Sunday's feature race at Woodbine is the $300K G2 King Edward Stakes which has been shortened to a mile for 2010 which should suit returning champion Rahy's Attorney as much as the potentially soft footing. (Those readers not interested in my handicapping skills can scroll on down the page to the photo essay below.)
The connections of Rahy's Attorney might be hoping for a storm tomorrow and isn't it ironic that their main competition in this event should come from New York based shipper Get Stormy. (Note that the two turf races scheduled on Saturday were moved to the polytrack to preserve the E.P Taylor course for Sunday.)
The well-traveled Get Stormy isn't shy about his appetite
I caught up with trainer Tom Bush on the backstretch who graciously shared a few words regarding the four year-old son of Stormy Atlantic currently riding a five race win streak that includes two graded efforts - all on the turf. While Get Stormy has never raced at Woodbine, Bush has entered here previously with a Cam Allard runner named Cuba.
TDH: Get Stormy has five wins in a row, three at this distance. Is a mile his niche?
TB: "Obviously it must be Get Stormy's best distance as he's been successful at it a number of times. We thought at some point about trying to stretch out the horse a bit further for the bigger purses for longer races but we're having so much success with what we're doing we don't want to change anything right now."
TDH: What do you think about the competition in the King Eddy?
TB: "It's a tough race for sure. Rahy's Attorney is very accomplished. Both Roger Attfield's horses (Jimmy Simms, Society's Chairman) look good, and of course the bottom horse (Grand Adventure) stands out with that big seven eighths performance in the Connaught. We're going to have to show up with our 'A' race to be competitive."
TDH: How did you feel about Get Stormy's last race?
TB: "We were delighted with it. There wasn't a lot of pace in that race and he was really fresh and training well for the race so we knew he'd bounce out of there and probably be on the lead. That's usually not a bad place to be at Monmouth, and it was opening weekend there, and the turf was in excellent shape. It was great to see him run so well off the layoff."
TDH: What would be your ideal trip in the King Eddy?
TB: "We certainly are going to be laying up close. He's never far back in his races and obviously he likes to be clear so hopefully we'll be able to do that. There may be somebody else on the lead and that's fine too, but we want to keep him clear so he has a nice clean trip."
Tom Bush keeps a comfortable distance from the nippy Get Stormy
Here's the field for the King Edward
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer Odds
1. Jimmy Simms (KY), J McAleney, 119, R L Attfield 8-1
2. Monty's Best (FL), E R Da Silva, 117, R Baker 20-1
3. Society's Chairman (ON), J C Jones, 121, R L Attfield 6-1
4. Get Stormy (KY), J Castellano, 121, T M Bush 5/2
5. Cherokee Heaven (KY), R Albarado, 117, B A Lynch 15-1
6. Strike Again (KY), L Contreras, 117, W I Mott 15-1
7. Ice Bear (ON), C Sutherland, 121, M Benson 10-1
8. Rahy's Attorney (ON), R C Landry, 123, I Black 7/2
9. Grand Adventure (KY), P Husbands, 121, M R Frostad 3-1
1. Jimmy Simms 8-1
You can't ignore Roger Attfield trained horses in Stakes races. Jimmy Simms appears to be the lesser of two Attfield entrants here though he does sport five wins in nine lifetime turf starts. This five year-olds last start was a winning one in the Labeeb on November 1st of 2009 over a turf course labeled good. A steady string of sharp works suggest this horse is in good order but this is a tough field to beat off a layoff. I expect Jimmy Simms will make the early pace tangling with Get Stormy to keep the fractions honest.
2. Monty's Best 20-1
This four year-old son of Montbrook finished fifth, less than three lengths behind Stike Again, in his first turf try last out. That race was an optional claiming event that earned Monty's Best an 86 Beyer figure. That said, this horse is not without some class - Monty's Best opened his 2010 campaign by tangling with the uberspeedy Hollywood Hit in the Jacques Cartier Stakes. Monty's Best finished fourth, beaten a 1 1/2 lengths, by the hitman, Field Commission and El Brujo. That's good company to be keeping but the fellow does seem up against it versus this salty group of turf warriors.
Monty's Best will need to be at his best on Sunday
3. Society's Chairman - 6-1
Attfield and Charles Fipke have teamed up for a number of successes (Not Bourbon, Lady Shakespeare) over the years. Society's Chairman is a tough seven year-old who already boasts a win over Rahy's Attorney in 2010 in the Appleton at Gulfstream. The Chairman followed that score up with a rousing third place finish in the G1 Makers Mark at Keeneland which was won by Karelian on April 9th.
