Opening day at Fort Erie Race Track. Michael Burns Photo

Opening day at Fort Erie Race Track. Michael Burns Photo




Old timer FLASHY MARGARITTA led from start to finish to get the 40-day Fort Erie meeting underway on Tuesday. Owned by Gerard Catalno and Victor Gnozzo and trained by Anthony Adamo, Flashy Margaritta was 2 to 5 and it was his 10th career win. He was also claimed after the race by Six Brothers Stable.

Fort Erie could be on the selling block by Carl Palladino depending on the results of the June 7 Ontario election. For now, however, the popular and pretty track was welcomed back with enthusiasm by area residents.

According to the track, it was a record day as more than 5,000 people attended the season opener and free concert by The Caverners.

“We wanted to do more on our opening day to attract new faces and start our season off on a high note, and it worked,” said Tom Valiquette, chief operating and financial officer of the Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium. “Our crowd was significantly larger than we typically see on opening day. On-track wagering was up 60% over last year, the highest wagering on a non-Prince of Wales Day that we’ve had since FELRC took over operation of the track in 2010.” Total wagering for the nine-race card topped off at $1.1 million.

“It’s great to be back,” commented trainer Anthony Adamo. “Win or lose, it’s great to be back for another season. We just claimed a nice horse, and we are looking to claim a couple more and support Fort Erie.”

The track will offer 40 race dates during the 2018 meet on Tuesdays and Sundays through to October 16. Next race day is Tuesday, June 5 at 4:20 p.m. with a free concert by Avenue Inn after the races. Sunday racing and the farmers market return on Sunday, June 10, with the first race at 1:20 p.m.

Fort Erie’s signature event, the Prince of Wales Stakes will be held on Tuesday, July 24.

For more information on live racing dates and special events, visit


Recent winner HOME BASE to bypass Plate, consider Prince of Wales


The hottest trainer in Kentucky is Mike Tomlinson and he is the conditioner of Canadian bred HOME BASE, who won his second straight race May 26 at Churchill Downs. the $190,000 yearling purchase is by Street Sense from the A.P, Ind mare Cast Call. His recent win at 7 furlongs on dirt earned him a 90 Beyer Speed Figure.

Christine and Jay Hayden bred the dark bay colt who is owned by Vinco Foglio of Chicago and races under the stable name of Patricia’s Hope LLC.

However, Tomlinson told Thoroughblog in a recent interview that HOME BASE would not contest the June 30 Queen’s Plate and instead be pointed to the $500,000 Prince of Wales at Fort Erie.

“We’re looking at the Matt Winn Stakes for him at Churchill Downs next,” said Tomlinson. “Then we’ll probabbly look at a start in the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown.”

The Matt Winn is a Grade 3 at 1 1/16 miles on dirt and is in mid June.

“We have no idea what he would do on the synthetic dirt so I don’t really want to send him up [to the Plate] and waste a race.”

SAY THE WORD is quickly entering the Plate ‘major contender’ list for Sam-Son Farms. The More Than Ready dark bay gelding, trained by Graham Motion, raced well against older males on the weekend at Woodbine and 1 1/16 miles and posted a career best 83 Beyer Speed Figure.

Say the Word won his maiden at Keeneland at 1 3/16 miles on grass before coming back to Woodbine. His dam, Danceforacause (Giant’s Causeway) never raced and her dam Dancethruthestorm (Thunder Gulch) was also unraced.

The third dam, however, is DANCE SMARTLY.

ALTERNATIVE ROUTE’s 4th place finish in the Arlington Classic on grass last weekend earned him a 72 Beyer Figure. He is a son of Tiznow from La Suena, bred by Bill Graham.

Sam-Son Farms, which also has the Tapit 3yo STRIKE ME DOWN on the Plate shortlist, won with yet another 3yo on the weekend, the newly gelded EL TORMENTA.

Making his first start of the year, the white-legged son of Stormy Atlantic – Torreadora by El Prado broke slowly, rushed up and was a bit rank but then took off to win big with a 77 Beyer Figure. Gail Cox trains El Tormenta and Luis Contreras rode.

STRIKE ME DOWN, also trained by Graham Motion, returned to Fair Hill following his maiden win with an 82 Beyer Figure in early May and he worked an easy half mile on May 26 in 50 2/5.

