Ajax Downs’ 49th racing season flew out of the starting gate on Sunday May 6 on a perfect spring afternoon at the fan friendly racetrack.
A crowd of some 500 jockeyed for position along the rail or grabbed a spot in the stands to watch the first six Quarter Horse dashes of the 25-day season.
The afternoon’s featured race, an open allowance race worth $19,000 brought the house down as ONE KOOL WAVE, the venerable 10-year-old gelding somehow won a very close photo and edged a guy half his age, COUNTRYS COMIN BAC after a wild 250 yards.
It was a few minutes before the AGCO stewards put up the number 1, ONE KOOL WAVE, who, according to jockey Brian Bell, got a bit to lollygagging in the late stages after breaking on top. The crowd cheered as the beautiful, almost white gelding was led into the winner’s circle by proud owner/breeder Bob Bailey, who shares ownership of the Wave Carver fellow with DK Training Centre of Don Reid and Kim Ito.
“He’s a lot of fun to have, he likes to run,” said Bailey who resides in Claremont, ON.
This was the 24th career win for One Kool Wave from 40 career races. He went 8 for 8 as a 2yo when named Horse of the Year.
Jockey Brian Bell won 3 of the 6 races, Cory Spataro won a pair and Ed Walton won the day’s finale.
Breeder GUYLAINE PAQUIN bred the winners of the Daily Double in a unique feat.
Here is a race-by race recap from Thoroughblog:
Race 1- ITZ ALL GOOD was very good for James Bogar and trainer Barry Wood, kicking off the season with a powerful win from the rail post under Brian Bell in a Speed index race at 300 yards. The Ontario bred by Its All About Speed – Easily Holland by Holland Ease, bred by Guylaine Paquin, was winning for the 5th time in his career in his 25th start in the $14,400 dash. His time of :15.70 with an 11 mph crosswind was good for a 90 speed index, matching his best from 2017.
RACE 2- JESS RIP, a 4-year-old filly owned by Richard Wincikaby and DK Training Centre gave Bell (and breeder Paquin) the Daily Double as she sped to a neck win in a 220 yard allowance race for Ontario sired 3-year-olds and upward, non-winners of 2. The winner, a daughter of Mr Jess Tex – Rippin Dash by Reckless Dash, is trained by Don Reid. It was the filly’s 8th career start.
“I liked the way she worked (April 30) and Don was very excited about this race,’ said Bell, who has been getting on anywhere from 25 to 40 horses a day this spring preparing runners for a variety of stables.
Jess Rip raced the distance in :12.20 for an 87 Speed Index.
RACE 3- An allowance race worth $16,800 for non-winners of 3 went to Full Circle Racing’s KONA CORONA, a homebred by Wave Carver – Bells a Lady by Corona Cartel. This grey 4-year-old, who won his season debut in 2017, is now 3 for 10 in his career. He broke from the rail post under Cory Spataro and zipped 250 yards in :13.35 good for a career best 96 Speed Index. Greg Watson co-owns with wife Susan and trains Kona Corona.
RACE 4- HIGH RATE OF RUN under Cory Spataro jumped out from the gate in this 220 yard maiden race and won by a neck over newcomer Sr Solid Rubi in :12.190 for 220 yards. She earned an 88 Speed Index in this 4th career race. Owned by the Big Dog Racing Stable of Dave and Carol Mcintyre and trained by Carol, the filly showed promise as a 2-year-old.
“I was going up to their farm [this spring] and helping them out,” said Spataro. ” She’s always struck me as somewhat special and she showed it.”
A daughter of the young sire High Rate of Return (who died suddenly in Oklahoma later in the day), High Rate of Run was bred in Oklahoma by Debbie Strebig.
Race 6 – This was a very fast race on a quick surface and it was for maidens at 220 yards. Newcomer PAINT ME SOUTHERN scorched 220 yards in her Ajax debut for Milena Kwicien and trainer Jason Pascoe in :11.970 for a 98 speed index, edging another newcomer Eye Am the Eagle. The winner, a daughter of top sire PYC Paint Your Wagon, was ridden by Ed Walton, who worked for Pascoe in Oklahoma in the winter before he was injured and missed some time. Walton, one of Ajax’s all time leading riders got his filly up to win in the last jump over Eye Am the Eagle, owned by the First Line Syndicate. The latter, the 2nd horse for the successful syndicate, also earned a 98 speed index and seems to have a bright future.
(There are still shares available in Eye Am the Eagle – contact the QROOI for more info – 905 — 426-7050)
Wagering on May 6, opening day, was up 75% over last year’s opening day which did not have the sparkling weather this year’s first day of racing did.
