Inge awarded Wando Stakes by DQ

Norm McKnight, Woodbine’s leading trainer of 2017, got his 2018 campaign off to a great start on Opening Day, as Inge captured the $102,400 Wando Stakes by disqualification at Woodbine on Saturday afternoon.

Inge appeared to be lone speed on paper, and the son of Victor’s Cry went straight to the lead when the gates opened under jockey Gary Boulanger. Inge set fractions of 24.24 seconds for the opening quarter and 47.64 seconds for the opening half-mile in the mile and a sixteenth route on Tapeta, as Flight Deck tracked in second.

Inge carried his lead into the stretch, as the rest of the Wando Stakes field chased hard in pursuit. Eventually, Machtree caught Inge in the late going and crossed the line first, but the stewards looked into two separate incidents during the stretch run. When the dust settled, Machtree was disqualified from first to fifth, and Tale of Vienna, who finished third, was also disqualified and placed fourth.

Here was the footnote from the result chart on the decision:

The rider of Pipers Warrior claimed foul against Tale of Vienna and Machtree alleging interference in the stretch. The claim against Tale of Vienna was allowed while the claim against Machtree was not. However, the riders of Titochip and Tale of Vienna also claimed foul against Machtree, alleging interference later in the stretch run and both claims were allowed.

Inge paid $10.60, $5.60, and $3.40, combining with Titochip ($5.10, $3.80) for a $62.50 exacta. Pipers Warrior ($2.50 to show) completed a $158.50 trifecta.

Tale of Vienna was fourth, followed by Machtree and Flight Deck. Archaggelos, last year’s Grade 3 Grey Stakes winner, was scratched.

A replay of the Wando Stakes is below:

Shaman Ghost, Baker, Loiselle inducted into 2018 Hall of Fame class

2015 Queen’s Plate winner Shaman Ghost, Sovereign Award winning trainer Reade Baker, and longtime Woodbine track announcer Dan Loiselle have been inducted to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2018.

Joining Shaman Ghost, Baker, and Loiselle as the 2018 Thoroughbred inductees are 2014 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner Judy the Beauty and Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms President John Sikura.

Adena Springs bred and Frank Stronach owned Shaman Ghost won 8 of 17 starts for earnings of $3,859,311 under the training direction trainer Jimmy Jerkins, making him the second-richest Canadian-bred of all time behind his paternal grandsire Awesome Again, also bred by Adena Springs and a Hall of Fame Member. Shaman Ghost was named Canada’s Champion Three-Year-Old Colt in 2015 on the strength of a campaign that included wins in the Queen’s Plate and Grade 3 Marine Stakes at Woodbine and a second-place finish in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie. Other victories of note include the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap and Woodward Stakes at Saratoga, the Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational Stakes in New York, and the Grade 3 Pimlico Special Handicap in Maryland. The now 6 year-old son of Ghostzapper out of Getback Time by Gilded Time was recently retired and is beginning his stallion career this year in California.

Baker’s training career has spaned four decades and he has recorded over 1,100 wins. A total of 126 of those wins have come in stakes events, including 30 in graded races. Baker won the 2005 Sovereign Award for Outstanding Trainer, and has trained Horse of the Year champions Fatal Bullet (2008) and Biofuel (2010). To date Baker conditioned horses have won 13 Sovereign Awards including Bear Now, 2008 Sovereign Award for Older Female, and Tu Endie Wei, 2011 Sovereign Award winner as Champion 2-Year-Old Filly. 2015 Prince of Wales Stakes winner, Breaking Lucky, surpassed the million dollar mark in career earnings in 2017 to join Fatal Bullet, Bear Now, and Judith’s Wild Rush as millionaire runners trained by Baker. Prior to embarking on a career as a trainer in 1989, Reade Baker was a top jockey’s agent and later stable manager for Richard Kennedy, who campaigned 1987 Canadian Champion, Afleet. Baker is also a member of the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame.

