By 6PM on Sunday night, and after having watched countless graded races across North America, I was more tuckered out than a beaten (yes, that's word play) Rachel Alexandra. Over the course of some 48 hours, racing fans were treated to a breathtaking photo finish in the Travers, a masterfully timed ride by Mike Smith aboard Richard's Kid in the Pacific Classic and the shock of watching Rachel Alexandra put away Life At Ten in the Personal Ensign only to discover that our heroic mare hits the wall at nine furlongs.
Meanwhile, Woodbine patrons were treated to a speed-favouring turf course that allowed a 9-1 Barracks Road to wire the Ontario Colleen on Saturday and more of the same on Sunday when Fatal Bullet set the pace, was engaged by Jungle Wave, only to give way at the wire to Smokey Fire
It's not quite the two-minute sports reel, but below are videos from as many of the weekend's races as I could find, with just a few bullet words for comment.
Smokey Fire crowned in Play The King
* If Jungle Wave lets Smokey Fire jump first does the former win this race?
* Add closers Southdale and Field Commission to your watch list. They didn't stand a chance on this speed-favouring course.
* Smokey Fire becomes the first Stakes winner of the day for stallion Smoke Glacken (see below.)
Barracks Road wires the Ontario Colleen
* Watch the #6 horse, No Explaining, as they are pushed w i i i i d e turning into the stretch. Not saying that they were going to catch Barracks Road but when the temporary rails get moved back in, this horse will win at better odds.
El Brujo earns BC Sprint berth with win in Pat O'Brien
* A front-running El Brujo becomes the first Ontario-bred to qualify for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) on November 6 at Churchill Downs.
Afleet Express noses out a gutsy win in the Travers
* Afleet Express was on the rail and headed and still had enough heart to fight back for one last lunge to the wire and won a head bob.
Persistently stunds Rachel Alexandra in the Personal Ensign
* Everyone I know was wagering against Rachel Alexandra in this event. From a handicapping perspective, there was no reason to believe she could get ten furlongs. However, nobody I know had money on Persistently.
* Peristently's victory marked the second Stakes win in less than an hour for stallion Smoke Glacken. Congratulations to Gainesway Farm!
* I believe that Sid can take his blog from last year, Was Rachel Alexandra whipped too much in the Woodward?, scratch out Woodward and type in Personal Ensign.
Richard's Kid repeats the Pacific Classic
* Mike Smith takes a lot of flak on the interweb for his wide rides but you have to give credit to the jock for his sense of timing in nailing this race.
* Mike Smith has ridden Richard's Kid just twice - both times resulting in a win in the Pacific Classic. Quipped Smith after the win, "I just want to ride him once a year."
Discreetly Mine dominant in King's Bishop
* Sometimes you realize that some trainers are handicappers at heart and check out this little nugget from an excellent David Grening column regarding Discreetly Mine's win over a speed-favouring Saratoga track:
Pletcher didn't want Discreetly Mine to have to go gate to wire, but with the track so favoring speed - all races to that point had been run in front-running fashion - he felt he had no choice.
"It's nice when you can adjust and do it either way, you hate to force one to go 21-and-four, 44 when you're going seven-eighths," Pletcher said. "It looked a little too risky not to try it that way."
Dynaslew's 'em in the Ballston Spa - Miss Keller up for show
* Roger Attfield had a perfect ITM% through four starts going into the Ballston Spa and while Miss Keller got up in time for show, Mekong Melody let the trainer down finishing last. You can't win 'em all, though it sure seems that way sometimes when Attfield is in a stakes race.
Rightly So just so in the Ballerina
* The filly ran .58 of a second faster than Discreetly Mine to win the Ballerina and is likely headed to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint next.
Del Mar Mile Enriched with positive performance
* Enriched earned an automatic berth to the Breeders' Cup Mile through the "Win and You're In" program, but the 5-year-old gelding was not nominated to the program as a young horse. Chances are, we won't be enriched with his presence at Churchill this November.
