Saturday, July 24, 2010

Photo Essay: Prince of Wales Preview; Saturday Stakes Review; and A Walk Down Shed Row!

Fort Erie will host the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown on Sunday as a small, but competitive, field of seven Canadian-bred three-year-olds travel a mile and three sixteenths on the dirt.

Queen's Plate winner Big Red Mike

The Field for the 2010 Prince of Wales Stakes

PP/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Morning Line
1 - Mobthewarrior - Emile Ramsammy – Greg DeGannes – 6-1
2 - Captain Canuck – Eibar Coa – Josie Carroll – 20-1
3 - Hotep – Patrick Husbands – Mark Frostad – 5/2
4 - Big Red Mike – Eurico Rosa da Silva – Nick Gonzalez – 6/5
5 - Golden Moka – Anthony Stephen – Brian Lynch – 15-1
6 - Mobil Unit – David Clark – Mike Keogh – 8-1
*7 - Dark Cloud Dancer – Justin Stein – Mark Frostad – 10-1
8 - Who We Gunna Call – Gerry Olguin – Tino Attard – 20-1
*Note Dark Cloud Dancer raced in Saturday's Toronto Cup at Woodbine and is obviously scratched from the Prince of Wales. (See below for more on the Toronto Cup.)

Big Red Mike was a gutsy wire-to-wire winner of the Queen's Plate over a forever-chasing Hotep just a few short weeks back in a grueling ten furlong affair on a hot day and should enjoy this shorter distance on Sunday. The two main concerns regarding a repeat performance for the Nick Gonzalez charge are:

1. Did Big Red Mike burn himself out in the Queen's Plate?
2. How will the horse deal the pace threat of newcomers on the Triple Crown trail in Golden Moka, Captain Canuck and Mobil Unit.

To answer the first question, handicappers who fear Big Red Mike burned out on Plate day would have to apply the same caveat to logical second choice Hotep. I believe both these horses will have enough left in the tank to be competitive on Sunday. To answer the second question, I'm not convinced that Big Red Mike needs the lead to win and I'm sure jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva will be happy to follow Golden Moka for as far as the transplanted Panamanian raced sprinter can travel.

Is it time to dial up a long shot like Who We Gunna Call?

What the addition of the potential speed adds is a pace that might be closed on by Who We Gunna Call who ran into a bit of traffic trouble in the Queen's Plate. I expect Mike Keogh's Mobil Unit to be the best of the newcomers to the Triple Crown trail and the conditioner advises that his horse does love the dirt.

1. Big Red Mike
2. Hotep
3. Mobil Unit

* * *

Red and Gold took gold and silver in Saturday's G2 Nijinsky Stakes won by a closing Windward Islands who drove past Sam-Son Farms stablemate Grand Adventure in the final sixteenth of a mile. The four-year-old Grand Adventure was the 6-5 favorite in the nine-furlong turf tilt and was giving up 6lbs to the six-year-old Windward Islands. The younger Sam-Son charge dueled with Southdale along the backstretch over a yielding turf course but could not repel Chantal Sutherland and Windward Islands who plowed down the middle of the E.P Taylor turf course to win by three lengths. Southdale faded to finish third in the six horse field.

A joyous Chantal Sutherland following her victory in the Nijinsky Stakes aboard Windward Islands

Windward Islands found the wire in a time of 1:53.58 to surprise the small field after a year-long layoff.

"He's had some nagging problems all his life," said Frostad. "He's a little fragile, and we don't get too many races out of him, but he's a real high-quality horse."

The six-year-old clearly enjoyed the soft going. Let's hope the veteran gelding makes his next start sooner than later.

The under card on Saturday featured the Toronto Cup which was won in impressive fashion by Ian Black's Stormy Lord. Ironically, Windward Islands won this race just three years ago. Under a confident ride from Jim McAleney, Stormy Lord started well and closed when asked to defeat longshot Kara's Orientation by half a length in a time of 1:49.62. The favoured Dark Cloud Dancer, who had been cross-entered in the Prince of Wales Stakes, finished sixth.

An ecstatic Jimmy Mac is all smiles after victory aboard Stormy Lord in the Toronto Cup

* * *

Reade Baker's Biofuel had a tough ask at Saratoga on Saturday when taking on the excellent G1 Mother Goose champ Devil May Care in the TVG Coaching Club American Oaks.

Devil May Care was content to stalk the early fractions while Biofuel, under jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva, raced from the back of the pack. Approaching the far turn, jockey John Velazquez asked Devil May Care to make her run and she responded. “When I let her go, she was there for me," said Velazquez. "I wanted to have her covered up for a while because she was pulling pretty strong going through the backstretch. Going to the half-mile pole I wanted her to get into a good rhythm and then a nice cruising speed. At the quarter-pole I took another hold of her because I didn’t want to get into the lead too quickly. But she was just dragging me up to that point. I kept her busy down the lane to keep her mind on her business.”

