Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bruised, Not Broken

It's been a tough week at the TripleDeadHeat household that nearly saw this writer put down. After working diligently for two weeks to put out the latest issue of Down The Stretch,which includes three efforts from yours truly, I was looking forward to my Thursday night soccer match.

My team made easy work of the early going but it was one of those games where the ball just wouldn't go in the net. We even had a goal called back and a dead-cert penalty denied. My own best effort, a curling strike to the top right corner, was tipped over the bar perfectly by the opposition 'keeper.

As these games tend to go, the opposition scored against the run of play. While we chased the game they scored a second. I could have lived with the loss but with five minutes to play I leaped for a header and their defender crashed into me in mid-jump. I landed awkwardly and heard an awful "pop"!

It was injury added to insult of defeat and my ankle immediately began to swell up. Sitting in the parking lot following the match a large egg formed above my ankle causing a teammate to remark, "His ankle has a knee!"

I made my way home and had a late dinner before finally deciding that ice wasn't going to be enough to heal this wound. An hour later in the hospital emergency, I was informed that there was no break but I'll be on crutches for a few days at least. I was thankful for the news as I leave for N. Ireland in two week's time and I can't say I fancy being wheeled around the cliffs of the Giant's Causeway.

At any rate, I'm back and this long-winded whinge is my excuse for the lack of posts this past week. Busy, bothered, but not broken and I'm back on my feet - sort of.

Purple Power

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Woodbine is preparing for an invasion as horses arrive from overseas and across the continent for next weekend's Breeders' Cup Win & You're In events.

Famous Name, trained by Dermot Weld, finished last of six in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes at 1 1/4 miles, but he was beaten just 1 1/2 lengths for second money and will try the G1 Woodbine Mile. A sharp group of American shippers are likely to include Court Vision, Victor’s Cry, Riviera Cocktail, Straight Story, and Zifzaf. Also under consideration are The Usual Q T and Violon Sacre. Woodbine's own will include Grand Adventure, Smokey Fire, Woodbourne, and Auteur.

Famous Name chases Cape Blanco, Rip Van Winkle and others in the Irish Champion Stakes

Redwood, trained by Barry Hills, finished second last time out in the Group 2 Grand Prix de Deauville over 1 9/16 miles on soft turf will try the G1 Northern Dancer. To win, he'll have to defeat returning champion Marsh Side and a pair of tough locals Spice Route, trained by Roger Attfield, and Windward Islands, trained by Mark Frostad.

Redwood finishes second in the Group 2 Grand Prix de Deauville

Latin Love, trained by David Wachman, is coming off a fourth-place finish in a listed stakes over one mile on turf at The Curragh. The turfer will try the G2 Canadian which might include the Attfield trio of Miss Keller, Ave and Mekong Melody.

A three-horse win photo in the 2009 Canadian Stakes won by Princess Haya

Looking a little further down the road, Setanta.Com reported that Betrah could be headed to Woodbine for the E.P. Taylor Stakes:

The three-year-old was beaten into fifth in Saturday's Matron Stakes at Leopardstown, her first run since her Classic, though connections were not too bothered as they felt the race was more important in terms of the filly getting a run.

The EP Taylor Stakes at Woodbine on October 16 has now emerged as a more serious target for owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, and his racing manager Angus Gold says an entry may well be made, though she might also have a gallop closer to home first.

“I don't think she was that disappointing and we knew she was going to need the run,” Gold was quoted as saying by

“It was her first run in a long time and she was the one who went to have a go at the leader earliest and I think that tired her out.

“She'll be a bit straighter now and we might go a bit further as well, so hopefully we might squeak another Group One somewhere.

“I need to speak to Sheikh Hamdan but I know he would like to aim for the EP Taylor Stakes.

“We'll just have to see whether he wants to see her run over here first.”

Betrah finishes fifth in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown won by Lillie Langtry

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The talented Valerie Grash penned a smart post on her Fillies First blog regarding Natalma, the namesake of a G3 event here at Woodbine:

So, who exactly was this Natalma for whom this race is named?

