BOARDROOM (Commissioner – Money Madness by Rahy) and her trainer Josie Carroll picked up from a sensational 2020 Woodbine season and began the new year’s stakes schedule with a victory in the $156,000 Whimsical Stakes (G3) on June 19. Both the filly, owned by the American stable LNJ Foxwoods, were Soveriegn Award nominees last year.

The Whimsical was one of two stakes on the fourth day of racing of the delayed Woodbine meeting. CAN’T BUY LOVE (Twirling Candy – Pay the Kitten by Kitten’s Joy), also American-owned by Larry Johnson, won the Star Shoot Stakes for trainer Michael Trombetta. The main Tapeta track was extremely fast on a hot day with the main turf also yielding fast times.

It was a good news/bad news day for Boardroom’s winning rider Luis Contreras, who found out Friday he was to serve a seven-day suspension and was issued a $2,500 fine for actions on opening day at Woodbine (see more below).

The six-furlong Whimsical set up as expected ‘on paper’ despite two scratched – Chart and Sav.

Golden Ami, the winner’s stablemate, held a narrow lead while flanked by 2019 Champion Female Sprinter Summer Sunday (inside) and the reigning divisional champ Artie’s Princess (outside) through wild fractions on a fast Tapeta strip of :21.93 and :43.93. Following close to the pace just behind the top trio, Contreras had positioned Boardroom to strike down the stretch and the talented filly out-finished the competitive bunch to score by a neck in a sizzling time of 1:08.35.

“Reading the program and by the way the track has been playing, that was pretty much the thing to do. Everything worked perfect. Every single step of the race I was right there,” said Contreras. “She’s so amazing.”

Boardroom paid $5.70 to win as the 9-5 second choice. Our Secret Agent closed widest from the back to finish second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Amalfi Coast, who rallied between rivals to take third prize. Golden Ami finished fourth, a neck back, followed by 6-5 favourite Artie’s Princess and Summer Sunday.

“I think she’s a really special filly and the race set up beautifully for her, Luis sat patiently just off of them and the filly proved what she is,” said Carroll. “I wasn’t [surprised how close she was] with the way this track is playing. This track is very speedy today, so she was a little closer than maybe we had anticipated prior, but the way the day’s been unfolding, I wasn’t that surprised.”

Boardroom put together a 3-1-1 record while earning more than $140,000 during her debut season last year as a three-year-old despite a few eventful trips. The Kentucky-bred, a $475,000 purchase at the Ocala April 2-Year-Old in Training Sale 2019, had closed her five-race 2020 campaign by winning the Duchess Stakes and finishing a head shy of Artie’s Princess in the Grade 2 Bessarabian.

Boardroom is now 6-4-1-1 in her career with $231,000 plus in earnings.

Earlier on the program, Can’t Buy Love kicked off the Woodbine season’s stakes action, also taking advantage of a heavy pace battle to win the $125,250 Star Shoot six-furlong sprint for three-year-old fillies.

Justin Stein captures Woodbine’s 1st stake of the year, the Star Shoot, aboard Can’t Buy Love for owner Larry Johnson and trainer Michael J. Trombetta. Can’t Buy Love covered the 6 furlongs in 1.09.2. (Woodbine/ Michael Burns Photo)

Justin Stein worked out the winning trip aboard the Michael Trombetta trainee in her Woodbine debut after she was claimed for $75,000 at Gulfstream Park over the winter by R. Larry Johnson.

Polyanthus was joined on top by 2-5 favourite Drunk Dial, both coming off successful career debuts in 2020, and they traded blows through fractions of :21.69 and :44.09 with a quick-leaving California Lily stalking the pace and striking in the final furlong. Meanwhile, Can’t Buy Love settled off the pace in sixth before launching wide into contention on the turn and surging to victory. The final time was 1:09.47.

“They were moving along, the field in front of me. The favourite actually broke bad to the outside and I had a chance to kind of make that horse have to do a little extra early and then she [Can’t Buy Love] just settled into stride and waited for her cue,” said Stein after the race. “I could tell she wanted to win, she was surging at those horses and she wanted to be at the wire first today.”

Sent postward at odds of 12-1 in the field of eight that include four Mark Casse trainees, the supplemented shipper Can’t Buy Love returned $27.30 to win. Dirty Dangle nosed out California Lily in a place photo less than a length behind the winner, while the season-debuting Sweet Souper Sweet picked up fourth money for the Trombetta stable finishing ahead of early trailer La Libertee. Polyanthus, Drunk Dial and Magical Soul completed the order.

