FLAMEAWAY photo by Julie Wright from 2017

Will join Casse’s 4th Queen’s Plate prospect Neepawa

Now that their American campaigns have been put aside, Ontario-breds Flameaway and Wonder Gadot are expected to come back home for the Queen’s Plate at the end of June.

It is expected that Wonder Gadot, who ran her hair our to just miss in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on Friday for a career high 96 Beyer Figure, would by-pass the Oaks and go straight to the Plate as she has been racing non-stop since last year. Should she race in the Oaks, she would certainly odds on to win it. She has not passed a horse in the stretch run this year but has handled herself well.

Flameaway, who bobbled in the late stages of the Derby while finishing some 30 lengths behind, appears to be a turf miler but there has been some thought he will race before the Plate (recent Casse Plate horses State of Honor and Danzig Moon raced in the Trial after the Derby).

“He’s a Canadian-bred, so if all goes well I would probably give him one start before the Queen’s Plate,” Casse said. “He’ll probably go to Woodbine. I don’t know, it’s still early and I want to talk to the Oxleys and hear their thoughts. If we are going to try and win the Queen’s Plate I think him being at Woodbine would make the most sense.”

Casse said he noticed Flameaway took a “funny step” in Saturday’s Derby when watching the replay but that the Scat Daddy chestnut seemed fine Sunday.

“He was running well, and (jockey) Jose (Lezcano) said at the half-mile pole he kind of acted funny,” Casse explained. “And then I watched the replay, he stayed on his left lead until about the eighth-pole, and when he switched to his right lead he took a funny step, or I think he may have been just exhausted. But when we got him back last night he was fine, so I’m hoping he’ll be OK.”

Should he bounce back, Flameaway would join Wonder Gadot plus Stonestreet Stables’ lightly raced Telekinesis in the Plate. Toss in Neepawa, trained by Casse for Chiefswood and that barn has quite the strangehold on the Plate.

SCRAPPER, a colt trained by Todd Pletcher, ran well in a grass stakes race at Gulfstream on the weekend with a 78 Beyer Figure. He is by Orb and owned by Sumaya Us Stable.

Read more about the Derby horses and their future plans.

The Marine Stakes is next up (this Sunday) for some Plate hopefuls including AHEAD BY A CENTURY who needs a big effort to stay on the Plate list.



In America, dirt racing is very aggressive at the best of times but when the weather goes like that [very wet], the aggression turns into nearly savagery,” said O’Brien, speaking at Newmarket on Sunday.



Justify may only have a few rivals in the Preakness.

Quip. Diamond King.

Bravazo. Sporting Chance.

Those could be the rivals for Kentucky Derby winner Justify in the Preakness, the 2nd jewel of the Triple Crown.

The race is on May 19 and is 1 3/16 miles, slightly shorter than the Derby. Quip could have raced in the Derby but he has been pointed to the Preakness. It should be noted that one of his owners is WinStar, which also owns Justify. It could be a walk in the park for the Derby winner should be bounce back from that hard Derby effort.



Top Beyer Figures at Woodbine Friday through Sunday 







 3 (Friday), 4 and 5 (Sunday)  were action packed with a bit of crazy weather (okay, a lot of crazy weather) and the occasional odd occurrence.

Friday’s wild wind and rain storm played havoc with everything from power to trees to blowing people, and even the starting gate, over. Ultimately, the last race Friday had to be cancelled and from any of the races that were run, you could likely sift through and find some horses who can do better in nicer conditions next time!


Derby Day, which had 10 races including the Woodstock Stakes, plus that huge card at Churchill Downs and a party in the tent area, did not attract the expected betting, however. Wagering was $3.9 million according to Equibase and that was down sharply from $5.5 million in 2017.

Race 1 – BOLDNPOSSIBLE owned and bred by Gayle Bosscher and Joe Schiewitz and trained by Denyse McClachrie won this $10,000 claiming race for her 2nd win in 10 career races. Rafael Hernandez rode the Valid N Bold 6-year-old mare.