A $35,000 Saratoga yearling purchase, if nothing else, she was the blueblood product of decades of Whitney family breeding, although not bred by them directly. Her third dam Mother Goose (yes, THAT Mother Goose) won the Belmont Futurity against males as a 2-year-old. Her dam Almahmoud was a stakeswinner who, in addition to Natalma, produced a stakes-winning filly named Cosmah—whose son Halo sired two Kentucky Derby winners, Sunny’s Halo and Sunday Silence, and whose daughter Queen Sucree produced yet another Kentucky Derby winner, Cannonade.

As a 2-year-old in 1959, Natalma broke her maiden at first asking in Race 4 at Belmont Park on May 28—paying a whopping $30. On June 5, she entered in an allowance race at Belmont, but scratched after dumping her jockey and running off before the start. Next her connections entered her in the filly division of the National Stallion Stakes at Belmont on June 15, but scratched her the morning of the race due to a cough.

Moving on to Saratoga, on August 6 in Race 7(an allowance race), Natalma finished third behind the fillies Warlike and Fair and Windy. When she won the second race at Saratoga on August 15, the payout was a reasonable $6.40. Still, going into the Spinaway Stakes on August 24, Natalma was a 9-1 longshot while the Wheatley Stable entry of Irish Jay and Warlike was the odds-on choice, likely since the undefeated Irish Jay had already won the Fashion and Schuylerville stakes.

The thorough post includes reference to Northern Dancer, E. P. Taylor and the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. As well, Grash gives a nod to past winners of the Natalma including Jammed Lovely, La Lorgnette and Arravale. Highly recommended reading.

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A pair of tough losses for the Canadian racing community in the past week as jockey Alan Cuthbertson lost a battle with cancer at the age of 63. Allan Besson wrote the following for the Winnipeg Press:

Alan Cuthbertson, three-time leading jockey at Assiniboia Downs, died Monday afternoon in the Cottage Hospice in Vancouver following a lengthy battle with cancer. His son Bradley was at his side.
The 63-year-old won the titles in 2006, '07 and '08, with 81, 106 and 107 wins respectively. In his last year at the Downs Cuthbertson finished third with 45 wins. He broke his maiden in 1964 at Woodbine. Cuthbertson was estimated to have won close to 2,500 races. Statistics date back only to 1974.
"He was probably the most talented rider I have ever seen," said Assiniboia Downs director of operations Darren Dunn, who has also called more than 15,000 races at the Winnipeg race track. "I couldn't have imagined someone winning three rider titles here while in his 60s."
Last summer, while exercising a young horse, Cuthbertson was thrown, and then stepped on. A few days later he still wasn't feeling right, so he went to see his doctor, who sent him right away to Acute Medicine at Vancouver General Hospital, where he was diagnosed with cancer.
Always a realist, Cuthbertson told Vancouver Province writer and good friend Tom Wolski during a visit, "I have had a lot of comebacks, but if I can beat this one, which I know is serious, then I know I made the granddaddy of all comebacks."
Unfortunately it wasn't to be.

Racing fans will also mourn the loss of Sovereign Award winner Charlie Barley at the age of 24. Blood-Horse.Com reported:

Charlie Barley, Canada’s champion turf horse of 1989, died Sept. 9 due to the infirmities of age at trainer-owner Gail Woods’ farm in Ontario. The son of Affirmed--Au Printemps, by Dancing Champ, was 24.

"He died of old age," John Haney, who owned the horse along with Scott Abbott, said in a statement. "He was the highlight of Scott’s and my racing career. He was a super horse. It was a great experience. We were very lucky to be associated with such a great talent."

In his Sovereign Award campaign, Charlie Barley won four races, along with four seconds and two thirds, from 11 starts. He was also the runner-up to With Approval for Canadian champion 3-year-old male in 1989.

A $50,000 yearling purchase, Charlie Barley retired from racing in 1990, completing a career in which he won 10 of 24 starts, including eight stakes, with 10 placings, and $922,943 in earnings.

Upon his retirement, Charlie Barley stood at stud in Canada and Illinois. From 12 crops of racing age, he was represented by offspring that earned more than $5.6 million. Among his six stakes winners was Canadian grade III winner Barlee Mist.

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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 or join in on the conversation by following TripleDeadHeat on Twitter.


Teresa said...

A few days of stall rest followed by easy hand walking, and you'll be ready to get back to the track in no time.

Have a wonderful trip--

Keith McCalmont said...

hahah!! thanks Teresa! Hopefully I haven't lost my tactical speed!