The next couple races lack video but were equally interesting:
Champ Pegasus wins the Del Mar Cap. For more, click on the link above for a report by the North County Times:
The only better outcome for trainer Richard Mandella than winning Sunday's Grade II Del Mar Handicap with Champ Pegasus ($5) would have been finishing first and second.
However, the photo finish camera showed Buenos Dias, trained by fellow Hall of Famer Ron McAnally, edged the Mandella-trained Worth Repeating for second place.
"It still looks like he got second," said Mandella in the winner's circle while watching a replay of the race. "Friendship only goes so far. I'm also happy for Ron."
But Mandella was beaming about his 4-year-old colt, who was making just his seventh career start and winning his first graded stakes race.
"I'm pretty happy about the way he's come around," said Mandella, who didn't start Champ Pegasus until last December due to a variety of minor ailments.
"You have to expect them to learn and get better at this."
Milwaukee Appeal third in Molly Pitcher won by a retiring Just Jenda. Click the link above for more from the BloodHorse.Com:
Terry Thompson drove Just Jenda to victory for trainer Cindy Jones, who owns the bay filly with her husband Larry. Just Jenda, who pulled a shoulder muscle when she finished third behind Malibu Prayer in the Lighthouse Stakes at Monmouth June 26, made her final start.
“What a way to go out,” Cindy Jones said. “She was on top of her game and the race just worked out perfectly. She didn’t have to chase the speed today, but could sit back and relax. This was a real tough field and we couldn’t be more proud of her.”
The final time for the Molly Pitcher was 1:43.52 on a fast track in the 1 1/16-mile test for fillies and mares. Malibu Prayer, the Ruffian Invitational Handicap (gr. I) winner ridden by Garrett Gomez, finished second, with the closing Milwaukee Appeal third with Stewart Elliott aboard.
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Fort Erie Racetrack will be hosting a legends day on Tuesday, August 31st where fans will have the opportunity to meet several legends of Canadian horse racing!
Racing fans of all ages will have the opportunity for an autograph session and a meet and greet with some of Canada’s finest horsemen. Beginning at 3:30 pm on Tuesday, August 31st, sixteen racing legends including the great Sandy Hawley will be in attendance at Fort Erie Race Track for a special promotion known as “Legends Day.”
Retired jockeys Sandy Hawley, Larry Attard, Robin Platts, Hugo Dittfach, Jack Lauzon, Sam McComb and Paul Souter will be on hand to autograph a caricature poster drawn by injured rider Chad Beckon. A larger than life autographed photo of a young Sandy Hawley which originally hung in the Garrison Inn will be raffled off with tickets selling for $1 each. Proceeds from both the posters and the raffle will go to aid in Chad’s recovery.
Hall of Fame trainers Roger Attfield, Lou Cavalaris Jr. and Gil Rowntree will also return to the site of some of their greatest wins. Other legends include; Gus Schickedanz, John Cardella, Glenn Magnusson, John Calhoun, Mort Hardy and Fort Erie’s own Frank Passero Jr.
The legends will sign a special commemorative racing program which includes bios and photos. Programs will be on sale for only $2.00 as a part of the tracks Twilight Toonie Tuesday promotion.
This historic session will begin at 3:30pm and continue until 5pm. Fans are encouraged to bring racing memorabilia for the legends to sign.
This is the final twilight program for the 2010 racing season. Live racing begins at 4pm.
Meet Sandy Hawley at Fort Erie!
This is a great opportunity to enjoy a day at the track and also help support the talented Chad Beckon. I'm fortunate to have one of Chad's unique caricatures hanging in my room. Don't miss out on a chance to get one for yourself!
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Nicole Umiker's Empire Stable invites the local racing community to attend their Open House TODAY Monday August 30th from 12:30PM to 4:30PM. Empire Stable offers breaking/training/layups in a "private, secluded facility just 25 minutes north of Woodbine Racetrack."
Empire Stable is located at 2019 Hwy. 50, 5KM North of Hwy 9, (East Side). RSVP 416-889-5739
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As always, keep track of the latest goings on in the world of horse racing by clicking into TripleDeadHeat's Woodbine News page. I'll have photos from the Woodbine weekend posted later this week.