#HORSERACING: WATCH THE 2013 BREEDERS’ CUP THIS WEEKEND ON TSN 2
Today and tomorrow, Horse Racing’s Championship Days take place at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. Now in its 30th edition, the World’s finest Thoroughbreds face-off in a series of 14 Races, totalling $25 million. The Races are seen as being pivotal in deciding year-end divisional honours.
FRIDAY’s Marquee Race is the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Distaff, which sees North America’s finest Females, three-years-old and upward, doing some serious battle on the dirt. Two-time returning Champion Royal Delta, now five-years-old, defends her Title once again with Hall of Fame Jockey Mike Smith aboard. She is listed as the Morning Line-Favourite over the definitive Leader of the three-year-old Filly division, Princess of Sylmar, listed as the Second-Choice even after defeating the former in their last encounter, the Beldame Invitational late September at Belmont Park.
Earlier on the Card, Verrazano, who in eight races has earned over $1.5 million already, looks to make amends in the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile after a disappointing seventh place finish in the important Travers Stakes in August. Earlier in the Season, he was seen as major Contender to win the Kentucky Derby, although the mile-and-a-quarter distance proved to be a challenge, him placing a dismal 14th. He has been freshened for the Race and appears poised for a big run.
Representing Toronto best is My Conquestadory who debuted in the Summer Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack, beating Male Competition on the grass easily in her first-ever race – a tough spot. She then raised the bar higher showing she equally is adept on the dirt too, winning the Grade 1-Darcy Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland for Toronto-based Trainer Mark Casse and locally supportive-Owners Conquest Stable LLC. The two-year-old Filly moves back to the grass in the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Top Local Rider Eurico Rosa Da Silva will be flying to the West Coast for the Assignment.
On SATURDAY’s Card, Racing Fans get a prelude potentially to some of next year’s Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Contenders in both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, each worth $2-million. The distinctively gray-coated Havana comes into the former off a Win in the Grade 1-Champagne Stakes, while New York-bred Artemis Agrotera is listed as the Choice in the latter after a Win in the Grade 1-Frizette Stakes; both are undefeated in two races.
Ontario-bred Marketing Mix hasn’t been home in quite some time, but that is because she’s been making a big splash stateside. Listed as the Second-Choice in the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, the legendary Gary Stevens will be piloting her in the Race. British-based Dank, who defeated her soundly in the Grade 1-Beverly D. Stakes in August at Arlington Park, is listed as the Race Favourite under Ryan Moore. Moore won the prestigious $1-million Pattison Canadian International at Woodbine this past Sunday aboard Joshua Tree. Also, do not discount Kitten’s Dumplings who recently won the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland; “It-Boy” of Horse Racing Joel Rosario will be riding.
Although he has never raced locally, Ontario-bred four-year-old Private Zone looks every bit the Winner in the $1.5-million Breeders’ Cup Sprint. He boasts wins on both East and West Coasts, boding well for the speedy Winner of $500k, as he returns back to Santa Anita Park once again – a Course which interestingly he has yet to win on.
Reigning Horse of the Year in North America Wise Dan, looks to repeat last year’s feat of winning the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile as the prohibitive Choice again this year. Fans at Woodbine revelled in delight getting to see him win the $1-million Woodbine Mile in September a second time and despite perhaps an ill-advised decision to race on the dirt in the Shadwell Mile in October, a surface on which he hasn’t shined as brightly, he still looks remarkably tough to beat Saturday.
Revered Composer and Musical Theatre Impresario Andrew Lloyd Weber is well-represented by his Filly The Fugue, who faces the Boys in the $3-million Breeders’ Cup Turf Classic. She’ll face stiff Competition though from returning Race Champion Little Mike, who appears to be rounding into form after a win in the Joe Hirsch Invitational Classic late September at Belmont Park. Also, Point of Entry who hasn’t raced since June, comes fresh after a win in the Manhattan Handicap. He races for a famous pair of Owners, the Phipps and Stronach Stables (yes, those Stronachs, Canada!). Franchise Fans also have a bit of a Hunch Bet in Longshot Twilight Eclipse who opens at odds of 20-1.
