Friday, May 28, 2010

Queen's Plate Trail Heats Up as Essence Hit Man and Hotep to Battle in Marine Stakes

Contenders for the 2010 Queen's Plate have been busy trying to find a race to make a statement and on Friday afternoon Earle Mack's Captain Canuck proved himself a capable candidate breaking his maiden in a mile and an eighth maiden allowance.

Captain Canuck is no longer a maiden, eh?

The Josie Carroll charge had raced greenly going into this event including an awkward stretch run at Keeneland that saw the gelded son of Pulpit jerk his head toward the grandstand. While Captain Canuck again proved to be headstrong leaving the gate and running past the stands for the first time, jockey David Clark managed to settle the anxious horse down and after negotiating the first turn seemed content to lead the field through the early fractions.

Captain Canuck breaks his maiden going a mile and an eighth

After a quarter in 25.1, Captain Canuck and Pengola Court plodded to the next marker in 51 flat as Smart Sky stalked from six lengths back. Approaching the far turn, Chantal Suthlerland asked Smart Sky for more and the horse responded quickly eating up the lengths to the leaders who managed three quarters in 1:16.1. David Clark eased out into the lane turning into the stretch as Smart Sky was pushed wide nearly into the path of a rallying Holy Knight. Just as it seemed the two closers would find their way past Captain Canuck, the gelding found another gear and promptly put the field away. In the words of track announcer Dan Loiselle, "When Smart Sky was set down he didn't quicken very fast..." and with that Captain Canuck pulled away to an impressive win in a final time of 1:53.2. Holy Knight edged Smart Sky for place.

While this was not a particularly fast race it proved that Captain Canuck will have no issue going a distance of ground and I rather liked that he knocked heads with Pengola Court the whole way round the track and still had another gear in the stretch when asked.

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If you're planning on attending the Queen's Plate to be held on Sunday July 4th, you can now order tickets by filling out and then mailing in an order form by CLICKING HERE.

Reserved grandstand seating tickets range from $15 to $30, while those seeking an afternoon of fine dining can book a table for two starting at $250. The tickets are assigned on a FIRST COME FIRST SERVE BASIS so place your order today.

(No, Woodbine does not pay me to say that! But let's face it, the Queen is coming and you know the track will be full. Plan ahead now so that you can enjoy the day.)

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Hollinger, the Queen's Plate Winter Book favourite, worked for the first time since his four-race win streak was snapped in the Queenston Stakes. Hollinger breezed five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 under Tyler Pizarro marking splits of :12 1/5, :24 1/5, :35 3/5 and :48 3/5. Hollinger galloped out in about 1:13 2/5.

To watch video of the workout, please CLICK HERE.

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Saturday's feature at Woodbine is the Marine Stakes which will feature a pair of Queen's Plate contenders for Sam-Son Farms, namely Hotep and Giant's Tomb. Although the talented Hotep is a possible triple crown threat, the horse everyone will be keeping an eye on is double stakes winning "sprinter" Essence Hit Man who won the Woodstock at six furlongs, the Queenston at seven furlongs and now tries eight and a half furlongs in a small but competitive field.

Can Essence Hit Man make it three Stake wins in a row?

Post / Horse / Jockey / Trainer

1 / Bear’s Hard Ten / Eurico Rosa da Silva / Reade Baker

2 / Essence Hit Man / Chantal Sutherland / Audre Cappuccitti

3 / Giant’s Tomb / Patrick Husbands / Mark Frostad

4 / Hotep / Patrick Husbands / Mark Frostad

5 / Exhi / Robby Albarado / Todd Pletcher

6 / Mint Chip / James Graham / George Arnold

Hotep will be looking to make a statement on Saturday

Hotep won the Wando Stakes last out after fighting jockey Patrick Husbands around the track and then finding another gear late in the race to pull away convincingly. Husbands talked about the Sam-Son horses in a WEG Report:

Husbands, who partnered Wando to Canadian Triple Crown glory in 2003, has been aboard both Frostad trainees in each of their past two races.

"He's a very hyper horse,” said Husbands, of Hotep, after the Wando score. “I always have to try to keep him as calm as possible. I got him to the outside and he relaxed from there. When I asked him, he really didn't give me the kick. He was a bit flat, a bit lost. But when we straightened out he gave me a nice little kick. It got the job done. He ran a good race."

As for Giant’s Tomb, Husbands offered: “The first thing that comes to mind with this horse is that he is a grinder. He tries hard throughout the whole race. ”

A win in the Marine would likely carry Hotep past Hollinger as favourite for the Queen's Plate.