More Woodbine Saturday and Friday

TIDAL FORCES took the next successful step to a date with the Queen’s Plate, Aug. 22, with an allowance win at 1 1/16 miles in his Tapeta debut Saturday. Sam-Son Farms’ handsome bay colt by the late Malibu Moon- Ain’t No Tellin by Smart Strike had won his career debut on turf at nine furlongs at Gulfstream Park in April but was sent off at a hefty 6 to 1 Saturday. Fans were enamoured with his stablemate Tio Magico, who was hammered down to even-money as a first time gelding. But Tidal Forces was strong as he came from well off a modest pace and made a wide move into the stretch to wear down another Plate hopeful HARLAN ESTATE, making his first start in Canada and on Tapeta for trainer Kevin Attard. The time was 1:43.40. Emma-Jayne Wilson, who has started the year off with flair, had to ride Tidal Forces hard from the turn to the wire for the victory as the pace runners were now slowing.

Harlan Estate, owned by Alberta’s Borders Racing and ERJ Racing Exline, had been racing on grass in California and had a maiden win. He was bred by Ivan Dalos and is a son of Kantharos.

The first 2-year-old race of the season saw a 1-2 finish by fillies by California Chrome as BID ONCE, owned by Chris Howard and trained by Ian Howard led all the way to hold off Mark Casse-owned and trained Sol Dorado.

Bid Once had worked two furlongs in a sizzling :21 1/5 at the April Ocala sale and was bought for $80,000 by Howard. She is a full sister to California Lily, who won her debut last year at Woodbine.

LORENA won race 1 and is now 2 for 2 in her career for former jockey Gerry Olguin, trainer Stuart Simon and Brent and Russ McLellan. The Souper Speedy – Negotiable by You and I filly, bred by Dr. Liam Gannon, had won her debut last November by 7 1/2 lengths and won Saturday with similar ease in near track record time of 1:15 for 6 1/2 furlongs.  Lorena was a $50,000 CTHS yearling purchase from consignor Richard Hogan.

Gary Boulanger rode the winner to start off his year 2-for-2 after missing a lot of 2020 due to injury.

MARTEN RIVER sped away to win a starter/optional turf sprint in race 4 for owner and trainer David Bell. The 7-year-old Silent Name (Jpn) gelding was winning for the eighth time in his 29th start and Steve Bahen rode, his second winner of the day.

Lorne Richard and owner True North Stable got their first win of the season with HAZELBROOK, a Bayern filly who was making her second career start and first of the season. The speedy filly won the maiden allowance under Jason ‘Jet Li’ Hoyte, who won the first race Friday on 31-to-1 shot Capture the Moment for the Leblanc Racing Stable.

Trainer Mark Casse broke through and got his first win of the season with OUR FLASH DRIVE, a Love Oak Plantation homebred by Ghostzapper, who rallied to win a maiden allowance, race 6, under Patrick Husbands. Mike Mattine got his first win also as ISHIYAY and Kazushi Kumra upset an allowance race worth $101,200, race 10. Ishiyaya is owned by Pipers Racing Stable of Pipers Heath golf course and Stacey van Camp. The 5-year-old mare is by Court Vision and is 4 for 23 in her career and the $60,720 winner’s share Saturday booted her earnings to over $170,000.

WIDE AWAKE up was up to win the last race, a maiden optional event on the grass for Barry Butzer and Martin Drexler, who also trains. The 4-year-old filly by The Factor was ridden by Patrick Husbands.

On Friday,  longshots roared home in most of the eight races including TAKOTA at 7-to-1 for Shale Wagman and trainer Denyse McClachrie, who was celebrating his birthday. McClachrie is also co-breeder of the Society’s Chairman filly with Gayle Bosscher. Jordan Lay’s MRS. DEL (Souper Speedy) won her season debut in an optional event defeating the Wesley Ward-trained Lime while another Soupy Speedy offspring, SOUPER PECON, won her maiden in the next race for George Billers.

HITTERS PARK, an 8-year-old by Cowtown Cat, won the $50,000 Welcome Back Handicap presented by the HBPA, for Sadio Maragh and 1569389 Ontario. Martin Drexler trains the winner.

*Tempers flared following the 10th race on opening day June 12 as jockey Luis Contreras, whose mount Gamble’s Silver was cut off into the stretch of a maiden race by Miss Floki, ridden by Leo Salles. Salles, who was handed three days for that miscue and then 10 days for a spill that same day, came in and impeded Contreras and Gamble’s Silver.

Following the race you can see Contreras ride up alongside Salles and reach out to push him. Contreras was given a seven-day suspension, July 2-8 and a $2,500 fine.

*Wagering on Friday and Saturday at Woodbine totaled over $10 million.