The Plate Trial on June 9 and the Woodbine Oaks on the same day, are 2 huge events for Queen’s Plate dreamers.


96 ARE YOU KIDDING ME – Eclipse Stakes
94 FINAL COPYl prep
93 NIIGONS ECLIPSE – Nassau Stakes
87 – KAIGUN  $40,000 claiming



June 9

JUSTIFY, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner, had his first workout since the Preakness when he zipped through 4 furlongs in 46 4/5 out 5 furlongs in 59 3/5 at Churchill Downs.

The robust Scat Daddy colt had his usual big stride and powered through the prep with good action.

The Belmont Stakes field could possibly be comprised of the following 11 horses (with trainer): Bandua (Dermot Weld)

Blended Citizen (Doug O’Neill),

Bravazo (Lukas),

Free Drop Billy (Romans),

Gronkowski (Chad Brown),

Hofburg (Bill Mott),

Justify (Baffert),

Noble Indy (Todd Pletcher),

Restoring Hope (Baffert),

Tenfold (Asmussen)

Vino Rosso (Pletcher).



A horse racing lover, promoter, ground breaker and philanthropoist EMMA-JAYNE WILSON is truly a deserving recipient of this year’s Avelino Gomez Award.

The 36-year-old jockey has won numerous high-profile awards and races throughout her distinguished career, including the 2007 Queen’s Plate with Mike Fox, while also lending her time and support to several charitable and public relations endeavors.

Wilson sponsors retired racehorses and has been an integral part of LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society in recent years.

Those are just a few examples of why Wilson, who celebrated her first win as a rider with Ali Olah on August 28, 2004 at Fort Erie, has drawn a large and loyal following over the years.

“My initial reaction was…I was speechless,” said Wilson. “It got me a little emotional and it still does. It’s really hard to put into words. I was speechless and humbled. But I’m so honoured.”

Where does this rank in her list of accomplishments?

“Pretty high,” she said. “I’m so fiercely patriotic to represent Canada as an athlete and this award truly embodies what it means to be Canadian. I’m just so grateful.”

Wilson wasted little time getting out of the gates in impressive fashion, turning heads with her skills in the saddle and forging a close bond with thoroughbred fans, young and old.

She recorded her first Woodbine victory when she guided Tudy’s Choice to the winner’s circle on September 3, 2004.

Wilson was recognized with the Sovereign Award for top apprentice in 2005 and 2006, earning the Eclipse Award in the same category in 2005, after winning a colony-leading 175 races. She became just the third apprentice (Sandy Hawley and Mickey Walls are the others) to win the Woodbine riding title.

Wilson was inducted into the Brampton Sports Hall of Fame in 2006, an achievement made even more impressive considering the hall’s requirement that a jockey be retired for three years before induction. She was also named one of the most influential women in sport by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity.

It was 11 years ago when she enjoyed the biggest highlight of her career to date, when she won Canada’s most famous horse race and put her name in the history books as the first female rider to win the ‘Gallop for the Guineas.’

Teaming with Morgan Firestone’s Mike Fox, Wilson took the 148th running of the Queen’s Plate with the Ian Black trainee.

Her numerous exploits, however, aren’t limited to just Woodbine and Canada.

A lifetime winner of 1,436 races, she also won the inaugural Pimlico Female Jockey Challenge in May of 2011, an event that helped raise money for breast cancer awareness.

Wilson, as captain, won the 2015 Shergar Cup at Ascot with teammates Sammy Jo Bell and Hayley Turner, marking the first victory for an all-female side in the event.

A fixture at Woodbine since 2004, Wilson, who has topped the 100-win plateau on seven occasions, has amassed $70,155,656 in purse earnings.

Wilson speaks fondly of the sport and those who support it.

“There are so many hard-working people involved in horse racing and so many facets to the industry,” she noted. “It’s the fans that truly make this sport what it is. They’ve been great to me. I was a fan when I was a little kid. I remember coming to the races and being in awe of the horses and their abilities. Even now, when you see the horses walking out of the paddock with the sun shining on them, their muscles rippling and then they go tearing down the racetrack as hard as they can, it’s a sight to behold. I would love for people to come and experience it.”

The coveted Gomez Award is given to the person, Canadian-born, Canadian-raised or regular rider in the country for more than five years, who has made significant contributions to the sport.

