Woodbine's Pick 4 on Saturday was a quality quartet of of polytrack perfection. The first three legs featured a bevy of Queen's Plate contenders and the anchor leg would be won in near track record time by 2009 Queen's Plate contender Southdale. Gusting winds helped front-runners post smart fractions down the backstretch and the headwind through the stretch was a test of stamina for both horses and jockeys alike.
So sour were the conditions that following Southdale's win Woodbine cancelled the remainder of the card.
Given the inclement weather, this was not a day to interview connections following the race so I'll let the pictures do the talking.
(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!)
The outrider leads the field to the track for the fourth race
Royal Challenger would not challenge on this day
Even the walk from paddock to the track meant a fight against the wind
Luis Contreras aboard Greycliff Exchange who looks a lot his daddy
Stardust Ziggy would rather have been playing guitar
Giant's Tomb has his tongue strap on
And they're off in a race to see who can get back to the heater in the jock's room first
Check out the flags as the field fights a strong wind into the first turn
Chantal Sutherland and Tierra Del Tigre would wire the field with Greycliff Exchange chasing in vain
Giant's Tomb gains valuable learning experience finishing third against older company
Watch the race - Tierra Del Tigre captures the Woodbine fourth
Race 5 featured fourteen horses in a 1M 1/6 $68K MSW Allowance event. The field is littered with Queen's Plate contenders including Mobilizer, Vicar Street, Captain Canuck and Cognashene.
The punters thought Indy League was a little out of his league and sent him to post at 112-1
Jono Jones explains to Mobilizer that they may need to stretch their necks to win this race
Raven Stone got that pesky first lifetime start out of the way
Mr Fuller was fulla energy until the half and then faded to finish thirteenth
Vicar Street was off the grid early but found a path late to finish fourth
My Captain, My Captain (Canuck)
Patrick Husbands hopes to start a new Trend with those fancy clear goggles
Overshadow was overshadowed by the competition
Gold Strike Begins...but faded to finish tenth
A smart guy would bet win and place on Smart Sky
Prized Humour and Eurico Rosa da Silva giggled their way to a third place finish
Soul Seeker is beautifully bred for the turf
Can you guess the sire of Whata Tough Knight? No peeking. First correct commenter wins a prize
Cognashene and the most recognizable jockey at Woodbine
On your marks, get set.....go!
Whata tough start for Whata Tough Knight
And away they go to a mostly perfect beginning...
It's a fight to the finish between Smart Sky (outside) and Mobilizer (on the rail)
Get your nose down! Mobilizer nips Smart Sky at the wire along the rail
Chantal Sutherland, sans mask, following the race
When there are fourteen horses in a race, things get a little crowded
All hands on deck!
Roger Attfield keeps a hold of Mobilizer for fear of gusting away
Watch the race - Mobilizer in a photo finish
The sixth race would see five horses contest the Wando Stakes including Hotep - a full brother to 2009 Queen's Plate winner Eye of the Leopard.
His first start since last November, Joey's Best will come later in the meet
Ho-Ho-Hotep was a gift horse paying $4.50 to win
Bears Finish Line had a bear of a time leaving the gate
Just Call Me (Rocket) Roger led the field to the top of the stretch
Alcomatch would be no match for Hotep
And they're off!
The field was tightly packed as they passed the wire for the first time
Zoom Zoom! Highsteppin' Hotep
Everyone knows its windy
The connections could not be more pleased
Profile of a potential Plate favourite
Watch the race - Hotep wins the Wando
The seventh, and final race of the day, featured a speedy field of nine in a six furlong sprint. Daniel Be Good knocked off ridiculously fast fractions of 21.61, 43.67 and 55.89 before Southdale would take over to lead them to the wire in a time of 1:08.59 narrowly missing the track record of 1:08.31 set in 2008 by Legal Move.
Daniel Be Good was great leading the field through swift fractions
Lord of Greatness could not live up the expectations
Welcome Back Southdale!
Tyler Pizarro in the role of Jan Michael Vincent aboard Air Wolf
Brian Cheyne had the call on Winn Creek. They didn't winn.
Firetheexecutive and Betty Jo Williams make a stunning pre-race appearance
Southdale sprints away from the field...
and wins comfortably as Emma-Jayne Wilson holds on tight
Do you think Emma-Jayne Wilson is happy to see Southdale back on the track? :>)
Congratulations to Team Southdale!
Watch the race - Southdale wins his first start of 2010
* * *
Thus ended a satisfying, though downright freezing, day of racing at Woodbine and we learned a few things along the way:
1. Giant's Tomb may need a bit more time and distance to show his best.
2. Mobilizer is one gutsy horse getting caught in the stretch and then fighting back to win when all seemed lost.
3. Hotep is for real. His final time was much better than that of the Mobilizer race and the Sam-Son horse was not working hard to win.
4. Good things come to those who wait. While the Ferguson family missed out on last year's Queen's Plate, their patience to get Southdale back to the track at his peak form paid off on this day and his strong gallop out suggests that there is a bright future ahead for four year-old Southdale.
* * *
Sunday brings another set of speedsters to the Woodbine track as Fatal Bullet and Hollywood Hit attempt to obliterate the track record in the seven furlong Vigil Stakes. Pack a parka, wear a scarf and don't blink or you might miss the fastest race of the year.