The Plate trophy will be won in 3 weeks – but by whom? Photo by net.


67th running 4:35 p.m. today

It all comes down to this.

Today’s 9 furlong Plate Trial Stakes, where the colts carry the Plate weight of 126 lbs. will determine the favourite for the 150th edition of the Canadian classic on June 21.

SQUARE EDDIE, who would be the big favourite, is sidelined and is not coming from California as reported in Thoroughblog last week. So, will it be the sturdy EL BRUJO? The fancy SOUTHDALE? Or Euro-tranplants RAPID RELEASE or EASTERN PROMISE?

Here’s a look at the race:



1 – El Brujo – Patrick Husbands – Malcolm Pierce

2 – Rapid Release – Jono Jones – Roger Attfield

3 – Eastern Promise – Jeremy Rose – Mark Frostad

4 – Active Duty – Corey Fraser – Mark Casse

5 – Southdale – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Ian Black

6 – Bucephalus – Tyler Pizarro – Kevin Attard

7 – Keino West – Gerry Olguin – Steve Attard

8 – Thor’s Piper – Jim McAleney – Eric Coatrieux

9 – Costalivin – Chantal Sutherland – John Ross

10 – Eye of the Leopard – Eurico Rosa da Silva – Mark Frostad


Photo – EL BRUJO by Norm Files



SOUTHDALE – could be the real deal – he was hyped last fall, was heavily bet at Keeneland when TVG television commentators hyped him up and he was full value at odds on when he won his maiden at Woodbine. Add in jockey Wilson who is on a roll and his exquisite breeding (Street Cry) and appearance and he looks unbeatable. Or is he? It seems as if everyone has him at the top of their list. He’s 7 to 2 in the morning line but he won’t be that at post time – could he be favoured?

EL BRUJO is tough and has not done anything wrong this year. He did well at 9 furlongs last year and his trainer Malcom Pierce is winning everything. The Windways Farm homebred wears lots of bandages but he has a high flyin rider in Patrick Husbands.

RAPID RELEASE – Trainer Roger Attfield likes this colt and hey, the trainer has won 8 Plate so let’s not argue. The colt is a one-paced type with low Beyer Figures, however. The longer distance may work in his favour and he was bred in Ontario by Shyman Farm.

EASTERN PROMISE will be cheered on by Kinghaven Farms’ David Willmot, who also bred no-show Square Eddie. This colt was raced in France by Ec.N.Forgeard/Ec.J.L.Tepper but was recently bought by Earle Mack, who has a knack for buying 3yos to bring to the Plate. The Grand Slam fellow got rave reviews for a workout in 59 4/5 on May 27.

ACTIVE DUTY ran well in the 7 furlong Queenston and he won the Coronation Futurity last year – the 1 1/8 mile classic for 2yos. He has disappointed since then but really, his Beyer Figues have stayed the same.

THOR’S PIPER is an up and comer and if you believe is deja vue – his full brother won this race a couple of years ago for the Chiefswood gang.

EYE OF THE LEOPARD is by A.P. Indy and out of Oaks winner Eye of the Sphynx – how can he not be good? He won his maiden on the engine last time, his 2nd career start. He needs seasoning.

COSTALIVIN is on a crash course – he just won an Ontario sired race less than 2 weeks ago and would do well with an easy race in this event.


Woodbine fans treated to star’s win

The turf was on the giving side but Grade 1 winner RUTHERIENNE handled it just fine and won her Woodbine return yesterday in the $300,000 Nassau Stakes – Grade 3. The Pulpit filly, owned by Virginia Kraft Payson (Payson Park, Payson Stud), the 5yo mare was bet down to 4 to 5 by the fans who realized the race was a mismatch.


PHOTO – Rutherienne streaks to a Nassau win at Woodbine. Cindy Pierson Dulay photo.

Under Alan Garcia, the dark bay mare rallied from several lengths off the pace and split rivals when getting room off the turn and he drove clear.

Roger Attfield trainee CALLWOOD DANCER ran well from the back of the pack to be 2nd, 3 lengths behind the winner.

“On paper, there wasn’t too much speed in the race,” said Garcia.  “My filly was comfortable where she was.  I wanted to be patient until the top of the stretch. It’s a long stretch and the last quarter, I was looking for room. Then it opened up a little bit and I had a small opening.  I wanted to take advantage. She went in there and she kept on going.”