Presented annually on Woodbine Oaks day at Woodbine (June 9 this year), the honour is named in memory of one of the sport’s most heralded and loved performers. The Cuban-born Gomez died of complications after a three-horse accident in the 1980 Canadian Oaks.

To commemorate his contributions to the sport, a life-size statue of Gomez, who called Toronto home and raised a family there, keeps watch over Woodbine’s walking ring. A replica is presented to each year’s honouree.

“I never met him, but he’s a legend,” said Wilson. “And his legacy lives on. His career, although it was cut short, was unbelievable. There’s a picture of Avelino in the jocks’ room. He has dirt all over his face, but there’s a look of confidence and bravado. I only wish I could have a little bit of that in this game. He’s left his mark on Woodbine and horse racing with his character and his success.”

Wilson has given some thought as to what she’ll say in her speech.

“I’ve been trying to get words written down and thinking just how grateful I am,” she said. “I’ve worked hard and been dedicated to this sport, so to be recognized in this way is truly special. I want to make sure I don’t forget anybody. Without the opportunities I was given, I may not have had a chance to shine. I want to make sure I cover as much as I can.

“When Tom Cosgrove (chair of both the Nomination and Election Committees for the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame) phoned me, even now…I choke up a little bit. I can’t believe it.”

Wilson joins Ron Turcotte, Johnny Longden, Sandy Hawley, Don MacBeth, Chris Rogers, Jeff Fell, Lloyd Duffy, Hugo Dittfach, Robin Platts, Larry Attard, Don Seymour, David Gall, Richard Grubb, Irwin Driedger, David Clark, Jim McKnight, Chris Loseth, Richard Dos Ramos, Robert Landry, Francine Villeneuve, Sam Krasner, John LeBlanc Sr., George Ho Sang, Jack Lauzon, Robert King Jr., Stewart Elliott, Emile Ramsammy, Steve Bahen, Mickey Walls, Patrick Husbands, Quincy Welch, Gary Stahlbaum and last year’s recipient, Gary Boulanger, as Gomez honourees.


courtesy Richard Yates in the Derby Bar & Grill Newsletter

The first two-year-old race of the year, a Maiden Special Weight affair at 3 ½ furlongs over the Nursery Course went as the fourth. The filly Summerland ($35.60) absolutely incinerated a field of 5 colts and geldings and 3 other fillies when she blazed the distance in 38.85 seconds, a new track record. Vintage Man chased hard for about a quarter-mile before realizing that it was pointless and adapted to the alternate reality by holding on to second, albeit in a different time zone than was the winner. Bugsy put in a nice late run to just miss the place, but this was a tale of two races, one for Summerland and one for the rest.

There were several horses in the race that had been touted as fast and quick away from the gate. Summerland was not among them and went off as the second longest shot on the board (even though there isn’t one). She did not, strictly speaking, break on top, but she was there in a few steps. Vintage Man, the betting favorite tried to get to the winner for a while, then settled for a view of her rear end as it disappeared into the distance. Bugsy (perhaps named after the late Benjamin Siegel) closed like gangbusters only to have a near identical view at the wire, 9 ¼ lengths back. Enrique Gonzalez rode the winner to one of the easiest wins he will have all year.

Summerland was bred in Kentucky by Tres Hombres and George Gilbert who now owns and races her. Philip Hall trains the daughter of He’s Tops and the Honour and Glory mare, Otero, who won stakes at two and three at Hastings. Summerland is the first and only winner from her four foals.

Track records for 3 ½ furlongs at Hastings are one of the few things I know anything about, having trained the previous record holder, a large, quick maturing two-year-old gelding named Wanabe Klassy. He caught a wet-fast track that was packed as hard as asphalt in late October of 2006 and went 38.97, a time that held up for almost a dozen years. Today’s track was faster than has been the case lately, but it was glue compared to the one we ran on in 2006. Wanabe Klassy was a February foal. Summerland, a two-year-old filly, was foaled in March, meaning that she is about six-months younger than Wanabe Klassy was when he set the previous record. Six months is a long time in a two-year-old’s life. We all know that 3 ½ furlongs does not a race horse make, but we also know that speed is a pretty significant component in a racehorse, blazing speed all the more so. She will be a very interesting horse to follow.