The Eagle landed – EAGLE POISE and Patrick Husbands won the

By: horse-canada |

The Eagle landed – EAGLE POISE and Patrick Husbands won the Valedictory Stakes on the last day of racing at Woodbine

Norm Files photo





The 2011 Woodbine meeting came in for a smooth, soft landing Sunday night after 6 hours of racing action on the day, most of it uneventful.
The last day of racing was an opportunity for a lot of visiting, chatting, Christmas cheer and talks of “so, do you go to Florida for the winter?”.
Many lucky ones are heading south this week and the following days to come, it will be fun for those of us up here to follow along the jockeys and trainers and owners and, of course, the horses, as they compete in Florida, New Orleans, Turfway and Philly Park.

The 2011 racing season took off in early April and while it was not always turbulence-free, there were 165 racing days, 2 less than last year due to cancellations. and the wagering on Woodbine races from all sources was up about 7.5%. Pretty good when handle in the US continues to slide…

This has a lot to do with the continued, growing interest in the racing at the Rexdale track by bettors all over the U.S., at a teletheatre, track or in their home. TVG has been a big boost to Woodbine racing as it shows the races daily and then has a crew on site on big-race days.

If fans see a well known American trainer or jockey, and decent fields and purses, the more interesting it becomes.

Speaking of that, can you remember opening day when American trainer WESLEY WARD won 5 of the 10 races and had everyone scrambling for the record books or running trackside to interview the soft-spoken horseman?
He sure had an edge that day as his fast runners, starting with NEW TOMORROW in the opener, made mincemeat out of locals who simply were not ready to go.
Ward said he “sure hoped” that he would still be racking up wins by the end of the season but it was apparent he had no plans on staying.

His entire Woodbine record was just 8 for 35 and it was ages ago that he ran at Woodbine. Some American trainers only ran a few at the meeting – JAMES HATCHETT, 6 for 29, for example, and others like STEVE ASMUSSEN and MIKE PINO ran a few more (the former over 200 horses).

It was fitting that MARK CASSE won the last race of the season with HEY HEY MAMA since the Indianapolis-born horseman ran almost twice as many horses as any other trainer at Woodbine and led the win standings, setting a record (which was 89) of 119 victories.
HEY HEY MAMA won the 13th race on Sunday under Casse’s go-to rider Patrick Husbands and the winning owners were Americans – West Point thbrds, Brooks and Cammarano.

EAGLE POISE, 2nd in the Valedictory Stakes 2 years ago, came back for a try this season and won it for Riverdee Farms, which had bought the gelding as a steeplechase prospect.

Winners on the last day of racing included Firestone Farms’ and train Dan Vella, which took the first race with the Manitoba-bred filly BONARDA, who won her maiden for $11,500; Sam-Son Farms took the 2nd with it’s well bred BIGSTORMBREWIN in a maiden allowance, Mark Frostad trains; Joe Walls and family came to life very late in the season and STOLONBOY won the 1 7/8 mile starter allowance at long odds; and KEVIN ATTRD furninshed off a sold seaosn when GOVERNOR KHALIFA won for $10,000 claiming for Soli Mehta and Carmen Attard.

The exciting 2yo INCREDICAT, who worked in 46 and change for 4 furlongs in spring but then bucked shins, won his debut at 6 to 5 as the pick of everyone. The Kinghaven Farms-bred is owned by that farm plus Ben Hutzel, John Fielding, Hat Trick Stable  and H. Horner, Ian Black trains.

Owner/trainer STEPHEN PHILPOTT won his first and only race of the season with SIR ADIE won the 6th, an allowance for Ontario sired runners. The trajectory fellow had been winless for a couple of seasons but had certainly been hinting and at 12 to 1 and the top pick in the TORONTO STAR, he made for a nice closing day for this $5 bettor.

Shale Wagman and Daniel Pivnick’s ZIP IT NANCE won the 7th for $10,000 claiming and he proved to be a nice claim from Florida for the owners and trainer Denyse McClachrie.

The BEAR STABLES almost got  the lead for owners by earnings at the end of the meeting but came up a few bucks short event with the smart win by the very promsing BEAR TOUGH TIGER, a Roar of the Tiger gelding who won with a 94 Beyer Figure in an allwance race for 2nd leading trainer Reade Baker.

Another victorious smaller stable on the day was John Trdak and J, Greener and trainer Carlo Fuoco who won with BRITE SABBETH, even those the 4yo gelding blew the turn badly and was being swarmed late in the race. He’s a gelding by local sire Gun Power.

And long time maiden THE BULL GOT SHOT won his maiden for owner/trainer Robter Tiller in race 11 while Scott Fairle sent out Ace Racing, Kingview and TC Racing’s HOLY SCHNIEKIES to win the 12th, an allowance race.

Stats for owners and trainers are below the Toronto Star story.

There were some huge racing days at Woodbine and stats show that Plate day, Oaks day, Mile day and International day have jumped anywhere from 30 to 50% in wagering in recent years. This year’s Plate-day handle was over $8 million, a staggering sum.

Some initiatives are working well for the track such as BET NIGHT LIVE, the twice a week show (standardbred and TB) which has lured a lot more customers to HORSEPLAYER INTERACTIVE, the cool betting site which makes it easy to play the races at Woodbine.

There were some bumps on the 2011 flight – 2 cancellations – but one was due to heat and the other was due to too much rain on the Polytrack. The Polytrack continues to be an interesting topic of conversation all season long by horsepeople and Daily Racing Form handicappers. It can be biased and when the weather turned very cold late in the season, the biases really came out.

