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It was be a bettor’s dream through the next 3 days at Woodbine with huge fields and some very nice races to wrap up 167 days of the meeting. Many folks are already on their way south or to other places to rest, race or both.

Interestingly, it was will determined that FIELD SIZE was actually down in 2010 from last year which is somewhat of a surprise. It is likely that the stakes races had a lot to do with that, the stakes fields were often small and disappointing this season.

The good news is, wagering on WOODBINE RACING is up almost 9% this year, a stunning result in this day and age. Of course, a lot of that is due to Americans betting on the product and when trainers like Mike Pino, Steve Asmussen, Wesley Ward and others ship in to race, all the better for, well, the bettors.

Not necessarily so for the locals but hey, we are a victim of our success.

Woodbine folks should be commended for beefing up its strategies to attract new fans. Indeed, the new show on Wed. night on THE SCORE cable channel (Mondays for Harness) has really helped get folks interesting in betting. It’s not a show that any of the regular fans, horsepeople will watch for sure, but the newbies out there are seemingly getting interested.

There were some moves by Woodbine, cost cutting measures, that were disheartening and curious, but the business is certainly being run well, for the most part.

Here is a story from R2 about the success of the new SCORE – WOODBINE SHOW….



 Handsome POOL PLAY is the big fave for VALEDICTORY STAKES on Sunday. His trainer chases a record…

Dave Landry photo









Sammy DiPasquale is headed to Florida for vacation. Then maybe an island or two. His horses are going to rest all winter.

SCOTT FAIRLIE is on a shopping spree as he will take a barnful of horses to PARX (Philly Park).

Ian Black, Reade Baker, Mike Doyle, Roger Attfield and Mark Casse, all are headed to Florida.

Others are moving their horses to various stables around Ontario before bringing them right back in by early Feb.

EURICO ROSA DA SILVA is the new king of the jockey’s room as he will win his first title this year. Strangely, the rider will not finish up the meet by riding at Woodbine on the last day, he is taking a suspension day so he will reportedly be IN STUDIO on the simulcast channel to talk about his New York trip coming up and other stuff.

Will the WOODBINE POLYTRACK play for speed for the final days? The track, which was notoriously biased for off the pace, wide ralliers for the last several weeks, suddenly went A BIT FOR speed on Wednesday night and again yesterday.

Here are some highlights from the last Wed. and Thursday cards:

PETER BERRINGER sent out MAHONE BAY to win his maiden in his 2nd race for the Oxbridge Stable on Thursday. The Include gelding led all the way under, who else, the meeting’s leading rider, EURICO ROSA DA SILVA.

A nice prospect to watch for new year is the Ontario bred filly BLINDESIDEHIT, a homebred for BIll Graham’s Windhaven. The Bluegras Cat filly was making only her 2nd career strat and won a 1 1/16 mile maiden allowance with a late rally under Emile Ramsammy. She is out of Heart Lake, by Unbridled. Big year for Doyle for sure.

Fittingly, the MIKE PINO barn continues to roll right to the end. His winning percentage is stellar – about 38% – and on Thursday, his invader NEW REVOLUTION won his Woodbine debut in a big drop from maiden allowance to maiden claiming.

SARAROYAL won her 3rd race in succession for David Sorokolit and trainer Darwin Banach in a $10,000 claiming event and she somehow paid $6.00 and change. The Royal Academy filly is 3 for 11 in her career.

The feature of the night was an allowance – optional claimer won by JIMMY SIMS, who was making his Polytrack debut for trainer Roger Attfield. Jimmy, a stakes winner who has only raced 7 times in the last 2 season, led from start to finish on the speed favouring track.

On Wed. night, the first crop stallion STRUT THE STAGE had his 2nd debut winning 2yo in a route race when 26 to 1 shot NOVO blew a field of fillies away for Colebrook Farms and trainer Ashlee Brnjas. Novo, a homebred, actually licked her rider Gerry Olguin in the paddock and had to have a replacement rider, Na Somsanith.

And SAND COVE was a dominating winner of the SIR BARTON STAKES and may have wrapped up the Sovereign Award for champion older male for Ralph Johnson and trainer Roger Attfield. The grey gelding ran a 100 Beyer Figure in his romp over longshot Mamma’s Knight.


5 to go, horses in 12 races

It is going to be tough but trainer MARK CASSE is chasing the record for most wins by a trainer at Woodbine. He has 84. The record is 89 held by Frank Passero Jr. who recently passed away.

Today, the trainer has 5 horses in 4 races and ENERGIZED in race 2 is a contender to win. His other runners are going to be hard-pressed to get it done.

Saturday, he has a couple of shots to win, realistically, and on Sunday, POOL PLAY, HAILSTONE and FALSE ECONOMY have big shots.

It will be close but it’s something to watch out for during the big weekend.


Legendary horse trainer loses battle with cancer



FORT ERIE — One of the local legends of horse racing has died.

Frank Passero Jr., the man who still holds the record for most wins at one Woodbine meet by a trainer, died Tuesday morning in Toronto after a long battle with cancer. The Fort Erie native was 77.

Based at Woodbine for most of his excellent career, Mr. Passero collected two other Woodbine training titles, in 1981, the autumn meet; and 1992, in addition to his still-standing record mark of 89 wins in 1995.

He also recorded five Ontario training championships, including titles at Fort Erie and Greenwood in 1981, 1982, 1988, 1992…