Woodbine fans got a huge treat this past weekend as 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner MODERN GAMES made his way to our world-famous E.P. Taylor turf course to take the $1-million Grade I Woodbine Mile in a romp. The Dubawi colt owned by Godolphin and trained by Charles Appleby, was guided to a 5 1/4-length win under world-travelling jockey William Buick in a speedy time of 1:32.77, as the prohibitive race favourite. With everything going according to plan, he should be at Keeneland in November for the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Second and third respectively were second-choice IVAR, and FINEST SOUND. Wagering on the race card totalled a healthy $11.7 million, even with one race cancelled end of day due to unforseen circumstances.
The latter part of the card on Saturday was crammed with stakes action, as part of Woodbine‘s involvement with the Breeders’ Cup Win-and-You’re In program. Winners from the three marquee Grade I races, the Woodbine Mile, Summer and Natalma Stakes each earn a berth in the Breeders’ Cup, Horse Racing’s championship days of racing slated for November 4th and 5th.
The combination of Godolphin x Appleby x Buick nabbed Grade I glory earlier on the card in the $500k Summer Stakes with two-year-old Irish-bred Dark Angel colt, MYSTERIOUS NIGHT. Like his stablemate, he scored by just over five lengths, and is pointed next to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, the same race MODERN GAMES had won last year.
LAST CALL broke her maiden in style at 21-1 odds, winning the Grade I Natalma Stakes, also valued at $500k. The English Channel filly owned by X-Men Racing 2 LLC and SF Racing LLC, is trained by Kevin Attard, winning with a late sweep to score by a length.
Famed Canadian Geologist Charles Fipke made a rare appearance at Woodbine this weekend and did he ever pick the right weekend to come! He, Trainer Roger Attfield and Emma-Jayne Wilson proved an amazing combo taking a pair of Grade III stakes with LADY SPEIGHTSPEARE in the Seaway Stakes, and READY FOR THE LADY in the Singspiel Stakes on the Sunday card. The former is a perfect three-for-three at Woodbine this season and actually took the Natalma Stakes two years back, and continues to be incredibly consistent.
A couple other notable moments:
Upcoming major races at Woodbine include the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Breeders’ Stakes on October 2nd and also the Grade I E.P. Taylor Stakes October 8th.
It was one for the records as MOIRA took the 163rd edition of North America’s most historic Horse Race, the Queen’s Plate! The race worth $1 million, was contested at 1 1/4 miles yesterday at Woodbine Racetrack and not only did she as the lone filly beat the boys by a commanding seven lengths, she also smashed the track record for the distance, stopping the clock in an expedient 2:01.4 minutes.
The daughter of Ghostzapper bred by Frank Stronach‘s Adena Springs, notched Trainer Kevin Attard and Jockey Rafael Hernandez their first ever Queen’s Plate winner, rewarding bettors who backed her betting her down to 9-5 odds as the race favourite. Moira is owned by a partnership of Madaket Stables LLC, X-Men Racing and SF Racing LLC, purchased for an investment in 2020 for $150k and has now earned $902k in just five starts. It is said that her connections have their sights set potentially on the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland this November which might mean we won’t be seeing her in the upcoming two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown.
Finishing second in the Queen’s Plate was Hall of Dreams under Patrick Husbands, and third was Sir for Sure, ridden by Declan Carroll. Both horses are trained by Woodbine‘s leading Trainer Mark Casse, who had a strong showing on the Card with wins in both the King Edward and Canadian Stakes on the turf. Casse who is based out of the U.S., made an appearance for the day.
Lorne Richards Trainee HAZELBROOK continues to have a career season winning her second-straight Stake Race in a row in the Sweet Briar Too under Jason Hoyte, who notched his second stake victory at Woodbine with her. She is a perfect three-for-three in 2022.
Wagering handle was a healthy $13.6 million on this first Queen’s Plate since 2019 to allow fans to attend at full capacity.
The Queen’s Plate is synonymous with party and fashion and that it was with activations and tents for attendees to get their Photo Ops, including a Step-and-Repeat which gave them a chance to show-off their outfits.