NEW PICK 5 BET AND PICK 4 OFFER CARRYOVER JACKPOTS!
Racing fans love new bets and the multi-race wagers are always popular.
Ajax Downs has introduced a Pick 5 this season beginning on race 2 and the winners of 5 consecutive races need to be picked to share in the payoff.
If there are tickets correctly picking 5 out 5 legs then 100% of the pool will be paid out.
If no one correctly picks 5 out of 5 legs then a 100% carry over of the pool will be added to the next days racing.
There will be NO payouts on 4 out 5 etc. There will be a mandatory payout day on the 2nd last raceday of the season ( October 15 ).
The Pick 4 has returned as it was last year.
LONGTERM FUNDING AGREEMENT SIGNED
– The Ontario Racing (OR) Board of Directors announced on May 8 the signing of an historic 19-year funding agreement with the Ontario Government.
The Ontario Government announced last month that it would allot up to $105 million annually to horse racing industry stakeholders over a 19-year period. The funding will be used to sustain horse breeding and racing, including purse management, operational expenses and capital improvements.
Horsepeople associations and racetracks, which represent 94% of the race dates and 99% of the wagering in Ontario, across all three horse racing sectors (thoroughbred, standardbred and quarter horse) have signed the agreement.
“This is an historic day for horse racing in the province,” said Bill O’Donnell, President of the Central Ontario Standardbred Association (COSA). “This government clearly remains committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the Ontario horse racing industry and the rural communities that depend on it. This new, collaborative agreement will help provide horsepeople, owners, breeders and racetrack operators with the support needed to ensure stability and long-term success.”
“This agreement signals a new era in horse racing in the province,” said Hugh Mitchell, President of Western Fair Districts. “It significantly advances the Ontario Racing mandate to have the industry become self-determining as it tries to create and sustain a vibrant horse racing business while fostering a trusted and credible partnership with government and other stakeholders across the province.”
The signing of the agreement is a key milestone for the restructured OR organization. As announced in December, OR merged with the Standardbred Alliance, a centralized coalition of prominent harness racing tracks throughout the province. A new independent OR entity has been formed as a result of the merger, which has support from key industry stakeholders and includes board seats representing five horsepeoples groups and five racetrack operator groups.
Industry associations Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA), Central Ontario Standardbred Association (COSA), Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association (SBOA), Quarter Racing Owners of Ontario Inc. (QROOI) and the National Capital Region Harness Horseman’s Association (NCRHHA) are founding members under this agreement.
On the racetrack side, the deal has been signed by Woodbine Racetrack, Woodbine Mohawk Park, Fort Erie Racetrack, Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs, Rideau Carleton Raceway, Grand River Raceway, the Raceway in the Western Fair District, Clinton Raceway, Dresden Raceway, Hanover Raceway and Ajax Downs.
“We are exceptionally pleased to be included in this inclusive and historic funding agreement,” said Jim Thibert, CEO, Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium. “We are confident that these resources will greatly benefit our racing operations for decades to come. Also, we look forward to working with the new Ontario Racing organization to further promote our exciting sport to new and long-time facing fans alike.”
As part of the agreement, additional funding of up to $13 million per annum has been made available to all non-Woodbine Entertainment Ontario Racing member tracks in the province.
Woodbine Entertainment has created an entity called Ontario Racing Management Inc. (ORM). ORM will execute the OR Board of Directors approved business plan including day-to-day organizational responsibilities such as purse management, stakeholder relations and industry advocacy.
“As a leader of the horse racing industry in Ontario and a stakeholder in the sport in the province for nearly 140 years, Woodbine has always had the best interests of the industry in mind,” said Katherine Curry, ORM, Executive Director. “Under the ORM banner, Woodbine is committing substantial resources, racing expertise and effective management in support of a model in which the industry itself will determine the best path forward.”
“The long-term funding agreement provides Ontario’s horseracing sector with a strong and stable base,” said Walter Parkinson, SBOA President. “This funding will allow Ontario’s Standardbred breeding and racing industry the ability to remain a leading jurisdiction in North America. I am very optimistic about the future of horse racing and breeding in Ontario.”
“We regard the Long-Term Funding Agreement as a starting point, not an end point, to finally begin stabilizing the future of our industry,” said Sue Leslie, HBPA President. “Challenges remain, but we now have something to build on. The commitment to create new revenue streams and growth through new products continues.”
“The long-term funding by the government of Ontario will provide a stable foundation for our industry to regroup and begin looking to the future,” said Bob Broadstock, QROOI President. “Ontario Racing can now focus on providing an environment where all three breeds can grow wagering and develop new revenue streams.”
Funding under the agreement will commence April 1, 2019.
For further details:
O: 416-675-3993 x 2229