Society's Chairman was freshened and in June posted four eye-popping workouts that lead me to believe this son of Not Impossible is prepared for a peak performance.
Society's Chairman was gaining on Karelian in the G1 Maker's Mark
4. Get Stormy 5/2
See the interview with trainer Tom Bush above...this fella likes to get the lead and it won't be an easy task with Jimmy Simms, Monty's Best and the potentially front-running Rahy's Attorney in the mix. Still, jock Javier Castellano is an accomplished turf veteran and capable of placing this horse where he needs to be. The four year-old posted a 100 Beyer in his last outing at Monmouth which is made even more impressive by his recovery from an awkward start. I respect his speed but fear it might be setting up the closing Society's Chairman and Grand Adventure. Then again, watch Get Stormy's effort last November in the Commonwealth at Churchill Downs where he led the field at every call and hung on by a nose over Street Move. If you watch the gallop out, you'll see Get Stormy never let the closer pass. Gutsy.
Get Stormy gets the Commonwealth by a nose
5. Cherokee Heaven 15-1
Trainer Brian Lynch has picked up a nice older turf horse in Cherokee Heaven. The six year-old son of Cherokee Run loved the downhill turf at Santa Anita and put in a solid first effort at Wooodbine finishing fourth in the Connaught while beaten less than two lengths. Robby Albarado gets the call here and it's quite possible the ex Cali dude just needed a race over the course. A recent pair of bullet works over the turf suggest there's much value to be had in a 15-1 shot who regularly posts mid-90 Beyers.
Will Cherokee Heaven benefit from a race over the course?
6. Strike Again 15-1
When I see the name Mott associated with a turf race, I immediately get out the highlighter. The trainer has earned enough turf respect from this handicapper over the years that all his runners are worth a second look. Especially at 15-1.
The four year-old Strike Again enjoyed a wonderful turf debut at Woodbine winning an optional claimer at seven furlongs in a swift 1:20.80. Granted, that's a second slower than what Grand Adventure put up in winning the Connaught Cup but Strike Again was working off a two month layoff. Strike Again has been beaten twice previously by Get Stormy and will be looking to foul one off here against a very tough group.
7. Ice Bear 10-1
The Mac Benson trainee has three wins on the Woodbine turf with his last score over the weeds way back in September of 2008. The six year-old grey was a consistent winner in 2009 winning the G3 Eclipse, and a pair of nice $100K allowance tilts. Ice Bear bullet worked five furlongs in 58 flat on June 20th but I feel this classy horse is up against it here.
Chantal Sutherland has enjoyed plenty of success with Ice Bear
8. Rahy's Attorney 7-2
The big horse is due for a win after four starts without his picture being taken. His effort in the 7.5 furlong Appleton when second to Society's Chairman was impressive and he suffered through a difficult trip last out in the Connaught when blocked and trapped behind horses. Rahy's Attorney is reunited with Rob Landry for this race who was aboard for Rahy's last win on October 24/09 in the Bunty Lawless when defeating Sand Cove and Society's Chairman over a mile of soft turf. Hmmm...
Rahy's Attorney knows his way to the winners circle
9. Grand Adventure 3-1
Is this the new star of the Woodbine turf? The four year-old chased some ridiculous early fractions at the Fair Grounds and Keeneland to start his 2010 campaign and then looped the field with ease to win the Connaught Cup posting a 100 Beyer in the process. The workouts are steady. The horse has really filled out and is now demonstrating the potential that sent this son of Grand Slam to the BC Juvenile Turf back in '08. Patrick Husbands retains the mount and will be one of several trying to close.
Grand Adventure couldn't believe the tote board last out!
1. Grand Adventure
2. Society's Chairman
3. Cherokee Heaven
I expect that Get Stormy is going to be challenged by Jimmy Simms for the lead and at short odds I'll let the shipper prove himself on the course. If the above pair set the expected sharp fractions then my three picks should have plenty of speed to chase in the long Woodbine stretch.
*wildcard* I don't know what to do about Rahy's Attorney. He loves this course. Loves the soft going. The distance works for him. It wouldn't surprise me to see the big fella maintain his high cruising speed right through the wire but I'd like to see better odds. Check my Twitter as I agonize over Rahy's Attorney in the walking ring!