The picture for the upcoming 2022 Queen’s Plate – the 163rd running of North America’s most historic horse race – just got a little clearer. MOIRA scored an authoritative victory in the $500k Woodbine Oaks presented by Budweiser, winning as the even-odds favourite by 10 3/4 lengths under Rafael Hernandez for Trainer Kevin Attard and Co-Owners Madaket Stables, X-Men Racing and SF Racing. She won in a rapid final time of 1:49.7 for 1 1/8 miles. This was just the second start in 2022 after the winter off for this talented filly by stallion Ghostzapper, from the Unbridled Song mare, Devine Aida. This definitely stamps Moira a leading contender in the Queen’s Plate, to be contested August 21, 2022 at Woodbine Racetrack where she would face males. Finishing second was Sister Seagull and American invader, the maiden Sahlabiya from famed Shadwell Stable and leading Trainer Chad Brown finished third. The high-strung Moira prior to the race had kicked her Blacksmith, though he appears to be fine, and also post-race almost unseated Hernandez after getting spooked by infield flags blowing in the wind. Despite her quirks, she is a consummate professional when racing.
Earlier on the Card was the $150k Plate Trial Stakes, the official prep race for the Queen’s Plate. That was taken by 21-to-1 longshot SIR FOR SURE under Declan Carroll who just joined the local jockey circuit this year, for Team Mark Casse and Owner Heste Sport, which is a force both on the Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred side in Ontario. This marks Carroll‘s first ever stake win at Woodbine. Second was stablemate Hall of Dreams, while U.S. invander Causin’ Mayhem held-on for third. The latter is owned by local outfit Chiefswood Stable and is based in the U.S. with top Trainer Todd Pletcher. The race was run about a full second slower than the fillies in the Woodbine Oaks.
Also on the Super-card today was the Grade II Dance Smartly Stakes, taken by another American invader, WAKANAKA. Going off as the post-time favourite at 6-to-5 odds, this Bill Mott Trainee owned by Film Producer Gary Barber and Team Valor, won by 1 1/4 lengths, finishing the 1 1/16 mile race on the turf in a brisk 1:39.4. Rafael Hernandez had a big day taking both the Oaks and this, surviving a claim of foul here.
HAZELBROOK scored a surprise upset in the $150k Hendrie Stakes at the top of the Card, winning at 26-to-1 odds for True North Stable and Trainer Lorne Richards. Jockey Jason Hoyte scored his first-ever stakes win at Woodbine here. The 6 1/2 furlong sprint was won in 1:15.6.
It was an eventful day which saw multiple claims of objection filed but none successful and one of those winners was two-year-old Ransom the Moon colt ONE FOR CHAP. He broke his maiden on the turf for Woodbine CEO Jim Lawson’s Spruce Stable, with Rafael Hernandez winning again. Mark Casse trains this colt who is a half-brother to champion filly Mrs. Barbara. We learned that Lawson used to call his dad “Chap”, hence inspiring the name. Perhaps we will be seeing him in September’s Grade I Summer Stakes, a win-and-you’re-in Breeders’ Cup race?
Veteran jockey SLADE CALLAGHAN also was named 2022 Avelino Gomez Award recipient, an honour given to a jockey who has made a signficicant contribution to the Sport locally. Callaghan was joined by his peers, past and present accepting the Award with his wife, Trainer Kelly Callaghan beside him.
It was a day of many faces. Some of the names here today.
Betting handles were phenomental today with the total reaching $10.1 million for this star-studded Card.
More on the upcoming Queen’s Plate including tickets here.
WoodbineRacetrack are thrilled to announce the launch of their brand-new Stella Artois Terrace. The space formerly known as Champions Bar and Patio, gets a re-brand and a sophisticated makeover with new loungey booths, an elevated Food and Drink menu and festive weekend vibes, with the DJ spinning your favourite Top 40 hits! The Terrace, located on the third floor, launches July 23, 2022 right in time for Woodbine Oaks weekend, just one of the many marquee race cards in the 2022 Thoroughbred meet.
We’re thrilled to have had a chance to preview this amazing space hanging right above Woodbine‘s scenic world-class E.P. Taylor turf course. There isn’t a bad seat in the house, trust me! This is Horse Racing the way it was meant to be enjoyed.
Here’s a small preview of some of our favourites from their brand-new Menu:
There were Desserts too! I tried the Banana Cake which was topped with Rum-flambéed bananas and caramel sauce – nice and not too, too sweet. The Hot Fudge & Hibiscus Sundae was very popular among others, but the real star is the super-decadent and luxuriant Double Chocolate Godiva Cheesecake. We were seriously-strapped for time, but they were so kind to give us takeaway boxes for us to enjoy at home. No stuffiness here, everyone is welcome.
