The first four-day week of the 2024 Woodbine season is complete and while there is the ongoing battle of horse population and conditions of races, it was pleasing to see 26 different trainers win the 34 races last week. In particular on Saturday, with the annual LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society’s Ladies Lunch attracting nearly 150 guests, each race was won by different owners and trainers.

The LongRun Ladies Lunch has grown in stature over the years. The charity event, organized by the LongRun board and hosted by Woodbine Entertainment’s immaculate food and beverage department under Christy Fraser, was a huge success. Guests enjoyed great food and racing, a litany of prizes, and trips to the announcer’s booth to visit with Robert Geller and a winning horse in the winner’s circle.

In addition, top apprentice and current leading jockey SOFIA VIVES made a special appearance that was very popular.

LongRun has its annual open house coming up on June 15.

Speaking of ladies, there were five winning women trainers on Saturday through its nine-race card. MICHELLE LOVE sent out first time starter STRIKE A CHORD for herself and Northern Dawn Stable to win a maiden $15,000 claiming race with Larry Munoz on board. The Reload filly was claimed by Bruno Schickedanz.

SARAH RITCHIE sent out her first winner of the year when the stakes-winning filly ANAM CARAM got her first win since she was a two-year-old in 2022, taking a $25,000 claiming dash under David Moran.

DEBRA ROMBIS won her second race of the season when newly-gelded PEJA DU,  a Florida import, led all the way to win the fifth race Saturday for $15,000 claiming. Jeff Alderson gave the Always Dreaming four-year-old the shrewd ride over a track that was very kind to speed all week.

American trainer KELSEY DANNER won her first race at Woodbine as the impressive PONCE DE LEON won a maiden special weight with a smart 88 Beyer Speed Figure. The dark bay ridgling by Copper Bullet and jockey Luis Contreras stayed inside and just off the pace early in the 6 1/2 furlong sprint before running down Hawksbury. The Danner horses at Woodbine are trained by David Bell and his partner Val Topp.

And if you bet horses purely on appearance in the post parade alone, you would have cashed on ENGLISH SHIRL, trained by Shelley Fitzgerald for Marty Wickins and Patrice Likamshum. The six-year-old mare won two of three races last year and led all the way in this optional claiming/allowance race ($30,000) under jockey Jose Campos.

Tuned In

Anyone paying attention to the worktab in recent weeks would have spotted the name PLAYMEA TUNE speeding around Woodbine. A four-year-old gelding owned and bred by Chiefswood Stable, the son of Maclean’s Music had had a litany of workouts dating back to June 2022. Through the first three months of 2023 the Josie Carroll trainee was working at Payson Park but then he was put away until this January.

The debut was worth the wait.

Settling nicely for the first two furlongs of the six furlong Tapeta sprint, Playmea Tune moved to the lead three furlongs from home, was set down hard by jockey Kazushi Kimura who kept busy on the gelding as he opened up an 11-length lead. The gelding sped the distance in 109.49 for a huge 96 Beyer Speed Figure according to Daily Racing Form.

Maclean’s Music was undefeated in three races and earned a 114 Beyer in his career debut. Playmea Tune is from the mare Fifth Overture who has produced 11 other named foals, six other winners including stakes-placed Awesome Overture. Fifth Overture was a sprinting stakes winner of the Grade 3 Seaway Stakes.

Stay Close

You had to be close to the pace last week in the Tapeta races to have success.  Wide ralliers simply did not do well in most races.

Sunday’s winners including maiden winner MAKE MAGIC for owner John Oxley and trainer Mark Casse and the two-year-old filly CARLISLE BAY, by Speightstown, who won a two-year-old filly race over three rivals.

Multiple winning riders during the week won races on Sunday. RYAN MUNGER won four races including the Sunday finale on BLAST IN THE SNOW, who won a turf sprint for trainer Catherine Day Phillips and owner and breeder Lindy Barrow. The winner is yet another victor for Ontario sire Reload this year.

Alexander Marti, who came to Woodbine from western Canada, won two races on the weekend including one on the three-year-old filly LITTLE TEDDY, a Frac Daddy gal for York Tech Stable trained by Santino DiPaola.

Apprentice rider PIETRO MORAN returned to riding last week and won a trio of races, while his father David won a pair.