Dan Loiselle’s horse-racing career spans almost five decades, initially as a Standardbred racing official and announcer, and then as Woodbine Thoroughbred announcer, replacing Daryl Wells in 1986. During his tenure at Woodbine, Loiselle called 28 editions of the Queen’s Plate and five Triple Crown champions including With Approval (1989), Izvestia (1990), Dance Smartly (1991), Peteski (1993) and Wando (2003). ​His signature accuracy and clarity was accompanied by a flair for entertaining his audience both at the track and during national television broadcasts of marquee events inlcuding the Canadian Triple Crown, the Woodbine Mile and the Canadian International. Loiselle has served as Master of Ceremonies at many industry functions and interviewed celebrities from the world of sports and entertainment. In November of 2015, Dan was inducted into the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame and was saluted by the Toronto Sports Media with a special award. Most recently he hosted a special exhibition celebrating the 250th Anniversary of Horse Racing in Canada during the 2017 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

Ghostzapper daughter, Judy the Beauty, bred by Adena Springs North was a $20,000 yearling purchase by Owner/Trainer Wesley Ward who directed her through a 22 race career spanning five years with earnings surpassing $1.8 million. As a 2-year-old, she found victory on the turf in France before winning the Shady Well Stakes at Woodbine, and finishing second in the Spinaway Stakes (Gr 1) at Saratoga. After three second place finishes at age three, she again visited the winner’s circle at age four, this time as a sprinter, winning the Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes before finishing 2nd to Groupie Doll in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. At age five she was named 2014 Eclipse Award Champion Female Sprinter as a result of four graded stakes wins that year, which included the Grade 3 Las Flores Handicap at Santa Anita, the Grade 1 Madison Stakes at Keeneland and the Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo Handicap before culminating with the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita.

Canadian-born John G. Sikura, Owner and President of Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms (Kentucky), has been a mainstay in the breeding business there since 1994. Since then he has built Hill ‘n’ Dale into a leading stallion farm and sales operation, serving horse people across the continent. To date, his farm has consigned 95 horses selling for $1,000,000 (US) and over. Better Than Honour was the most expensive broodmare sold at public auction ($14M) and five others were sold for world-record sale prices. The 2018 stallion roster at Hill ‘n’ Dale includes two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, as well as influential sires Kitten’s Joy, Stormy Atlantic and Midnight Lute. John’s father, John Sikura, Jr., was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2013.

The Standardbred inductees included Builder William Andrew, Communicator Dave Landry and Trainer/Driver Jim Doherty, along with horses Chancey Lady and Blissfull Hall.

The 2018 Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductees will be honoured at an induction ceremony at the Mississauga Convention Center on August 8.

DRF – Shaman Ghost leads Canadian Hall nominees

Along with my selections and blog posts, I will also use this space to link to articles I’ve submitted to the various publications that I contribute to.

The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame released their nominees for the Class of 2018 on Monday, and among them was 2015 Queen’s Plate winner, Shaman Ghost. A total of 15 Thoroughbred candidates were nominated across five different categories, including Thoroughbred Male Horse, Thoroughbred Female Horse, Trainer, Communicator, and Builder. Shaman Ghost was among the nominees in the Thoroughbred Male Horse, with Bold Executive and Fatal Bullet.

A full list of the Thoroughbred nominees is below:

Thoroughbred Male Horse – Bold Executive, Fatal Bullet, Shaman Ghost

Thoroughbred Female Horse – Careless Jewel, Hard Not to Like, Judy the Beauty

Trainer – Reade Baker, J.G. “Jerry” Lavigne, Daniel Vella

Communicator – Joe Hirsch, Dan Loiselle, Wally Wood

Builder – Phillip Kives, Victoria “Vicki” Pappas, John G. Sikura

The announcement of this year’s induction class will be made on April 10, with the 2018 induction ceremony set for August 8 at the Mississauga Convention Centre.

I filed a news brief to the Daily Racing Form about the announcement of the nominees. An excerpt from the story is below:

ETOBICOKE, Ontario — Shaman Ghost, the 2015 Queen’s Plate winner. along with Sovereign Award-winning trainers Reade Baker and Daniel Vella, and longtime Woodbine track announcer Dan Loiselle headline the list of candidates eligible for induction to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2018.

A total of 15 horses and people in five different categories have been selected as Thoroughbred candidates on this year’s ballot, with another 15 Standardbred candidates up for election as well. The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame’s 20-person Election Committee for each breed will determine the inductees in each category, and the results will be announced on Apr. 10.


DRF – Queen’s Plate moved to Saturday

Along with my selections and blog posts, I will also use this space to link to articles I’ve submitted to the various publications that I contribute to.

For the first time since 1981, the Queen’s Plate will be run on a Saturday.

Woodbine announced on December 5 that the 159th running of the $1-million Queen’s Plate will be run on Saturday, June 30, 2018, as part of a three-day Queen’s Plate Festival during Canada Day weekend. The move comes a couple of years after Woodbine moved the Woodbine Mile to a Saturday, a move that has had positive results.