You won’t leave here feeling hungry.
Be patient, this is an afternoon or night out. The food will come when it comes. Have some fun, win some money! Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, there’s always Ambassadors walking around to show you. And if you’re shy, there’s a QR code for you to scan that walks you through it!
Dress code is comfortable but dress to impress. No strict guidelines.
A couple cool Photos Ops at the Stella Artois Terrace, including a Step & Repeat:
You can book a reservation now for the Stella Artois Terraceright here! The amazing weather is only here for a small while more. Don’t miss out!
WALK OFF THE EARTH are back with new Single “BET ON ME” featuring Tyler Shaw! This is a catchy Summer Bop and I don’t even know how this escaped our radar where Lead Vocalist Sarah Blackwood is telling her love interest to “bet on her” like “Apple in the ’90s”. Hilar.
We love Horse Racing and the cover of the Single made us chuckle, and there’s even a few references to pedigree and stallions which is amaze. They need to film this Video at Woodbine Racetrack. I can’t see it being filmed anywhere else!
On the Single Cover, that’s a betting terminal, the type you see are racetracks and betting parlours. Fully-committed. YES!
The Track is produced by Gianni Luminati, Tokyo Speirs and The Futuristics.
This Indie Pop Outfit from Burlington knows how to have fun and we love that they’re still going strong! So awesome getting to chat quickly at the JUNOs last month!
For a second consecutive year, MIGHTY HEART takes top honours at the Sovereign Awards, honouring the best in Canadian Horse Racing. For the first time ever, the event was held at Universal Eventspace in Vaughan. The one-eyed horse owned and bred by Larry Cordes, in 2020 went-on to beat the odds and win the Queen’s Plate. His success didn’t stop there and he also had a successful 2021 campaign which saw him notch two graded stake wins, the Autumn and Dominion Day Stakes, plus some big runs in the U.S. against open company including a win in the Blame Stakes.
Also honoured this evening with an E.P. Taylor Award was Owner/Breeder Ivan Dalos. Throughout his career, Dalos under his Tall Oaks Farm, has bred and raced some greats including the likes of Victorious Ami, Galloping Ami, Ami’s Flatter, Amis Gizmo, Ami’s Holiday, Johnny Bear, Gamble’s Ghost, Ami’s Mesa and multi-millionaire Channel Maker.
Other winners tonight included:
Mrs. Barbara – Champion 2-year-old filly
God of Love – Champion 2-year-old male
Munnyfor Ro – Champion 3-year-old filly
Frosted Over – Champion 3-year-old male
Amalfi Coast – Champion female sprinter
Pink Lloyd – Champion male sprinter
Jolie Olimpica – Champion turf female
Town Cruise – Champion turf male
Avie’s Empire – Outstanding broodmare
Sam-Son Farm – Outstanding breeder
Mark Casse – Outstanding trainer
Live Oak Plantation – Outstanding owner
Kazushi Kimura – Outstanding jockey
Denzil Fonseca – Outstanding groom
Woodbine Entertainment Group – The 2021 Queen’s Plate – Outstanding audio/visual broadcast
Hayley Morrison – Outstanding writing
Will Wong – Outstanding photograph
We are thrilled again to have won Outstanding Photograph and can’t believe this is real! So honoured to be among these legends and gamechangers. Cannot wait for the Woodbine ’22 season to begin at last this Saturday, April 16, 2022!
You can steam the entire Awards Ceremony here:
Some Snaps from the night:
(Photo/video credit:Woodbine Entertainment Group/Mr. Will Wong)
We hope your Holidays have been amazing! We know it’s been a while since we’ve updated you on William (Mr Will) and Princess (A Pic by Mrwill) but we were so happy over the Holidays to catch-up with them!
As many of you remember, MR WILL now is retired and transitioning into his next career as a Show Jumper! Brooke Sisson has overseen his development since leaving Woodbine Racetrack and has helped him find a new forever home in Port Hope. He will be moving from his temporary home in Lindsay this week to enjoy the rest of his winter. He seemed very happy and content in his retired life and with access to the backstretch having been closed to Media the past two years, I haven’t been able to visit him in quite some time. This was a sweet reunion, and my Mom was so happy to finally meet him! We hope to see him later this year at one of his shows! So happy for him.
