit and Scrapper running third on the inside.

Heading around the final turn, Rose’s Vision took on Telekinesis in earnest but remained a half-length back through six furlongs in 1:13.31. At the furlong pole, Rose’s Vision was just a head off Telekinesis with the mile clocked in 1:37.61.

And while the winner drew away in the final stages, finishing in 1:50.40, Rose’s Vision was easily second with Aheadbyacentury 4 3/4 lengths back in third-place with a belated run. Boyhood Dream ran fourth, 1 1/2 lengths behind Aheadbyacentury.

Casse will also start Chiefswood Stables’ NEEPAWA in the Plate.

The field is beginning to look like this, 10 are listed, the most probable entrants:

AHEADBYACENTURY was 3rd in the Plate Trial for the JACK OF HEARTS RACING STABLE and JOHN ROSS – Terence Dulay Photo

















TELEKINESIS – won Plate Trial

ROSE’S VISION – 2nd Plate Trial


BOYHOOD DREAM – 4th Plate Trial

DIXIE MOON – Woodbine Oaks

WONDER GADOT – 2nd Woodbine Oaks

STRIKE ME DOWN – stakes placed last start, winner

SAY THE WORD – winner

NEEPAWA – stakes place winner

COOLER MIKE – stakes placed winner


From left to right – John Brnjas, Peter Berringer, Dermot Carty, Mrs. Elfriede Stronach, Frank DiGiulio Jr., Tim Orlando, Robert Landry, Glenn Sikura, John Carey and Rolph Davis.






















Many of Ontario’s breeders got together for a fun night at the annual CTHS Awards held at Lionhead Golf Club in Mississauga.

Hosted by Vicki Pappas and Robert Gellar, the evening included a dinner, silent auction (proceeds to LongRun Retirement Society) and dancing.

Thirty-eight breeders received RECOGNITION OF EXCELLENCE AWARDS for breeding Ontario-bred Stakes winners in 2017.

And 19 breeders won the big awards, gorgeous framed images by Dave Landry, for breeding Ontario-bred winners of Historical Grade 1 Canadian or Open Graded Stakes races.

Awards were also presented to the 2017 Top Ontario stallions: Old Forester – Silent Name (Jpn) and Milwaukee Brew. Cold Harbor won top 1st crop sire.

The Gillian Luxton Scholarship recipient was Danielle Ciomyk and the leading owner as presented by the Jockey Club of Canada was CHIEFSWOOD STABLE.


The top awards of the night were:

AWARD OF MERIT – HORSE PUBLICATIONS GROUP. Jennifer Anstey, owned by HPG, accepted the award and noted that when he mother Susan Jane began the Horse Sport magazine, called the Corinthian, there was racing coverage in it each month.

HPG publishes CANADIAN THOROUGHBRED MAGAZINE which has been covering Canadian racing for the breeder for more than half a century.





Monitoring and deterring the use of prohibited substances that could illegally boost the performance of horses during races is a critical component of maintaining the integrity and fairness of horse racing in Canada. The Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA), housed within Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, has an important role to play in this area. But how well is the CPMA doing? This is a key question that has led the Agency to undertake a review of all of its activities. Understanding what is currently working well and where improvements can be made is fundamental in ensuring that the work of the CPMA remains relevant and effective.


Plenty of documented information will be consulted during the review process, but it is critical to gather the actual views of those on the front line of horse racing. To engage these individuals, the CPMA is working with a research firm, PRA Inc., to administer a short on-line survey. The hope is that horse owners, trainers, grooms, and other individuals involved in horse racing will take just a few minutes to add their perspective to the review. Understanding the realities of horse racing requires more than data, statistics and reports. It takes the knowledge that comes from the experiences of those for whom horse racing is a commitment and a passion. If you are one of these individuals, please take less than five minutes to provide your insights through the following  web link address:



Last week saw the MARK CASSE stable led by David Adams win 9 races from 16 starters to zoom to the top of the charts for trainers and land in a tie with Norm McKnight, last year’s leading trainer who was winning at a 51% clip a week ago.

The trend of racing at Woodbine in the first 26 days has been just short of bizarre with the swath cut by the McKnight runners and then the current 3 for his last 25 record.

Not listed is the record of the martin Drexler- Jim Ensom stable which is 11 for 27 at the meeting. Ensom recently took over the Drexler horses, including many owned by Ensom, after Drexler received two positive tests this season. There has not been any news on what the outcome will be for Drexler (appeal, short suspension) from the AGCO.

