Monday, July 26, 2010

Panama to Fort Erie: Golden Moka Captures the Prince of Wales Stakes

Golden Moka, a mystery horse who had raced only three times in Panama prior to Sunday, romped on the front end to capture the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie Racetrack. The Brian Lynch trainee is owned by the Good Friends Stable whose ownership group includes a doctor, a judge, hockey superstar and spinarama specialist Denis Savard, and the recently paralyzed jockey Rene Douglas.

Golden Moka chillin' in his Woodbine stall

Queen's Plate winner Big Red Mike, sent to post as the 4-5 favourite, and jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva were quick out of the gate to take a front-running position along the rail. As the field traveled through the clubhouse turn, jockey Anthony Stephen urged Golden Moka forward with Mobil Unit following his lead. Big Red Mike stalked that front pairing, alongside Hotep, into the far turn and both horses moved into a threatening position as the stretch run loomed.

With only the stretch to maneuver, Stephen asked Golden Moka for more and received more than enough from his charge to run away from the field. Mobil Unit held on for second while a hard trying Big Red Mike gutted out a third place finish.

Big Red Mike's personal assistant offers the Plate champ my business card - not interested.

Woodbine's Jim Bannon was quick to hail Golden Moka's effort as one of the great training accomplishments of the meet. I would have to agree. Lynch trained a horse with only three starts in Panamanian sprint races, a horse that missed the Queen's Plate due to illness, and led him to the winners circle at Fort Erie under the rider who exercised the horse most mornings.

Golden Moka is a son of Golden Missile, out of a Seeking The Gold Dam - Sunset Seeker, and was bred in Ontario by Adena Springs.

Denis Savard - The Sultan of Spinorama

The back story of the ownership group only adds to the drama of the victory. Beverley Smith covered all the angles in a piece for the Globe & Mail entitled, Golden Moka takes Prince of Wales Stakes:

Douglas could not attend the race because he is in his native Panama, getting stem cell treatment that he cannot get in the United States. Somehow, he watched the race from Panama and said Sunday, “This horse is going to be something special. I knew it from the beginning.”

Gordon, who has known Douglas for about five years, said, “Right now he’s celebrating. This was probably the best moment he’s had since his accident. It’s been tremendous. It’s a fairytale story, no question. … It’s not going to be an easy go for him, but you can see the spirits are here right now. Let’s hope they stay with him and help him through this ordeal.”

Douglas is one of six owners of Golden Moka, along with Savard, Hilton (who heads the ownership group), and Chicago judge Joe Casciatto. They call themselves the Good Friends Stable. Douglas is “Bubba” to them.

When they purchased the horse, Douglas had one thought, to give him to his friend, trainer Brian Lynch, who is now based at Woodbine. Lynch didn’t get the horse until early May.

Lynch has known Douglas for 20 years after training in the United States and used to hire him to ride. At Fort Erie, Lynch handed the riding duties to Anthony Steven, a Trinidad-born jockey who has been riding at Fort Erie for three years.

Golden Moka wins the Prince of Wales Stakes

* * *

Trainer Terry Jordan's La Rocca captured the Ontario Matron on Sunday afternoon at Woodbine. Readers of TripleDeadHeat might recall a recent post where Jordan identified La Rocca as a horse with potential.

The lovely La Rocca

La Rocca loped through fractions of 25.75 and 50.17 in the eight and a half furlong route while racing wide throughout. Simply Splendid made her move through the stretch to wrestle the lead from La Rocca but the big mare battled back to win by half a length in 1:45.63. Euphony rounded out the triactor. Those who backed La Rocca earned $12.90 for their efforts. La Rocca is owned by Peter Redekop.

La Rocca rocks in the Ontario Matron

I wonder if Jordan who trains Hollywood Hit for owner Peter Redekop noticed the track record setting performance of Fastus Cactus in the seventh race at Saratoga on Sunday? The gelded son of Cactus Ridge zipped 5-1/2 furlongs on the main track in 1:02.51 breaking the mark of 1:03.13 set by J Be K on Aug. 29, 2007. The race was originally scheduled for the grass but was moved to the main track because of the rain.

Cactus Ridge is, of course, also the sire of Jordan and Redekop's speedy sprinter Hollywood Hit.

* * *

A shout out to Tweeter O_Crunk for alerting me to a great catch by the Woodbine outrider in Sunday's fifth race. Tequila Max unseated rider Betty Jo Williams leaving the gate in a field of $12.5 claimers but the outrider quickly caught up to a runaway Tequila Max and reeled him in. Watch the video below for to see the great effort!

Tequila Max quickly reeled in by the outrider

Congratulations are in order for groom Melanie Minshull as Biofuel was named the Betfair TVG “Best Turned Out” Horse Award for Saturday’s Grade 1 Betfair TVG Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga Race Course.

Melanie Minshull and the beautifully groomed Biofuel at Woodbine

Greg Nichols, Betfair Managing Director of Sporting Affairs, selected Brereton C. Jones’ Biofuel in the paddock prior to the 94th running of the Coaching Club, in which Biofuel finished second behind favored Devil May Care.

“We want to ensure that the groom is recognized and give them their fleeting moment of fame,” said Nichols. “We race horses and know how hard the grooms work.”

Minshull was presented with a certificate and a $100 gift card by Nichols in recognition of her skill and care in bringing out the best in her horse.

Biofuel on her way to the Woodbine winners circle

“It’s an honor to work with Biofuel,” said Minshull, 24, of Toronto. “I’ve loved having her in my care and it’s an honor for our whole team.”

Congratulations Melanie! For the full story and a photo of Melanie receiving the award, click into the NYRA press release: Betfair TVG "Best Turned Out" Horse Award to Biofuel

In case you missed it, be sure to check out yesterday's post which featured a photo essay of the Toronto Cup and Nijinksy Stakes as well as a trip to the backstretch to visit the barns of Roger Attfield and Sean Smullen. The post is entitled, Photo Essay: Prince of Wales Preview; Saturday Stakes Review; and A Walk Down Shed Row!

See yesterday's post for backstretch photos like this one of a nosey Not Bourbon

Keep track of the latest goings on in the world of horse racing by clicking into TripleDeadHeat's Woodbine News page.

1 comment:

The_Knight_Sky said...

It says "Stretch" Armstrong on that business card.

Now we know who you really are. ;-)