His previous Owner Michelle Love gave me the honours of naming her new yearling filly by Reload and out of the mare Jungle Jewel. She was HIP #225 at the CTHS Yearling Sale this year! While I thought “You Were Meant for Me“, a massive hit in the mid-90s for Jewel, was a good choice too, Michelle went with another huge hit for her, “Foolish Games” the theme song from “Batman and Robin“. Fitting, since the Music Video for the song had horses in it. Love it! How exciting!
Princess (A PIC BY MRWILL) has been in great spirits of late since moving into a new pen with racing veteran CUMMINGS ROAD at Emily Fisher‘s family farm. Also grouped with her are donkey and miniature ponies Freddie and Eddie Fisher! We can confirm she’s definitely the Queen over there after being a bit of a fish out of water with the other mares who have formed a strong bond over the years. Princess being the youngest mare, struggled a bit to connect with the others, but is living her best life now as Queen Bee.
Emily and her partner jockey Keveh Nicholls are expecting their first child in early March. So Excited for them!
True to tradition, we present to you our A YEAR IN HORSES 2021 Review! While the season at Woodbine Racetrack started a bit later this year due to Covid-19 delays, it still proved to be an action-packed abbreviated season. There was no shortage of excitement.
The Community wrote the story. I was simply there.
While 2021 turned out to be a season without any one definitive standout star, what we did witness was some of Woodbine‘s greatest go on to retain their form of previous seasons, proving exactly why they are fan favourites. The greats had a chance to share the spotlight.
Will Horse of the Year go to now-retired legend PINK LLOYD whom at age 9 proved he still is the best sprinter in Canada? Or will the honours go to Canada’s reigning Horse of the Year, the one-eyed MIGHTY YEART who notched wins north and south of the Border, winning two key stake races in his division locally, the Dominion Day and the Autumn. Or perhaps the hard-trying three-year-old filly MUNNYFOR RO will spring a surprise and win the hearts of Sovereign Award voters with her Woodbine Oaks, Wonder Where and Ontario Damsel scores both turf and Tapeta? Let’s not forget TOWN CRUISE‘s epic wire-to-wire score in the $1-million Woodbine Mile against international-quality competition! So many great moments, even if it genuinely is a coin toss this year who might be named top horse in the country!
This was Kazushi Kimura‘s year to shine, running away with the most amount of wins for a jockey at Woodbine, ahead of last year’s leading rider Rafael Hernandez, Emma-Jayne Wilson and Justin Stein. Hard to believe he was only an apprentice a few years back! And of course Mark Casse dominated trainer standings this year with his top caliber stock and hardworking Toronto team.
I have always pushed for an inclusive representation of the sport and have compiled some of my top memories from 2021 in this Video Review, set to Ed Sheeran‘s “Bad Habits“, in my opinion one of the best songs this year. No bad habits here, we love spreading the joy Canadian Horse Racing brings us!
The 2022 racing season begins at Woodbine on April 16, 2022. The Queen’s Plate retains its later date, slotted for August 21, 2022. We cannot wait! We hope everyone has an amazing Holiday and some well-deserved relaxation after what was an intense meet!
The 130th running of the BREEDERS’ STAKES took place over a yielding turf course yesterday at Woodbine Racetrack. The third and final jewel in Canada’s Triple Crown of Horse Racing was won by BRITISH ROYALTY, capping-off a huge weekend for Owner Bruce Lunsford. The notable Politician, Lawyer and Businessman based out of Kentucky, also won the Grade I Woodward at Belmont with Art Collector Saturday.
The son of English Channel (who also sired top turf horse CHANNEL MAKER who win the race in 2017), shook clear of the field to win by four lengths under Patrick Husbands. Final time was 2:34 for the 1 1/2 mile race. He is trained by Barbara Minshall, who temporarily lost the gelding when he was placed in a claiming race for $40k to build-up his confidence back on July 11, 2021 at Woodbine. Claimed right back in his next race by Minshall and Lunsford, the investment proved well worth it and he also rewarded his backers with $51.20 on a $2 bet, boosting his own bankroll to $250k.
Finishing second was Queen’s Plate runner-up RIPTIDE ROCK for Stronach Stables and third was COLLECTIVE FORCE for Chiefswood Stables.
