It was a wet and wild Woodbine weekend highlighted by some of the most important races in North America leading up to the November Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
The level of drama and astonishment went on for two days through a litany of graded stakes races led by the $1.12 million WOODBINE MILE (G1) on Saturday, Sept. 14. The locals won their share of big events, shippers also collected a lot of purses and off and on rain all weekend didn’t put too much of a damper on the racing.
Woodbine Mile Day wasn’t one of the best wagering-wise – down 27% from a year ago – but it was a great day of Canadian/Ontario racing and breeding, watch the Mile:
HIGHEST WINNING BEYER SPEED FIGURES Sept. 11-Sept 15 – Canada
(courtesy Daily Racing Form)
103 STARSHIP JUBILEE – Canadian Stakes (G2)
101 EL TORMENTA – Woodbine Mile (G1)
100 OLD PERSIAN – Northern Dancer Stakes (G1)
95 YORKTON – Bold Venture Stakes (G3)
87 MAGICAL MAN
85 SPANISH EXPRESS
WOODBINE MILE – It was a clash of storms as EL TORMENTA, owned and bred by Milton’s SAM-SON FARMS, edged hotshot filly Got Stormy in a rousing finish to the one-mile turf race, a huge stepping stone to the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), this year at Santa Anita Nov. 2.
The storylines for the 23rd Mile are plentiful. Trainer GAIL COX, who grew up as a horse-crazy gal with a pony in Willowdale, ON, was winning the biggest race of her career with El Tormenta. She has only trained for Sam-Son for just over two years and this Stormy Atlantic gelding was one of the first horses she received to train. At one time a bit speed crazy, this 4-year-old has blossomed in 2019 and while bad racing luck plagued him in three races coming into the Mile, the amazing Eurico da Silva worked his magic on Mile day.
Eurico, of course, has announced his intent to retired from riding at year’s end to focus on family. The Woodbine Mile was the only major race at Woodbine he had not won. Check that box off.
While three horses ding-donged through sizzling fractions early in the Mile, Da Silva stayed tucked behind the speed. When Got Stormy glided to the lead off the turn and looked a winner, Da Silva simply waited for an opening and then sent his mount through for the narrow win.
In the post race media scrum it was Michael Balaz, 25, grandson of Ernie Samuel, who talked to the press about the amazing legacy of Sam-Son Farm.
“When we were lucky to win Oaks this year I got sentimental and teared up because the granddam of Desert Ride (Eye of the Sphynx) was so special to my mother and the great granddam (Queen of Egypt) was special to my grandmother (Liza Samuel). There was all these connections.
This is a new connection.”
Sam-Son’s longevity is legendary since so many big farms of the 70s, 80s and 90s are no longer in existence.
Meanwhile, behind El Tormenta and Got Stormy was Lucullan chasing in third but heavy left-handed urging by Luis Saez caused the horse to veer out and wipe out Raging Bull, who was eventually placed third through disqualification.
CANADIAN STAKES – The Grade 2, 1 1/8 mile turf race was another beauty for fan fave STARSHIP JUBILEE, a two-time Sovereign Award winner for Turf Female and well on her way to another such trophy. Trained to perfection by Kevin Attard for the mare’s American owners Blue Heaven Farm (who purchased her from Atard and partner Soli Mehta last year), STARSHIP JUBILEE received a super ride by Luis Contreras to win the race for the second straight year. It was her 13th win in 30 races.
NORTHERN DANCER STAKES (G1) – Just six horses went postward and with three straight graded stakes wins on his card, Tiz a Slam was expected to be a tough cookie in the 1 1/2 mile turf race. But it was the classy European Gourp 1 winner OLD PERSIAN who pulled the rug out from under the Chiefswood Stable colt. Owned by Godolphin, Old Persian raced on Lasix for the first time and won his North American debut with flair. He has 9 wins in 16 races, over $4.3 million in earnings and is trained by Charlie Appleby. The race was run oddly as Halton stakes winner Cooler Mike opened up a lead of some 20 lengths under Patrick Husbands early in the race before he stopped badly and was eased.
BOLD VENTURE STAKES (G3) – If you thought it was a case of deja vu watching the Bold Venture stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs on Tapeta, you were right.
The great PINK LLOYD, who became unglued in 2018 when he hopped at the start of the Bold Venture and lost to Yorkton essentially did the same thing a year later. The excitable 7-year-old was 5 for 5 coming in but he pushed the gate open when getting fractious and he spotted the field many lengths. He ran super to be fourth but later was declared a non-starter. Guess who won? Yorkton! The Chiefswood Stable horse by Speightstown had not won since last year’s Bold Venture.
TWO-YEAR-OLDS ON SUNDAY – The Grade 1 Natalma and Summer Stakes, Win and You’re In events for the Breeders’ Cup, are important races and this year’s fields for those one-mile grass events were filled with many invaders.
The races were fabulously exciting even if there not all that fast. Americans Decorated Invader, who was bet off the board by fans, had a theatrical journey to win while third place finisher Vitalogy had a dreadful trip.
It was not a good day for Woodbine’s flashy boy Keep on Truckin, who put his unbeaten record in Tapeta sprints on the line but after a tough, inside trip on the pace, he faded to last.
The itty-bitty filly Abscond won an incredible three filly fight to the finish in the Natalma.
IN OTHER NEWS
THE QUEEN – Apprentice rider Kazushi Kimura got the chance to ride for Her Majesty The Queen in the Canadian Stakes which was presented by the Japan Racing Association. Kimura rode Magnetic Charm to second place behind Staship Jubilee who won for the second year in a row.
CORSI traveled a long way to win his maiden debut for Glenn Sikura and friends Mario Serrani et al with a 70 Beyer Speed Figure. The son of Honor Code – Beth’s Bling is trained by Josie Carroll.
ARTIE’S PRINCESS, an Ontario bred by former Ontario sire We Miss Artie won her debut on the lead on Saturday for Ken and Sarah Ramsay and trainer Wesley Ward.
AGNELLI, a son of the leading freshman sire in Canada Frac Daddy, rallied very wide to win his debut on Saturday for owner Wallace Thoroughbreds, Jeff Ruch and trainer Renee Kierans.