The Martin Drexler stable began Sunday’s afternoon of racing at Woodbine with a lineup of starters in seven of the nine races, a number of them morning line favourites. It has been a career year for Drexler and his team who have horses for a litany of clients including Bruno Schickedanz, Randy Exelby, David Robothman, TEC Stable, and his Winnipeg friends Ken Lee, Dennis Mitchell and Gaye Bell.
Drexler ended Saturday’s card with a winner, Wicked Mercury for the track’s leading owner, Bruno Schickedanz. That filly had been blanked in seven races this year but had dropped in class for her previous run, finished second, and then came back Saturday with a handy win.
Neophyte, a winner in his most recent race against non-winners of three, began Sunday for the barn and the Schickedanz-owned gelding landed fifth behind the owner’s streaking six-year-old gelding Bachelor Pad. The latter, a son of Not Bourbon, was winning for the fourth time this year in another front-running romp with an 89 Beyer Speed Figure. Norm McKnight trains Bachelor Pad.
CLASSIC DANCER (Collected – Duchess Dancer) led all the way to win for Drexler and owner Elliott Logan in race 4, The gelding and jockey Eswan Flores found themselves going modest pace fractions early, while in front by 3 1/2 lengths. At 7-to-2 odds, Classic Dancer defeated favoured Fabled Prince although Agile Dancer, who lost his rider Fraser Aebly at the start, actually crossed the finish line first.
In race 5 Drexler sent out Trinity Racing Stables’ FEELTHEBEAT (Cupid – Shelby’s Song) for his third race off a layoff (same as Classic Dancer). The speedy dark bay, who went :44 and change on the pace in his most recent race, got away with 47.05 for the half mile in the 6 1/2 furlong race and predictably coasted home at 5-to-2.
Drexler had a powerful duo in race 6, a $40,000 claiming/optional sprint. ARTIE and HILARIOUS AFFAIR had finished second and third in their previous race at the exact same level. The latter was up with the modest pace right out of the gate under Sahin Civaci, while Artie, who had an awkward start from the gate, launched an exciting rally on the turn.
Just as Artie was about to pass his stablemate, tragedy struck. Artie fell as one of his legs gave out. Kazushi Kimura tumbled to the ground and Quiet Intent and Justin Stein fell over Artie. Hilarious Affair, owned by Randy Exelby, won the race, but Artie did not survive.
Owned and bred by Lee, Mitchell, Gaye, and Don Bell, Artie burst onto the Ontario racing scene in the fall of 2021 when he won his first two career starts by a total of 13 1/2 lengths including an allowance win with a 92 Beyer Speed Figure (read more here).
The barn had to come right back to start Prideofdistinction in the Valedictory Stakes (G3), although that nine-year-old was overmatched. The race was won by longshot CONGLOMERATE, who was in Drexler’s barn through July of this year when he was claimed by Gary Barber for $50,000 from owner Franco Meli. The six-year-old by Lemon Drop Kid – Maddy’s Heart, by Lion Hearted had been claimed by Drexler for just $12,500 in Feb. 2022 from trainer Chad Brown.
Drexler won four races with the bay, including an $80,000 claiming/optional race. Barber and trainer Mark Casse scooped up the gelding in July, ran him twice more on grass before he won for $50,000 claiming on Oct. 29.
In the 1 1/2 mile Valedictory, Conglomerate ran down stablemate Win for the Money, who set a slow pace, and won by 1 1/2 lengths over Collective Force and jockey Ryan Munger. Win for the Money landed third with Barber’s Palazzi fourth. Favoured filly Millie Girl was seventh.
The Drexler barn would come back and win the last two races on the day with HAVE A SOUPER DAY, who was returning to the $32,000 claiming class that he won at two starts ago for Schickedanz, and GUILDSMAN (FR), already a three-time winner this year, who won again for $10,000 claiming on Sunday.
That was the first-ever five-win day for Drexler, who was inconsolable when reached by Canadian Thoroughbred. As a side note, Drexler and his staff are active in retiring horses from racing, with the most recent ones including Reconfigure and Hitter Park.