1988 was quite a year for Canadian horse racing. There was a huge depth of talent and, in hindsight, maybe I took for granted the level of racing on display at Woodbine. Then again, I was only fourteen and a bit spoiled growing up on recent champions like La Lorgnette (see my program!), Dauphin Fabuleux, Afleet and Play The King to name a few.
About a year ago, a reader reached out to me with a collection of video tapes of races from years gone by and I've started the process of digitizing them for my own enjoyment. Hopefully there won't be too much trouble from the law if I attempt to share a few of the videos with readers here. At any rate, last night I sat down and watched the coverage of the 1988 Queen's Plate which was won by Regal Intention at the expense of TWO (!!) Ontario-bred Kentucky Derby starters, Regal Classic and Granacus.
Heady times indeed as Granacus took the following route to the Queen's Plate: no dice in the G1 Flamingo at Hialeah; tries an allowance at Calder as a warmup but couldn't win the Tropical Park Derby; no problem, bounces back to win the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland; Eleventh in the Kentucky Derby after a troubled trip; Fifth in the Belmont Stakes and second in the Queen's Plate trial.
Regal Classic, who thrilled Canadians with a second place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile to close his two-year-old campaign, started at Keeneland in an allowance and then onto the Plate trail finishing third in the Blue Grass; a closing fifth along the rail in the Kentucky Derby; sixth in the Preakness; and back home to win the Marine Stakes and the Plate Trial.
How could anyone get near either of these big-track bullies in the Queen's Plate? Well, the pre-game show continually touted a speed-favouring track and speed was something Regal Intention wasn't lacking. The son of Vice Regent was cleaning up at home in the absence of the heavy hitters, winning the Achievement, Heresy, Queenston and Victoria Park and would provide jockey Jack Lauzon (currently the agent of Eclipse Award winning apprentice Omar Moreno) his first Queen's Plate. This video is chock full of nostalgia and it's a treat to see interviews with jocks Julie Krone and Sandy Hawley as well as with prominent owners such as Ernie Samuel and Steve Stavros.
The good old days of Woodbine
* * *
There are a pair of interesting Woodbine-based runners in stakes events this weekend. Trainer Darwin Banach sends out Mistress Gallop for owner David Sorokolit in the Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay on Saturday. The Victory Gallop miss broke her maiden at Woodbine last June in a 33-1 shocker and returned to a third place effort in the Ontario Debutante behind a pair of shippers, Wonderlandbynight and Mimi's Missy. In her first start in 2011, the Kentucky-bred closed to finish on a slow pace in a one-mile Tampa Bay turf event won in 1:40.81 by Whodoesthat. That effort should set up Mistress Gallop for a good effort in the mile and a sixteenth grass stakes at odds of 20-1. William Mott's Fancy Point is the lukewarm 7/2 favourite. To see the entries, click here.
Also on Saturday, Josie Carroll sends out Avie's Tale in the Pelleteri Stakes at Fair Grounds. The dark bay Tale of the Cat mare was second to Sam-Son Farms stalwart Forest Uproar in her last start, the Marie G. Krantz Memorial. Avie's Tale is the 3-1 morning line favourite and has enjoyed a productive Fair Grounds meet having already captured the Blushing K.D Handicap on New Year's Day. To see the entries, click here.
Avie's Tale and Jono Jones on a stormy Woodbine afternoon
* * *
Some great news for fans of New York Racing as NYRA Network Introduces Dark Day Show Featuring Imbriale, Migliore, Munick, Serling . This new show will focus on simulcast racing from across the country.
Hosts for the show will include NYRA TV Director and Racecaller John Imbriale, along with NYRA TV Analysts Richard Migliore, Ernie Munick and Andy Serling, among others. Mitch Levites will serve as the program’s director. “Raceday” will air from noon – 6 p.m. on NYRA’s non-live racing days (usually Mondays and Tuesdays), and will spotlight simulcast racing from around the country.
The first show will be hosted by Munick and Serling. Munick’s NYRA Network debut will mark his first public handicapping appearance in more than two decades. From 1986 to 1989, he was one of the leading handicappers in the country, selecting winners at a high clip for the New York Daily News, where he also wrote a daily racing column and filed graded entries, including his own morning line.
For the last 20 years, Munick has worked as a writing teacher, editor, dog-walker and musician, but he never lost touch with the game, performing blues/rock and talking horses at racetracks along the East coast. For the last two years, he has been the official vlogger for the Breeders' Cup World Championships. In 2010, he was an official blogger on BelmontStakes.com.
If you haven't joined Munick's Facebook page, Thoroughbred Racing in New York then you're missing out on one of the best racing communities on the world wide web. The Member of the Week feature is reason alone to sign up. You can also check out Munick's stellar video work on his Youtube Channel.
Classic Munick: Goldi, Zenyatta and Blame - Oh My!
* * *
Queen'splatekitten and Hoterhsal earn honourable mentions in Jeremy Plonk's Countdown to the Crown for ESPN:
QUEEN'SPLATEKITTEN (recently transferred to Todd Pletcher) marched perhaps toward the Canadian Triple Crown Saturday when rallying from the back of the pack to win a 1-mile turf allowance at Gulfstream Park in Race 6. The pace totally melted down as closers dominated with a furious finish. The son of Kitten's Joy has now won 2 straight, having broken his maiden in December over Woodbine's Polytrack, surface of the Queen's Plate. Look for this guy to appear on the Poly next, perhaps at Turfway or Keeneland.
Also on Sunday at Gulfstream, heavily favored HOTHERSAL (Seth Benzel) scored a 1-1/16 miles turf maiden victory in a time about 10 lengths slower than the same-day Hallandale Beach Stakes for sophomores. The son of Smart Strike will run all day based on his damside pedigree and would be a decent Polytrack candidate. It was nice to see the vast improvement by second-timer KENTUCKY REIGN (Bill Mott) as the son of Distorted Humor and Kentucky Oaks heroine Summerly ran a solid second and further flattered the aforementioned Jan. 15 win by HERON LAKE.
* * *
Another great piece from ESPN writer Claire Novak, who sat down to chat with Inez Karlsson who is taking time off to become a mom. Karlsson is not a stranger to Woodbine as the story, Karlsson writes life's next chapter notes:
A native of Sweden and in 2005 that country's second-ranked light flyweight female boxer, Karlsson first landed in Toronto in 2005. She was seeking a change, and the world of horse racing provided excitement, a challenge. She worked with Standardbred harness horses, glimpsed jockeys at Woodbine Race Course, and immediately knew what she wanted to do for a living.
Then she bounced around between Thoroughbred tracks in New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Kentucky before winding up in Chicago, just looking for someone to give her a chance. "It was difficult when I first came around because I heard all these things like, 'You should just go home and get married,' or 'Chicago is not a girls' place,' or 'You'll never make it as a rider,'" she says. "It was like that a lot. Sometimes I would think, What am I doing? I'm just working and working and working and trying and I only get a slap in the face. But I always believed in myself and knew I could make it if I got the right opportunities. I was going to try until I did."
* * *
There are plenty of Woodbine trainers keeping busy in the offseason so why not click into my Entries/Results page?
Keep track of the latest horse racing news by clicking into TripleDeadHeat's Woodbine News page or join in on the conversation by following TripleDeadHeat on Twitter.
Still need more? Check out my archived posts including Feature Stories and Photo Essays.