The $5-million Breeders’ Cup Classic caps-off the two days of Championship Races and despite having faltered twice in the Fixture, six-year-old Game on Dude is listed as the Race Favourite after a flawless 2013 Campaign, which has seen five important victories including the Grade 1-Pacific Classic in August. In March, he won the Santa Anita Handicap and indeed has a bit of a Home Court Advantage. Despite winning this very Race last November, defending Champ Fort Larned has had a spotty 2013 which has ranged from a failure to finish to a win in the Grade 1-Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs in June. Meanwhile, Mucho Macho Man who placed second in the Race last year, has been on the fringes much throughout the year, but also appears to be peaking after a win in the Grade 1-Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park late September.
Celebrities also will be in attendance for the 2013 Breeders’ Cup this weekend and performing are Kristin Chenoweth, Toni Braxton and Babyface. Red-hot Ambassadors Kate Upton and Elizabeth Banks, who soon will begin promoting Blockbusters The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and also, The Lego Movie, will be among the famous Faces partaking in the Festivities.
For those of you at home looking to tune-in this weekend, you can stream the Breeders’ Cup online on the Daily Racing Form‘s Website. TSN 2 will be airing the Races live between 4:00 – 8:00 PM EST on Friday. The Races will air between 3:00 – 9:00 PM EST on Saturday on that Network.
(Photo credit: Mr. Will Wong)
#HORSERACING: “WISE DAN” TRIUMPHANT A SECOND YEAR IN THE $1-MILLION WOODBINE MILE
He’s Dantastic! Reigning Horse of the Year, Wise Dan, made a triumphant return to Woodbine Racetrack yesterday for the $1-million Woodbine Mile. Despite deterring the Competition from a shot at the lucrative purse, the Race still drew five other brave Entrants and once again the six-year-old Gelding owned/bred by Morton Fink and trained by Charles LoPresti would not disappoint, going off as the prohibitive 1-5 (only a $.50 proft from a $2 bet) Favourite. And not only did the handsome Chestnut win rather effortlessly by three-and-half lengths, he broke the Course Record for the distance/surface, clocking-in a blistering time of 1:31.7!
Fans cheered with delight as he paraded before them before entering the Winner’s Circle for some Photos with his Connections. Jockey John Velazquez, who appeared earlier in the day at the Venue drawing a huge Line-up for Autographs, once again guided Wise Dan to victory. This latest success pushes his earnings past the $5-million mark and tallies-in as his ninth consecutive score. He is being pointed towards the Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile on November 2nd at Santa Anita Park on Horse Racing’s Championship Day.
Za Approval coming-in off a second-place finish at Hollywood Park late June certainly was not shamed in second, and British Invader Trade Storm finished third with a now out-of-retirement Hall of Famer, Gary Stevens aboard.
On the Undercard, French Filly Minakshi under local Rider Luis Contreras won the Canadian Stakes, seen as a stepping stone to next month’s prestigious E.P. Taylor Stakes. Sam-Son Farms’ three-year-old Colt His Race to Win may have been outshone by his Stablemate Up with the Birds this year, but yesterday was his moment, winning the Ontario Derby under Eurico Rosa Da Silva.
Missed the action? Woodbine Racetrack hosts the $1-million Pattison Canadian International on Sunday, October 27, 2013 where some of the World’s top Racehorses and Jockeys are set to do battle. Mark your calendars!
(Photo credit: Mr. Will Wong/M. Paler)
#SPOTTED: JERRY O’CONNELL IN TORONTO
The best surprises are always the ones you least expect! After spending the weekend in California enjoying Horse Racing’s Championship Day, the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Park, I spotted Funnyman Jerry O’Connell here in Toronto of all places at Queen Station. My Best Friend Fran was out with me at the time, and the timing was perfect since we are huge Mariah Carey Fans (O’Connell starred in her amazing Heartbreaker Video) and we both also love the campy Thriller Obsessed in which he stars as stalked Idris Elba‘s Co-Worker. He could be heard chatting with his Mom on his Cell Phone just as he entered the Station and was gracious to stop for a couple Photos for us Fans.
