Today – what’s up? Big 2yo races on the grass at Woodbine kicks off big weekend, CAMELOT to do what Nijinsky II did 42 years ago, watch at 11 this morning… and then there’s the  EMMA-WATCH,…




A spider’s view of morning training at Woodbine, super image taken by Jeff Bowen.







Woodbine Mile heads blockbuster weekend of racing

Pack up your troubles…it’s a big weekend of racing at Woodbine where the international community wilL be watching and US tacing TV will be on hand.
The action starts Saturday with two graded races for 2yos’s on turf – WIN AND YOU’RE IN RACES for the Breeders’ Cup and the Natalma is a super race with 14 fillies to race 1 mile on the grass. The Summer is a smaller field for the colts.

Mile day includes the Northern Dancer Turf and Canadian Stakes, as well as the Ontario Derby. All 3 races are very intriguing while the WOODBINE MILE is most intriguing for the presence of superstar WISE DAN.

The weather should be perfect on Sunday and the rain on Friday should make course just nice.
There are 2 guaranteed Pick 4 pools and plenty of wagering opportunities for racing fans.

The ONTARIO DERBY is a showcase for a John oxley 3yo, likely STEALCASE as Prospective will be scratched. Or it could be Frank Stronach’s RIVER RUSH, the Plate Trial winner who comes in fresh.

As for the Mile, the presence of WISE DAN, a Grade 1 winner on dirt and a graded winner on grass and Polytrack, is a coup for the track. He is using this race as the stepping stone to his Breeders’ Cup run.

So many times we have seen big name horses come to Woodbine and lose on this grass course: the configuration is different, the turf may be too firm or quick, the stretch run is too long. WISE DAN has worked like a machine, however, and his competition only includes very few top ones.
CITYSCAPE is a good one from Europe, he will not want the course too quick.
DANCE AND DANCE could have probably won this race last year but had a bad trip. He is perhaps not a Grade 1 class runner but he is in the hunt.
RIDING THE RIVER, who was the regular mount for Todd Kabel all season and had Kabel listed as his rider until yesterday, has Patrick Husbands  now as his rider. The gelding is still improving it seems.
HUNTERS BAY is the best older horse in Ontario but a one-turn mile and grass? Two very big questions.

Thoroughblog will handicap the races tomorrow morning.


NATALMA, SUMMER STAKES – who will win it, then be in it?

Spring Venture in the Natalma, Archer Hill, Summer

Loved the way SPRING VENTURE won her debut on turf – would be shocked if she was not a big factor in the Natalma today

Norm Files photo



Breeders’ Cup, the championships of the horse racing world, will be held in California in less than 2 months. It’s time to get serious.
And time to cheer for Canadians to do well and head there.
The 2yo fillies go for $250,000 in the Grade 2 Natalma Stakes today (named for Northern Dancer’s mummy) and there are 4 Ontario breds in the field. One of them has been made favourite. TIZ RO, well regarded when she won her Polytrack debut, is a half sister to the mighty JAMBALAYA  and she races for Raroma Stable.
Her task is a very tough one as the shippers are strong and plentiful.
It’s easy to like quite a few gals, I was blown away by SPRING VENTURE’S debut won on the grass. She is one of 2 by Spring at Last in the field and one of several for trainer Mark Casse.
I also liked INCREDIBLE JOURNEY’s debut win at Arlington for the Wests and SUMMER OF FUN‘s Saratoga win.
The Buffalo News writes about SUMMER OF FUN:

After a rousing win on the Travers undercard at Saratoga three weeks ago, Summer of Fun will be upping the stakes up north at Woodbine Race Track in the one mile Grade 2 $250,000 Natalma Stakes on Saturday afternoon. The Bona Venture Stables’ filly out by Include out of a Royal Anthem mare will take on 13 talented fillies in a “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Race for the Juvenile Fillies Turf.  Last year Bona Ventures Stables’ Royal Bonnie qualified for the same race, the first BC race for the partnership group owned by St. Bonaventure University Alumni.

Some of the nation’s top riders will head north for the big weekend of races at Woodbine, which will also include the Grade 2 Summer Stakes on Saturday for 2-year-old colts. On Sunday, the big Woodbine Mile card


In the SUMMER, a small field gathers and there are some interesting ones, but just a single Ontario bred, THE B’S AND E’S, by first crop sire Marcavelly.

I like BEST PLAY and ARCHER HILL. The former is a half brother to Marsh Side, the winner of the Canadian International, and this guy had a good debut race. He’s a maiden but looks like a good one.

ARCHER HILL is a Big Brown colt whose debut win produced 3 next out winners in New York.



It is no longer a secret among the elite of thoroughbred racing: Bring a horse to Toronto in mid-September for the Woodbine Mile and there’s a good chance you leave town as a serious contender for the showcase Breeders’ Cup later in the fall.

The 2011 winner, Turallure, finished second in last year’s BC Mile at Churchill Downs and the only horse to beat him was the 2010 champ, Court Vision.

So we present to you this year’s top candidate, Wise Dan, who was made the decisive 6-5 morning-line favourite at Thursday’s post position draw.