Biofuel made a strong move around the far turn and raced strongly through the stretch to earn place money. "“I had a great trip," said da Silva. "On the second turn, I had so much horse – I just needed some room. But Devil May Care is a great horse.”

Both Devil May Care and Biofuel will make their next start in Alabama on August 21st at Saratoga.

Devil May Care captures the Coaching Club American Oaks

* * *

I spent a very long day at Woodbine on Saturday as I conducted interviews for a piece I'm writing for Down The Stretch. What follows are photos of my trip to the backstretch and subsequent afternoon at Woodbine to watch the Toronto Cup and the Nijinsky Stakes

(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!)

These guys really quack me up...

Sam-Son Farms used to have a horse named *something* Duck...anyone remember? It's driving me crazy. Seriously...a front running turfer, right? Arghghg...

Part of my morning's mission was to track down the whereabouts of the Stronach Stables stalwart Harlem Rocker. Recent rumours suggested I would find the galloping grey in the barn of Sean Smullen. I soon met up with Smullen and his able assistant Patrick who advised that the 2008 Prince of Wales winner was resting comfortably at Adena's gorgeous farm in Aurora. "He'll probably go back to Todd Pletcher," advised Smullen. "He's just up here to have a break and a bit of a rest."

While I didn't find Harlem Rocker, I did find a few other Stronach runners along the way.

A mischievous Michillinda turns her head away from the camera

That's a bit better!

Patrick is dwarfed by the damsel Dynamite Dame

Dynamite Dame will be exploding down the Woodbine stretch in the near future

Stronach's Barreling Home was getting a little lippy...

But the big fella stood still to get his picture taken...and it wouldn't be the last time on this day! (See below)

From the Smullen barn, I made my way to the Roger Attfield barn to pursue my story for Down The Stretch. Following an interview with an in-form Attfield, I took a stroll down the shedrow and came face to face with a deluge of recent Woodbine winners.

2008 Queen's Plate champ Not Bourbon has a sense of humour

Not Bourbon was getting a little nosey!

Ave was more than happy to pose for photos

Everybody holla at Hollinger!

The lovely Jacally was a winner last Wednesday

Perfect Shower looking towards a very bright future

Stormy Rush is in no hurry on this morning

Out of the Attfield barn and back over to the main track to watch the workouts

Four off the floor

One more worker to the main track

After a short break from Woodbine to have a bit of lunch and a cup of Tim Horton's tea (steeped), I made my way back to Woodbine and enjoyed the early part of the card from the air conditioned press box. The weather on this day was hot and steamy and the rain that threatened most of the morning would arrive in time for the seventh race.

But before we get to a few stormy (lord) photos, let's take a look at the entrants in the fourth race feature that was the Toronto Cup.

Chico leads Dark Cloud Dancer to the paddock

Sharply dressed conditioner Stephen Chircop and the excellent Kara's Orientation

D's Wando made an impressive pre-race appearance

Stormy Lord goes face to face with his groom

Pleased to meet ya!

Tir Chonaill is a substantial son of GIANT's Causeway

Woodland Flute and Omar Moreno get acquainted

Born To Act...up in the paddock. This fella was feeling frisky

Patrick Husbands and Dark Cloud Dancer make their way to the track

Emile Ramsammy gets a leg up on Kara's Orientation

Stormy Lord surges to the lead...

and he won't be caught!

Woodland Flute whistles by the wire a little too late...

D's Wando appeared to enjoy his first trip over the E.P Taylor turf course

I can't believe Reggae and I wore the same outfit to the track...

The happy connections make the walk to the winners circle


Stormy Lord doesn't mind taking a bath in the rain

Stormy Lord wins the Toronto Cup

Remember my little visit earlier in the day with the cheeky Barreling Home? Here he is rolling past the wire to win the seventh!

Assistant Patrick and friend (lower left) are pretty happy with that result despite being soaking wet...

Trainer Sean Smullen and jockey Luis Contreras don't mind the Irish sunshine

Up next was the G2 Nijinsky which was reduced by the scratches of Spice Route and Utterly Cool who do not like the soft going. The rain was so torrential by this point that there was no walking ring appearance and the horses made their way straight to the track from the paddock.

Justin Stein and Cobotown Ron make their way to the track

Poor photographs? Blame it on the rain...

Tierra Del Tigre was ready to roar but the result wasn't grrreat...

Patrick Husbands will hope his grand adventure on Sunday to Fort Erie with Hotep will be more rewarding

Would Rob Landry and Rahy's Attorney lay down the law?

Southdale and Emma-Jayne Wilson prepare for their first turf start

Chantal Sutherland and Windward Islands are brewing up a bit of a surprise

The rain continued to pour down during the post parade

Windward Islands storms to the lead...

and easily blows past the wire first

Rahy's Attorney didn't have his usual front-running action on this day

One minute we were back here...Chantal seems to be saying...

And then ZOOM...we were in front!

Windward Islands seems pretty happy with the result...

As do the Sam-Son Farms crew!

Yet another bath in the pouring rain...

Windward Islands wins the Nijinsky Stakes

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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Harlem Rocker detective work!