WEEK OF WONDER
Gary Barber’s Wonder Gadot exited her final breeze for Saturday’s Grade 1 Travers in good order and will be ridden by IRAD ORTIZ in the big race at Saratoga.
A decision by Barber regarding the riding assignment for Wonder Gadot in the Travers came Monday. Casse mentioned Hall of Famer Mike Smith, Florent Geroux, and Tyler Gaffalione as possibilities for the call but when Hofburg scratched and Ortiz, the leading rider at Saratoga became available, the decision was made.
Jockey John Velazquez, who has ridden Wonder Gadot in some of her biggest races, will be aboard Vinno Rosso in the Mid-Summer Derby, trained by Todd Pletcher for St. Elias Stables and Repole Stable.
“She’s a sweetie about everything, but she does have a lot of energy,” Casse said of Wonder Gadot’s racing style. “You kind of always have to slow her down.”
The 3-year-old filly by Medaglia d’Oro enjoyed an easy Sunday morning, her second walk day since breezing a four-furlong bullet in 47.60 seconds on Friday.
“She’s been very good. All is well,” said Casse. “We gave her today off – she just went around the shedrow – and she’ll go back tomorrow.”
Bred in Ontario, Wonder Gadot won the first two legs of Canada’s Triple Crown in dominating fashion over males this summer, but her connections opted to skip the third leg and target the Travers instead, where she will be the first filly since Davona Dale in 1979 to contest the Mid-Summer Derby. Davona Dale, named champion 3-year-old filly and later inducted in the Hall of Fame, finished fourth as the favorite that year.
Seven fillies have won the Travers in its 148-year history with the last being Lady Rotha, who was elevated to victory via disqualification in 1915.
Also, despite Wonder Gadot’s redirection to the Travers, Casse still won his own Triple Crown on Saturday, with Chiefswood Stable’s Neepawa pulling away to a 3 ½-length victory in the in the Breeders’ Stakes over the turf at Woodbine.
“That was really nice, because I felt some mixed emotions [about sending Wonder Gadot to the Travers],” said Casse. “I felt a little bad that I could be letting Woodbine down and letting Canada down, so it was nice to win with that colt. Plus, the owners, Chiefswood, are just a super operation. So now, I’m happy that we’re here and we’re able to represent Woodbine with Wonder Gadot.”
The draw for posts for the Travers, which may have as many as 12 entrants is tomorrow, stay tuned to Thoroughblog for the news.
NEEPAWA gallops to Breeders’ Stakes win
Door open for a 3yo male to step up for Sovereign
NEEPAWA led all the way on soggy grass to win the 3rd leg of the Triple Crown for Chiefswood Stables.
The almost black Scat Daddy fellow, who was a lot of people’s pick for the Queen’s Plate, confirmed he only wants to be on the grass and it was a surface that most in the Breeders’ field had not proven themselves on.
Incredibly, AHEADBYACENTURY, the wonderful main track guy who was 2nd to Wonder Gadot in the Plate and Prince of Wales, was the 2 to 1 favourite for the Breeders despite never having run on the grass. Add to that that he had no grass breeding whatsoever, it was hard to imagine him being 2 to 1. He beat one rival in the race.
The CTHS Elgin Stakes next week for 3 and up on the Tapeta could have been a good spot for some of the local 3yos who were unprovenon turf.
Neepawa is carrying on the great tradition of Niigon, the Queen’s Plate winner who died so early in his stud career. Neepawa’s dam is Niigon’s Touch by Niigon.
Named for a tiny town in Manitoba, it is expected that Neepawa will stay on the grass.
That puts the 3-year-old male division in Canada in complete disarray. The top 3yos in Canada by speed figures are fillies (and the numbers are not even that high).
The best 3yo male who has at least won a stakes race is WEEKEND WARRIOR (88 Beyer), a BC bred by Rosberg who won the Chris Loseth Handicap and recently was second in the Mickleshoot Derby at Emerald Downs.
TOP BEYER FIGURES FROM WINNERS ACROSS CANADA
(last week excluding Sunday at Woodbine which is not available yet)
86 AVIE’S MESA
86 IKERRIN ROAD
80 – LANGARA (Manitoba)
LANGARA WINS PHIL KIVES STAKES BY 17 LENGTHS
Yearling half brother then tops CTHS sale
LANGARA, a Manitoba-bred 5-year-old by Langfuhr from the Ontario stakes winner Midnight Shadow by Trajectory won Friday night’s Phil Kives Stakes by 17 1/4 lengths over two rivals. He raced one mile on the dirt in 1:40 and earned an 80 Beyer Figure.
This was the third year in succession that Langara has won the Kives Stakes.
Owned by Keith Johns’ True North Stable, Barry Arnason and trainer Don Schell, Langara has won 13 of 28 races and earned $149,000. He was originally a yearling purchase by Pat Beavis for about $6,000.
MANITOBA CTHS SALE AVERAGE INCREASES BY 48%
Just two days later from Langara’s win, the CTHS Manitoba yearling sale offered a half brother to the star, by Going Commando. The gelding, named Vasalund, topped the sale at $20,000. The youngster was sold by Ziprick Thoroughbreds as agent.
There were only 27 horses in the catalogue and only 10 were sold, although the average up more than 35% over the 12 horses sold last year.
10 sold ( 27 offered) 37%
12 sold ( 18 offered) 67%
IT’S NOT EASY BEING A BETTOR
There will always be races that looks a bit weird to fans, handicappers and the true-blue conspiracy theorists out there, but there have been a couple strange occurrences in the last short while. The most frustrating part is that fans, bettors, and students of the game are left with little or no information.
The first incident happened during a stakes race at Assiniboia Downs a few weeks ago, the second was in a race this past Sunday at Gulfstream Park.
There have been other races that have made many, many fans jump to social media to say ‘hmmmm’ or ask ‘why’, but it gets a bit tiring trying to note anything that deserves a second look. The new Senior Race Reports are meant to help explain these situations. AGCO now publishes these reports on its own site and also on Woodbine’s, Fort Erie’s, and Ajax’s websites.
But the rulings for disqualifications or whip infractions or other infractions by owners or trainers are not published regularly anywhere which is a problem.
The Race reports are pretty good but information is still missing; why did that horse pull up and get vanned off and why did it reappear in the entries again and pull again again? Why do decisions on virtually anything from positive tests to whip infractions take so long?
Take a look at TD Thorton’s follow-up on 1,500 career race winner Rohan Singh packing up his things and leaving his home track, Assiniboia Downs, when questions arose about his effort in a recent stakes race.
Then another interesting case on Sunday Aug. 19 when former Woodbine jockey Tony Maragh rides Musical Heart to a 2nd place finish. Within hours of the race, social media was alight with comments on this race that the horse was not asked for the win.
Maragh is on the #7 horse. Fans are hoping that some light will be shed on this race sooner rather than later.
GULFSTREAM RACE GOES VIRAL