On Sunday April 11th, I spent a full day at Woodbine Racetrack in search of a few winners. In the morning, I beat a path across the backstretch sourcing out contenders for the 2010 Queen's Plate. During my travels I caught up with D's Wando, Essence Hit Man, Joey's Best and interviewed trainer Bob Tiller regarding his top three year-old colt Race for Gold.
It's worth flipping through this post to read the interview with Tiller who provides us with the name of a watch-list worthy filly.
In the afternoon, I headed over to the front side and watched Queen's Plate contenders Big Red Mike and Roman Games in their first race of 2010. As well, there was an exhilarating speed duel shaping up in the Jacques Cartier Stakes between Hollywood Hit, El Brujo and Field Commission.
As always, please double left click the photo to enlarge and then use your "Back" button to return to the photo essay. Enjoy!)
Orange you glad you wore a sweater? Despite the sunshine, it was a bit chilly
Eurico Rosa da Silva is a busy man in the morning and the afternoon
There goes Eurico...
Assistant Trainer Skippy Bowen makes some last minute adjustments on D's Wando
Tyler Gaskin and D's Wando out for a gallop
The red and gold saddle cloth of Sam-Son Farms
A beauty Sam-Son gray on his way for a gallop
Eurico Rosa da Silva speeds along the rail on a busy backstretch
Lean back, lean back...
D's Wando sprints across the backstretch
Skippy leads Tyler and D's Wando back to the barn
While reading Friday's race results, I double-taked when reading the name Ballen Isle. The salty veteran of Darwin Banach's excellent fleet of horses was foaled in 2000. Yes, that's right - a winner at the age of ten. I had to see this fellow for myself and managed to get a few good shots of a horse who clearly enjoyed having his photo taken.
Ballen Isle can hold his head high - a winner at the age of ten!
Ballen Isle sprints home a winner under the guidance of Patrick Husbands
This guy loves getting his picture taken
Ballen Isle is young at heart
TEN years old and still winning races - the spry Ballen Isle
As promised, I had a brief chat with Trainer Bob Tiller regarding his promising 3YO Race for Gold.
Trainer Bob Tiller smiles for the camera
TDH: What do you think of this Race for Gold and his two for two record in 2009.
BT: He's certainly a nice Ontario-sire three year old, whether he can run with the open three year olds remains to be seen but we know we have a nice Ontario-sired horse on our hands.
TDH: Where did Race for Gold spend his winter?
BT: He had a nice winter over at Paul Buttigieg's farm. We got him going again in January and he's been at Woodbine since February 14th.
Race for Gold has an appetite for winning races
TDH: He's had a long string of workouts...
BT: We're taking our time with him. He's doing good now, hoping to run him soon. He's a talented horse - two races, two wins, you can't knock that. His Beyer's have me a little worried, but time will tell how good a horse he is.
TDH: Beyer numbers aren't the only measure that matters.
BT: No. He's got heart and desire this horse. That, I can tell you.
A nod and a wink from Race for Gold - get him on your watch list!
TDH: What do you remember about his last race.
BT. I remember he won. I like the way he did it. His first race he was laying pretty close to the pace, his last race he was coming from last. That showed guts and desire. He ran horses down and looks very capable.
TDH: You had a really nice filly (Press Here) yesterday run away by eleven lengths...
BT: Yeah, she broke her maiden easy. The race came up a split and we got the softer half. But she's a home bred and certainly got ability. Again, I've been in this business long enough that you got to see how they do against the good ones. It'll get tougher from here on in, but she ran super good and we're pleased with her effort.
Press Here pressed the go button...eleven length winner at five furlongs! wow!
TDH: Could she be the best filly in the barn?
BT: No, the best filly in the barn is Indian Apple Is...she runs today. A proven mare that's run with far better horses.
Indian Apple Is would run second to Bent Attorney later that afternoon
TDH: You've got a few nice fillies in the barn...
BT: Yes, we have another filly that I really like called Amazon Belle. She's Canadian-bred but not Ontario-sired. She's a very talented filly that was second in the Ontario Yearling Sales Stakes. She should have won it, had the one hole, and just got beat. She had sore shins in that race, so I expect big things from her - I expect her to be in the winners circle one of these days!
