The 2011 Woodbine Oaks presented by Budweiser is the feature event on Sunday in a field headlined by Inglorious and Roxy Gap. The under card includes the Plate Trial where Bear's Chill will face a test of stamina against Bowman's Causeway, Sensational Slam and Check Your Soul. Both events go a mile and an eighth on the Woodbine polytrack.
The draw for the Woodbine Oaks was held on Thursday and boxing legend Irish Micky Ward was on hand to pull the numbers and offer the best security a Woodbine event has ever enjoyed.
Irish Micky Ward gets a laugh out of Irish Mike Doyle
With both of the main events offering strong nine-horse fields, there should be plenty of money to be made in the wagering. While I believe Inglorious, the Queen's Plate winterbook favourite, is going to be difficult to defeat in the Oaks - - there is depth to this field in Roxy Gap, Abrianna and Marketing Mix to help build a triactor and superfecta wager.
Let's take a walk through the fields starting with the Oaks.
1 Charismatically Sam DiPasquale David Clark 20-1
Charismatically was sent to post as the 8-5 second choice on May 21st in a seven furlong maiden-claiming event. The Cozzene filly started well and took a position near the back of the pack waiting for a signal from jockey Luis Contreras. As the field turned into the stretch, Charismatically was tipped out and closed to finish second behind a rail-skimming American Placed - - that winner came back to score on Friday, June 3rd. Charismatically was claimed out of the race by Sam Di Pasquale from trainer Ian Black and now enters the Oaks as a maiden. Contreras has the call on favoured Inglorious so Charismatically is reunited with jockey David Clark who guided her to a fifth place finish, beaten less than three lengths, last October in the Princess Elizabeth won by Grand Style.
While the filly will appreciate the return to two turns, the Oaks is a tough place to break your maiden.
The maiden Charismatically finished third in her last start
2 Abrianna Roger Attfield Javier Castellano 8-1
This filly is bred to run all day. Her sire, Lemon Drop Kid, won the Belmont, Travers Whitney and Woodward. Her dam, Ain't She Awesome, is a half-sister to Canadian champion juvenile fillies, Poetically and Primaly. There's plenty of reason to believe a mile and an eighth is within her grasp.
Trained by Roger Attfield, Abrianna broke her maiden last out closing onto relatively slow fractions and ridden out well in hand under Luis Contreras to defeat well-regarded Sense of Pride. Attfield brings in Javier Castellano for the mount and I expect this filly will be a handful down the lane.
Abrianna breaks her maiden
Abrianna is first in this photo...will we need a photo to find the winner on Sunday?
3 Inglorious Josie Carroll Luis Contreras 5-2
This Josie Carroll trainee has impressed in each outing. She broke her maiden by winning the Fanfreluche sprinting six furlongs. In her next start she won the Ontario Lassie going two turns to best Baganara by five lengths.
Her three-year-old campaign started with a bang finishing second to the excellent Kathmanblu in the G3 Rachel Alexandra Stakes at the Fair Grounds on Feb 19th. On March 26th she returned as the favourite in the Fair Grounds Oaks and suffered an awkward start but still closed to finish fourth, less than three lengths behind Daisy Devine.
Inglorious was freshened and returned to Woodbine on May 15th to win the La Lorgnette under a strong ride from Luis Contreras who waited patiently for running room at the top of the stretch and then simply bullied his way through when a hole was not readily available. A near-bullet work on May 25th of 5F in 59 and 4 suggests the Hennessy miss is primed and ready.
Josie Carroll expressed some concern about the pace in this event, but I expect Bear It's Time, Spooky Kitten and Roxy Gap will keep a good tempo for the closers to point towards.
Inglorious wins the La Lorgnette Stakes
4 Grand Style Mike Doyle Eurico Rosa da Silva 8-1
This Giant's Causeway filly comes into the race off one start in 2011, the G1 Ashland at Keeeneland where she finished fifth of nine, beaten five and a quarter lengths at odds of 72-1. While that sounds like an over matched effort, a closer look shows that she bobbled slightly at the start and made a nice gain late after a ground saving trip to finish just two lengths back of third-place finisher Kathmanblu.
Grand Style fifth in the G1 Ashland
Grand Style is proven at Woodbine having captured the Princess Elizabeth defeating Lisvernane and Sense of Pride last October.
* As an aside, that Princess Elizabeth win sticks in my mind as I was on the track taking photos of that event. Following the win, the stubborn filly refused to cross Woodbine's harness track to get to the winner's enclosure which resulted in a rather odd moment when jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva hopped off the filly and attempted to coax her to the desired destination. The headstrong miss wasn't having it...and with trainer Mike Doyle off site, the resulting win photo is a rather odd picture of assistant trainer Brent Harris and da Silva trying to calm the filly down. (See below.)
Grand Style poses after winning the Princess Elizabeth
5 Bear It’s Time Reade Baker Emma-Jayne Wilson 4-1
This could be a huge weekend for Reade Baker and prominent owner Danny Dion of Bear Stables Ltd. This Philanthropist filly outran the talented Sinister Quill to win the Lady Angela by five and a quarter lengths in her last start.
