Merry Christmas – Joyeux Noel from Thoroughblog!

READY.  Photo of Letter Fly (Cinderella) by Linda Shantz

What are your hopes for 2018? Thoroughblog’s list


The cycle of horse racing never actually stops. Yes, most horses who competed at Woodbine in 2017 are frolicking in paddocks with friends right now, rolling in mid and soon to be playing in the snow.
Others are in the warmer climates and on a short rest or still in training while owners, trainers, grooms and riders have gone with them, to continue their work.
It is not an easy business to be in if you take the entire winter off, voluntarily, or not.
Horse racing will always have its battles too. And from province to province, the battles have been significant. There has also been some exciting moves and great racing.
Here are some items on the Thoroughblog Christmas wish list:
1 – Working together. In all parts of this great industry. Can the various organizations work together to form one, strong, passionate voice?
And move forward, dealing with today’s racing and gaming climate, rather than live in the past?
Unity between all 3 important breeds is a must. Horse racing has been around for hundreds of years it many shapes and forms. Its not the best of times, but it is not the worst.
Horse racing and its great people can work together and share ideas. Let’s do it.


2 – Share our sport! The explosion of social media, Twitter and Facebook in particular has plenty of drawbacks but it is also an essential tool today to share how great the sport is.
We need to continue the history of the horse racing. We need new owners, we need to educate them on the industry and we want to share the fun of horse ownership.
It’s expensive, yes, but that is part of the education. Partnerships are on the rise. Take advantage.
But horsepeople must spread the word. We get busy in the day-to-day business of preparing our horses but we need to fill the voids – the horse population, the owner population.
If you want to see growth and prosperity, you have a duty to help out your industry.


3 – Fans, fans, fans –  Regular customers and the new ones. Bring your friends and neighbours to the track. Help them learn the game. Show them the resources that will help them embrace this great sport.
Wagering on horse racing must be a focus. The customers drive the game and they want big fields (horse population continues to be a battle) and intriguing types of wagers (Pick 5, Pick 4).
They also want fair racing – perception IS reality. Do not mess with the fans, racing needs them.
– The stewards/judges must be more forthcoming with information. Why was this horse disqualified – why was it not? Why was there not an inquiry?  A Twitter account for judges at Western Fair was a pilot project last season
and we look forward to having on for all tracks soon.
When the biggest track in Canada and one of the premier circuits on the continent has its leading rider, Eurico da Silva, express, more than once, the confusion of decisions made by AGCO stewards this year, there is a problem.
If the jockeys are confused, the fans surely will be too.


As for new fans – we need ’em! Badly.
We need to show them that figuring out a horse race is a fun puzzle and that you can have favourite horses, or tab a horse for next time.
The HPI betting platform continues to evolve and improve – it has added a ‘stable alert’ aspect to the site which is super. Bet on a horse and want to follow him next time? You are all set through HPI.
Walking into the racetrack as a newbie continues to be a daunting task
The customer service team at Woodbine Entertainment is pretty good, “Ask Me How to Bet’ . (Although a recent query to one CS member on how to bet a superfecta was answered with ‘oh, we don’t encourage new people to bet
those, they are too complicated’ – ouch).
Teach people about betting – help them read the program. Set aside some time for a teaching seminar on wagering at the track. Perhaps on a dark day.


Lower food and drink prices! The Grandstand Social on Friday’s at Woodbine was a neat idea – Twilight racing similarly awesome.
But if you want people to have a few bucks to bet, the cost of a flatbread pizza and a beer will scare fans away quickly.


 4 -More great stories from the track.  From the grooms and hotwalkers and riders to the owners who purchased their first horse, there were tons of great stories in 2017.
The only place you could watch and hear about these great stories was Talkin Horse Racing internet show (
This was an initiative funded by the HBPA which continues to try and drive up interest in racing ownership and fans.
In a crammed social media climate, it was hard to get the word out about the internet show and a lot more help was needed from the horsepeople ( see notes above about Sharing the sport with others!)
The show introduced us to young trainer Tony Gattellaro who signed up some friends to buy into Clickity Clack, a 2-year-old filly who went on to win the $225,000 Princess Elizabeth Stakes.


And Jim and Graham Bruce, father and son from North Bay who import and sell fruits and veetagblkes and own a hockey team up north They claimed their first horse, Arthur’s Pass with trainer Don MacRae and the big grey
had a win, 2nd and 3rd.

And Jim Menzies, leader of Piano Bar Stable, also with friends. He met trainer Ian Black decades ago when his brother worked at Kinghaven Farms in King. Menzies brother died suddenly in a car crash some 20 years ago.


