Woodbine is dark, but the local talent is flourishing south of the border.
Sam-son Farms regally bred Hotep, a full brother to 2009 Queen's Plate winner Eye of the Leopard, had a productive first start as a three year-old finishing fourth in an Allowance event at the Fair Grounds on Sunday. Under the guidance of jockey Robby Albarado, Hotep started slowly, then accelerated along the backstretch to meet and then put away pace maker Depaul.
The A.P Indy-Eye Of The Sphynx colt maintained a short lead at the top of the stretch but was overtaken by Worldly and eventual winner Stay Put mid-stretch. Hotep provided promise by maintaining his speed down the lane and held on for fourth, beaten just four lengths.
The time for the mile and fourty yard route was 1:40.67. Highly regarded Walking the Beach showed some early speed but faded to finish ninth.
Sam-Son Farms Hotep a game fourth at Fair Grounds on Sunday
In other Sam-Son Farm news, turfer Hawk On The Hunt finished third in a maiden claiming event this afternoon at the Fair Grounds.
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Many of Woodbine's top trainers have stalls at Payson Park Thoroughbred Training Centre in sunny Florida including Roger Attfield and Ian Black. Equibase reports the daily workouts at Payson Park.
A familiar name returning to training is the Ian Black conditioned Southdale. Rod and Margaret Ferguson's strapping black colt has put in a pair of workouts recently at Payson including a two furlong breeze in 26.60 on December 24th and then stepping up to breeze three furlongs a week later in 39 flat.
Owners Rod and Margaret Ferguson with Assistant Trainer Skippy Bowen and Southdale
Last year, Black generously opened up his barn to me for a Path To The Queen's Plate feature series which followed Southdale's Plate run that ended prematurely due to injury after a second place finish in the Plate Trial.
It's good to see the big horse's name back in the workouts.
Black has a pair of good three year-olds in D's Wando and Stormy Lord that should be a factor on the road to the Queen's Plate this season.
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Woodbine-based trainers will feature in several upcoming events in the U.S.
Tino Attard has a pair (Boomerang Star, Grey Boundary) of runners entered Jan 7/8th at Gulfstream.
Reade Baker's Andalusian is entered the fifth race on January 8th.
Woodbine's leading trainer Mark Casse sends out a plethora of possibilities over the coming week at Tampa Bay Downs including Catch Air who has raced previously at Woodbine.
Scott Fairlie has been busy at Philadelphia Park. An obvious local horse, Rexdale Warrior, races in the tenth this afternoon.
Malcolm Pierce will send out one of Woodbine track announcer Dan Loiselle's favourite local runners, I Am Awesome, in the eighth race on January 8th at the Fair Grounds. Local punters will recall Loiselle BOOMING out this one's name during the 2009 meet. The five-year-old gelding is in tough at 10-1 versus a salty group of older horses at the $45K allowance level.
The Jamaica Gleaner recently reported on prominent Caribbean jockeys which included Woodbine's Patrick Husbands and Rickey Walcott of Northlands Park in Edmonton.
"In horse racing, Caribbean jockeys sustained their very prominent profile in North American horse racing, mainly through Barbadian Patrick Husbands and the young Jamaican Rajiv Maragh, both finishing among the top 12 jockeys - in all of the USA and Canada - in mounts' earnings.
Husbands collected a sixth Woodbine jockeys' title in Canada with a personal record 188 victories, 21 stakes triumphs, and mounts' earnings of CAN$10.82 million.
New York-based Maragh finished runner-up at Aqueduct and Belmont while winning 236 races, including 28 stakes for mounts' earnings US$11.74 million. Maragh finished No. 8 on North America's jockeys' list of money leaders and Husbands 12th.
In Edmonton, Canada, Barbadian Rickey Walcott registered a Northlands Park track record 155 wins to emerge champion, unseating fellow Barbadian Quincy Welch. "
Patrick Hubands in the winners circle (where else?) with Tasty Temptation
Jockey Garrett Gomez reflected on some fine Woodbine memories in a recent BloodHorse article.
Garrett Gomez celebrates at Woodbine with the incredible Ventura
In reflecting on his best moment of 2009, Gomez said, “It was probably the Woodbine Mile with Ventura. Her race at Woodbine was just phenomenal and at the time, Bobby Frankel (Ventura’s trainer, who died on Nov. 16) was very sick. Ron (agent Ron Anderson) called him, and said Bobby was very happy and that meant a lot to us. Earlier in the week, I had won on Champs Elysees for Bobby. It’s been a great year.”
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As January rapidly moves forward, I will continue to work on my
New Year's Resolutions by posting my Woodbine Year-In Review very soon!