Saturday, June 12, 2010

Focus on Woodbine: Plate Trial and Woodbine Oaks Selections

Woodbine's Sunday afternoon card features three Stakes races worth a combined $750K and both CBC and TVG will be on hand to cover the Plate Trial and the $500K Woodbine Oaks. The third Stake race on the card is the Alywow Stakes, a turf tilt topped by the improving Amazon Belle.

The Plate Trial is looking like a paceless affair but merits watching with a keen eye as twenty-four Plate Trial winners have gone on to win the Queen's Plate including the last two – Not Bourbon in 2008 and Eye of the Leopard in 2009. Two of the top Plate contenders, Hotep and Artic Fern, have already had their final preps and sit this one out.

D's Wando will relish the added distance of the Plate Trial

Despite their absence, the Plate Trial is a talented field which includes a pair of Roger Attfield trainees in Hollinger and Mobilizer and the rallying Ian Black charge D's Wando. The question in trying to analyze the Plate Trial is what to make of the race shape.

Captain Canuck broke his maiden last out in a rather slow 1M 1/8 MSW on the front end, but the horse is normally a closer and it was a lead he took out of necessity. The 51 second fraction on that day hopefully won't be enough to carry this field through the early going. A better bet to be on the lead is Big Red Mike who comes into this race off a pair of sharp allowance races, the latter try being his first two-turn race. There's room for improvement off his recent work tab and it wouldn't be a shock to see new jock Eurico Rosa da Silva try to establish a lead and then lull this field to sleep.

Champion two year-old Hollinger and multiple Stake winner Ghost Fleet should set up in stalking trips behind as is their custom. Hollinger was rather flat in his Queenston opener but a recent workout win over stablemate Mobilizer suggests the Black Minnaloushe gelding has his mojo back. Ghost Fleet also comes out of the Queenston where he earned a career best 86 Beyer chasing home the long gone Essence Hit Man and hitting the wire just in front of a closing D's Wando.

Ian Black's D's Wando parlays a pair of sprint losses to the excellent Essence Hit Man into this mile and an eighth test. The Wando colt was closing like a train in the Woodstock missing by three-quarters of a lenght. Most recently, D's Wando found himself a little too far back and with too much to do but demonstrated his customary rally getting up for third and then galloping out well. The other closing threat in here is Mobilizer who last out chased the excellent Artic Fern with a six-wide rally. Mobilizer earned a 93 Beyer in that race which is the best of this bunch.

The remaining two horses in the field are wild cards. Giant's Tomb looked like a champ at the Fair Grounds earlier this year with a win and a nose loss in three tries. After freshening, Giant's Tomb returned at Woodbine with a loss on May 8th which was put down to a lack of pace. Barring an unforeseen runaway leader, there will be no pace to this event either which does not bode well for the staying Giant's Tomb. Last, and not without some upside, is Mobthewarrior. The Greg de Gannes gelding finished 2009 on a high with a win in the Frost King. His three year-old debut was a heartbreaking nose loss to the not-so-nifty Bug's Boy. It seems this race might be asking a bit too much of Mobthewarrior who is getting a later start to his year than these.


If Emma-Jayne Wilson can keep D's Wando a little closer to the leaders, I think he might get up in time to catch a battling Ghost Fleet and Hollinger.

1. D's Wando
2. Ghost Fleet
3. Hollinger

* * *

The Budweiser Woodbine Oaks is the polar opposite of the Plate Trial - this race has too much pace. Trainer Ian Howard is on record that his horse, multiple Stakes winner Resentless, will be after the lead. Todd Pletcher trainee Embur's Song has been pulverizing her opposition on the engine earning 99 and 98 Beyer figures in two lifetime starts. Even the lightly raced Isabeau's Elegance and maiden Oil Painting come into Oaks from a duelling front-end effort, though neither have the initial speed of the top two.

Resentless returns in the Woodbine Oaks

It's worth noting that Sand Cove put in a quick effort over the Woodbine poly yesterday in winning the Steady Growth and narrowly missed a track record. (More on that below.) If the track stays fast, this pace should be electric.

So much speed in a tight eight-horse field suggests a nice set up for closers Ernfold and Roan Inish. Roger Attfield's Ernfold was the choice of most every person I spoke with at Thursday's Oaks draw and you have to love that five furlong bullet on June 4th tightening up the Stormy Atlantic filly for this important race. Davy Moran returns to ride Roan Inish and the Irish jock had the filly buzzing down the rail in her 2010 debut behind winner Resentless. Since then, conditioner Carolyn Costigan has been content to train her star filly into this event. The long string of works shifting between the poly and dirt training track are putting a great deal of body into the Elusive Quality filly. Moran is charged with keeping the filly close enough to follow Ernfold's expected move, but not so close to get burned the hot pace.