If Essence Hit Man carries his speed going two turns trainer Audre Cappuccitti will have a serious Plate horse on her hands and even more difficult decisions to make. Here's an excerpt from a recent Bill Tallon report for the Daily Racing Form:

"I've driven myself crazy all week," said Cappuccitti, who also is the co-owner and breeder of Essence Hit Man with her husband, Gord. "I've tossed it around so much about trying him around two turns. I finally thought that I'd feel bad if I tried it in September and found out he could do it. Now's the time to try it; either he can or he can't. There's no crystal ball.

"It's only a mile and a sixteenth, and it's the only thing there for him. He finished good last time at seven furlongs."

Essence Hit Man, a confirmed front runner, captured the six-furlong Woodstock in his first start in six months here April 25. On May 15, in the seven-furlong Queenston, Essence Hit Man was a six-length winner under regular rider Chantal Sutherland.

The two weeks between starts is a concern for Cappuccitti, but the prospect of waiting for the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial on June 13 had even less appeal.

"I'd love it if he had three weeks, at least," said Cappuccitti. "But I wouldn't want to go into the Plate Trial; it's too close [to the Queen's Plate], and too long."

Tasty Temptation will be on track Saturday

Woodbine's fourth race on Saturday is an excellent allowance event featuring 2009 Oaks and Plate participant Tasty Temptation. The compact five-horse field is ultra competitive going 1M 1/16 on the polytrack.

PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 La Rocca (KY) 4/F L J McAleney 123 T Jordan 5/2
2 No Use Denying (KY) 5/M L* L Contreras 119 M Pierce 8/1
3 Indian Apple Is (ON) 4/F L E R Da Silva 121 R P Tiller 6/1
4 Tasty Temptation (ON) 4/F L P Husbands 123 M E Casse 9/5
5 Sugar Bay (ON) 5/M L C Sutherland 119 M Benson 2/1

As well, the tenth race will feature the return of ten year-old Ballen Isle who has a three-race win streak on the line. Good luck old timer!

The proud Ballen Isle!

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Sunday's feature is the G3 Connaught Cup which includes 2008 Queen’s Plate champion Not Bourbon and 2008 Woodbine Mile champion Rahy’s Attorney in a talented twelve horse field. Trainer Roger Attfield does his best Todd Pletcher impression with four horses entered here including Not Bourbon, Society's Chairman, Jimmy Simms and Passager.

Rahy's Attorney is looking for his second Connaught Cup victory

Rahy's Attorney won this race in 2008 and was beaten a narrow neck by Sterwins in the 2009 running. With two races under his belt already in 2010, it could be a very tough race for those trying to track down the high cruising speed of Ian Black's Rahy's Attorney.

Those readers looking for a horse that might get ignored on the tote board in a large field should keep an eye on Dan Vella's Field Commision. The sprinter loves this turf course and jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva is having a great start to the meet.

Field Commision, who prefers grapes to mints, hopes the Connaught will be fruitful

Post / Horse / Jockey / Trainer

1 / Niagara Thunder / Justin Stein / Don MacRae

2 / Rahy’s Attorney / Jim McAleney / Ian Black

3 / Society’s Chairman / Jono Jones / Roger Attfield

4 / Field Commission / Eurico Rosa da Silva / Dan Vella

5 / Successful Mission / Luis Contreras / Bill Mott

6 / Jimmy Simms / Robert Landry / Roger Attfield

7 / Passager / Robert Landry / Roger Attfield

8 / Jungle Wave / Chantal Sutherland / Sid Attard

9 / Major Marvel / Emile Ramsammy / Laurie Silvera

10 / Cherokee Heaven / Gerry Olguin / Martin Jones

11 / Grand Adventure / Patrick Husbands / Mark Frostad

12 / Not Bourbon / Jono Jones / Roger Attfield

Alex Brown gate schooling on Connaught Cup hopeful Jimmy Simms back in 2009

Also racing on Sunday will be TripleDeadHeat favourite Amazon Belle in an optional claiming turf tilt going six and a half furlongs. The third race features nine fillies and mares and you'll get a generous 6-1 morning line on the hard trying Bob Tiller filly.

