MONEY SHOT – Wednesday night racing and Money Talks says hello to photographer JOHN WATKINS


(*Correction – Jamie Dykstra of Woodbine media reminded Thoroughblog that there have been turf races held in November in 2016 and 2017 and that the turf course is not shut down in October)


Friday morning in southern Ontario and a large blanket of snow covers the province. Training was cancelled on the main and training tracks at Woodbine this morning and more precipitation, wet snow or rain, is expected to continue until mid-afternoon.

Drama unfolded this week at Woodbine when a pop-up protest by Woodbine’s jockeys delayed the Wednesday evening races. Some riders had no idea what was happening when others refused to ride until Woodbine management cancelled turf racing that was scheduled for today and this weekend and the remainder of the year.

Horses in the first race on Wednesday night walked around, saddled, for quite some time. One horse, Glittering Snow, was then scratched by trainer Kevin Attard as tempers began to flare. The 2yos were then unsaddled and sent home when Race 1 was cancelled.

But the card went on as an agreement was made with the HBPA stepping in to aid talks. Races were taken off the turf for today and this weekend.

Yesterday, Woodbine and its horsepeople convened to discuss the issue. Woodbine has carded turf races to Dec. 2, a departure  year when turf racing is often put away in November. There are horsepeople, trainers, owners, who want to try and continue grass racing as late as possible, as is done in New York, and certainly this year the turf races had  big fields and good wagering.

Woodbine brought back the infield turf course this year, moving standardbred racing out to change that track back to a 7 furlong turf oval. Management has targeted Queen’s Plate 2019 for the opening of the new track, but more turf races on the E.P. Taylor turf course were scheduled this year.

The extra turf racing has been well received with competitive and exciting races, but the increased traffic has strained the surface. In late October, it was evident that a lot of rain and heavy use had made the course a bit rough and horses were observed bobbling during some races. A winning rider on one turf maiden race said the course was in rough shape. Track management may have been hoping to capitalize on the unseasonably warmer weather we’ve had in early winter in the recent past by carding more turf races, but that’s not the case this year.

Wintery conditions this morning

For now, the talks continue. Races are still carded for turf in the condition book but the way the weather is, it doesn’t look likely that races will be run on the surface anyway.

Thursday’s statement from Woodbine:

Woodbine Entertainment has an established and proud history of being one of the highest rated racetracks for safety in North America. As a National Thoroughbred Racing Association accredited facility, Woodbine Entertainment consistently makes decisions with safety being the highest of priorities.

As part of that commitment to safety, we have a thorough and robust set of surface processes we follow to determine whether it’s safe to run a race on the turf.

In following this process and considering the feedback we received through discussions with the jockeys on Wednesday night, Woodbine Entertainment decided to move this weekend’s scheduled turf races to the Tapeta surface due to the weather forecast resulting in safety concerns.

As for turf racing for the balance of the season, considering the unseasonably cold and wet weather we’ve experienced throughout November, Woodbine Entertainment will begin to integrate incremental monitoring procedures into our processes to further ensure the safety of our track in advance of all remaining turf races.

“Woodbine Entertainment has a very strong relationship with our jockeys and we remain committed to following our process with safety as the top priority,” said Jonathan Zammit, Vice President of Thoroughbred Racing Operations for Woodbine Entertainment.

Turf races are scheduled to be offered through December 2 while the 133-day Thoroughbred meet continues through December 16.



Eurico Rosa da Silva is 23 wins away from tying the record for most wins in a Woodbine season

Wednesday night racing saw a sharp outside closer’s bias surface. Eurico was on a couple of heavy favourites and while the horses ran well, they couldn’t quite hang on for victories.

Today is the 114th card of the 133-day meeting and Eurico has mounts in every race except one on the 10-race card (before scratches).

A multiple champion jockey in Canada, Eurico missed the first six days of the season so he has won 198 races in 107 days.

He is currently 4th in North America by win percentage at 27% (jockeys with over 200 mounts), a lofty stat considering he has had more rides than all but one of the top 9:

Rider   Mounts   1st 2nd 3rd  Earnings

Juan C. Diaz 595 193 140 91 $1,624,041         32% 424 71%
John R. Davila, Jr. 386 123 71 71 $1,577,156    32% 265 69%
Luis H. Colon 349 99 65 47 $1,828,515            28% 211 60%
Eurico Da Silva 722 198 145 102 7,189,340      27% 445 62%
Arnaldo Bocachica 532 141 111 82 $2,632,641  27% 334 63%
Rico W. Walcott 377 98 61 57 $1,231,839          26% 216 57%
Jose C. Ferrer 626 162 101 79 $3,156,383         26% 342 55%
Timothy Thornton 932 241 141 116 $4,177,792  26% 498 53%
Javier Santiago 440 112 88 71 $1,090,406          25% 271 62%

Here are his mounts for today at snowy Woodbine:

Woodbine – 11/16/2018
Race  Race Type     Breed   Horse Trainer
1 Allowance TB       Screenwriter Barbara Minshall
2 Claiming TB         Showbiz Lady Michael Mattine
3 Allowance TB         In It to Win Michael Dickinson
4 Maiden Claiming TB Candycreet Robert Tiller
5 Maiden SWeight TB Suitedconnected Robert Barnett
6 Claiming TB         Conquer the Sky Michael Mattine
8 Allowance TB       Pumpkin Rumble Kevin Attard
9 Claiming TB         Amen Alley Mark Casse
10 Claiming TB        Leopard Cat Kevin Attard



Horse racing fans and bettors are often sports fans too. In an exciting forward move, the first racetrack in the US had a pair of test days to offer sports betting. Wagers on the Super Bowl or a certain sporting event are made available through a sportsbook. It has been a long time coming and here is hoping that this will be available at Canadian tracks.