Sue Leslie's Moment of Majesty looks like a front-runner on paper but will be stalking in this event. The daughter of Saint Liam has improved with each star and put in a stellar effort last out behind Biofuel and Ernfold in the La Lorgnette. Jockey Rob Landry has the skills to manage the pace and perhaps get a jump on Ernfold in trying to track down Embur's Song and Resentless.


Garret Gomez is going to ask Embur's Song to relax in this one and hope to pounce on Resentless when it counts. I'll take a pass on Resentless who enters the Oaks after battling a virus that saw the filly lose a lot of weight and training time. Ernfold and Roan Inish should be closing when it matters.

1. Embur's Song
2. Roan Inish
3. Ernfold

Keep up-to-date with the latest updates from Woodbine tomorrow by following TripleDeadHeat on Twitter.

* * *

Rachel is back! Sent to post as the 1-10 favorite, Rachel Alexandra smoked a field of five fillies and mares in the scorching heat, romping to a 10 1/2-length victory in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis. Distinctive Dixie and Jessica Is Back chased to finish second and third.

Pbbbfffttttt! You can't catch me! Rachel Alexandra sticks her tongue out at tiring rivals

(Photo by EquiSport Photos / Matt Wooley)

The race was eerily reminiscent of last year's Kentucky Oaks when Rachel won by a record 20 1/4 lengths. Owner Jess Jackson and trainer Steve Asmussen are still pointing Rachel Alexandra towards the Breeders' Cup this fall at Churchill.

For now, it's just good to see the four year-old regain some of her speed and stamina. I'd like to see one more dominant race before agreeing the horse is ready for a Breeders' Cup.

Rachel is back! Super filly Rachel Alexandra wins the Fleur de Lis

Sand Cove scored in Woodbine's Steady Growth Stakes on Saturday, making it look easy, winning by nearly five lengths.

Ridden by Richard Dos Ramos for trainer Roger Attfield, Sand Cove stalked pacesetter My Bad in the mile and one-sixteenth Ontario Sire stake, through fractions of :23.55 and :47.56. Around the far turn, the favoured Sand Cove was asked for more and accelerated to a 3 ½-length lead running away for an easy win. The final time over Woodbine’s Polytrack was a rapid 1:42.69, just 2/5ths of a second off the track record. Genius Kinshasa got up for second over Lady’s First Cat.

Sand Cove wins the Steady Growth Stakes

* * *

Enough with the previews and onto some photos from the past week. I was in attendance at the Woodbine Oaks draw where figure skater Joannie Rochette wowed the crowd, and also a few shots from the Woodbine backstretch where I spent some time visiting Oaks and Plate Trial contenders. Enjoy!

Bronze medal winner Joannie Rochette

Joannie Rochette and the Oaks trophy

Joannie Rochette shows off her skills winning the bronze medal in Vancouver

Rochette nearly making several hundred tiny Oakettes!

The Bud girls were on hand

Curtis Joseph and Joannie Rochette make nice with the Budweiser girls

Here's the full Woodbine Oaks draw

Here's the field for the Plate Trial

I was on the backstretch earlier this week speaking with trainers Ian Howard and Sue Leslie regarding their Oaks contenders Resentless and Moment of Majesty.

As soon as I arrived on track, I encountered Plate Trial contender D's Wando being filmed for a television feature presumably for CBC.

Emma-Jayne Wilson and D's Wando hope to pose for more photos on Sunday

The Ian Black trainee was really moving

D's Wando jumps into his workout

Carolyn Costigan, trainer of Oaks contender Roan Inish, of to gallop Lassair

And away they go!

I caught up with Costigan and Roan Inish a little later

Meanwhile, the track soon flooded with Catherine Day Phillips trainees

There's another CDP saddle cloth!

And another one, this time a beauty of a grey

No shortage of colourful characters on the backstretch

Trainer Steve Attard feeds a mint to Val's pony

That's a happy pony!

I caught this Roger Attfield horse in stride

Speaking of Roger Attfield...

Sam-Son horses were keeping busy too

This one was really dancing on the poly

Sam-Son horses come in all colours

White lightning!

The sand ring was in high demand

A lovely grey stomps about the sand ring

Shawn works yet another horse through the sand ring

Time to cool off after a hard morning's work

Hot hooves need cooling down!

There will be more photos posted following Sunday's Woodbine Oaks / Plate Trial card. Best of luck to all the contenders.

1 comment:

Santino said...

I agree 110% that she has to sit closer!
Great pic