DRF is expected to post statistics on the number of horse deaths during races at Woodbine in 2011. There was a breakdown on the final day of racing when LOTUS FLOWER was injured in race 1.

The wagering increase is always good news and “satisfactory”, according to Woodbine Entertainment Group’s NICK EAVES.

However, two trends are disturbing to Eaves and they are ones that he is set on reversing:

*the decline of local home market betting on Woodbine thoroughbreds
*and field size.

Getting local fans to bet on Woodbine is certainly tricky but Bet Night Live can help in that area and certainly better advertising of the big races locally. Getting the races in the faces of the locals has to be bolstered – does that mean paid editorial in some publications? The trend is already being set, it’s not ideal but perhaps a little more information in the ads would go a long way.

Field size is a surprise since the last few weeks were jam packed but the spring and mid-summer suffer – horses are not ready  in the spring and in July and August, the spring horses are done and the fall horses are not ready.

That is why Woodbine is going to cut out Thursdays in the summer and slap a few extra days on at the end of the season. The Valedictory Stakes will be on Dec. 16 next season.

Thoroughblog may add one more to the list – helping the CORE bettors have more confidence in some of the goings-on at the races – from bizarre race results, workout times,  to perception etc. (the Daily Racing Form itemized some of these recently). First time geldings, horse’s pulling up and winning are just some occurrences that drive regular bettors, handicappers wild – they need to be kept happy.

(From DRF…. Listing on the program the assistant trainer in charge of the local operation when a stable’s head trainer is based elsewhere;  Explanations to the public by stewards when a horse pulls a dramatic form reversal;  Instituting a rule that protects the bettor when the stronger part of an entry is a late scratch.

Eaves said a major push for WEG right now is getting a handier application for betting mobile – on phones etc. – boosting the convenience of a wager for people on the run. Woodbine has always been on the cutting edge of technology, sometimes even before its time, and surely a Mobile-push will be a good move.

Fans, horsepeople and those of us who work in the business are lucky to have a superior racetrack like Woodbine to work with – here’s to even better results in2012.

The Discreet Cat 2yo beginner INCREDICAT ran to the hype when he won his debut on the last day of racing.

Norm Files photo



Lone paper locally to sum up 2011

*Note – One sentence in this story intends to say Contreras set a record for earnings but it makes it sound like heset a record for wins to. That was not the intention of the writer – the record for wins is 221 by Mickey Walls. Contreras had 211.–wagering-up-again-as-woodbine-calls-2011-a-wrap

SIR ADIE, owned and trained by Stephen Philpott, won an allowance race on the last day of Woodbine, the top pick of the Toronto Star and a selection that attracted a lot of attention…

Norm Files photo




1    Melnyk Racing Stables, Inc.    80    29    10    6    $1,654,201    36%    45    56%
2    Bear Stables, Ltd.                       156    33    18    19    $1,607,408    21%    70    45%
3    Donver Stable                                70    14    3    9    $1,545,744    20%    26    37%
4    Stronach Stables                         92    20    17    12    $1,332,314    22%    49    53%
5    John C. Oxley                              60    13    15    10    $1,119,747    22%    38    63%
6    Norseman Racing Stable         84    13    17    14    $1,034,217    15%    44    52%
7    Sam-Son Farms                          99    12    8    13    $996,401    12%    33    33%
8    Mrs. Robert G. Ehrnrooth         1    1    0    0    $891,090    100%    1    100%
9    Paul M. Buttigieg                          102    12    18    14    $846,373    12%    44    43%
10    Tucci Stables                               107    17    18    21    $757,473    16%    56    52%
11    Robert Smithen                       17    3    5    4    $637,129    18%    12    71%
12    Colebrook Farms                      90    11    9    12    $628,028    12%    32    36%


Rank    Trainer Name    Starts    1st    2nd    3rd    Earnings    Win%    Top3    Top3%
1    Mark E. Casse    532    119    81    74    $6,762,323    22%    274    52%
2    Reade Baker    295    61    45    31    $3,052,319    21%    137    46%
3    Robert P. Tiller    289    45    45    41    $2,429,464    16%    131    45%
3    Steven M. Asmussen    234    45    41    36    $1,745,470    19%    122    52%
5    Sid C. Attard    293    43    56    51    $2,910,921    15%    150    51%
6    Roger L. Attfield    178    37    28    30    $3,241,309    21%    95    53%
7    Scott H. Fairlie    220    34    26    36    $1,082,703    15%    96    44%
8    Josie Carroll    190    33    18    21    $2,740,192    17%    72    38%
9    Brian A. Lynch    165    32    24    28    $1,643,153    19%    84    51%
10    Michael P. De Paulo    237    30    24    30    $2,072,943    13%    84    35%
10    Michael J. Doyle    276    30    27    26    $1,561,158    11%    83    30%
10    Steve Attard    216    30    32    27    $1,314,416    14%    89    41%

DID YOU KNOW? That the trainer with the best win percentage (more than 10 starters) was JIM ENSOM at 47%??


Photographer Cindy Dulay visited Norse Ridge Farm in King City, Ontario on Sunday,
December 4. Here are photos of stallions Perfect Soul, Gayego, Not Bourbon, and Rebellion:


Some of the categories for the Sovereign Awards (April 5) are a slam dunk – Inglorious for champion 3yo filly – but others could be interesting…
send in your thoughts for OWNER, TRAINER, APPRENTICE JOCKEY and let’s get the discussion started!