Race 2 – Tony Gattellaro sent out Tucci Holdings’ WILD LUTE for a 9 to 1 upset win in this maiden, optional claiming race. The dark bay by Midnight Lute led all the way with Patrick Husbands riding.

Race 3 – ARE YOU KIDDING ME won the prep for the Eclipse Stakes with a powerful stretch rally and it was his first race since August. This is an amazing 8-year-old stallion who is 11 for 37 in his career now. Melmich was 2nd.

Race 4 – ZESTINA was 1st time on Lasix for Stronach Stables and Sid Attard and the 3yo filly led all the way to win this maiden/optional claiming race at 7 furlongs under Gary Boulanger. Sid Attard trains the Silent Name filly.

Race 5 – WATER POLO won for Laurie Silver and he is from the first crop of Pool Play. Omar Moreno rode the bay gelding who was making his 2nd start of the season.

Race 6 – BLUTARSKY won his season debut just as he did last year for Joey Gee Thoroughbreds. Boulanger rode for trainer Andrew Smith in this $6,000 claiming race.

Race 7 – OLIVIA’S UNCLE, claimed by Bruno Schickedanz and Norm McKnight at Oaklawn for $12,500, won this $61,000 allowance race on the pace and it was his 2nd win in 3 starts since the claim.

CURLIN’S HONOR, at $1.5 million from a 2yo sale in Maryland in 2017, sneaked into Woodbine to quickly get black type for owners John Oxley and Breeze Easy. He won the Woodstock Stakes on Saturday – Woodbine photo

CURLIN’S HONOR had to be considered the most likely winner of the 5 horse Woodstock Stakes since he won the first 2 races of his career before he was blasted in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn. Bought for $1.5 million at the Maryland 2yo sale last year by John Oxley and the Breeze Easy people (*who were stabled at Woodbine briefly with Troy Wismer a few years ago but then left), Curlin’s Honor was here for one purpose only – to get some black type on that pedigree. He won in workmanlike fashion over Verotn.

Race 9 – CRUMLIN QUEEN won for the 3rd time in his career in this optional claiming event for Dura Racing and Mike Doyle. The great gal by Where’s the Ring was out of stakes races and back in a sprint and she worked out a perfect trip.

Race 10 – Despite being stopped in the stretch run, the 7-year-old BIG BLACK STORM won his maiden in his season debut for Debra Rombis, who has a good sized stable of horses she owns herself. This older horse by Silent Name missed 2015 and some of 2016 when he was racing for other interests. He had 5 races in 2017 and picked up a few shares. This race was for $10,000 claiming.

The Daily Race Reports now made available by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario are not only important to have for horse racing fans and players to know what went into certain decisions or events each racing day, but they are can be light and amusing as well.

From Friday: Spoke with Tony Gattallaro, trainer of #5 “Desert Poem” about using sub colours. Said he had a horse in the race before and does have a second set being made. Intimated his horse may have won with the new silks as they are aerodynamic and the subs aren’t…


No stakes race on Sunday but the large field and good betting races let to a $4.5 million handle, a good number. The track seemed to play fairly with speed horses and stretch runners all doing well.

Race 1 – SWEET LITTLE MAN, an 8-year-old bred by the late Don Amos, won his season opener at 8 to 5 while upsetting another 8-year-old, CONSTANTINO. Sweet Little Man, by Jazil, is owned by Joey Gee Thoroughbreds which is winning races at a fast race this spring. This one is trained by Martin Drexler. Sweet Little Man has 7 wins in 40 races and over $368,000 in earnings.

Race 2 – With a salute and waves of his whip, Eurico Da Silva celebrated his first win back in saddle for 2018 with ARMAMENT in this maiden allowance. Da Silva, who was suspended for the first  6 cards of the meeting was riding in his first race back and brought this 4-year-old War Front colt from last place to win in his 5th career start. Malcolm Pierce now has 2 wins on the season.

