The heat and humidity have disappeared from Ontario and September has arrived.
Labour Day weekend in Canada means different things to tracks across the country.
ASSINIBOIA DOWNS has two weeks, six racing dates, left in their season, and from all accounts it has been a decent meeting, bettering wagering by a good margin from 2019 while understandably lower than the huge year it had in 2020 as one of the first tracks to race during the early Covid-19 pandemic.
JORGE CARRENO has ridden away with the jockey’s race, winning at a 31% rate with 46 wins from 74 mounts. Carreno, who hails from Mexico but learned to ride in the United States, it has been a strong season for a rider who has won more than 1,500 races, rode in the Preakness, and was nursing an injury when he took up the Assiniboia Downs incentive program to come to Winnipeg to ride.
JERRY GOURNEAU, the 2020 leading trainer, is in front by 10 wins over Jared Brown, 47 to 37. HENRY WITT, JR. has 34 wins and $406,000 in purses as the leading owner.
In British Columbia, a tumultuous year at HASTINGS RACECOURSE turned into a better year when the government finally announced assistance to the racing industry. There have been only a few stakes races and, like most tracks in North America, the horse population has been an issue, but the horsepeople are resilient.
Leading the very tight jockey race is EFRAIN HERNANDEZ with 47 wins over Antonio Reyes who has 46. The trainer’s race is similarly close with BARBARA HEADS leading with 26 wins over Steve Henson who has 24.
And WILLOW CREEK FARMS and NORTH AMERICAN THOROUGHBRED HORSE COMPANY are in a dead heat for wins by owners at 15 with virtually the same in purse earnings.
The Hastings meeting is scheduled to go to Sept. 28.
Alberta’s one-mile track, CENTURY MILE, is set to host the CANADIAN DERBY (G3) on September 11. ENRIQUE GONZALEZ and RICO WALCOTT are tied in the rider’s standings at 43 wins. TIM RYCROFT has a snug hold on the trainer’s race with 47 wins and RIVERSEDGE RACING STABLE has 20 wins at the top of the owner’s list.
FORT ERIE is also getting ready for its biggest day of the season with the $400,000 PRINCE OF WALES STAKES coming up Sept. 14. The second jewel of Canada’s Triple Crown is missing the Queen’s Plate winner, SAFE CONDUCT, but has a nine horse list of nominees. CHRIS HUSBANDS leads the riders with 38 wins, up 20 wins on Helen Vanek. The 2020 leading trainer JULIE MATHES is up 16 to 11 over JOE HUMBER on the trainer’s list. The owner’s race is a good one as DAVID MATHES and COLEBROOK FARMS have nine wins apiece with Mathes leading in purses by less than $200,
WOODBINE takes a break from its stakes schedule for three days of racing over this long weekend. Coming up in the weeks after are some of the biggest races of the meeting including the Woodbine Mile (G1) and Canadian International (G1), both on Sept. 18.
KAZUSHI KIMURA is leading the meet’s riders for the first time with 55 wins to Emma-Jayne Wilson’s 46. Not much has changed in the trainer standings as MARK CASSE is up 56 to 23 over Kevin Attard. Casse clients LIVE OAK PLANTATION and GARY BARBER have 13 and 12 wins respectively and are 1-2 by purse earnings while BRUNO SCHICKEDANZ has 14 wins, BUTTIGEG TRAINING CENTRE has 11 wins and COLEBROOK FARMS has 10.
Seven horses at Woodbine have three wins with stakes winners OUR FLASH DRIVE and LORENA leading the way with purses included.
*Thursday at Woodbine, trainer AMBER MAYERS sent out her first win from her sixth starter as CHASING DESTINY won her maiden in her third career race. The Reload filly was ridden by Chris Husbands for Paul Pilliner.
The leading winning BEYER SPEED FIGURES from Daily Racing Form for winners at Woodbine in 2021 are:
SOUPER STONEHENGE 98
OLYMPIC RUNNER 98
SILENT POET 98
AVIE’S FLATTER 97
JOLIE OLIMPICA 96
TOLD IT ALL 96
MIGHTY HEART 96
AVIE’S FLATTER 96
Those are all stakes winners this year except for TOLD IT ALL, who ran a miraculous race off the Suzanne Drake claim on Aug. 27. The grey 4-year-old Ontario sired and bred gelding by Big Screen – Tell No One by El Prado (Ire), who won the Elgin Yearling Sales Stakes in 2020, was scooped up for $9,500 on July 11 by Drake and husband Tim’s Silver Duck Racing, Joe Pollard and Paul McLean. He was fourth in that inner turf race but then came back to win a $40,000 optional claiming race from well off the pace, speeding 6 1/2 furlongs in a reported 1:15. The gelding’s previous high Beyer Figure was 81. Told It All was bred by Spring Farm.