Horse racing stuck in the mind of Jim, however, and he looked up Black and bought 2 yearlings, one of which was this year’s 2-time winner and stakes placed gal Red Cabarnet.
There were so many more great stories of owners and partnerships plus nice stories about hardworking grooms and hotwalkers.
Can’t wait to uncover more of these on Thoroughblog!


This will be the scene soon at farms across Canada. Thank you to Dr Agnes Shaw for the image









If the holidays weren’t enough of a reason to celebrate, Saturday evening’s card of Standardbred racing at Woodbine Racetrack will have horseplayers filled with cheer.

A deep 12-race program, featuring a pair of Preferreds and many full fields, has been put together. The highlight of the evening is a mandatory payout on the Jackpot Hi-5 in the evening’s final-race (Race 12).

The Jackpot Hi-5 race feature a field of 12 pacing mares (Non-Winners of $6,000 last five or $13,000 last 10 starts) and will force horseplayers to throw on their thinking cap in order to craft a winning ticket.

Unlike past mandatory payouts, the Jackpot Hi-5 pool is not frozen and will continue to grow up until Saturday’s card. The carryover heading into Friday’s card of racing is $213,527.54 and horseplayers can expect a large pool on the final evening before the mandatory payout.

A total of $261,179 was wagered into the Hi-5 pool on October 7 at Mohawk, which was the final opportunity to take a shot at the Jackpot Hi-5 ahead of a mandatory payout on October 14.

If past Jackpot Hi-5 mandatory payouts are any indication, Saturday evening’s pool should exceed $1 million in new money.

The Jackpot Hi-5 requires horseplayers to select the top-five finishers in order and features a $0.20 minimum wager and a low 15 per cent take out.

Outside of the Jackpot Hi-5 mandatory payout, Saturday’s card is filled with many intriguing races and features the circuit’s top performers.

A full-field of 10 will compete in the $34,000 Preferred Trot (Race 3), including the red-hot Will Take Charge(PP9), who captured Monday’s edition of the Preferred to extend his current-win streak to three.

A four-year-old gelding, Will Take Charge is undefeated in three starts since being acquired by new owner Mac Nichol and trainer Jeff Gillis. Jody Jamieson handles the driving duties.

Il Sogno Dream (PP6), who had a three-race win streak snapped on Monday, will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing fifth-place finish. The six-year-old winner of over $1.1 million has the post position advantage over Will Take Charge and will have the driving services of Jonathan Drury.

The Preferred Trot also features Odds On Amethyst, who this week was named an O’Brien Award finalist. The six-year-old gelding has won 10 of 37 starts and earned over $215,000 this season for co-owner/trainer/driver Pat Hudon.

The $34,000 Preferred Trot is carded as Race 3.

The circuit’s top older pacer Easy Lover Hanover will attempt to stretch his current win-streak to six in Saturday’s $34,000 Preferred Pace.

The Ben Wallace-trained four-year-old gelding has been dominating the Preferred since scoring a 1:50 victory on November 4. ‘Easy Lover’ held his own in some fall Grand Circuit events and appeared to gain great confidence to go on an outstanding late-season run.

Owned by Brad Grant, Easy Lover Hanover is eight for 23 with $198,487 earned this season. Jamieson will sit behind the four-year-old for a second-consecutive week.

Overall, Easy Lover Hanover has won nine of 14 career starts with Jamieson in the sulky.

While the Wallace trainee is clearly the horse to beat, Prescotts Hope (PP4) and Champagne Phil (PP2) each came up just a head short of defeating ‘Easy Lover’ last week and both are in the field of eight for Saturday’s contest.

Saturday’s card features 111 horses competing in 12-races. Along with the Jackpot Hi-5 mandatory payout, the wagering menu includes a $50,000 Pick-5 starting Race 1 and $50,000 Early Pick-4 starting in Race 4.


Racetrack communities around the world have joined together to help the horses involved in the San Luis Rey Downs fire in California.

Woodbine racetrack donated $10,000 to CARMA (California Retirement Management Fund) to assist those in need.

The horses lost in the fire have been named by the CHRB


WOODBINE LAND PROPOSAL before Design Review Board

Located on a 684-acre site largely occupied by surface parking lots and unused land, the racetrack redevelopment would see office, retail, commercial, residential, hotel, and gaming uses constructed on its sprawling lot, creating a denser, more urban district and entertainment destination. WEG and their design team, led by Chris Dikeakos Architects and CGL Architects, provided a glimpse of their proposal at a Design Review Panel (DRP) session last month.