Thursday, September 1, 2011

Run 'Lila' Run: Up-and-coming filly is Hard Not to Like

“She has a beautiful way of moving,” cooed Gail Cox, trainer of Hard Not to Like, a filly, who turned a lot of heads when beating the boys last Friday in the prep for the Summer Stakes. The galloping grey miss, who won her debut by half a length, beat the boys in a driving finish keeping the well-regarded Maritimer at bay.

What's not to like about Hard Not to Like?

The filly, who goes by the barn name of ‘Lila’, ended up in the race by pure happenstance, when a preferred race didn’t fill.

“I entered her in the Natalma prep and there were only two fillies in it. In order to get a race into her before the stake (the Natalma) the boys was the only choice really,” said Cox. “There had been a winners race for fillies as well, but it didn't fill either. So, we just wanted a race.”

Hard Not to Like is a wee bit camera shy in person...but not at the track

A daughter of Hard Spun, she is a homebred out of Garland Williamson’s Like A Gem who was a popular Woodbine runner with six wins, three seconds and a pair of thirds in 18 lifetime starts. Three of Like A Gem’s wins were added-money events, including the Wonder Where and River Memories over the E.P Taylor turf course as well as the Maple Leaf Stakes over the Polytrack.

Cox was only too happy to take on the talented miss.

“She was broke at Garland’s farm here in Canada and he wanted her to be winter trained so she went to Paul Sharp's farm in Ocala,” said Cox. “It's a farm I use quite a bit. He has a track there and she could start galloping along and doing a bit of gate work before she came here.”

Stablemate Something Extra shows off his good side...

‘Lila’ arrived at Woodbine in May and was well-prepared for her opener, a six furlong MSW on the turf worth $67,100, having breezed a number of near-bullet works. Sent to post at odds of 5-1, Hard Not to Like raced along the rail under jockey Jim McAleney and was tipped out into the stretch to roll on by Kiama in a time of 1:09.81.

...and his goofy side

Cox is thrilled at the progress her young charge has made and is hoping the blood lines run deep in the pretty filly.

“Danny Vella trained her mom, Like A Gem, who was a multiple stakes winner here. They said that her mother was a bit of a handful, but this filly's not,” smiled Cox. “She's quite nice and Hard Spun is becoming quite a successful sire. He's had a group winner in Europe (Red Duke, won the Group Two Superlative Stakes on July 9) and is doing very well, but this is his first crop of two year olds.”

In her most recent effort, Hard Not to Like added a new jockey in Eurico Rosa da Silva, but enjoyed another positive effort closing from mid-pack to take the lead while having enough in reserve to hold off a rallying Maritimer.

Hard Not to Like defeats the boys

The race, run at a mile over a turf course rated as ‘firm’, was a great learning experience for the young filly.

“She broke quite sharp and Eurico did a good job and got her to settle back and waited until the lane and made a very nice run,” said Cox. “It was quite professional to go from just three-quarters to a mile for a baby to take that step.”

Up next for the improving filly is the Grade 3 Natalma Stakes run at a distance of eight furlongs on the turf. The race is part of the Breeders’ Cup Win & You’re In series and last year’s second place finisher, More Than Real, went on to win the Juvenile Fillies.

Cox knows the races will only get more difficult as Hard Not to Like moves forward.

“The Natalma usually comes up a very tough race,” stated Cox. “The filly that finished second last year won the Breeders, so I don't expect it to be as easy. Not that her last race was easy, but a number of horses will ship in. Still, I think she's a very nice filly. She could be any kind and she's exciting to have.”

With the Natalma slated for Saturday, September 17, Cox will keep her filly moving in the right direction.

“Since she ran, she's walked a couple days, she shed rowed, she went a couple miles jogging one and galloped one,” said Cox. “She'll breeze on September 10th unless we decide to breeze her on the turf on the 9th. We've breezed on the Poly so much that we probably won't change now. She just runs on the turf. I don't really think they need to practice on it, they like it or they don't.”

And so far, this filly likes the turf a lot.

Hard Not to Like

* * *

Just two stakes over the previous Woodbine weekend as Anne's Beauty continued her winning form taking the Ontario Colleen in style. She was guided to the finish line by red hot jock Patrick Husbands who won five in a row on the card.