Bear It's Time wins the Lady Angela
Like so many others in this field, she was ridden previously by jockey Luis Contreras, but on Sunday Emma-Jayne Wilson gets the call. The filly figures to be the prominent pace presence in the field as she goes further than seven furlongs for the first time.
It's Time for a Beer? No. Bear It's Time
6 Silver Ami Josie Carroll Tyler Pizzaro 15-1
Luis Contreras, who else, steered this Silver Train filly to victory last out winning an N1X Allowance impressively after a troubled trip. Sitting last in a small five-horse field, the lanky Josie Carroll trainee ran into contention at the top of the stretch where she was bumped by Jilleah and looked well beat only to re-rally along the rail and gobble up the leaders with ease.
Tyler Pizarro gets the call on Sunday and my immediate concern is that her pops, Silver Train, was a sprinter, however she is out of a stamina providing Victory Gallop mare Victorious Ami.
Silver Ami stomps the rail to victory
7 Roxy Gap Mark Casse Patrick Husbands 3-1
Patrick Husbands will ride this beautiful Eugene Melnyk filly by Indian Charlie out of the Saint Ballado mare Harts Gap. The speedy miss is undefeated at Woodbine having captured three sprints on the poly and a runaway eight furlong effort on the turf.
Her 82 Beyer figure to win the Fury tops this field, but she's never gone two turns and Marketing Mix was closing on her at the wire in the Fury.
Trainer Mark Casse compared the filly to Canadian Triple Tiara winner Sealy Hill earlier this week:
"I often refer to Roxy Gap as Sealy Hill by mistake," noted Casse. "I'll say, 'Guys, let me look at Sealy Hill.' They'll just shoot me this look and then I'll remember, 'It's Roxy Gap.' They're similar in their physiques. But Sealy Hill didn't get to be a really good-looking filly until she was four. Sealy Hill wouldn't gallop out after the wire. She'd stop. Roxy Gap does the same thing. And she's a little sweeter than Sealy Hill. She's not really mean, she's rather nice. Sealy Hill would knock your head off if she got her shot."
IF she's as good as Sealy Hill, this Oaks field is in big trouble.
Roxy Gap wins the Fury
8 Spooky Kitten Mark Casse Edgar Prado 12-1
Spooky Kitten is yet another claimed horse in this interesting Oaks field. The daughter of Kitten's Joy was claimed by Dale Romans for just $20K at Keeneland after a seven length romp in a six furlong sprint. Romans sent the filly to Woodbine to try the La Lorgnette off the claim and she fought and struggled with jockey Patrick Husbands before making a wide stretch run. That effort leads me to believe she might be given her head early on Sunday.
Kitten's Joy is the sire of top Queen's Plate contender Queen'splatekitten and the bottom line through La Coruna, out of the Derby/Belmont/Travers winning Thunder Gulch suggests stamina.
I didn't even have to say, 'smile'!
9 Marketing Mix Tom Proctor Jose Lezcano 6-1
What's not to like about Medaglia d'Oro fillies? He's given us Rachel Alexandra, Champagne D'oro, Gabby's Golden Gal, Plum Pretty...and here we take a look at Marketing Mix who broke her maiden traveling six and a half furlongs at Keeneland and followed it up by closing to finish second against four-time winner Roxy Gap in the Fury.
I love that Marketing Mix recovered from a slow start in the Fury and still covered a lot of ground down the lane to get close to Roxy Gap who had a head start. Back-to-back 80 Beyer figures puts her well in class for top trainer Thomas Proctor who signs up Jose Lezcano for the event.
Dan Loiselle and Micky Ward set the stage for the Oaks
Given the vast experience in graded races and the tenacity shown in the La Lorgnette it's very hard to go against Inglorious - - however, I'll give strong consideration to Abrianna, Grand Style and Marketing Mix underneath in exotics as I look to find a price that isn't Roxy Gap.
3. Marketing Mix
Woodbine racing fans are absolutely spoiled on Sunday as we'll also be treated to the Queen's Plate Trial which features a number of horses I've been waiting a long time to see here in 2011 including Sensational Slam and Bowman's Causeway.
1/Speed Ring/Mark Frostad/Emma-Jayne Wilson/20-1
This lightly raced son of A.P Indy out of Catch The Ring is clearly bred for the classic distance but has yet to put it together on track. In his last outing, Speed Ring was sent to post as the favourite going a mile and a sixteenth and despite gaining favourable position turning for home got outkicked by 25-1 shot Seawatch.
Speed Ring third on May 15th
2/Bear’s Chill/Reade Baker/Emile Ramsammy/2-1
Many handicappers (yep, I'm looking at me) overlooked the potential lone speed threat of Big Red Mike in the 2010 Queen's Plate. This year, we have a similar front-running type with even more speed.
He opened his campaign with a 8.5 furlong trip over the Gulfstream turf finishing fourth before coming to Woodbine to post impressive runaway victories at seven furlongs. His most recent effort, a two and a half length win in the Queenston, was completed by galloping out in command as jockey Emile Ramsammy added a little more foundation to the Artie Schiller colt.