Trained by Charlie Lopresti, who also did a masterful job with Turallure 12 months earlier, the five-year-old gelding would seem to be the horse to beat in Sunday’s field of nine and if successful, the clear early favourite for the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Unless the trainer aims higher still.

“One race at a time, but I wouldn’t rule out the Breeders’ Cup Classic,” Lopresti said on Thursday when asked about his possible next start. “He’s got to win this race first and he’s got to come out of it good and fit and then we’ll make a plan on what we do.




One of Canada’s top jockeys, Emma-Jayne Wilson is just 3 away from her first major milestone, 1,000 wins.
She has some live ones today:

1 – So Long George * big shot
2- Captain Casual *
3 – Painted Poney
5 – Officer’s Dream *
6 – Dancing for Glory
7 – Bear’s Furr
8 – Miss Molly Malone *

There is a very good chance that she could take 3 of these but perhaps it is more likely she will get the milestone on Woodbine Mile day, maybe for local trainer Tom O’Keefe or Joe Walls.



FRIDAY – FIREWITHDESIRE won the day’s opener for trainer Steve Attard who was saddling the Old Forester filly for the 4th time in her brief career. The half sister to champion Pender Harbour (and Wed. night winner Crushin Hard)  is owned by a partnership of Shelon Pettle, S and S. Herzog et al. The maiden allowance was  1 mile and 70 yards for ONtario sired juvenile fillies.
It was a big day for Pettle and Sttard as VARIABLE RATE later won a $20K claiming race by 8 lengths for her 1st win since 2010. The Eddington mare was bred in Mantioba by Alisator Roden and Stonyfield Farm in Manitoba.

It’s  been a good meeting for owner BRUCE LUNSFORD who has horses with Barbara Minshall and Mike McDonald. Friday he won with Starship Sabrina, who took a $32,000 claiming race with a wide rally. She was claimed from the race by Frank DiGiulio Jr.
On Wednesday night, Lunsford and McDonald hit with MALIBU SKYLINE for $12,500.

The eagle landed! RED EAGLE, a $1,200 purchase, is up to about $250,000 in earnings. The son of Legal Jousting won for $32,000 claiming yesterday, a big class drop for the 4yo speedball. He had just been 4th in the Kenora Stakes. The rainy weather made for a slick surface and he raced 6 furlongs in 1:09.59.
He posted an 87 Beyer Figure.

New stallion Heatseeker had another winner when RUBY’S MINE won her maiden for $20K claiming in race 4 for James Perron and family. Brian Lynch trains the 2yo who led all the way.

Bea Grodkowska’s DYNAMITE NIGHT won her maiden at 10 to 1 in race 5, a $16,000 claiming race. The Running Stag 5yo mare was making her 4th start since 2010 for trainer Phil Gracey.
Her winning Beyer was 64.

LACARA (Ger), a filly who shipped over from Germany with SCALO (Ger), who is in the Northern Dancer Stakes, won the off-the-turf maiden allowance over the boys in race 7/ She was favoured off a 4th place finisher in an allowance race.
And the very nice Philanthropist filyl KAY’S GRACE, bred by Steve and Kathleen Kemp’s Ballcroy Training Centre, won the last race for Lisa Burry and Mike Dunslow. The grey gal is 2 for 5 in her career and she is out of Northern Pine, by Pine Bluff.

WEDNESDAY  – CRUSHIN HARD won his maiden in race 1, an Ontario sired allowance on the grass. The Philanthropist – Uproar gelding was 50 cents on the dollar to win, he’s a full brother to Pender Harbour. He was bred by co-owner Paradox Farm and Hugh Sutherland also owns. Ian Black trains.

Trinity Racing and trainer John DiMarco have a nice, speedy filly in SILENT SERENITY, a Silent Name 3yo bred by Kentucky. She won a $62,500 claiming race on the pace in 1:10.86. The quirky gal is well known for the rail swishing as she runs to the wire.

Hey, it was a Hayes family affair in race 4 as BORRIGONE won by 5 lengths at 12 to 1 in the $12,500 maiden claiming race for filleis and mares. Ridden by Tommy Wong, who is quickly becoming the apprentice rider of choice at Woodbine, the filly is by Sligo Bay and was bred in Florida.


It has not been won since Nijinsky II

By Cornelius Lysaght BBC horse racing correspondent
 British Grand Slam champions may have been rare commodities prior to Andy Murray’s spectacular win in New York, but so too have been winners of Flat racing’s Triple Crown.

Only once in the years since Fred Perry last delivered a “Slam” for Britain in 1936, has the iconic 2000 Guineas-Epsom Derby-St Leger treble been completed.

And it was a memory-challenging 42 years ago that Lester Piggott steered Nijinsky to victory in the St Leger, the final, longest and oldest of the Flat’s five Classic races.

Although we demand that sport’s most coveted prizes are appropriately elusive, as with Murray, it’s also important, as well as heart-warming, that they are won at least occasionally.

New to the local yearling sales are thoroughbred yearlings from the TB/paint stallion Airdrie Apache line.

This yearling, by Arctic Cielo, a son of Airdrie Apache, was sold by Cando Caolour Farm and Box Arrow as agent for $1,000.

He is a registered white thoroughbred.

Dave Landry photo