I filed a story to the Daily Racing Form on the change as part of my Woodbine closing day notebook.

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Woodbine announced that the 159th running of the $1 million Queen’s Plate will be Saturday, June 30.

The last time the Queen’s Plate was contested on a Saturday was in 1981. It was run on a Sunday this season. Woodbine also moved the Woodbine Mile to a Saturday two years ago.

“There are both historic and business reasons we moved the Queen’s Plate to Saturday,” said Jim Lawson, chief executive officer of Woodbine Entertainment Group.


DRF – Impressive debut winner Kitten’s Boy tries stakes in Coronation Futurity

Along with my selections and blog posts, I will also use this space to link to articles I’ve submitted to the various publications that I contribute to.

An early Queen’s Plate preview will take place at Woodbine on Sunday afternoon with the running of the prestigious $225,000 Coronation Futurity over 1 1/8-miles on Tapeta for Canadian-bred 2-year olds. I filed a preview of the race to the Daily Racing Form, focusing on recent maiden winner Kitten’s Boy for trainer Malcolm Pierce and owner Sam-Son Farm.

Sam-Son Farm has already won six editions of the Coronation Futurity, five on their own and one in partnership, with their last win coming in 2012 with Up With the Birds. Kitten’s Boy is coming into the Coronation Futurity off of an impressive maiden win on Tapeta on , and is the 2-1 morning line favourite.

Kitten’s Boy will be ridden by Eurico Da Silva, who recorded his 32nd stakes win of the meet on Saturday with Gamble’s Ghost in the Grade 3 Maple Leaf Stakes. Da Silva is chasing the meet record of 36 stakes wins by a jockey, which was achieved by Avelino Gomez in 1966 and Todd Kabel in 2004.

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Ryerson students use Breeders’ Stakes to determine fantasy football draft order

With the NFL season set to kick off on September 7, millions of people are setting up their fantasy football drafts with friends, family members, colleagues, and classmates. For some, the draft order can make or break the strength of their fantasy football teams, and one group of Ryerson University students had a unique way of determining the order for this year’s draft: they let some of the best Canadian-bred 3-year old horses decide.

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Meet the Field for the 2017 Breeders’ Stakes

The field is set for the 126th running of the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes, which will be run on Sunday afternoon at Woodbine. A total of 10 Canadian-bred 3-year olds have been entered, led by Prince of Wales Stakes winner Cool Catomine. The Breeders’ Stakes is restricted to Canadian-bred 3-year olds and will be run over 1 1/2-miles on Woodbine’s E. P. Taylor Turf course. Post time is set for approximately 4:47 p.m. Eastern.

Here is the field in post position order, along with jockey, trainer, ownership, and breeding information, along with the morning line odds.

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DRF – Attfield starts three in pursuit of 10th Breeders’ Stakes win

Along with my selections and blog posts, I will also use this space to link to articles I’ve submitted to the various publications that I contribute to.

The third and final jewel of the 2017 Canadian Triple Crown, the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes, will be run at Woodbine on Sunday afternoon. Trainer Roger Attfield has already won this race nine times in his career, and will send out three horses on Sunday in hopes of hitting double digits with his 10th Breeders’ Stakes win. The Attfield contingent is led by Toronto Cup Stakes winner, Final Copy, while recent maiden winners Major Eclipse and Glencairn will also get a chance to record their first career stakes wins. I filed a preview of the Breeders’ Stakes to the Daily Racing Form.

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Fort Erie Selections – July 25, 2017

It’s a big day at Fort Erie today, as the track will host the 82nd running of the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes over 1 3/16-miles on dirt. The second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown has attracted a field of seven, and overall, we have a great nine-race card on tap. I’ve only managed one winner during each of the past two race days at Fort Erie, so hopefully, we’ll have some better luck today. Here are my full-card selections.

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DRF – State of Honor back on dirt in Prince of Wales Stakes

Along with my selections and blog posts, I will also use this space to link to articles I’ve submitted to the various publications that I contribute to.

The second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown, the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, will be contested on Tuesday evening over 1 3/16-miles on dirt at Fort Erie Race Track. For one horse in the field in particular, a return to dirt will be welcome. State of Honor has done his best running over the dirt, as evidenced by his three graded stakes placings in Florida over the winter. The big question for him will be whether he can handle the distance. I filed a Prince of Wales Stakes race preview to the Daily Racing Form, focusing on State of Honor with quotes from trainer Mark Casse.

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