Some Snaps of the BRITISH ROYALTY:
The supporting stakes feature on Sunday’s card was the Grade III $150k Ontario Fashion Stakes, won by that hard-trying homebred mare AMALFI COAST for Terra Racing and Team Kevin Attard, under jockey Justin Stein.
Attard combined with Stein this weekend also to take Saturday’s feature, the final jewel in Canada’s Triple Tiara, the $250k Wonder Where Stakes, with three-year-old filly division leader MUNNYFOR RO, who also took the Woodbine Oaks.
Toronto Raptors Head Coach Nick Nurse even came out for a day of racing at Woodbine Club. See his chat here!
.@Raptors Head Coach Nick Nurse is obviously an @NBA Champion but did you know his horse racing connections?
Woodbine‘s TURF RACING FESTIVALtook place this past weekend with two action-packed cards including four marquee Grade I races of the 2021 meet, the $600k Pattison Canadian International, the $400k Summer Stakes, the $400k Natalma Stakes and the $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile. The former, traditionally contested in October, gets pushed-early to coincide with the Festival.
Wagering was healthy this past weekend, totalling a stellar $26 million. Winners of the Summer, Natalma and Woodbine Mile earn a berth in the Breeders’ Cup November 5&6 at Del Mar in California.
The Ricoh Woodbine Mile on Saturday went to local six-year-old gelding TOWN CRUISE, who is bred, owned and trained by Brandon Greer. As the lone speed in the race, he went wire to wire accelerating from moderator to quick fractions under Daisuke Fukumoto, winning by 2 1/4 lengths and paying $19.30 on a $2 wager. The victory was all the more impressive considering that traditionally the race is won by horses and jockeys shipping-in, proof and celebration of the consistently-improving talent of the local contingent. The final time for the one-mile race was 1:35.1. The victory earned him a spot in the Breeders’ Cup with the race being a Win-and-You’re-In qualifier. Second was Space Traveller and Raging Bull was third.
Winning the $600k Pattison Canadian International was well-travelled seven-year-old gelding WALTON STREET, scoring by a widening 5 3/4 lengths under legendary rider Frankie Dettori. Owned by Godolphin and trained by Charles Appleby. Charismatic Dettori even did a signature flying dismount off the horse in the Winner’s Circle.
Being the consummate professional, Dettori was seen walking around upon arrival Saturday and studying the E.P. Taylor Turf Course, and cheers could be heard from the grandstand for the icon.
Earlier on the Saturday card, the $250k Grade II Canadian Stakes went to American invader LA DRAGONTEA. The four-year-old filly owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Rebecca Hillen, is trained by Christophe Clement. Top American rider Joel Rosario piloted the win on the favourite, who paid $4.40 for the win.
The Natalma Stakes for two-year-old fillies at a mile on the turf, went on Sunday to regally-bred WILD BEAUTY, a daughter of Frankel,once again for the combination of Godolphin, Appleby and Dettori. Winning by 2 1/4 lengths in a time of 1:36.08, she went off as the race favourite, paying $4.90 on a $2 bet.
ALBAHR, a two-year-old gelding by Dubawi also would score for the aforementioned Trio in the Summer Stakes, winning also by 2 1/4 lengths in a final time of 1:35.7. He was the prohibitive favourite, returning $3.30 to his backers.
Two other stakes went off on the Sunday undercard including both the $150k Ontario Racing and Woodbine Care Stakes. The former went to Mark Casse trainee DIAMOND CITY, under Emma-Jayne Wilson and the latter went to Christophe Clement trainee DERRYMANE under Joel Rosario.
The amazing EURICO ROSA DA SILVA returned back to Woodbine on Sunday to receive his Avelino Gomez Award. The honour is to recognize outstanding achievements by a jockey.
The weekend was star-studded on an equine and human scale. Renowned Celebrity Chef Bobby Flay graced us with his presence, supporting his filly PIZZA BIANCA in the Natalma Stakes in which she finished a game second.
The next Grade I stake of the meet is the E.P. Taylor Stakes on October 17, 2021 for fillies and mares on the turf at 1 1/4 miles and a purse of $600k. The third jewel of Canada’s Triple Crown, the Breeders’ Stakes goes on October 3, 2021 for $400k at 1 1/2 miles on the turf.