Many might wonder why the Actor, known best for his work on Series like Sliders, The Defenders and My Secret Identity, is in-town and as announced recently his Wife – Actress Rebecca Romijn – currently is in-town filming TV Pilot King and Maxwell till mid-November. Just down the street from Queen Station, Romijn was hard at work as bright lights lit-up the Financial District during the Night Shoot.
McConnell was seen only recently on NBC Television Movie Mockingbird Lane, which aired before Halloween starring alongside Wife of Ellen DeGeneres – Portia de Rossi – and Eddie Izzard.
(Photo credit: Mr. Will Wong)
#HORSERACING: “WISE DAN” SOLIDIFIES “HORSE OF THE YEAR” TITLE WIN BREEDERS’ CUP WIN
A thrilling stretch duel in the Breeders’ Cup Classic is what will define Horse Racing’s Championship Day(s) in 2012. The marquee $5- million Match, drew eleven Competitors out to Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California today, just one of several title-deciding races held Friday and today. Racing Fans got exactly what they had hoped for – a real Battle to the Finish, watching Fort Larned win the Classic by a head over Mucho Macho Man. Race Favourite Game on Dude who finished second in the same Event last year, placed a troubled seventh this year, causing many to criticize Trainer Bob Baffert‘s decision to replace Woodbine-birthed Rider Chantal Sutherland mid-season after much success with her. “That was the worst race of his Career”, Baffert tells NBC Sports.
Even though all eyes were on the day’s big Finale, it was a stunning Victory from Wise Dan in the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile which ultimately sealed the deal for the five-year-old Gelding as North America’s Horse of the Year, based on the strength of three consecutive Grade I wins this Season, including a giant Victory at Toronto’s Woodbine Racetrack this September in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile. Under just a bit of urging from John Velazquez, Wise Dan steered clear of last year’s Kentucky Derby Winner, Animal Kingdom to set a Course Record with a sizzling time of 1:31.78 for the one-mile Event. The Champ even took a minute to Re-Tweet me today (below) after his Win. Great to see he’s so versed in Social Media!
Unbeaten in five starts, two-year-old Colt Shanghai Bobby has stamped himself a deserving Favourite for next year’s Kentucky Derby. Jockey Rosie Napravnik guided him to a Win in the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, solidifying his standing as the best two-year-old Colt in North America. Napravnik has the distinction of being only the second female Jockey ever to win a Breeders’ Cup Race.
Royal Delta on Friday for a second year in-a-row, won the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic under famed Jockey Mike Smith, en route to in all likelihood being voted Champion Older Filly or Mare at the forthcoming Eclipse Awards. She was voted Champion Three-Year-Old Filly last year and now has earned a remarkable $3.7 million in only 15 races. Word is that she’s United Arab Emirates-bound for the $10-million Dubai World Cup.
The Canadian Contingent fared well at the Breeders’ Cup this year with a pair of Runner-Up finishes. Delegation finished a bang-up third under Toronto-based Rider Patrick Husbands in the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile; he was just at Woodbine a couple weeks back winning the Durham Cup Stakes. Meanwhile stellar Filly Marketing Mix, finished second yesterday in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Spring in the Air, a major Contender (and my personal pick) for Champion Two-Year-Old Filly in Canada, finished a respectable fifth in the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on Friday under Husbands also.
Celebrity Horse Racing Fans who were named Ambassadors at this year’s Breeders’ Cup include the likes of Elizabeth Banks, Toby Keith and Bo Derek, while legendary Crooner Tony Bennett was called-upon to sing at the Post Parade for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, also presenting the winning Trophy post-Race to the Connections of Fort Larned.
Watch the Recaps of the Races over at the Official Website for the Breeders’ Cup right here. How could you not love this Sport?
(Photo credit: Mr. Will Wong)