Thursday, December 16, 2010

Reporting on Woodbine's Sunbirds's a very quiet time in my racing world at the moment. My Woodbine Entries tab is decidedly barren though it's still tracking the flight of our "Sunbird" trainers at tracks such as Calder, Charles Town and Parx Racing at Philadelphia Park to name a few.

Scott Fairlie is keeping busy at Parx with two horses running on Friday - - Laurel Valley and Kirland Lake. Woodbine-based Emma-Jayne Wilson gets the call on Kirkland Lake. Fairlie sends out two more on Sunday, Old Bud and Deacons Farm, and Wilson will steer both entrants.

Emma-Jayne Wilson with trainer David Bell

Roger Attfield is sending out a pair of tough turfers, Simmard and Musketier, in the W. L. Mcknight Handicap on Saturday at Calder.

Simmard traded in his Woodbine stall for a Florida summer home

$150,000 W.L. McKnight Handicap (1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Telling (KY), E Coa, 122, S Hobby
2. Presious Passion (FL), E Trujillo, 121, M Hartmann
3. Memorial Maniac (KY), V Lebron, 116, L W Demeritte
4. Prince Will I Am (KY), J Castellano, 117, M Nihei
5. Bold Hawk (KY), P Lopez, 116, J J Toner
6. Rescue Squad (KY), J L Castanon, 116, C R McGaughey III
7. Black Scorpion (FL), J Santiago, 113, J P Rizo
8. Simmard (KY), R Maragh, 115, R L Attfield
9. Musketier (GER), A O Solis, 120, R L Attfield
10. Free Fighter (IL), C H Marquez Jr., 116, C M Block

BloodHorse.Com reports, Three Grade I Winners Line Up for McKnight:

Prince Will I Am is the lone 3-year-old in a field of 10 turf horses that will go 1 1/2 miles, but still could go off as the favorite. The winner of the Oct. 9 Jamaica Handicap (gr. IT) will face a pair of other grade I winners—Presious Passion and Telling—as well as two capable competitors trained by Roger Attfield. Presious Passion won this race back in 2007 and 2008.

The 11th race on Calder’s 12-race program, the McKnight has a 4:45 p.m. EST post time.

Prince Will I Am ran well in the Nov. 5 BC Marathon at Churchill Downs, losing by less than two lengths to Eldaafer. But he was later disqualified after replays showed that he bore out near the five-sixteenths under the direction of Javier Castellano, which nearly caused a three-horse spill that included A. U. Miner with Calvin Borel aboard. After the race Borel attacked Castellano near the winner’s circle in a highly publicized incident. Castellano was later suspended six days. He has served that suspension and will be back aboard Prince Will I Am in the McKnight.

Mark Frostad has set up shop at Fair Grounds and will saddle up promising two year-old Mr. Uncle Ned (KY) in an MSW on Saturday. Rosie Napravnik gets the call on the son of speedy Mr. Greeley. Frostad also sends out Sam-Son Farms charge Forest Uproar that same day in a winnable optional claimer on the turf.

Mark Frostad on the Woodbine backstretch

Malcolm Pierce is also stabled at the Fair Grounds and hopes to win for fun with Fun Filled on Friday. The veteran conditioner has a trio entered on Saturday including Ontario-bred Thespian's Fate - - and a pair of horses in the seventh race - Pin Oak's Now and Forever and Eugene Melnyk's Patience Drive who will have to be patient sitting on the also eligible list.

Thespian's Fate was a winner at Woodbine in October

Pierce v Frostad in the seventh race at Fair Grounds on Saturday
One And One Sixteenth Miles. (Turf) (Rail at 10 Feet)
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Epiphanyfortiffany (KY) 4/F L $40,000 J M Campbell 120 C Candies 20/1
2 Maestro Miss (KY) 3/F L $0 C J Lanerie 117 S Margolis 12/1
3 Muffin (LA) 4/F L $40,000 B J Hernandez, Jr. 117 S Breaux 15/1
4 High Quality (KY) 3/F L* $0 R Albarado 117 P J McGee 8/1
5 In the Slips (KY) 3/F L* $40,000 T Agilar 117 A M Stall, Jr. 4/1
6 Dancin Perfect (KY) 4/F L $40,000 S J Sellers 120 M Burgess 5/1
7 Caminadora (KY) 3/F L $0 K D Clark 117 B S Flint 12/1
8 Dark Starlet (KY) 4/F L* $0 A R Napravnik 120 W B Calhoun 15/1
9 Now and Forever (KY) 4/F L $0 M Mena 120 M Pierce 15/1
10 P. S. I Love You (KY) 4/F L $40,000 S Bridgmohan 120 N L Pessin 12/1
11 Forest Uproar (ON) 4/F L* $0 J Graham 122 M R Frostad 3/1
12 Going to the Sun (KY) 4/F L $0 R E Eramia 120 M Lovell 8/1
Also Eligibles:
13 Gold Collection (KY) (MTO) 3/F L* $0 J Theriot 117 W I Mott 9/2
14 Patience Drive (KY) (MTO) 4/F L $0 M Mena 120 M Pierce 15/1

Steven Chircop, who made a splash at Woodbine with the astute claim of Kara's Orientation, sends out another claim, Highland Matt, at Charles Town also on Saturday.