Anne's Beauty wins the Ontario Colleen

Havelock, who shipped into Woodbine from Churchill Downs for trainer Darrin Miller, got up in the nick of time to win Sunday's Play the King stakes in a spectacular four-horse photo. The owners were on hand and thrilled with the performance of their horse who earned a big kiss and cry of 'good job Goldenboy!' as jockey Jermaine Bridgmohan steered the fellow back to the winners' enclosure. We just might see this one back for the Woodbine Mile.

A kiss for Havelock!

“He’s a wonderful old guy...He’s as game and tough as they come, and it’s nice to see him back on his game. We’ll think about the Woodbine Mile," - - kind words from trainer Reade Baker about six-year-old fan favourite Fatal Bullet following his gutsy performance in the Play the King.


"Havelock is trying to come up the rail...Fatal Bullet is trying to gut it out..Gypsy King...Fatal Bullet...between horses, Riding the River...what a finish, I think Havelock got it!" - - bellows Dan Loiselle as Havelock sneaks under the wire a winner. Anyone who thinks a track announcer has an easy job should try calling the finish of Sunday's Play The King at Woodbine. Nearly the entire field was in with a chance with an eighth of a mile to go.

Havelock up in time for the win

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Beautiful Woodbine...

This and That

Fran Jurga runs a very informative (and totally cool) website known as The Hoof Blog...and I have to thank trainer Carolyn Costigan of Arravale Racing for pointing out a recent guestpost on Jurga's blog entitled, Biomimetics in Vertical Action: Goat Hooves Confer Ninja-Like Climbing Abilities which has some very cool photos of wall-climbing goats. Click the link above, you won't believe it unless you see it!

The Woodbine Mile (hashtagged as #WoMile for those of you using Twitter)is inching ever-closer and contenders are starting to line up for the big event.

BRISnet reported that Winchester to skip Bowling Green and could be pointed at the Northern Dancer (Sep 18) with Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti coming along for the Woodbine Mile:

Meanwhile, the Clement barn is trying to devise autumn plans for Gio Ponti, the two-time reigning champion turf horse. Last year, Gio Ponti won the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) and was second in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1). The 2011 Shadwell Turf Mile will be contested October 8 at Keeneland, with the Breeders' Cup Mile to be held November 5 at Churchill Downs.

"We nominated him to the Woodbine Mile ([Can-G1] on September 18)," Lorieul said. "They were talking about doing the (Woodbine Mile, Shadwell Turf Mile, and Breeders' Cup Mile), but I think it's going to be too close together. You'd have to go to Woodbine, come back, and go to Keeneland. What do you do after? Leave him at Keeneland and train? The boss is not there, and he doesn't want to leave him there by himself the entire time leading up to the Breeders' Cup."

Reigning Woodbine Mile champ Court Vision is another possibility as the DRF noted last week that Spendthrift Farm buys Court Vision from IEAH

While Hughes purchased the horse as a stallion prospect, the plan is to race him the remainder of this year with the Woodbine Mile and Breeders’ Cup Mile as potential goals. He will be retired at year’s end.

“That was the original plan,” said Ned Toffey, general manager for Spendthrift Farm. “Dale only just got the horse, we’ll see how things progress.” Court Vision, a 6-year-old son of Gulch, has won 8 races from 29 starts and has earned $2,656,435. He has won seven graded stakes, including four Grade 1’s. As a 2-year-old, he won the Grade 2 Remsen at 1 1/8 miles on dirt. His Grade 1 victories include the Hollywood Derby, Shadwell Turf Mile, Woodbine Mile and Gulfstream Park Turf

The UKAP reported that Ed Vaughan's stable star Dance And Dance is headed to Woodbine in their piece,Dance set for Canada

Ed Vaughan's stable star Dance And Dance is to travel to Canada for his next run in the Woodbine Mile on September 18.

The Royal Hunt Cup runner-up was last seen chasing home Andrew Balding's Side Glance in the Group Three Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury.

Having sparkled in his work on Wednesday under big-race pilot Jamie Spencer, Vaughan is happy to let him take his chance.

"Dance And Dance worked under Jamie Spencer on the Peat Moss gallop this morning. I was very happy with him," Vaughan told

Still Need More?
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.

Just a few photos from Sunday's Play the King on offer this week...I promise to have the camera back in action this weekend!

Havelock surges to the lead

Havelock wins the Play The King

Fatal Bullet's crew were happy with his performance

A walk with Havelock

Happy connections in the winner's circle

Jermaine Bridgmohan in a Patrick Husbands cap!

Splish splash

Bright Eyes shines for Lila...

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