HORSE POPULATION CONTINUES TO BE AN ISSUE
Woodbine has 137 horses for this weekends 19 races
It is a North America-wide problem and Woodbine and other Canadian tracks are not immune. Horse population is at a low level and that has made it tough to have large fields.
This Sunday, Woodbine carded just 9 races. Two of its three stakes races have 4 and 5 horse fields.
The track will now add Wednesday racing and today it was draw the card, making for a 4-day week of racing through the summer.
The same issue is plaguing Ajax Downs Quarter horse racing as that track has 6 races on day 2 of it’s season on Sunday.
How cool would it have been if the Woodbine/Ajax cards be intertwined this spring, at least partially, in which fans could play Pick 3’s or Pick4’s or Daily Doubles incorporating Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse races?
We obtained statistics for wagering on Derby Day last weekend when betting on Woodbine was down $1.6 million. Equibase no longer includes wagering on outside tracks in its chart information – here are the totals:
WEG HMA wagering (All tracks all day): $8.3M vs. $7.8M +6.3%
Churchill card: $3,533,480 vs. $3,050,780 +15.8%
Derby Race: $1,601,773 vs. $1,418,612.2
Woodbine CEO Jim Lawson told Thoroughblog, “HPI had busiest day ever. [There was a] total of 349,550 bets online, 6% over last years previous record and a record number of 15,930 customers online during the day, a 2% increase from the previous record last year.”
As for the live Woodbine Thoroughbred handle being down almost 30% Lawson said,This year we had 3 races with less than 8 horses – horse supply a continuing concern to battle.”
Saturday’s STAR SHOOT STAKES, normally a stepping stone to the Woodbine Oaks, has just 5 horses in the field with American-bred DREAM IT IS the heavy favourite.
Sunday’s New Providence Stakes drew just 4 entrants, one a supplement as no one wants to take on Horse of the Year PINK LLOYD in the $100,000 event. Pink Lloyd will be reunited with regular rider Eurico Da Silva and there is no place or show wagering on the 6 furlong race.
Pink Lloyd stabelmate Goodoldhockeygame has also been entered along with Marten River and Lokforpursemonee who has not raced since July.
“I’m really surprised it came up this short,” said trainer Robert Tiller of the four-horse field. “The other horse [Goodoldhockeygame] is actually doing very well and there’s no reason not to run him. There’s money available for everybody in there. If we could win our 10th stake in a row, that would really be something. Obviously, Pink Lloyd is the guy that we want to win with. Ten stakes in a row, like I said, that’s never been done that I know of. We’ll see what happens, he’s in good order. It’s a horse race though, you never know.”
“He’s in our hearts and our minds all the time and we absolutely love him,” said Tiller of the horse that has captivated racing fans. “I’m hoping he can do it, not just for us, but for Woodbine and for Canadian racing.”
In Queen’s Plate news – 57 horses remain eligible for the June 30 race, 56 of the original 109 and one supplemental – HOME BASE, a recent Keeneland winner by Street sense.
Sunday’s Marine Stakes (Grade 3) is an open race at 1 1/16 miles but there are a couple of major Plate contenders. ROSE’S VISION, owned by Chefiswood Stable and trained by Stuart Simon, brings a 2 race win streak into the Marine and this will be the first time the colt will try a synthetic dirt track. Rose’s Vision is the latest selection by jockey Rafael Hernandez as that rider was on Aheadbyacentruy earlier this year but he has left that colt for the Marine.
Aheadbyacentury, the Coronation Futurity winner last year, had a wide journey in the Queenston to begin his 3yo season and he has Gary Boulanger on board. The Jack of Hearts and John Ross owned son of Midnight Lute should enjoy the longer distance.
BACK ON TRACK – KENTUCKY DERBY WINNER JUSTIFY TRAINS, PREAKNESS IN 8 DAYS!
With Humberto Gomez aboard, Kentucky Derby victor Justify returned to the track Thursday morning for the first time since his 2 ½-length triumph Saturday in the 144th Run for the Roses.
Owned by the partnership of WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Starlight Racing and Head of Plains Partners, the Bob Baffert trainee was the first horse on the Churchill Downs track at 7:30 following the first track maintenance renovation break.
Sporting his Kentucky Derby training saddle towel, Justify backtracked to the finish line accompanied by a pony with Baffert assistant Jim Barnes aboard. Justify then proceeded to gallop about 1 ½ miles before returning to the barn.
“I was very happy with him,” Barnes said. “He went to the track perfect and galloped perfect. I couldn’t be happier with him.”
Justify came out of the Derby with a bruised left hind heel.
“Each day he was getting better,” Barnes said. “He is 100 percent. He was ready to go (today). He was getting a little pushy in his stall.”
Among those looking on Thursday morning was Elliott Walden, President/CEO and Racing Manager of WinStar.