Steven Chircop with the crafty Kara's Orientation

Carolyn Costigan, conditioner of Woodbine Oaks winner Roan Inish, is settling in at Palm Meadows and you can keep track of the social-media savvy skipper via her website, Arravale Racing and on Twitter.

Conditioner Carolyn Costigan is getting more use of her sun hat in Florida than she would at Woodbine!

Several Ontario-breds have been on the board this December away from Woodbine.

Speightful Affair, a 3yo bay filly bred by Josham Farms Limited and trained by Steven Asmussen, won the eighth race at Aqueduct on December 12th with Cornelio Velasquez in the irons.

Sailin Cailin, a 3yo Street Cry filly bred by Darley & Ferme du Bois Vert, finished second in the first race at Golden Gate on December 12 under jockey Russel Baze.

Middle River, a 3yo Shamardal gelding, won the sixth race at Mountaineer on December 11th. The prolific Deshawn Parker led the gelding bred by Anderson Farms (Ontario) Inc. & Rod Ferguson to victory in a time of 1:12.47. For more details (and video) of Middle River's score, click into this Blood-Horse results page.

Middle River in his Woodbine days with loving groom Aline

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A great story out of Turfway Park where young jockey Cory Orm averted disaster when a rein broke and still managed to win the race! Bill Finley reports on, The ride of the year:

When his right rein broke in the fourth race last Saturday at Turfway Park, apprentice jockey Cory Orm's only thought was how was he going to get out of this mess unscathed? The reins are what a jockey uses to control a horse and without them they are all but helpless when it comes to steering the animal around the track. But Orm worked his way out of danger and into the winner's circle, piecing together a riding performance that his mentor Chris McCarron called an "amazing feat of courage, determination and athleticism."

The always eloquent Steve Koch, Woodbine's Vice President of Thoroughbred Racing, spoke at University of Arizona’s 37th annual Symposium on Racing and Gaming:

He assured the audience that NTRA Alliance accreditation is extensive and rigorous yet reasonable in its expectations for first-time applicants. He also said it was a completely beneficial experience—not just because it’s the right thing to do or because it bolstered Woodbine’s already outstanding reputation for quality—but because Woodbine benefited from learning and implementing the best practices of other accredited racetracks that had previously been inspected. Speaking from the audience, Mike Campbell, President of the Illinois THA and someone knowledgeable of the benefits of accreditation, urged horsemen to demand that all tracks where they race be accredited.

William Grimes filed the following obituary with the New York Times for the conditioner of the infamous Sea Hero - MacKenzie Miller, Trained Champion Horses, Dies at 89:

The cause was complications of a stroke, his daughter, Martha Queen, said. He lived in Versailles, Ky., where he was born.

Sea Hero showed brilliance as a 2-year-old in the fall of 1992 but then, for no apparent reason, turned in a series of lackluster races leading up to the Derby season. Mr. Miller, known as a patient handler of difficult horses, decided that the horse’s future lay in turf racing.

In the end, he bowed to the wishes of the horse’s owner and breeder, the philanthropist Paul Mellon, who, at 85, was desperate to capture one of the few prizes in racing that had eluded him, a victory in the Kentucky Derby.

After running fourth in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Sea Hero was sent off in the Derby at 13-1 odds. His jockey, Jerry Bailey, threaded him through a packed field of 19 horses and, in a bold move after turning for home, darted to the rail. Sea Hero stormed home to defeat the favorite, Prairie Bayou, by more than two lengths.

“It was too good to be true,” Mr. Bailey said after the race. “I found myself alone between bunches of horses. Then when I had to get through, they parted like the Red Sea.”

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The BloodHorse reports, Quest to Dunroven in Canada:

Quest, a grade II winner and a track-record setter, has arrived for stallion duty at the Lawson family’s Dunroven Farm in Manitoba, Canada. He formerly stood at Arthur B. Hancock Jr.’s Stone Farm near Paris, Ky. Hancock has retained an interest in Quest, whose 2011 fee is $1,000 (Canadian funds).

Quest (Seeking the Gold—Starlore, by Spectacular Bid) won the Clark Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs, set a track-record in the Lure Stakes at Gulfstream Park, and ran second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) at Belmont Park. He won or placed in 14 of 23 races and earned $768,012.

Eleven-year-old Quest is the sire of 10 winners, including Rattlin Gypsy, who has run first or second in seven of 13 races.

Chris Blake of Ascot Stud in Ontario, Canada, brokered the deal to stand Quest at Dunroven.

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