Thoroughbred racing is (finally) set to begin in Ontario on June 12th now that the Ontario government and health officials have moved up the original date for the province’s Step 1 of re-opening. The long wait for horsepeople who have been training horses, paying bills and hanging on since March 1 is almost over.
Woodbine’s current start date is Friday, June 18, but it could be the previous weekend, June 12 or 13, or perhaps Monday June 14. An announcement from the province on the first step in the re-opening plan could come as early as Monday June 7.
For owners and trainers of Queen’s Plate and Woodbine Oaks contenders, it is time to carefully map out the trail to the Canadian-bred classics. Plate horses who use stakes races to get to the Aug. 22 Plate, the 162nd running, will eye the July 11 Queenston Stakes at seven furlongs and the 1 1/8 mile Plate Trial on Aug. 1 with the hope that their 3-year-old will peak on the big day. For Oaks fillies, there is the June 19 Star Shoot Stakes at 6 furlongs and/or the Fury Stakes at seven furlongs on July 10 or Selene Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles on July 10 followed by the Aug. 1 Oaks. Oaks horses then could go on to the Plate.
Continuing as the top Plate contender is WEYBURN, Chiefswood Stables’ Gotham Stakes (G3) winner who missed subsequent starts in the Peter Pan and Belmont Stakes after spiking a fever. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens has mentioned the June 13 Pegasus stakes at Monmouth as a possible outing for the colt by Pioneerofthe Nile. Trainer Mark Casse reported that GRETZKY THE GREAT was headed back to Woodbine after two months of training at Churchill Downs. The Champion Two-year-Old of 2020 would be a serious contender for the Queenston Stakes and should be turned back in distance for that race. His last workout was May 14.
A group of Kevin Attard trainees continue to work forwardly at Woodbine, including Coronation Futurity winner STEPHEN (Constitution), KEEP GRINDING (Tizway), TRUFFLE KING (Giant Gizmo) and HADDASSAH (Air Force Blue). The latter had been entered in a race last week at Churchill Downs but did not make the trip. Kevin has four horses in the top 15.
A serious Plate contender is the US-owned and trained SAFE CONDUCT who has impressed this year on the grass and was recently fourth in the Pennine Ridge Stakes in the slop. Safe Conduct, trained by Phil Serpe, did not look comfortable on the messy track but could take to Woodbine’s Tapeta surface.
Sam-Son farms is loaded with impressive winners TIDAL FORCES and DANCE SOME MO and two guys who are working smartly at Woodbine, CRUDEN BAY and AVOMAN are on the list for trainer Don MacRae.
Sneaking on the list is DERZKII, a Frac Daddy gelding who has been working in fast times since early May for Fieldston Farms and trainer Carlos Grant. Bred by Megan Allan and her mother Lesley Kraus, Derzkii won two straight races to end his 2020 season and posted Beyer Figures of 75 and 71.
Among ‘bubble’ horses is the filly THIRD DRAFT, a recent winner for Chiefswood Stable and MUNNYFOR RO, a maiden winner at 1 1/8 miles in April at Keeneland for Raroma Stable and trainer Brian Lynch. The turf filly was recently sixth on off turf on May 29 in the Regret Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs. She is a Munnings filly bred by Daybar, Ltd.
Off the list this month are RIPTIDE ROCK and the filly DREAMING OF DREW.
CANADIAN THOROUGHBRED’S TOP 15 – June 7, 2021
1. WEYBURN – Possible for June 13 Pegasus at Monmouth; missed Belmont Stakes due to fever, worked 5 furlongs June 6 at Belmont 59.00, a bullet move, 4th Wood Memorial, 85 Beyer, won Gotham, 95;
2. GRETZKY THE GREAT – is expected to race at Woodbine, last workout 47 3/5 Churchill Downs May 14 ; 5th Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3), 73 Beyer Speed Figure, Turfway Park, third in John Battaglia Stakes, Turfway Feb. 26, 83 Beyer Speed Figure
3. STEPHEN – training in Ontario
4. SAFE CONDUCT –4th in off-the-turf Grade 3 Penine Ridge run in the slop, 67 Beyer, won turf allowance May 2, 87 Beyer Figure, second in 2021 debut, 1 1/8 miles turf, 75 Beyer Figure.
5. HADDASSAH – training in Ontario
6. TIDAL FORCES – Sam-Son Farms’ homebred won his debut at 1 1/8 miles on turf at Gulfstream with a 70 Beyer Figure
7. DANCE SOME MO – Sam-Son Farms colt just won his maiden with an 80 Beyer Figure on the grass at Churchill Downs, 1 1/8 miles turf
8. MASTER SPY – 2nd workout, 35 for 3 furlongs Mar. 6 Casse Training Centre, 37 3/5
9. KEEP GRINDING – training in Ontario
10. HOMBRE – Closing fifth in a smart debut at Belmont.
11. TRUFFLE KING – training in Ontario
12. CRUDEN BAY – training in Ontario
13. RED RIVER REBEL – training in Ontario
14. AVOMAN – stakes winner at two turns on turf in 2020, training at Woodbine
15. DERZKII – Two wins at two for Fieldstone Farms, 75 and 71 Beyer Figurers; impressive workout times at Woodbine for trainer Carlos Grant