“I thought he went great,” Walden said. “The last couple of days he has looked good in the shed, but you never know until you get them out there.
“He has dealt with a cracked heel off and on and that is typical of horses. The track was rough Saturday with all the rain. The first time we saw it (the heel) was when he came out for you guys (the media) Sunday. We had to figure out what it was and work on it.”
Barnes said Justify most likely would remain on a 7:30 schedule until he leaves for Baltimore next week and the Preakness (GI) on May 19.
“We will stick to the same plan and go a little light into Baltimore,” said Barnes of the post-Derby routine that has served Baffert well with all four of his previous Derby winners coming back in two weeks to win the Preakness. “Just keep him happy and healthy.”
Other horses based at Churchill Downs that are possible for the Preakness are: Kentucky Derby sixth-place finisher Bravazo (trainer D. Wayne Lukas), Pat Day Mile (GII) third Givemeaminit (Dallas Stewart), Kentucky Derby eighth Lone Sailor (Tom Amoss), Pat Day fourth Sporting Chance (Lukas) and Arkansas Derby (GI) fifth-place finisher Tenfold (Steve Asmussen).
LONG TERM FUNDING AGREEMENT (ONTARIO) SIGNED BY MOST
Ontario Racing Management Formed
from Harness racing Update, by Sandra Snyder
It took a bit longer to ratify than expected, and there are some holdouts, but on Tuesday, May 8 the board of directors of Ontario Racing (OR) announced the signing of the long-term funding agreement with the Ontario government.
The agreement provides up to $105 million to the province’s horse racing industry — standardbred, thoroughbred and quarter horse — for a seven-year term beginning April 1, 2019, with two six-year extensions that can be automatically granted by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming corporation (OLG) so long as OR member racetracks conduct the number of race dates approved in their annual business plans. The $105 million commitment is $10 million more per year than the industry is currently receiving through the Horse Racing Partnership Funding Plan.
“This agreement is a significant step toward ensuring the vitality of horse racing in Ontario. It is designed to benefit the entire industry and is the result of years of collaboration with the sector and the Ontario government,” said Cal Bricker, senior vice president for horse racing at the OLG, via email. “OLG will contribute nearly two decades of stable funding to promote sustainability and industry-led success.”
ALBERTA RACING UNDERWAY
Delay in Century Mile completion means one more year at Northlands Park
Horse racing will continue to take place at Northlands until a new track opens in 2019. The new Century Mile Racetrack was scheduled to open August 2018 but has been pushed back.
Trainer TIM RYCROFT won 5 races on the opening day card – story by Curtis Stock:
HASTINGS PARK – BC’S JOHN GUNTHER SEES A TRIPLE CROWN FOR JUSTIFY
By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport
Hastings Park press release:
SCENE & HEARD: Can Justify become the 13th Triple Crown winner in thoroughbred racing history? John Gunther thinks so and after knocking on wood when he says it, the Langley-based breeder of this year’s Kentucky Derby champion doesn’t hesitate to share his thoughts.
During an in-depth interview with James Cybulski and Mira Laurence on Sportsnet 650 Radio following Justify’s two-and-a-half length victory in the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby, Gunther talked openly about what he sees ahead for his newly crowned 3-year-old champion.
“I actually think he’ll win the Triple Crown because he is such an athletic individual with powerful long strides,” Gunther said. “In fact, they measured his stride to Secretariat’s stride and Justify’s is a little bit longer. He’s such a big, strong athletic horse.”
After paying due credit to jockey Mike Smith (‘one of the best riders in America”) and trainer Bob Baffert (“imagine winning the Kentucky Derby five times”), Gunther praised his daughter Tanya in her running their Glenwood Farm in rural Kentucky.
“It’s just amazing how well she’s done,” Gunther glowed. “Tanya was an investment banker in London for nine years and always wanted to pursue her passion with horses. When she was very young – seven and eight years old – she was doing pedigrees by hand and going back several generations in the families of stallions and broodmares.
“She planned most of the matings for all our mares in Kentucky and she was onto Scat Daddy (sire of Justify) very early. Tanya is very analytical. She does lots of research, spending hours and hours planning the mating of one mare.”
When Cybulski and Laurence approached the potential financial gains Justify could be providing, the proud breeder didn’t hesitate to share visions down the road.
“If he does win the Triple Crown his stud fee would be over $100,000 just to start,” Gunther suggested. “American Pharoah won the Triple Crown (2015) and went to a stud fee of $100,000 for the first year. They breed 150-200 a season so you’re looking at $30 million a year in revenue. We’re talking mega bucks. There will be lots more stories to come if Justify wins the Triple Crown.”
(With special thanks to Art Factora, Ass’t. Program Director, Sportsnet 650)
ASSINIBIOA DOWNS BEGINS SUNDAY, MOTHER’S DAY
The final major track in Canada will get its start this weekend.