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And now on with the photo essay. It was a bit of grey and rainy Irish Saturday morning on the backstretch but all the training surfaces were getting a huge workout...as was my camera!
(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!)
You think you have to deal with traffic going to work in the morning?
Recognize this filly? Points of Grace garnered the Sovereign Award as Champion Female Turf Horse. The 4-year-old daughter of Point Given was 5 for 9 in 2009 for trainer Malcolm Pierce and owner Live Oak Plantation, including wins in the Dance Smartly (G2) and the River Memories.
Sovereign Award winner Points of Grace can't believe the traffic
Finally! The horses head to the track...
Trainer Ian Howard doesn't need a horse to get on the track!
Trainer Carolyn Costigan trots by after working one of her own horses
Queen's Plate winning (1961 - Blue Light) jockey Hugo Dittfach (now a trainer) still gallops his own horses
Exhi, an easy winner of the 1 1/16-mile Marine on May 29 in his first trip to Woodbine, returns Sunday as the odds-on choice in a field of five for the $150K Victoria Park raced at a 1 1/8-miles.
Exhi takes a trip over the Woodbine poly under Queen's Plate winner (Woodcarver - 1999) Mickey Walls
Exhi exits expediently
The most exciting horse at Woodbine? Emma-Jayne Wilson and Southdale work in preparation for the Dominion Day Stakes
Southdale worked four furlongs in 48.80 going easy. Good enough for 11th out of 68 works Saturday morning
Four off the floor as Southdale leaps through his workout
It sure gets crowded on the weekends on the main track...these workers are a blur of motion getting their fitness in
This grey turned to face the camera
Exercise rider Tyler Gaskin stands tall in the saddle aboard Knightly Attire (who races on Sunday!)
A stylish Chantal Sutherland gallops down the backstretch
There she goes again clad in pink!
Purple is the new pink?
'No way' laugh these well-red lads
Sam-Son Farms charge Absolutely Striking is...absolutely striking
Ain't it great to leave the track with a smile on your face?
This guy doesn't want to go home
The long road home after workouts
Just hanging around...
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While the horses above busied themselves getting ready for future races, Woodbine based Biofuel and Bay to Bay were on track at Belmont and Monmouth.
Biofuel got off to a slow start in the Mother Goose, but jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva smartly eased her back into the pack as Katy Now sped through fractions of 22.81 and 45.59, with Connie and Michael chasing in second. Devil May Care settled in third up the backstretch eventually taking the lead at the top of the stretch as Biofuel attempted to rally down the middle of the Belmont track.
However, the slow start got the better of Biofuel who couldn't get beyond Devil May Care and the Reade Baker trainee would finish third narrowly beaten for place by Connie and Michael who had saved ground throughout along the rail.
Not a bad first attempt on dirt for Biofuel who definitely deserves a second chance over the surface given the rough beginning.
Devil May Care wins the Mother Goose
At Monmouth Park, Garrett Gomez and Strike It Rich left the gate in a hurry and never looked back wiring the field to win the Boiling Springs. Bay to Bay left from the outside spot in this ten horse field but was away well and found good position near the back of the pack. As the field tried to close in on Strike It Rich through the stretch it appeared that Bay to Bay was empty but the filly showed an impressive turn of foot in the final fourty yards and gained the place position with a great deal of momentum. The Sligo Bay filly has enjoyed a great start to 2010 as she works up the stamina to try ten furlong turf tilts later this season.
The following report was filed by NJ.Com:
Bay to Bay, the 9-5 favorite, who was coming off a victory in the $200,000 American 1,000 Guineas in her last start May 22 at Arlington Park in Chicago, made the most of her precarious starting position on the far outside, settling off the rail and then advancing past her competition on the turn.
She eventually angled out on the upper stretch and was in the process of making a late close on the outside. But it was all for naught. By that point, Strike It Rich had become Mariano Rivera-like as she turned it up a notch to finish what she had started.
“My horse ran on really well,” Bay to Bay’s rider, Alan Garcia, said. “There was just no pace in front of me.”
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Readers looking for information on the Queen's Plate should click into my 2010 Queen's Plate contenders page and those readers wishing to share my frustration as England tries to lump in a few penalty kicks should add me on Twitter to share the pain. I'll quit my moaning following the match and get on with the usual paddock observations...eventually.
In the week leading up to the Queen's Plate I'll be posting more profiles of the top contenders. Those horses already featured include: D's Wando, Roan Inish, Moment of Majesty and Big Red Mike.
Happy Handicapping good readers!