I recently received a note from Michael Blowen, proprietor of Old Friends, with an update on the health of 1992 Horse of the Year Benburb and 1999 Canadian International winner Thornfield.
Michael Blowen and Ogygian
"Benburb, although dealing with some melanomas, is doing very well," wrote Blowen. "Boule d’Or runs the gelding paddock and Thornfield, as is his prevue, is above it all."
Boule d'Or is a horse I followed in 2009 who was retired to Blowen's care. You can read all about that adventure in this post, Boule d'Or - A New Beginning for an Old Friend .
22-year-old Benburb has aged gracefully
Photo provided courtesy of kentuckyhorsephotos.com
As noted in a previous post, I'm in the process of digitizing some old race footage and have added Benburb's 1992 Prince of Wales victory to my TripleDeadHeatRacing Youtube Channel. You can watch the video below which includes post-race interviews.
To learn more about Benburb and Thornfield, I recommend reading my 2009 post Remembering Woodbine Legends Benburb and Thornfield:
In the heartland of Kentucky resides an expansive parcel of racing heaven known as Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement at Dream Chase Farms. It is a living, breathing tribute to horse racing where fans can interact with retired thoroughbred champions and experience the history of the Sport of Kings. Spread across 92 acres of lush, green grass are the paddocks of millionaires such as Sunshine Forever and most recently, Sovereign Award winning Woodbine heroes Benburb and Thornfield.
Benburb shocks Alydeed in the 1992 Prince of Wales Stakes
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The upcoming long weekend is going to be a lot of fun for Canadian racing fans as a bevy of Ontario-bred and Woodbine-based horses go to post Saturday in strong cards at Fair Grounds and Gulfstream. The Fair Grounds card features a prominent Kentucky Derby prep in the G2 Risen Star Stakes and Woodbine's Chantal Sutherland gets the call on Liondrive for trainer Tim Ice. The Lion Tamer colt romped at Fair Grounds two starts ago going 1M70 in an off-the-turf AOC, but had a rough trip last out blowing the turns and finishing last. The colt appears to be in tough in this event but Sutherland has a knack for nursing the long shots into contention.
Risen Star S. (Grade II) 1 1/16M
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer
1 Rogue Romance (KY) 3/C L J R Leparoux 120 K G McPeek
2 Liondrive (LA) 3/C L C Sutherland 116 T A Ice
3 Decisive Moment (FL) 3/C L K D Clark 120 J D Arias
4 Pants On Fire (KY) 3/C L J Bravo 116 K J Breen
5 Mucho Macho Man (FL) 3/C L E Coa 116 K Ritvo
6 Machen (KY) 3/C L J Theriot 116 N J Howard
7 Santiva (KY) 3/C L M E Smith 122 E Kenneally
8 Action Ready (KY) 3/C L A R Napravnik 116 W B Calhoun
9 Justin Phillip (KY) 3/C L S Bridgmohan 116 S M Asmussen
10 Sorgho (KY) 3/C L E Martin, Jr. 116 W D Bennett
The undercard includes the Colonel Power S., Pan Zareta S., Mineshaft H., Fair Grounds H., and the Rachel Alexandra S. The latter event includes the Josie Carroll trained Inglorious who is training up a storm at the Louisiana track. The DRF reports, Carroll confident in Inglorious for Rachel Alexandra start:
“I don’t think surface will be an issue for her,” Carroll said.
A quick look at Inglorious’s work pattern reveals the source of Carroll’s optimism: Namely, Inglorious has been working up a storm. She shows six published Fair Grounds works dating to Jan. 4, and four of them have been bullet drills. Inglorious has worked six furlongs three times, Carroll said, and has looked as impressive in her breezes as those breezes look on paper.
Chantal Sutherland, aboard for the two Woodbine wins, sees fit to fly in and take the mount. And maybe Inglorious will be the filly to challenge Kathmanblu, who figures to be solidly favorite to win the prep for the Fair Grounds Oaks.
Chantal Sutherland rides at Fair Grounds on Saturday
In addition, there are several On-Breds entered on Saturday at Fair Grounds including:
Race 3 - Red Ace: A three-year-old son of Northern Afleet trained by S. Margolis will sprint six furlongs.
Race 6 - A pair of turfers including Sam-Son Farms six-year-old gelding Harvest Home and the Donver Stables charge Stallone. The latter colt is trained by Carroll who also has the Knob Hill horse Archon in the list of also eligibles for this allowance turf route.
