The December issue of Down The Stretch newspaper counts down the Top 50 Stories of 2009, with a slight Canadian bias.
I won't spoil the surprise but the battle for top spot comes down to a fight between Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta and Jody Jamieson. Click the link above for all the details.
December's offering includes several interesting stories:
Patrick Husbands - Married to the Title, in which editor Peter Gross interviews the top jock about winning his SIXTH riding title.
Woodbine Personalites Share Their Favourite Moments of 2009 including anecdotes from Jeff Bratt, Mark Frostad, Jim Bannon, Dan Loiselle, Alex Brown, David Willmot, Sandy Hawley and many others. A great way to relive a brilliant 2009 campaign.
Two Flags For Frankel takes a look at the success of the late Bobby Frankel at Woodbine. It's quite possible that Frankel's Champs Elysees could be named Canada's Horse of the Year at the Sovereign Awards in January.
It's a fun issue and, as always, I'll happily post out free copies to the first ten people to email me with their snail-mail address.
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With Woodbine dark, local thoroughbred connections are keeping busy south of the border. Here's a look at some of the results:
On December 19th, Grand Adventure, trained by Mark Frostad for Sam-Son Farms finished second in the Bonapaw Stakes at the Fair Grounds. Ridden by Shane Sellers, Grand Adventure raced along the inside on a yielding course but could not find a late surge as Grand Traverse, at 18-1, rallied down the middle of the track to win by two lenghts.
Sam-Son Farms owned Grand Adventure runs a solid second in the Bonapaw Stakes
Later during that same Fair Grounds card, Malcom Pierce sent out No Use Denying to a third place finish in the Daily Racing Form Distaff S won by the favoured War Echo.
War Echo defeats the Malcolm Pierce trained No Use Denying at the Fairgrounds
Pierce will be busy once again on Boxing Day, along with fellow Woodbine conditioners Eric Coatrieux, Roger Attfield and Brian Lynch, saddling a number of horses in Stakes events.
Pierce sends out Get Rick Quick in the Buddy Diliberto Memorial Handicap at the Fair Grounds.
Attfield sends out top local turfer Spice Route in the G2 W. L. McKnight Handicap at Calder Race Course. Spice Route will take on a pair of tough foes in Presious Passion and recent Valedictory winner Cloudy's Knight.
Cloudy's Knight captures the Valedictory Stakes December 6th at Woodbine
In the very next race at Calder (R#11) Eric Coatrieux has a pair of horses entered in the G3 Stage Door Betty Handicap. Aurora Lights and Lomaki, both owned by Chiefswood Stable, will leave from posts one and six respectively.
Brian Lynch is the conditioner for Marilyn Seltzer's Amazing who will race from post 12 in that event.
The Stage Door Betty, raced at 1 1/16M on the dirt, lookes to be a wide open 14-horse field of fillies and mares which should make for some interesting wagering options.
If you're flipping channels on Boxing Day you'll also notice a trio of Mark Casse horses racing at Tampa Bay Downs. Casse sends out Woodford Racing LLC Ontario-Bred filly Narrate in a winnable MSW at odds of 8-1.
On the same card, Casse saddles Time Trial (R#5) and Aggressive Gal (R#7).
Santa Anita returns on Boxing Day and the card includes a few Canadians in the entries. Canadian J. Paul Reddam's Square Eddie (Ontario bred by Kinghaven Farms) who was once on the 2009 Derby Trail before being injured is entered in the seven furlong Malibu Stakes on the plastic. The tough field includes Papa Clem, Misrembered and Coronet of a Baron.
A quick scan of the entries provides that jockey Chantal Sutherland has her first mount of the meet in Santa Anita's fourth race and later gets the call on Mr. Rod in the G# Sir Beaufort Stakes. Sutherland also gets the call on Join in the Dance against Square Eddie in the Malibu.
At Aqueduct, it appears that Woodbine jockey Simon Husbands is picking up a few mounts over the holidays as well.
While some of us are fortunate enough to get a break during this holiday season, it looks like Woodbine's personalites are hard at work.
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Last, and certainly not least, Standardbred Canada announced the 2009 O'Brien Award finalists yesterday afternoon. For the first time in the history of the O'Brien Awards, two females - Casie Coleman and Tracy Brainard - have been nominated in the Trainer of the Year categry.
Please click on the link above for a full list of the nominees.
The winners will be announced at the O'Brien Awards banquet on Saturday, January 30, 2010, at the Delta Meadowvale Hotel in Mississauga, ON.
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With just two more sleeps until Christmas, my next post will likely go up on December 27th to recap the Stakes races previewed above.
Coming soon will be a Triple Dead Heat year-in-review as marked by my favourite photos of 2009.
I would like to wish a very happy holidays to all of you who take the time to stop by and read this blog. May all your wishes come true this holiday season. ~ Keith McCalmont