Saturday, April 2, 2011

Photo Essay: 2010 Sovereign Awards + Five Tips For Opening Day at Woodbine

Oh what a night! Friday's Sovereign Awards gala was an incredible evening of food, drink and conversation with some of the top figures in the Canadian horse racing industry. The gorgeous filly Biofuel, winner of four stakes at Woodbine as well as a tremendous second in the G1 Coaching Club American Oaks, was named our Horse of the Year.

The beautiful Brereton C. Jones homebred Biofuel

Photos from the night and a full listing of the 2010 Sovereign Award winners, including vote counts, can be found at the bottom of this post.

Roger Attfield and Eurico Rosa da Silva - - A Sovereign Award winning combo!

While I'd like to write a little bit more about the evening (and I will in a future post), IT'S OPENING DAY AT WOODBINE!! I can't write the story from last night as I'm off to the track to follow all of the days events. Members of the Woodbine jockey colony will be at Woodbine's main entrance at approximately 11:45 a.m., to welcome the opening day fans and hand out vouchers for mystery cash cards which will carry a minimum value of $2.

Come to Woodbine and meet the jockeys!

The Opening Day feature race is the $100,000 Debut Stakes. The Ian Black trained Don's Folly is the 5-2 morning line favourite with Emma-Jayne Wilson in the irons. Strong opposition will come from Paso Doble, a five-year-old gelding trained by Mark Casse for Centennial Farms.

All of the races, as is customary at the beginning of the meet, will be run at a distance of five furlongs. To see the entries for the ten-race opening day card, click here.

Picking winners in the early portion of the meet is a tricky proposition, which is why I'm very happy to have guest blogger Adam Hickman providing Five Tips For Five Furlongs. Hickman is employed at Woodbine Racetrack, performing a variety of media tasks - most exciting being the introduction of morning workouts to the web. You can find Adam's work on the Woodbine Entertainment website. Click on this link to follow Adam Hickman on Twitter.

Five Tips For Five Furlongs
by Adam Hickman

1) At five furlongs, it’s important not to over-rate horses coming off recent winter races. There are three reasons. First, everyone is looking for these types figuring they have the advantage and they are always over bet. Second, these types usually have been running further and may be too fit for races at this abbreviated distance. The fresh horses get the early jump and shuffle these types to the middle parts of the pack. The dash is over by the time the winter-raced horse gets into the race. Thirdly, Woodbine is on Polytrack. Except for Golden Gate and Turfway, all the other main track surfaces south of the border are conventional dirt strips.

Will Paso Doble dance to victory in the Debut Stakes?

2) Don’t worry if there’s only one training centre workout. A horse only needs one ‘official’ trial to enter. Generally a fast four or five-furlong work may be all you see on paper, but there’s probably more foundation than meets the eye. (Ed. Note - For more on that, see a previous post Spring Training Canadian Style at Pine Valley Training Centre.)

3) If a handicapper knows what he or she is looking for, it’s always handy to use good body language to separate contenders. When form is very uncertain at this time of the year, it’s even more critical to look for signs of readiness. At five furlongs, you want the horses that are on their toes, showing that they want to run. These types will be forwardly placed.

Get to the paddock to see the horses!

4) Remember in the three-year-old division that a lot can happen in four months. Physically and mentally, a great deal of development could have potentially occurred. The precocious types may not be as progressive as the horses that are bred to better three-year-olds. So, recognize the difference. A huge angle is a maiden three-year-old that made two non-descript starts last fall. These should be treated as clean slates first time off the shelf. Why? The first start was just for experience. The second race at two should have been the breakout event, as it is for many horses. If this second start led to a layoff, chances are something happened and the effort can’t be treated as indicative of true ability. So, back to Square One in start No. 3, perhaps at a box-car price.

Hickman, with video camera and beard, on track at Woodbine

5) From time to time, certain running styles perform better on Woodbine’s synthetic surface. Watch the early races and determine if such a trend is developing. Before Polytrack, the leader after a quarter-mile always held the upper-hand in these early season dashes. That’s not always the case now that we’re on synthetic. When the track is fair a pace duel will effect the race dynamic as it is supposed to – soften up the front runners and set up for a horse that can lay just off fast fractions and make a quick, athletic move.

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And now, the winners of the 2010 Sovereign Awards! The list below includes the vote count for the categories:

Champion Two Year Old Filly:
Delightful Mary 99
Wyomia 64
Roxy Gap 40

Champion Two Year Old Male:
Madman Diaries 146
Blue Laser 43
Rockin Heat 21

The piped-in music was excellent!

Champion Three Year Old Filly:
Biofuel 144
Free Fee Lady 50
Roan Inish 48

Champion Three Year Old Male:
Big Red Mike 97
No Hesitation 51
Hotep 46

Team Big Red Mike accept the award

Champion Older Female:
Impossible Time 122
Hooh Why 50
Simply Splendid 27

The lovely Emma-Jayne Wilson was smiling last night, but she'll have her game face on today!

Champion Older Male:
Sand Cove 99
Stunning Stag 78
Southdale 60

Champion Turf Female:
Miss Keller (Ire) 134
Mekong Melody (Ire) 44
Perfect Shirl 32

Are you following jockey Krista Carignan on Twitter?

Champion Turf Male:
Grand Adventure 105
Rahy’s Attorney 63
Windward Islands 34

Champion Female Sprinter:
Indian Apple Is 72
Sugar Again 42
Hohh Why 39

Champion Male Sprinter:
Hollywood Hit 128
Essence Hit Man 54
Smokey Fire 32

Horse of the Year:
Biofuel 95
Miss Keller (Ire) 58
Grand Adventure 26

Team Biofuel earned the accolades for Horse of the Year

Outstanding Broodmare:
Destroy 94
Eye of the Sphynx 60
Enchanted Spell 34

Omar Moreno with a glowing Beth Wyard

Outstanding Breeder:
Adena Springs 99
Sam-Son Farm 54
Eugene Melnyk 51

Outstanding Owner:
Sam-Son Farms 92
Melnyk Racing Stables 53
Bear Stables Ltd. 38

Outstanding Trainer:
Roger Attfield 136
Mark Casse 58
Reade Baker 17

Outstanding Apprentice Jockey:
Omar Moreno 143
Ryan Pacheco 57
Brian Cheyne 20

Outstanding Jockey:
Eurico Rosa Da Silva 120
Patrick Husbands 71
Chantal Sutherland 46

Eurico Rosa da Silva and his beautiful wife Claudia

Outstanding Newspaper Story:
Beverley Smith 14
Perry Lefko 13
Jennifer Morrison 12

Outstanding Feature Story:
Perry Lefko 15
Keith McCalmont 10
Jennifer Morrison 7

Outstanding Photograph:
Tod Marks 12
Terence Dulay 11
Cindy Pierson Dulay 10

Outstanding Film/Video/Broadcast:
CBC Television Network Sports 18
Horse Racing Alberta/WhiteIron 15
ESPN Inc. 11

These two jocks are going to pose for a lot of photos this year!

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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.

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