Mo Money to dictate race, Empire will strike back


The key to the Preakness Stakes today, 1 3/16 miles at Pimlico, is what CONQUEST MO MONEY will do. Here is a colt, who cost $8,500, who was given a chance to pass up the Kentucky Derby (!) following his 2nd place finish in the Arkansas Derby. Yes, he would have had to be supplemented for $200,000 (US) but the McKenna family wanted a fresh horse for a Preakness attack.

The son of Uncle Mo is from one of the most significant Canadian breeding lines in modern history – COOL MOOD, the Woodbine Oaks winner in 1969 owned by Kinghaven Farms, produced PASSING MOOD, the dam of WITH APPROVAL (Canadian Triple Crown winner) among others.

Passing Mood is also the dam of Star Shoot Stakes winner Daijin, dam of STIRRING, who is Mo Money’s momma. (Oh and Selene Stakes runner at Woodbine tomorrow, Silhouette, is a half sister to Stirring)

So CONQUEST MO MONEY, who was owned by Conquest Stables and in training with Mark Casse last fall before the youngster went into the Conquest full dispersal as an unraced 2yo.

He was bought for $8,500, an incredibly low price for a son of Uncle Mo, and he began his career in January at Sunland Park. He won the first 3 races of his career before he was 2nd in the Sunland Derby and Arkansas Derby.

This colt is the key to the race as he could, conceivably, zoom to the lead from his post 10 and have the lead to himself if he wishes.

There is no saying that Mo Money, a New York bred, willbe able to lead all the way over Kentucky Derby winner or last year’s Champion 2-year-old CLASSIC EMPIRE, but if he does try to go gate to wire on top, it could make things inetresting for the speedy Always Dreaming.

That is why I am picking CLASSIC EMPIRE, trained by Woodbine’s leading conditioner Mark Casse.

This colt is back on track after a messy winter of minor ailments and silly behaviour. He won the Arkansas Derby with good power and then had a rough trip in the slop in the Derby.

He’s sitting on a big one.







SHAMAN GHOST gets past the younger, up and comer DOLPHUS to win the Pimlico Special – Cindy Pierson Dulay photo (check out more at



Frank Stronach grteets SHAMAN GHOST, his homebred horse and 2nd all time leading Canadian bred earner – Vanessa Ng photo







SHAMAN GHOST moves to 2nd on all-time leading Canadian-bred Earners
Pimlico win Friday was Special

Stronach Stable’s multiple Grade 1 winner Shaman Ghost swept past rivals on the far outside and reeled in stubborn stablemate Dolphus in the final eighth of a mile to capture Friday’s $300,000 Xpressbet Pimlico Special (G3) by a neck at historic Pimlico Race Course.

The 47th running of the 1 3/16-mile Pimlico Special for 3-year-olds and up was a first for trainer Jimmy Jerkens, whose father, late Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens, trained 1993 winner and 1994 and 1995 runner-up Devil His Due.

The winning time of 1:54.55 over a fast main track was the fastest in the five runnings since the Special was resumed in 2012 after a three-year hiatus.

SHAMAN GHOST’S Beyer Speed Figure from Daily Racing Form was 106.

Dede McGehee’s Dolphus, a half-brother to 2009 Preakness (G1) winner and Horse of the Year and 2016 Racing Hall of Famer Rachel Alexandra, broke from his rail post and separated after a level beginning from the field of nine to take the lead through a quarter-mile in 23.84 seconds and a half in 47.92, followed by 80-1 long shot Discreet Lover and Conquest Windycity.

Hall of Fame-elect jockey Javier Castellano initially found himself racing in behind the leaders heading into the first turn before moving four wide for a clear run down the backstretch as Dolphus remained in front after six furlongs in 1:12.41. Castellano began to make his move approaching the stretch and engaged Dolphus after the two straightened for home.

“Dolphus had his own way. He wasn’t exactly walking. But he got the three quarters in 1:12 and the way the track was playing today, I thought he had a shot to hang on,” Jerkens said. “Shaman had just a little too much for him, but Dolphus ran terrific.”

The Special was the second of three consecutive wins for Castellano, who also won this race aboard Commissioner in 2015 and Last Gunfighter in 2013. Together he and Shaman Ghost, a son of Hall of Famer Ghostzapper, won the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) March 11 and the 2016 Woodward (G1) last summer at Saratoga.

“I love the horse and I have so much confidence in him because he reminds me of his father,” said Castellano, Ghostzapper’s regular rider. “Ghostzapper was such a great horse, he got better the more he matured.

“This is such an honest horse,” he added. “I could have gone to the lead anytime but I didn’t want to. He’s very straightforward. You can put him wherever you want.”

It was 7 ¼ lengths back to Conquest Windycity, who held on for third by a nose over 30-1 long shot Name Changer. Watershed, Discreet Lover, Fellowship, Eagle and Bodhisattva completed the order of finish. Defending champion Noble Bird was scratched.

Shaman Ghost now has eight wins and $3,719,311 in purse earnings from 16 lifetime starts. That puts hi 2nd on the all-time leading Canadian-bred earners list behind only AWESOME AGAIN, also owned by Stronach.

The Special’s rich past includes the iconic 1938 match race won by Seabiscuit over Triple Crown winner War Admiral. The stakes was discontinued after 1958 but revived in 1988 by late Maryland Jockey Club president Frank De Francis. The Special’s winners include Triple Crown champions Whirlaway, Citation and Assault and modern-day Horses of the Year Criminal Type, Cigar, Skip Away, Mineshaft and Invasor.




ACTRESS, a daughter of Canadian bred champion MILWAUKEE APPEAL won the Black Eyed Susan Stakes on Friday – Vanessa Ng photo

Great image of NICK JUAREZ aboard Actress after their win int he Black Eyed Susan – Grade 2 on Friday – Cindy Pierson Dulay at




MILWAUKEE APPEAL( by Milwaukee Brew) , Canada’s champion 3yo filly of 2009, had her first ever foal break her maiden in a big way on Friday. ACTRESS danced her way to victory in the Grade 2 Black Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico in the mud for owners Gary and Mary West.

Actress, a daughter of the top sire Tapit, is trained by Jason Servis for the West’s, who bought Milwaukee Appeal from owner Eugene George (C.E.C. Stable) after her racing career. Milwaukee Appeal was bred by George and won the Woodbine Oaks, was 3rd in the Queen’s Plate, 2nd in the Prince of Wales and 2nd in the Alabama (Grade 1)

Milwaukee Appeal has a 2yo by Tapit named Raise the Flag and a foal this year, a full sister to Actress.




ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Three days of racing at Woodbine this holiday weekend, nearly 300 horses racing.

Champion ARE YOU KIDDING ME looks for his 3rd straight Grade 3 Eclipse Stakes today, Woodbine Oaks fillies tackle US bred  SILHOUETTE in the Grade 3 Selene and Monday, the Steady Growth Stakes brings together Ontario’s good older guys.

Check out the weekend’s picks on Thoroughblog.



Jim Lawson  on panel. read more at The Blood Horse

A marketing panel, which is focusing on reaching new audiences through new venues of social media and technology, reported seven in 10 Millennials experience “FOMO” or fear of missing out. Jim Lawson of Woodbine Entertainment Group reported that 78% of Millennials plan to spend more money on events than on material goods and reaching that segment through big days, concerts, and red carpet-type events is key to drive growth.

“We can sell those events, but we need to go much further than that,” he said. “We have to do more than selling just three events a year. Woodbine has 133 race cards a year.”

But he noted getting the budget for marketing is difficult, because efforts need to be split between their current and core customers, as well as creating opportunities for new fans.