The company’s Pennsylvania sportsbook will be managed by William Hill US, the largest sports betting operator in the United States.



The reigning Horse of the Year PINK LLOYD will winter at Paul Buttigieg’s farm in Egbert, ON following a bleeding incident in his most recent outing. The remarkable gelding, who was unbeaten in 2017 for Entourage Stable and trainer Bob Tiller, had another big year in 2018 with just three losses from eight races. The son of Old Forester remains the leader in the sprint division in Canada.

TIZ BREATHTAKING, a leading candidate for Champion Two-Year-Old filly with 2 stakes wins including a Grade 3 score over open company, is sidelined with an injury which she incurred in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes. Bill Graham’s fab filly was 3rd to Bold Script in the PE. She will return to racing in 2019.



EARS PRICKED – AVIE’S FLATTER romped in the Cup and Saucer on Oct. 7 and now goes for the big double for 2yos bred in Canada – the Coronation Futurity – MICHAEL BURNS PHOTO

Winner could be a major Queen’s Plate contender 2019

The 115th running of the famous CORONATION FUTURITY is scheduled for Sunday at Woodbine with a few of the top Canadian-bred juveniles.

The 2yo races this fall have had small fields (Ontario sired South Ocean Stakes Saturday has 5 entrants) and the Coronation has just 7 entrants including 3 maidens.

However, even with the small field there is plenty of intrigue. Two American riders are scheduled to come into town for the race including one of the world’s top jockeys, JOHN VELASQUEZ.

Velasquez is coming in for trainer Mike Maker to ride the maiden TRIPWIRE, bred by Karen and Bernard McCormack. This is the same trainer, breeder and owner (Ken and Sarah Ramsey) combo that won the Queen’s Plate 2 years ago with Sir Dudley Digges.

It remains to be seen if Tripwire, a son of Flashback, is Plate material but in 2 career races he just missed winning his debut and then was 2nd beaten just half a length against American-breds in the Grade 3 Grey Stakes.

Tripewire is one of 4 horses in the 7 horse field who had Eurico da Silva riding in the most recent race. Da Silva will be on likely favourite AVIE’S FLATTER, yet another hotshot youngster for Ivan Dalos and trainer Josie Carroll. Every year Dalos has a nice prospect with eyes on the Queen’s Plate. this bay colt by Flatter romped on soft grass in the Cup & Saucer when adding Lasix. He beat the filly Bold Script who came back to win a stakes race.

Qatar Racing’s FEDERAL LAW is a fascinating fellow in the race. Bred by the late Mel Lawson and bought for $220,000 at the Keeneland Sept. yearling sale last fall, the bay gelding by Scat Daddy began his career in England. He won his maiden on grass and was 2nd in a listed race on an all-weather surface at Chelmsford.

The gelding came to town for the Grade 1 Summer Stakes on turf, added Lasix but was 11th beaten 16 lengths. He came back on Nov. 4 for a main track allowance race where he was even money and he romped.

David Cohen, winner of 1,300 races and in the midst of a stirring comeback year in New York with 102 wins, comes in for trainer Mark Casse.

York tech Stables’ D MAGICIAN is a longshot special as he comes off an impressive maiden win in a turf sprint. Bred by Raffael DiPaola and trained by Santio DiPaoloa for the family’s farm, this homebred colt is closely related to American Pharoah.

Winners of the Coronation Futurity this ‘Century’

2017 Aheadbyacentury Rafael Hernandez John Ross Jacks of Hearts Racing/J.R. Racing 1:51:02
2016 King and His Court Gary Boulanger Mark Casse Gary Barber/Wachtel Stable 1:50.76
2015 Shakhimat Emma-Jayne Wilson Roger L. Attfield Dan Gale 1:51.10
2014 Decision Day Jesse M. Campbell Josie Carroll Donver Stable 1:52.50
2013 Asserting Bear James McAleney Reade Baker Bear Stables 1:50.96
2012 Up With the Birds Eurico Rosa da Silva Malcolm Pierce Sam-Son Farms 1:51.13
2011 Martimer Luis Contreras Sid C. Attard Norseman Racing Stable 1:50.91
2010 Strike Oil Luis Contreras Mark E. Casse John C. Oxley 1:52.10
2009 Hollinger Tyler Pizarro Roger Attfield Bob Harvey & Al Wortzman 1:51.55
2008 Active Duty Corey Fraser Mark E. Casse Woodford Racing LLC 1:52.01
2007 Kesagami Patrick Husbands Sid C. Attard Jim Dandy Stable 1:53.40
2006 Leonnatus Anteas Jono Jones Kevin Attard Knob Hill Stable 1:55.97
2005 Thinking Out Loud Todd Kabel David R. Bell D. Morgan Firestone 1:54.84
2004 Ablo Gerry Olguin Roger Attfield Attfield/Canino/Werner 1:55.24
2003 A Bit O’Gold Jono Jones Catherine Day Phillips The Two Bit Racing Stable 1:54.15
2002 Arco’s Gold * Constant Montpellier John A. Ross Steven & Alex DiIorio 1:53.75
2001 Streakin Rob Gary Boulanger James E. Day Cudney Stables/Allan Kent 1:53.63
2000 Highland Legacy Emile Ramsammy Steve Owens Empress Stable 1:54.20