Christophe Lorieul, an assistant to Clement, added, “She was, not to say, unlucky, but she ran against some very tough competition last year. She proved that she was the best today.

“We were not sure (of the condition of the turf). We were watching the Weather Channel very closely. She ran well the other time at Keeneland and the turf was listed as ‘good’.  I was a bit concerned today because I think she’s a better filly on good to firm turf.  I was just hoping it was not too soft.”

“We’ll try (to come back to Woodbine this year).  She proved that she liked the turf here.  Maybe California or Saratoga next.”


More Saturday

– MONTY’S BEST, owned by Jim and Susan Hill and trained by Reade Baker, cruised by 1 to 5 shot EXCHANGE NOTE like he was virtually at a standstill and won the 2nd race, an allowance for 3-year-olds. Exchange Note, a debut winner with a 100 Beyer Figure, scoring by 9 lengths, was fully expected to double up in the tiny field but after a speed duel with rank outside Bold Bandit, ridden by Patrick Husbands, Exchange Note and his rider Chantal Sutherland had nothing left to give. He stayed on for 2nd.

Meanwhile, Monty’s Best, a Montbrook colt, was making just his first start of the year. He was placed in the Iroquois Stakes, Grade 3, last year at Churchill Downs in his final outing as a juvenile. His Beyer yesterday was 91.

PEPLOE won the first race, a maiden allowance for 2yo fillies, Ontario sired, giving Tomahawk another debut winner. A Firestone Farms Inc. homebred trained by Bruce Smither, Peploe is out of the Firestone mare Hollywood Ending, who won about $300,000 in her career.

IWANTTOBELIEVE was believable in race 3, another maiden filly race for 2yos. This, an open race, was the debut for the Limehouse filly (it is the Grand Slam stallion’s first crop) and she had a lovely trip chasing in 3rd and then rallying outside to get past the highly touted OIL PAINTING, a Distorted Humor gal out of stakes winner Handpainted. The winner is a  Vinery Stable/Steve Asmussen project and she ranced 4 1/2 in 52.46.

Race 4 – off the turf claiming race for $40,000 was down to 7 horses and what a gift for GARZON – a boy who has been a different horse this year as a 6-year-old gelding. The son of Elajjud has thrived in the care of co-owner and trainer John Cardella and jockey Husbands. He rallied from the rail on the turn and then between runners in deep stretch to win over 3 rivals who were all very close at the finish.

Co-owned by Mel Morris, Garzon was winning for the 3rd time this season and pranced away from the winner’s circle photo like he knew he was the man. “He always breaks sharp but I want to take him out of the race early,” said Husbands on SUN TV. On his wild season to this point Husbands said: “Racing is all about luck, my agent and myself are just in the right place at the right time rght now.”

Trainer Sid Attard unleashed a nice first-time starter named SMOKEY FIRE for owner/breeder Mel Lawson. The grey colt, a full brother to 2yo stakes winner of last year Utterly Cool, was getting a late start to his career as a 4yo but he romped home  in race 6 and earned a whopping 96 Beyer Figure. The grey has a white nose and a long, smooth stride and he won by more than 7 lengths in the 6 furlong dash.

Jockey Chantal Sutherland rode the colt: “I worked him and felt he had enough speed, he’s very talented. at the 1/4 pole he snorted, I think he scared the horse beside him. He just took a big puff of air, he was showing off.”

The last race of the day was a maiden allowance and what a win it was for SUZANNE AND TIM DRAKE’s Silver Duck Racing Stable. The team sent out 23 to 1 longshot MORETHANCONQUERORS to win the $60,000 event with a strong rally from well off the pace in 1:17 4/5 for 6 1/2 furlongs. The gelding was making his season debut and he is by the Drake’s own stallion PICCILO PETE out of the Comet Shine mare Shark Attack.


– Trainer Roger Attfield has a lovely MEDAGLIA D’ORO 3yo in his barn – no, it’s not Queen’s Plate eligible PRIME TIME (he loves that colt but he’s still a maiden) but its MIDNIGHT MISCHIEF, who won his 2nd career start with an 86 Beyer Figure on Friday in a 1 mile and 70 yard off-the-turf venture.

Owned by John Gunther and Cudney Stable, which bred the Kentucy foaled 3yo, Midnight Mischief made a fast move before the 1/4 pole to get to the leaders, rested a bit bit and then took off to win big under Jono Jones.