Although Sandy Gully might offer some resistance, it's not too difficult to imagine Bear's Chill wiring this field if he can carve an easy fraction into the mix.
Bear's Chill home and cooled out in the Queenston
3/Bowman’s Causeway/Chad Brown/Eurico Rosa da Silva/4-1
In six lifetime races, Bowman's Causeway has kept company with Mucho Macho Man, Soldat, Dance City, Cal Nation and...well...let's not count the Florida Derby where he was eased in a race won by Dialed In over Preakness winner Shackleford.
The son of Giant's Causeway broke his maiden going this nine furlong distance over the Gulfstream Park dirt in February but has been on the shelf since the April 3rd Florida Derby.
It's hard for me to select this obviously talented fellow on top based on a quartet of four furlong breezes at Saratoga, especially as he tries synthetics for the first time. That said, this is not an impossible task.
Bowman's Causeway fourth in the Fountain of Youth
4/Strike Oil/Mark Casse/Luis Contreras/10-1
Strike Oil was a driving winner of the Coronation Futurity last November and since then has struggled finishing last in a 9F effort at Gulfstream won by Shackleford; third in a non-wagering OBS event; tenth at Keeneland; and fourth last out when all out down the lane behind Alpha Bettor and Sandy Gully.
The Windfields bred fellow notched a bullet work of 5F in 1:00 flat on May 30th and might be rounding into form but appears a step behind others here.
5/Sensational Slam/Todd Pletcher/Jose Lezcano/6-1
Sensational Slam is a multiple Woodbine stakes winner having captured the Clarendon and Vandal as a two-year-old. The son of Grand Slam completed his 2010 campaign with a disappointing effort on the turf at Saratoga.
Trainer Todd Pletcher successfully put the Bobby Flay owned fellow into the Caposella, a sprint at Aqueduct, to start his three-year-old season but followed that up with a tough ask in the nine furlong Blue Grass at Keeneland a month later where he finished last.
Since then, Sensational Slam has breezed four times at Saratoga and is placed in another difficult spot trying nine furlongs off a layoff.
Sensational Slam wins the Cappy Caposella at Aqueduct
6/Imhotep/Todd Pletcher/Javier Castellano/20-1
Javier Castellano gets the call on Imhotep, a Giant's Causeway colt out of the Woodman mare Enchanted Woods. Imhotep had a nice start to his career when second behind Casino Host and ahead of Enduring Star in a nine furlong turf tilt at Gulstream. Next out the Zayat Stables trainee was a non-factor fifth on the Keeneland synthetic.
He has trained at Delaware Park into this event and is yet another talented type I'm taking a wait-and-see approach with.
7/Check Your Soul/Roger Attfield/Patrick Husbands/5-2
Check Your Soul will be making his fourth lifetime start when the gates open for the Plate Trial. The Perfect Soul colt out of Unchecked (Unbridled) is bred to run all day and is proven on the polytrack having captured the Wando Stakes with ease in his last outing.
Patrick Husbands gets the call for trainer Roger Attfield.
Check Your Soul wins the Wando
8/Sandy Gully/Cary Brooks/Jono Jones/10-1
A gelding by The Cliff's Edge-Signs of Glory, appears to have the tough task of taking on Bear's Chill for the right to lead this field through the fractions. In his most recent start, Omar Moreno guided Sandy Gully to the lead and was game to the wire losing a three-horse photo to Alpha Bettor. In his previous outing, he was dusted by Bear's Chill and appears up against it here. Note the jockey change to Jono Jones.
Sandy Gully second on the lead at a mile and a sixteenth
9/Hippolytus/Mark Casse/Tyler Pizarro/15-1
With eight lifetime starts, Hippolytus is the most experienced entrant in the Plate Trial field with a record of 2-2-2 and $122K in earnings. His first five lifetime starts were in sprints on the Woodbine poly but he broke his maiden going a mile and seventy yards in a front-running effort. Hippolytus completed his 2010 campaign with a fifth place finish, beaten just a length, in the Kingarvie when closing wide down the lane.
The Philanthtropist colt won his seasonal debut with a driving off-the-pace run to defeat Control and Curgone (and recent winner Head Honcho) earning a 70 Beyer number. This was a particularly impressive win as Tyler Pizarro had to thrust off the rail turning into the stretch and find a seam along the outside before rushing to victory over a good group of horses. Pizarro retains the mount.
Hippolytus wins a route at Woodbine
If Bear's Chill gets out to an uncontested lead and can relax then we may have a wire-to-wire winner. That said, I'll be using Check Your Soul in the top spot as well on my exotic tickets. Bowman's Causeway and Sensational Slam might need a race off the layoff as they prepare for the big prize that is the Queen's Plate.
1. Bear's Chill
2. Check Your Soul
3. Bowman's Causeway
Let's hope the racing on Sunday will be as thrilling as the boxing provided by Arturo Gatti vs Micky Ward!!
Arturo Gatti vs Micky Ward Trilogy Highlights
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