Ontario Racing in Full Effect
With opening weekend of Woodbine racetrack in the past now, owners, trainers and jockeys can start collecting some money instead of handing it out to employees. It’s sometimes a very long winter for thoroughbred horse people here in Ontario as there is no hometown racing. Many Canadians do travel south for the winter in order to generate a year-round income, or to keep the finest equines in their stables fit for the beginning of the Ontario meets.
The first winner in 2012 was Jim Ensom’s “Absolute Heaven” ridden by local jockey Steve Bahen. The first weekend consisted of three days of racing, Friday – Sunday, featuring two stake races. The Debut Stakes was the 8th race on Friday’s card and the winner, “Gypsy Ring” did not disappoint as the heavy favourite. “Justin Stein” got the victory aboard this 6-year-old gelding for trainer Paul Buttigieg passing a determined long shot “Executive Fire” right at the wire.
In the other stake race of the weekend, last year’s male sprinter of the year “Essence Hit Man” pulled out an impressive victory in Saturday’s Jacques Cartier Stakes. Winning with relative ease this 5-year-old gelding, owned, trained and bred by Audre and Gord Cappuccitti is showing he is once again the cream of the crop for sprinters in Canada.
Another very strong opening weekend by trainer Wesley Ward and his jockey of choice this year, Jesus Rios, as the combination win 5 of 13 races. Almost as impressive as last year where Ward seemed unbeatable in the first couple weeks, along with high percentage trainer Don MacRae both very good trainers and continue to prove year after year they have their horses ready for the beginning of their yearly campaign.
Others who started the year off on the right foot were “Justin Stein” winning 4 races including his big stake win, and “L Contreas” continuing where he left off with 3 wins. A group of riders win 2 races, but the kid who stands out to me here is fellow Fort Erie boy, Jeffrey Alderson, who is proving his talents as an apprentice rider in the big show at Woodbine.
With the second weekend coming there are two stake races being held; the Star Shoot and the Woodstock, where there is a lot of money to be won. Will Ward and Rios continue the winning ways or is Mark Casse looking to beat his record wins from last year? Questions will be answered, races will be won, and the cheers from the crowd will be loud and proud as the horses come to the finish line in another weekend at Woodbine Racetrack.
…and that is the last word.