Race 11 - Malcolm Pierce sends out Sam-Son's Stunning Split, a three-year-old son of Awesome Again in a MSW turf route.
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Saturday's Gulfstream card is headlined by the G2 Mac Diarmida Stakes. The mile and three eighths turf event features a thirteen horse field with plenty of Canadiana to tease local readers.
Pool Play is one of many Woodbine winners in the field
Let's take a quick walk through the field.
STAKES Mac Diarmida S. (Grade II)
Purse $150,000. For Four Year Olds And Upward. One And Three Eighth Miles. (Turf)
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Pool Play (ON) 6/H L P Husbands 119 M E Casse 12/1
An On-bred featuring the popular Woodbine Jockey/Trainer angle of Husbands/Casse.
2 Gabriel's Hill (KY) 7/H L A Garcia 117 S Benzel 15/1
Trained by Seth Benzel who also conditions Queen's Plate contender Hothersal. Gabriel's Hill finished eighth in the Dominion Day H. last July at Woodbine won by Hold Me Back. Pool Play finished second in that event.
3 Rahy's Attorney (ON) 7/G L E S Prado 117 I Black 8/1
Champion of the Woodbine Mile, Sovereign Award winning Rahy's Attorney is one of the most popular horses at Woodbine. Conditioned by Ian Black, the seven-year-old gelding keeps cruising along at a high level.
Rahy's Attorney working out in Florida
(Photo courtesy of Janet Black)
4 Free Fighter (IL) 6/G L C H Marquez, Jr. 121 C M Block 20/1
One of the few with no direct Woodbine/Canadian connection.
5 Ordination (IRE) 6/G L S O Madrid 117 K G McPeek 15/1
It's cheating, maybe a little bit, but there's plenty of Northern Dancer in the pedigree.
6 Musketier (GER) 9/H L A O Solis 121 R L Attfield 6/1
Back on track with the Roger Attfield trainee. This nine-year-old fella won the Singspiel at Woodbine two years ago.
Attfield and his pony during morning workouts at Woodbine
7 Prince Will I Am (KY) 4/R L J R Velazquez 123 M Nihei 4/1
Trained by Canadian Michelle Niehi, you can read all about the Canadiana in my Down The Stretch piece, Scientist and horse trainer a strange brew.
8 Stately Victor (KY) 4/C L P Lopez 119 M J Maker 12/1
A son of GhostZapper by popular Canadian sire Awesome Again, Stately Victor won the Ontario Derby at Woodbine in September.
9 Perfect Shower (ON) 5/H L J L Castanon 117 R L Attfield 15/1
The second Attfield trainee and also an Ontario-bred, Perfect Shower had a win, a second and two show finishes in nine starts in 2010, most of them at Woodbine.
10 Simmard (KY) 6/H L J Lezcano 117 R L Attfield 8/1
The third and final Attfield charge raced just five times in 2010 but did get a start in the Canadian International at Woodbine.
Simmard chillin' in his Woodbine stall last October
11 Mint Chip (KY) 4/G L M R Cruz 117 G R Arnold, II 20/1
Mint Chip made a fresh appearance in the Marine Stakes at Woodbine in May of 2010 finishing fourth behind runaway winner Exhi.
12 Al Khali (KY) 5/R L K J Desormeaux 123 W I Mott 7/2
Al Khali had possibly the toughest trip of any horse at Woodbine in 2010 - - at least in terms of stakes events. Employing an out of the clouds style in the Canadian International, Al Khali was boxed in, bobbled and battling for space before rallying to finish fourth beaten only a length.
The imposing Al Khali in the Woodbine walking ring
13 Citrus Kid (KY) 4/C L J Castellano 117 J P Terranova, II 10/1
An outsider with no direct connection (that I can think of off the top of my head) to completes the field.
If the Mac Diarmida isn't enough to keep Canadian racing fans tuned to Gulfstream on Saturday, there's plenty of familiar talent on the undercard as well:
Race 3 - Three year-old Ontario-bred filly Allthetime tries a mile on the turf for trainer Mark Casse.
Race 5 - Roger Attfield sends out Woodbine-based Perfect Loch in a 12 furlong turf allowance.
Race 8 - The busy Attfield saddles Straight Line (IRE) in a one mile turf MSW. This Refuse To Bend (IRE) colt has been training regularly at Payson for his North American debut.
Race 11 - The Ramsey's are at it again as Maple Leaf Kitten, a three-year-old On-bred colt by their popular stallion Kitten's Joy, makes his debut in a one mile turf MSW.
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