Mark E. Casse         112 —   28 24 17 $1,423,183
Norman McKnight  67 —   28 13 9 $772,213 –
Robert P. Tiller        56 — 16 6 8 $535,755
Nicholas Gonzalez  44 —  10 9 3 $205,768
Kevin Attard               42 —     8 9 2 $239,531


Just 5 riders are currently winning races at a regular rate:


Jockey                            Stts 1st 2nd 3rd Earnings


1 Rafael Manuel Hernandez    195   51 34 26 $1,630,549
2 Eurico Rosa Da Silva             135    34 31 11 $1,412,841
3 Patrick Husbands                  117     26 24 28 $1,241,627
4 Gary Boulanger                     144     26 23 20 $1,194,798
5 Luis Contreras                       156     24 26 24 $1,061,500
6 David Moran                          124     9 14 19 $417,100
7 Alan Garcia                             69      9 8 6 $332,715
8 Steven Ronald Bahen            70    7 10 5 $255,520
9 Chantal Sutherland                 87  6 5 7 $233,085
10 Christopher Husbands         59 5 2 9 $212,911
12 Jerome Lermyte                   51 5 6 6 $190,295
14 Omar Moreno                        38 5 1 8 $158,266


Top Beyer Figures by Winners Wed – Sunday


94 – BOREAL SPIRIT (North Light (Ire)- Congratulations to this 6-year-old who came off the layoff to win this turf sprint for Shady lane Farm and Mark Gems International. It was the first win of the season for trainer Jennifer Shafer and the first win for this gelding since 2016. he had been 2nd to Pink Lloyd last year in a tough but solid campaign.

6 furlongs, turf in 1:07.41 (turf is sizzling fast)

88 – DIXIE MOON (Curlin)- lifetime best Beyer in her 3rd race of the year to win the Woodbine Oaks –  1 1/8 miles in 1:50.37

88 – TELEKINESIS (Ghostzapper) – First run on Tapeta and he set a slow pace and won the Plate Trial, 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.40

88 CODE WARRIOR – Robert Marzilli’s cool mare by Society’s Chairman won the Hendreie Stakes, Grade 3

87 – SWEET LITTLE MAN (Jazil) Bred by the late Don Amos, this is cool dude who has won twice this year now (*although his season debut win came back with a positive test for clenbuterol leading to the suspension of his trainer Martin Drexler). This 8-year-old has won 8 times in his career and has $382,000 in earnings. Jim Ensom currently trains for Joey Gee Thoroughbreds.

6 furlongs in 1:07.48, turf.

85 —  RED CABERNET (Signature Red)  allowance race on turf Wed. night, 1:34.95 for Piano Bar Stable and trainer Ian Black. one of the first 2 horses bought by syndicate Piano Bar Stable under Jim Menzies.

85 -SINE METU (Rebellion) – 48 to 1 winner of a 1 1/16 mile race on Sunday for owner and trainer Julie Belhumeur who bought the gelding off Debra Rombis. The 7-year-old won this 430,000 claiming race from miles behind to upset big favourite Bear’sway. Time 1:45.05

84 – ROAD TO VICTORY (Quality Road), won the Alywow Stakes in her season debut to remain unbeaten for Gary Barber and John oxley. Won Grade 2 Golden Rod last year, Mother Goose may be next.

6 1/2 on turf in 1:13.88

82 VANISH (Algorithims)– won a turf allowance race for Gary Barber/Casse in 1:33.89 for 1 mile. Bred by Hope Stock Farm


BORN IN A BREEZE – new life in Alberta

Former Woodbine runner BORN IN A BREEZE just defeated Alberta Horse of the Year Trooper John – Michael Burns photo from Woodbine

story by Curtis Stock –

Tommy Rycroft, a beer in one hand, a handshake in the other, leaned back against his chair and did nothing but grin following Born in a Breeze’s victory in Saturday’s $50,000, one-mile Spangled Jimmy. “Tough s.o.b.,” said Rycroft after edging out 7-5 favourite Trooper John – trained by his son, Tim, and the always resilient Double Bear by half a length.

Incredibly, just as they had in last year’s Canadian Derby, Trooper John and Double Bear dead-heated for second – an occurrence as rare as finding an elephant on Jasper Ave.“(Born in a Breeze) gives you everything he’s got every time,” continued Tommy, who is having a very solid season. “He just doesn’t quit. Last time out he finished second by a neck to Trooper John but that was going six furlongs and Born in a Breeze isn’t a sprinter. I knew he’d like the extra distance.”





Betting on horse-racing can decrese risk of dementia in elderly

Playing mahjong and betting on horse racing, two hugely popular but often maligned intellectual pastimes in Hong Kong, could help to decrease the risk of dementia in the elderly, the latest research in the city has confirmed.