It was cold and grey at Woodbine on Sunday but the track was lightning fast as the Canadian connections dominated the Woodstock Stakes.
** UPDATE(11AM EST Tues April 27th)**
As noted below by reader Laura, Careless Jewel is reportedly OUT of the La Troienne Stakes v. Rachel Alexandra. Please see this Blood-Horse Report.
The La Troienne lost one of its expected starters Sunday when grade I winner Careless Jewel was removed from consideration by trainer Josie Carroll because of injury. Probables as of Monday, according to the Churchill Downs racing office, are Be Fair, Distinctive Dixie, Morena, Rachel Alexandra, Unrivalled Belle, and Zardana. Entries for the La Troienne will be drawn Tuesday.
Essence Hit Man wins the Woodstock Stakes
Before I get into a review of Sunday's big race won by Audre Cappuccitti's Essence Hit Man with Ian Black's D's Wando a fast-closing second, I would like to pass along a few photos from a good friend.
Not so long ago, I penned a profile of Wendy Uzelac for Down The Stretch newspaper. Wendy is one of those oh-so-generous folks who works with retired thoroughbreds. I highly recommend you check out her blog entitled From Racehorse To Showhorse which focuses on her progress training her two "kids" Toby and Ollie.
In addition, Wendy happens to be a very talented photographer and when I received her email over the weekend with the Subject line of "Canadian Butt" I was only slightly disappointed to find this photo from the cross-country portion of the ROLEX competition instead of the latest Pam Anderson expose:
Go Canada Go!
(Photo by Wendy Uzelac)
Recently engaged to her fiance Matt, the pair of them are busy taking cool photographs at equine events across North America. Check out Matt's website, Equisport Photos, for a look at his great shots from of 2010 Kentucky Derby contenders Lookin At Lucky and American Lion.
In addition to the cool Canadiana, Wendy also passed along the following photos of the gorgeous Careless Jewel. The Josie Carroll trained speedster recently burned through five furlongs in 57.80 at Keeneland.
Josie Carroll's Careless Jewel
Careless Jewel is expected to make her 4-year-old debut at Churchill Downs on the April 30 Kentucky Oaks undercard in the Grade 2, $400,000 La Troienne Stakes - a race that will feature Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra.
Thanks for the great photos Wendy!
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The Woodstock Stakes was tough sledding for a variety of horses shipped in from out of town. Wildcat Frankie, the 2-1 favourite, trained by Woodbine newcomer James Hatchett finished last in the field of seven. Kiaran McLaughlin's Fearless Cowboy (with Alan Garcia aboard) finished fifth and George Weaver's City Trooper finished sixth.
The competition at Woodbine is improving each year and it's good to see both the local talent and the locally bred horses win these events.
To be fair, it has become something of a tip off to local punters that horses need a race over the polytrack before showing their best. Essence Hit Man, an Ontario-bred by Speightstown, has raced exclusively at Woodbine and was absolutely unstoppable on this day leading at every call to cover six furlongs in 1:08.66, just a fraction off the track record of 1.08.31 set by Legal Move on July 2, 2008. Local punters were rewarded with 7-1 for their loyalty.
Queen's Plate contender D's Wando, a Canadian-bred out of the Triple Crown winning Wando, had a rocky start after being bumped out of the gate but jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson quickly composed the horse and moved into a comfortable stalking position. D's Wando completed his 2009 campaign with a rallying third place finish in the Coronation Futurity and had the benefit of string of local works prepping for this event. As the field turned for home, Wilson and D's Wando blazed a trail along the rail but too late to catch the speedy Essence Hit Man. It was telling that D's Wando galloped out several lengths in front of the field. We'll not see 23-1 on D's Wando again anytime soon. Reade Baker's Bear's Hard Ten and Steve Asmussen's Gary D rounded out the superfecta.
Following the race, trainer Audre Cappuccitti was absolutely beaming as her horse surprised her with a fantastic win first time off the shelf. Jockey Chantal Sutherland was in good spirits leading the horse to the winners circle and giving credit to her horse who had worked hard in the morning for this first start in 2010.
Audre Cappuccitti and Renee Kierans are all smiles following the Woodstock
During a post-race interview, the Daily Racing Form's Bill Tallon posed the question of whether or not Essence Hit Man might try a two-turn event.
"No, He's a sprinter," stated Cappuccitti. "He's a Speightstown and he's pretty tired right now I can tell you that. He's a little guy and hasn't ran since last October."
While Essence Hit Man bows off my list of potential Queen's Plate contenders, there is a chance we could see the speedy fellow on the turf come Plate day.
"His first race on the turf he wasn't on lasix and I'd still like to try him one more time," said Cappuccitti. "I don't think that first time he enjoyed the ride."
Fans of Canadian horses no doubt enjoyed the ride in the Woodstock as Essence Hit Man (ON) sped home just in front of a rallying D's Wando (CDN) to combine for a $221 exactor. The triactor with Bear's Hard Ten was worth $812.90. And to brag, I had pieces of that. If you followed my pre-race Tweet, or read through my Sunday morning post, I put together most of the wager for you. By boxing the trio I walked away with a little bit of spending money for Saturday's Kentucky Derby.
I hope you will enjoy the following photos from a dark and dreary Sunday.
(As always, please double left click the photo to enlarge the photo and then use your "Back" button to return to the blog post. Enjoy!)
Sky was grey, it was quite cold and the poly was wet
Equipment time for Essence Hit Man
Bear's Hard Ten get's a late makeover
Emma-Jayne Wilson stretches out before hitting the track on D's Wando
Essence Hit Man heads to the track
Emile Ramsammy whistles to City Trooper
Bear's Hard Ten all up in yo' face
Husbands whistles to Wildcat Frankie
Assistant Trainer Skippy Bowen walks D's Wando to the track
Alan Garcia focused on Fearless Cowboy
D's Wando on his way
Essence Hit Man - four off the floor - after the wire as D's Wando legs up for place
Essence Hit Man wins the Woodstock Stakes
Bear's Hard Ten after a hard fought third place finish
City Trooper circles back following a fifth place finish
Emma-Jayne Wilson and D's Wando return after a long gallop out
Gary D finished fourth on this day
Chantal Sutherland - Future's so bright, she's gotta wear shades
The happy connections
Essence Hit Man in the winners circle
Jeff Bratt not-so-stuck in the middle
Alan Garcia heads to the airport after flying in for a fifth-place trip on Fearless Cowboy
Immediately following the Woodstock Stakes, two more Queen's Plate contenders - Race for Gold and Legal Review - were trying their luck against older in an an allowance event. Patrick Husbands and Legal Review would go to post as joint 2-1 favourite with Bob's Ring, while Race for Gold was a bettable 8-1.
Four year-old Bob's Ring would wire the field in this six furlong sprint but I was impressed by a solid mid-stretch move from Race for Gold that had the Bob Tiller trained horse sitting second before being passed in the shadow of the wire by American Scout. Legal Review would finish mid-pack in the ten horse field.
Race for Gold finishes third
That's a good first start in 2010 for Race for Gold and I would expect he'll be a bit of a monster racing against his own age group next out.
Tyler Pizarro offers a thumbs up to the gallery aboard Gas N Dash
Legal Review and Patrick Husbands
Race for Gold and Emma-Jayne Wilson head to the track
Bob's Ring wins and Race for Gold would finish third.
Legal Review would finish sixth
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