Race 3 – JUNEBUG JITTERS lit up the board with her debut win at the $10,000 claiming level for Robert Hardie and trainer Julie Belhumeur. The chestnut Florida bred 3yo by It’s No Joke chased a strong pace and was still plugging away even when the very large filly Wave Dancer, at 8 to 5, took the lead. When that leader faltered, Junebug Jitters was there to grab the win under jockey Sheena Ryna.

Race 4 – Norm McKnight’s horses are simply amazing but they are also placed in races that are an exact fit. REIMAGINED, making his first start since December, had won for $9,500 and $11,500 to end last year and he was entered for $11,500 in this return. He blew the field away under Eurico Da Silva. Racer’s Edge owned the son of Philanthropist.

Nine-year-old CUMMINGS ROAD was claimed from Ed Knight by trainer Martin Drexler and Dixie Whistler was claimed by Holly Delaney.

Race 5 – SOUTHERN GREATNESS finally won his maiden, doing so for $16,000 in his 13th race for Bill and Vicki Poston. Mark Casse trains the 4yo by Greatness who was ridden by Patrick Husbands.

Race 6 – The Tucci team has been winning races frequently already and SWITCHBLADE, their grey gelding by Liaison, became the first 2 time winner of the meeting when he won for $10,000 on Sunday. The gelding didn’t do well in Florida but has been loving the return to Tapeta. Nick Gonzalez trains and Steve Bahen rode.

Race 7 – A wild charge to the finish iN a really good allowance/optional claiming race at 7 furlongs looked like it was going to be won by any number of horses but at the wire it was… a Norm McKnight trainee. BAYERD led all the way for Racers Edge and Dindyal Persaud in his first ever start on a synthetic dirt. The horse was claimed for $25,000 (US) from his last start from Steve Asmussen and owner Clark Brewster, who had won $596,000 with the Speightstown fellow.

Race 8 – MUST BE DREAMING led all the way as the favourite to win for Poplar Hill Equine and Ron Kirk and this full sister to multiple champion Are You Kidding Me was making her 2nd start of the year and first on Lasix. Roger Attfield trains the filly by Run Away and Hide.

Race 9 – LAUDERDALE rallied from far back to win a maiden allowance/optional claiming race for owner/breeder Borders Racing (Hazel Bennett, read more here) and trainer Dan Vella. This is a Silent Name 3-year-old colt from Hoi An by Successful Appeal and the Ontario-bred is a Canadian Triple Crown nominee.

Race 10 – Just like last May off the layoff, DAYLIGHT BREEZE led all the way and won. Hopefield Farms’ grey gelding, a 6yo, won this $40,00 claiming race from the widest post but he got to the rail quickly and held off the stretch runners under Raffie Hernandez.


Jockeys   Stats 1st 2nd 3rd Earnings

1 Rafael Manuel Hernandez     60 22 10 8 $650,153
2 Patrick Husbands                   38 10 7 8 $379,885
3 Gary Boulanger                        41 8 8 5 $323,811
4 Luis Contreras                         40 7 8 7 $278,895
7 Omar Moreno                           15 3 1 4 $84,785
8 Steven Ronald Bahen              23 3 5 2 $78,503 1
9 Eurico Rosa Da Silva                8 3 3 0 $78,198

1 Norman McKnight 21 — 12 4 5 $313,086 57% 21 —
2 Mark E. Casse         26 — 6 5 6 $287,108 23% 17 —
3 Robert P. Tiller       16 — 6 1 2 $191,852 38% 9 —
8 Nicholas Gonzalez 17 — 4 3 1 $77,874 24% 8 —
7 Darwin D. Banach   6 — 3 0 0 $78,197 50% 3 —
14 Scott H. Fairlie       5 — 3 0 0 $42,735