By mid-week coming, the Woodbine backstretch will begin to slowly come alive again as it opens for the 2017 season. Horses and horsepeople have enjoyed a winter of lots of snow, ice and currently a whole lot of mud. Lower temperatures to come may mean some difficult footing when the training track opens but opening day is April 15.
Woodbine trainers in the south this winter have had a quiet season. The top local trainers (not including the Mark Casse stable) by wins for 2017 are:
Ashlee Brnjas 35 5 7 7 $80,661 14% 19 54%
Steven Chircop 37 5 3 5 $71,313
Nicholas Gonzalez 25 3 9 5 $108,790
STEVEN CHIRCOP won his 5th race of the year this week when PHIL’S COCKTAIL, at one time a stakes runner, won for $4,000 claiming at Penn National. The Philanthropist gelding used to race for breeder Ron Clarkson and he has won 2 races for Chircop this winter. The gelding was claimed this week.
WINX WINS WELL AGAIN
15 straight on soft turf, watch the giant clods fly!
Ray Thomas, The Sunday Telegraph
February 25, 2017 4:03am
IS there anything Winx can’t do?
Her opposition can’t get near her, she breaks records for fun, and it doesn’t matter what track conditions she has to endure, the mighty mare just keeps winning.
Winx is becoming “racing’s greatest show on turf” thrilling race fans with another dominant win in the Group 1 $600,000 TAB Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
UNCLE HAS B-LINE ON GULFSTREAM STAKE TODAY
Ontario owned and trained colt on a roll
With Uncle B’s solid record on synthetic surfaces, the colt’s trainer, Nicholas Gonzalez, has been looking for the right spot to try him on the grass. The opportunity has now presented itself, courtesy of the $75,000 Texas Glitter at Gulfstream Park Saturday.
Lou Tucci and Martha K. Gonzalez’ Uncle B is among nine 3-year-olds entered in the five-furlong Texas Glitter.
A son of Zensational, Uncle B is fresh off a three-length victory over six rivals in the $50,000 OBS Sprint Stakes at the Ocala Training Center Jan. 24. After establishing the early pace, Uncle B went on to set a six-furlong track record of 1:08.60 over the synthetic surface.
“It was a very competitive field, but we had the outside post  position and that was in our favor,” Gonzalez said. “He kind of had control of the race the whole way because of his natural speed. I told Luis Saez that day, ‘You’ve got a great post; take advantage of it.’ I think because he had those good races at Woodbine on our synthetic track in Canada he had an edge over some of the other horses that day in Ocala. He was impressive in the way he did it. Saez still had horse left — and to set a track record — we couldn’t have been happier with the performance.”
Uncle B, who sold for $25,000 at OBS as a 2-year-old, broke his maiden in October over Woodbine’s synthetic surface in his second career start. He then followed with a close-up second in Woodbine’s Swynford Stakes in November. In his only start at Gulftream Park, Uncle B checked in fifth in the slop in December’s Buffalo Man Stakes, a race that Gonzalez said he has “written off as trainer error”, blaming himself for running the horse back too quickly following the Swynford.
“The timing for this race is good with the four weeks in between,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve always wanted to try him on turf; he’s out of an Honour and Glory mare. There is turf breeding there. The distance should suit him. He’s a naturally quick horse. He’s always been prominent pace-wise in his races. We’re really happy with how he is coming into the race.”
Luis Saez, the current leading rider at the Gulfstream Park Championship Meet, has the return call on Uncle B, who drew post 3
IS THE KENTUCKY DERBY WINNER IN THE RISEN STAR STAKES TODAY?
Three scratches (So Conflated, Takeoff, It’s Your Nickel) , field of 11, post time 6 p.m.
The Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes features a clash between a formidable Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots-based home team and a pair of potent stakes-winning invaders from each side of the country in its 2017 edition. Led by Grade III Lecomte Stakes winner Guest Suite, the New Orleans squad features the top-five finishers from said Jan. 21 prep who will take on Mo Town, a New York Grade II winner based in Florida this winter, (So Conflated is scratched)
and highly regarded California Derby winner So Conflated, from the barn of top conditioner Doug O’Neill. The Risen Star is contested over 1 1/16 miles and will go as the 11th of 12 races on a card that features six stakes, four of which are graded.
William S. Farish and Lora Jean Kilroy’s homebred Guest Suite has improved in each of his five starts, including three victories and a professional tally in the mud last out in the mile and 70-yard Lecomte. Twice a winner around two turns, the Neil Howard trainee was last beaten when third to divisional leader McCraken three back in the $83,000 Street Sense Stakes around one turn. Looking to become the third winner of the Risen Star for his veteran conditioner after Comic Strip (1998) and Gradepoint (2004), the gelded son of Quality Road will start from post six in the full field of 14 under Robby Albarado.
Mo Town, owned by Team D and the powerful international Coolmore team of Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, has proven a serious talent in a trio of tries. After a seven-length Belmont Park romp to graduate at second asking, he jumped up in class considerably to prove a clear victor in the Grade II Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct at 1 1/8 miles in late November. The Risen Star will be his first race of 2017 and comes on the heels of three consecutive bullet drills at Payson Park. John Velazquez flies in from Florida for the mount for the perpetually high-percentage Tony Dutrow barn that has 25 victories at this level or above since the turn of the century.
Trainer Joe Sharp and owner Brad Grady have entered the talented duo of Girvin (Brian Hernandez, Jr., rail) andCool Arrow (Gabriel Saez, post eight). While Cool Arrow is the more experienced and accomplished of the two, having won the $300,000 Springboard Mile last out on Dec. 11 at Remington Park and proven victorious in half his six starts, Girvin is arguably the more highly regarded. The son of Tale of Ekati enters on the strength of a local maiden victory over top promising sophomore Excitations at first asking and a second last out going a mile on the grass in the $50,000 Keith Gee Memorial on Feb. 4 — an effort designed to set him up for a wheel-back in the Risen Star.
Trainer Steve Asmussen also has a pair of talented 3-year-olds in the form of Michael Langford’s Untrapped (Ricardo Santana, Jr., post two) and e Five Racing Thoroughbreds’ buzz horse Local Hero (Florent Geroux, post three). The former was a driving second behind Guest Suite in the Lecomte in what was his third lifetime start and first around two turns. Local Hero broke his maiden last out at third asking after running nine others off their collective feet and easing up at the wire in the mile and 70-yard event a dominant 7¼-length victor.
John C. Oxley’s local maiden winner Takeoff (Julien Leparoux, post 10), Donegal Racing’s well-intended maiden Arklow (Shaun Bridgmohan, post four) and Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrences’s local allowance victor Shareholder Value (Mitchell Murrill, post five) — the third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishers in the Lecomte — return for redemption and with hopes of a dry surface. All three must up their games to win here, with little separating them on paper and even less at the wire of the Lecomte in which they finished within a length of one another. Some notable shuffling of jockeys did occur, as Bridgmohan took off Tom Amoss-trained Shareholder Value in favor of Brad Cox-trained Arklow, Geroux left Takeoff for Local Hero and Murrill picked up the mount on Shareholder Value.
SANDY LANE GOLD CUP MARCH 4
BARBADOS TODAY STORY BY KENT LAYNE – bThe post draw for the 2017 Sandy Lane Gold Cup was held at the Incitatus Members Lounge at the Garrison Savannah Thursday. The March 4 race day will be the 36th running of the prestigious event.
With a record 12 races slated for Sandy Lane Gold Cup Day, fans are in for some keen racing and top class riding. Last year’s champion Dorsett has post-position number five which was done by his jockey Jalon Samuel. Although not scoring a win since his victory in the Caribbean’s major race last year, his connections are hopeful that he will repeat…read more below