Friday, February 26, 2010

Photo Essay: A G1 Afternoon At Gardiner Farms with Milwaukee Brew and Alphabet Soup

In January I paid a visit to Gardiner Farms to interview Dr. Michael Colterjohn, DVM for a Down The Stretch piece regarding the latest batch of Adena Spring stallions to arrive in Ontario.

In 2009, Gardiner Farms provided an Ontario home for Adena Springs stallions Sligo Bay and Silent Name as they entered the Ontario Sires Stakes stallions program for the first time. In 2010, Gardiner has welcomed four more Adena stallions including Milwaukee Brew, Alphabet Soup, Olmodavor and Giant Gizmo.

Flagship stallion Bold Executive has been named Canada’s leading sire on five occasions and his fellow Gardiner stallions Where’s The Ring and Trajectory finished the 2009 campaign as the 2nd and 3rd leading sires in Ontario.

In 2010 there will be 23 stakes races specifically for Ontario-bred horses, and with slots-driven purses rising, the calibre of racing at Woodbine is only getting better.

It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and I managed to snap a few photos of some of the stallions.

In 1996, Woodbine patrons watched in shock as Alphabet Soup defeated Cigar to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The big white horse has sired 37 stakes winners including G1 winners Our New Recruit and Alphabet Kisses.

Alphabet snuffed out Cigar to win the Breeders' Cup Classic at Woodbine

Alphabet Soup camouflaged by snowy surroundings

Woodbine racing fans are no strangers to Milwaukee Brew. The G1 Santa Anita Handicap winner provided back-to-back Woodbine Oaks winners in Ginger Brew and 2009 Sovereign Award winner Milwaukee Appeal.

Milwaukee Brew under a sky of blue

Oaks winner Milwaukee Appeal

Olmodavor, sire of Woodbine stakes winner High Mist, was a star for trainer Richard Mandella during his racing career hitting the board in 14 of 15 career starts and earning more than $700K.

Olmodavor liked the attention

Philanthropist entered stud in 2007 and his first foals are 2-year-olds as of 2010. The son of Kris S won the Queens County Handicap at Aqueduct in a career that saw six wins from 18 starts.

Philanthropist on the prowl

Where's The Ring entered stud in 2005 and has been providing Woodbine punters with a reason to highlight his name in the Form ever since. His progeny include Stakes winners Cawaja Beach and Who's Big Daddy.

Where's The Ring? He's right here...

Just looking for mints...

Milwaukee Bree knows it was a lot warmer in Florida but his kids like it here in Ontario

Milwaukee Brew finishes powerfully to win the Santa Anita Handicap

Sligo Bay won the Hollywood Turf Cup to earn G1 credentials. His progeny include G2 winner Bourbon Bay and Natalma Stakes winner Bay to Bay.

Sligo Bay is a frisky fellow

Sligo Bay's daughter Bay to Bay gets a bath after winning the Natalma at Woodbine

Sligo Bay and Laffit Pincay winning the Hollywood Turf Cup in a thrilling finish

TripleDeadHeat favourite Cawaja Beach enjoying her retirement out in the snow with a few of the mares.

Cawaja Beach was in the midst of this pack of mares but she was too busy to come and say hello

Cawaja Beach back in her Woodbine days with trainer Scott Fairlie

Giant Gizmo enters stud in 2010. The song of Giant's Causeway won the Lone Star Park Handicap at Lone Star and a memorably sloppy edition of the Alysheba Stakes at Churchill over Better Than Bonds and Wanderin Boy.

Giant Gizmo slops to victory at Churchill

Giant Gizmo wasn't afraid of the bright light

Colterjohn is proud of this stable of stallions and believes they can help bring the Ontario Sire Stakes program to the next level.

“We’re just trying to stay ahead of the game in this program,” stated Colterjohn. “That’s why we went out and got horses like Trajectory, Where’s the Ring and Peaks and Valleys- - that’s why we could make a deal with Frank Stronach and bring up Sligo Bay and Silent Name last year.”

With all six Adena stallions registered in the Ontario Sire Stakes program, there will soon come a time when Woodbine races are bubbling over with home brew of the Milwaukee variety.

“Bold Executive offspring won’t be able to freewheel on the front. The changing dynamics are going to pull the Ontario program forward,” stated Colterjohn. “Now that we have Alphabet Soup and Milwaukee Brew up here, it will raise the bar higher and move the program up in little steps.”

Alphabet Soup is now part of a bright Ontario racing program

Ultimately, Colterjohn wants the Ontario program to become the gold standard of racing, but at a price that the people of Ontario can afford to pay.

“The program needs for folks to be able to have some fun without going broke,” said Colterjohn. “We need to make this the number one racing jurisdiction in every capacity, not just for the big fields in the International or E.P Taylor. We want to have people turning on our racing in Australia and Ireland to watch the Queen’s Plate, because in that race there are four or five Canadian bred horses that people are excited to watch.”

You can count this writer among the many who will be very excited to see the "Brew Crew" make their mark in Ontario.