Opening day at Woodbine brought sunshine, an amped up grandstand and five winners from trainer Wes Ward. However, it was local conditioner Ian Black who took the feature Debut Stakes with a rallying Don's Folly under a well-timed ride by Emma-Jayne Wilson.
Don's Folly surges to the lead on the outside
A string of front-running, winter-trained, ship-ins made a big impact for Ward who started the year off on the right foot winning the opener with New Tomorrow. The U.S.-based Ward continued his winning ways with Easy Ashley in the third, Miss Lulu Belle in the fifth, City Genius in the seventh and Magoo in the ninth. Miss Lulu Belle won the fifth in a photo-finish over fellow Ward trainee Goodeveningofficer - - a dead heat would have given Ward six wins in five races.
The bias went out the window in the feature as Don's Folly, a son of Tethra, angled outside at the top of the stretch and wore down Daniel Be Good in the final sixteenth for a three-quarter length victory in a time of :57.53.
“He had a clean run,” said Wilson. “He dug in really good the last sixteenth. It was a good race. I hope there are many more to come.”
The line of the year (granted, it's day one...but I'm going to keep track) comes from Black's assistant trainer Skippy Jeff Bowen.
“He’s a very consistent horse,” said Bowen. “He overcame all three biases today. He runs from off the pace, he wasn’t winter trained and he wasn’t trained by Wesley Ward.”
Nicely played Skip!
Don's Folly wins the Debut Stakes
Jockey Jim McAleney had a funny day as it took him three tries to make his 2011 debut coming off a terrible injury late last year. McAleney went to the starting gate with Peak Choice (Race Two) and E Xentrix (Race Six) and both times was sent back to the jock's room with his mount scratched. McAleney finally got his first start of the year when The Boy's Ring loaded into the gate cleanly finishing tenth.
"It was nice to make it all the way around," said the good-natured Mac wryly as he strode past me on his way back to the clubhouse.
Hot jocks on the day included Juan Delgado who won four races and Gerry Olguin who won two. Trainer Stuart Simon, who is expected to have a big year, won two races on the 10-race programme.
Luis Contreras, touted by many to have a shot at leading rider, was shut out on the day but came back with a vengeance on day two winning the last three races. Sunday's late pick four was worth $6932.90.
For those of you that couldn't make it to opening day, here's a few photos!
Oh - - and, in case you missed it, here's a link to my photo essay from Friday's 2010 Sovereign Awards complete with point totals for the nominees.
(As always, you can double-left-click the image to enlarge it. To return to the photo essay, click your "Back" button")
Sandy Hawley with Emma-Jayne Wilson and Jimmy Mac - That's a lot of wins!
Cassandra Garcea lookin' pretty happy about opening day!
Purple people greeter Emma-Jayne Wilson
The always dapper Reade Baker chats with TVG Tweet machine Simon Bray
Tomorrow, tomorrow...I bet you New Tomorrow...and there he is running awayyyy...
New Tomorrow, #5, is the first of five wins on the card for Wes Ward
Jimmy Mac, returning from injury, heads to the track on Peak Choice.
Little Miss Tommi was an impressive winner on her debut for trainer Steve Attard
Emile Ramsammy focused on Molinaros Miss D
Ryan Pacheco takes the bull by the horns aboard Jealous Rage
Wes Ward and son talk about their latest win with newcomer Jesse Campbell
Centennial Farms sent Paso Doble to the big Debut dance
Opening day! Giddy up! Tyler Pizarro fueled and ready to go on Gas N Dash
Don's Folly wins the Debut Stakes!
Emma-Jayne Wilson and Don's Folly shook loose late to win
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