The lovely Shana with her favourite redhead - Amazon Belle.
And with that, the interview was over and I continued my trek across the backstretch in search of more winners. (Take this time to pause, reflect and add Amazon Belle to your watch list.)
Brrrraaainnns...Amazon Belle goes zombie on Shana
Tiller shares barn space with Reade Baker and his talented stable which includes Fatal Bullet and a lovely filly by the name of Biofuel who won the Star Shoot Stakes on Saturday.
Yikes! Check out the beautiful Biofuel...
Biofuel blasts home in the Star Shoot Stakes
Monty's Best was resting up for his trip in the Jacques Cartier Stakes later in the afternoon
Cool Gator, cool dude
He's baaaaaaccckkkk!! 2009 Queen's Plate hopeful Southdale is back and tearing up the poly
What an athlete this horse is...he should be back on (poly)track soon
Southdale has no time for stop signs
That's Mr. Foricos Two U...
Arlington Million winner Jambalaya will be back on the Woodbine turf this summer
Essence Hit Man plans to shoot down all comers in 2010 on the road to the Queen's Plate
Essence Hit Man and his main man Errol
Queen's Plate contender Joey's Best wouldn't stand still for a photo, so I'll be back to Audre Cappuccitti's barn soon for a re-match.
Bath Time - time to clean up for a trip to the front side
After a full morning on the backstretch, I extended my stay at the track to catch a few races in the afternoon. The second race featured two Queen's Plate hopefuls Roman Games and Big Red Mike. Unfortunately, for my Queen's Plate fantasy pool, a Florida-bred got in the way of big money!
Roman Games is a serious looking horse
Big Red Mike has a big sense of humour
Big Red Mike made a big effort through tough fractions on this day
I couldn't decide between Big Red Mike or Roman Games but it seems like Richard Dos Ramos was trying to tell me something...
Just Call Me Roger the victor over Big Red Mike and Roman Games
Florida-bred Just Call Me Roger got up in time for the win
Here's a few random photos from throughout the day as I waited patiently for the speed duel between Hollywood Hit, Field Commission and El Brujo.
If you squint, you can see Geno from the excellent Equispace blog in the ball cap under the tree. Check his site out now for awesome, annual Kentucky Derby SpaceSheet. Geno was in town to see La Chica Rica's first race at Woodbine.
Bent Attorney would take that event - another winner for Centennial Farms (Niagara)Inc.
Tyler Pizarro likes to whistle while he works - aboard Trail Bay in the Woodbine 5th
Beth Wyard got the call on Briar Judd
Betty Jo Williams is a picture of concentration aboard Classic Martini
Finally, we arrive at the race of the day - the Jacques Cartier Stakes which marked the return of Hollywood Hit from suspension. You can read the details about the incident in this Globe & Mail report.
Hollywood Hit scorched the Woodbine oval last Sept. 30, to win the King Corrie Stakes in a track-record time of 1 minute 7.38 seconds, believed to be the fastest six furlongs run on a synthetic track.
But Hollywood Hit, trained by Terry Jordan and owned by Vancouver real estate developer Peter Redekop, tested positive for a Class III drug, a tranquillizer called azepromazine, during that race.
Under Ontario Racing Commission rules, Hollywood Hit was suspended for 90 days, which scuttled plans to run him in the $2-million Breeders' Cup Sprint last November. Redekop also lost $60,000 in purse money and the track record was nullified.
It would be a fitting revenge for the Hollywood Hit crew as their horse started well, kept under wraps early, and then exploded through the far turn and had more than enough left in the tank to hang on at the wire as Field Commission rallied in vain.
The powerful physique of El Brujo
Last minute instructions for Field Commission
Monty's Best gave it his all
Written In Stone on parade to the track
Hollywood Hit on his way to victory
Super High Five - You could throw a blanket over the field at the finish
Hollywood Hit victorious!
Field Commission says: GET YOU NEXT TIME!
Jimmy Mac Salutes
Make way for the winner...
Hollywood Hit heads home
All things considered, not a bad way to spend a Sunday! Be sure to check in on Triple Dead Heat's Woodbine News tab which updates throughout the day with all the latest developments in the world of horse racing.