Also on Friday – first time starter for trainer Red Johnson, AINT IT THE TRUTH, led all the way to win the first race for $40,000 claiming at 4 1/2 furlongs. She is by Ontario sire ALJABR.

VEGAS VENTURE got off the schneid this year when he won the 4th race with a stirring rally from behind a very slow pace ina 7 furlong, $20,00 claiming race. The GOld Fever gelding, owned by Frank DiGiulio and trained by Robert Tiller was making his 4th start of the season.

In that race, the decline of VERNE’S BABY continued. The stakes winning, track record setter who had several operations and missed 2 years of racing, beat one in the race and was more than 11 lengths back at the finish. He has raced 4 times this year, has slid down from stakes to $20,000 claiming and beenn beaten a total of about 60 lengths.

CROWN ISLE was virtually everyone’s pick to win race 5, a maiden allowance that came off the grass. The 3yo showed a lot of promise as a juvenile and was well prepared to win his season debut by trainer John Charalambous. Owned by Uphill Stable, the Arch colt was ridden by a red-hot Emma-Jayne Wilson.



– There have been some tough trips noted during the scrutinizing of races in recent days:

OISTINS – a 2yo filly on Saturday in race 1 was arguably best. The Peals and Valleys gal was checked and steadied off the turn and threw her head up when blocked but she rallied to be 3rd.

ADDED FORCE – in race 5 on Saturday stumbled badly at the start, was 6 wide and 4 wide on the turns.

RUNNAWAY MY WAY had trouble in Saturday’s finale as he was blocked late on the turn and he rallied well once he was clear.

LADY GIBSON – A 2yo filly in Friday dwelt badly at the start of a 4 1/2 furlong race, zoomed past horses like a wild horse from there on and then predictably stalled in the late stages.



– Woodbine’s Victoria Stakes on June 14 will have an intriguing entrant if all goes well in the plans of BRICKLAYER.

The son of El Corredor won his debut at Aqueduct for trainer Frank Alexander and the Dogwood Stable and, according to the AIKEN STANDARD report by Ben Baugh, is headed to Woodbine now. Chantal Sutherland is reportedly going to ride said president Cot Campbell.

“We know Bricklayer can run,” said Campbell. Baugh writes that Dogwood also is excited about Brother Bird, the half brother to Kentucky Derby winner and Canadian champion Mine That Bird.




Woodbine horses enjoy edge in fitness

Harder surface makes adjustment easier to race on Fort Erie track

The unsettled status of the 2009 Fort Erie racing season helped Daryl Ezra move into a tie in the leading trainer statistics. So far he and John Simms have seven winners each. With seconds and thirds added, Simms has been in-the-money in 10 of 13 starts, Ezra in nine of 15.

“Usually I start training on the farm in March, but this year I started in December and then moved up to Woodbine on Valentine’s Day, because I didn’t know if I’d be racing at Woodbine or Mountaineer Park (in West Virginia) if Fort Erie failed to open,” Ezra explained. “And I’ve been more aggressive in starting my horses at the proper claiming levels.”

“The race surface at Fort Erie is good, kind to the horses, but it’s somewhat deep and tiring, leading to slow times. So it’s harder for the horses that have only trained at the Fort to reach top form quickly. So the Woodbine fitness edge has been a big factor, so has drawing good post positions and using apprentices for the weight off.”

“Bradley Wilson, a 10-pound bug who hasn’t ridden in a race yet, broke Federa from the gate for me and he won by six. If he’d had his paperwork in order, that could have been his first lifetime win.”


A gem of a racing season

TRIPLE RIPPLE | Belmont has compelling figures even without Rachel Alexandra

May 31, 2009


NEW YORK — And on Belmont Stakes day, the filly will rest.

The latest episode of ”How The Triple Crown Turns” resolved some major issues with the announcement that leading lady Rachel Alexandra will not run in the Belmont next Saturday.

”While she is in great shape … we feel Rachel deserves a well-earned vacation,” the Preakness-winning filly’s co-owner Jess Jackson said a statement issued late Friday afternoon, about the same time most TV soaps had signed off with viewers wondering what new twists await next week.

In the Triple Crown’s final installment, it is this: Leading man Calvin Borel will get back on Mine The Bird with a chance to become the first jockey to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and the Belmont on different horses.,CST-SPT-belchplug31.article