Amazon Belle with her good friend Shana

PP Horse Claim $ Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Bodua (ON) 3/F L $0 O Moreno 1135 M J Doyle 20/1
2 Silver Sands (ON) 5/M L $60,000 P Husbands 121 M Pierce 4/1
3 Brewtiful Girl (FL) 5/M L $60,000 E Ramsammy 121 A Desruisseaux 8/1
4 Moonlit Beauty (ON) 4/F L $0 C Sutherland 123 J P Le Blanc, Jr. 10/1
5 First Circle (ON) 4/F L $0 J C Jones 123 M Keogh 5/2
6 Kain's Vow (KY) 4/F L $0 R A Dos Ramos 123 D D Banach 8/1
7 Amazon Belle (ON) 3/F L $0 E R Da Silva 120 R P Tiller 6/1
8 Aspetuck Hill (KY) 4/F L $60,000 C Duquet 1165 M Silvera 20/1
9 Mimi Cooper (FL) 5/M $60,000 J Stein 121 W I Lawrence 3/1

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Toronto Mayoral candidate George Smitherman announced a grand TTC plan on Friday that could lead patrons directly to Woodbine. Inside Toronto reports:

Mayoral candidate George Smitherman is promising new subways in Scarborough and Etobicoke and an earlier completion date for the Spadina extension through North York, free TTC rides for seniors in the middle of weekdays and fully separated bike lanes along existing routes.
The massive, decade-long plan, that Smitherman unveiled at a packed fundraising lunch at the Metro Convention Centre Friday, May 28, would cost $17.5 billion - about $7 billion over and above what the city is already spending on transit

The second phase, from 2015 to 2020, would see the Finch West LRT built from Finch West Station to Highway 27, so it services Humber College, Etobicoke General Hospital and the Woodbine Centre and the proposed Woodbine racetrack development.

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New York OTB lifts betting restrictions states a Matt Hegarty Daily Racing Form report:

New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation on Friday afternoon began offering its customers the ability to wager on 17 signals from Thoroughbred tracks that had been previously unavailable after state regulators lifted restrictions on the signals earlier that morning.

The signals included those from some of the most popular racetracks in the U.S., including Churchill Downs, Hollywood Park, and Monmouth Park. The New York State Racing and Wagering Board began prohibiting OTB from offering the signals over the past several weeks because of concerns over New York City OTB's cash-management practices and a contention that the board never approved some of OTB's simulcasting contracts.


The other signals that were restored on Friday included Calder Race Course, Indiana Downs, Thistledown, River Downs, Prairie Meadows, Chester Casino and Racetrack, Delaware Park, Fort Erie, Suffolk, Presque Isle, Pocono Downs, Woodbine, Mohawk, Arlington Park, and Colonial Downs.

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Here's a story Woodbine track announcer Dan Loiselle would appreciate. Jim Bender penned the following piece for the Winnipeg Sun regarding Assiniboia Downs track announcer Darren Dunn entitled, 14,999 great calls (and 1 bad): Dunn celebrates whale of a milestone as Downs announcer

The track will honour Dunn immediately after the race. He will be joined in the winner’s circle by his mother, Marion, dad, Brian, wife, Linda, and his two sons — Trey, 10 and Jack, seven.

While it will be a memorial night, Dunn would like to forget the time he called the winner at the wire, not realizing that they still had another lap to go.

But Dunn still gets chills when relating his most memorable call.

“My first Manitoba Derby in 1989,” he said. “Local connections had not won the Derby since, I think, 1976. The drought was there for a very long time and everybody wanted to break it. By coincidence, a Manitoba horse (Rough Catch) won it and the owner just happened to be Harvey Warner (now president of the Manitoba Jockey Club that runs the track) — I would never have imagined I would be working for the man later in life.

Click the link above to read the full story. Congratulations Darren Dunn!

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The above news stories can be found on my Woodbine News tab which updates regularly throughout the day for those readers that would rather find the story themselves.

Following my recent week away to New York I fell way behind on updating my Queen's Plate contenders page and I will be plugging away at that over the weekend. Recent results and workouts should be updated by the end of the weekend and I will shuffle the list of contenders on Tuesday to reflect the weekend's results.

Your patience is much appreciated!

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Readers looking for an alternative source on Ontario horse racing to Triple Dead Heat and Jennifer Morrison's Thoroughblog might enjoy the race analysis posted on Andrew's Ontario Horse Racing blog or the workout videos posted on Santino's Canadian Horse Racing Blog. There is also the horseplayer friendly blog of CanGamble which is always controversial...but those who follow his sporadic Tweets often find tote success.

I am also very appreciative of the many readers in Western Canada who linked to TripleDeadHeat via the Left Coast Racing blog.

Looking across the border, thank you as well to Raceday360, Paulick Report, Horse Racing Nation and Equidaily for pointing people in this direction.

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It looks to be a beautiful weekend here in Ontario so those that can, why not spend an afternoon outdoors and enjoy a drink and a wager on the ponies at Woodbine. See you at the track!


Amateurcapper said...


Great, great weekend preview. I took a gander at the Marine and ESSENCE HIT MAN looks like compelling, lone speed. I'll check back often this weekend to re-read this great work and send along more comments.

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