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2012 Valedictory Stakes on closing day at Woodbine

Owners Bob (left) and Mark Krembil lead Heathcote to the winner's circle after the Valedictory Stakes.
Date: 12/16/2012

The 2012 Thoroughbred meeting at Woodbine came to an end on Sunday. Rain fell through the day but cleared up in time for the feature race, with a relatively "warm" race time temperature of 46 degrees. This is also 2 weeks later than usual, as closing day had been the first Sunday in December for many years. The traditional closing day stakes race is the $150,000 Valedictory Stakes (G3), a 1 3/4 mile trip for older horses going around 3 turns of the Polytrack. Imperial Pippin, the only filly in the race, was sent off as the 2-1 favorite in the field of 9, off her second place finish in the Maple Leaf Stakes. In to challenge her included 5-2 second choice Peyton, winner of a 1 1/2 mile allowance race last out, and 4-1 third choice So Long George, off an allowance win and making his stakes debut.

Heathcote draws off in the stretch

Jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson sent 6-1 fourth choice Heathcote to the front and he was allowed an uncontested lead of as many as 3 1/2 lengths through easy fractions of 24.86, 50.94, 1:16.16, 1:42.19, 2:09.15, and 2:34.37, while stalked by 7-1 fifth choice Quaesitor, who in turn was as many as 18 lengths ahead of the rest of the field. Entering the stretch for the final time, Heathcote began to extend his lead, opening up by 5 1/2 lengths over the tiring Quaesitor at the 1/8 pole. Peyton, who was unhurried in sixth and as many as 24 lengths back, rallied late but to no avail, as Heathcote cruised past the post 12 1/4 lengths clear in 2:59.42. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to Quaesitor third. Favorite Imperial Pippin checked in 8th.

Pgm  Horse              Jockey            Win   Place  Show
 4   Heathcote          Wilson          14.00    5.80  4.50
 6   Peyton             Contreras                4.20  3.60
 1   Quaesitor          Stein                          4.00

Winning Time:  2:59.42

$2 Exacta 4-6                66.10
$2 Trifecta 4-6-1           373.70
$1 Superfecta 4-6-1-2     1,118.80
Results chart

Left: Heathcote in the winner's circle with trainer Paul Attard at his hip. The 4-year-old son of Niigon out of Touch Gold mare Prairie Flame improved his record to 4 wins, 2 seconds, and 0 thirds in 7 starts, earning $236,060 for owner-breeder Chiefswood Stable (Bob and Mark Krembil).

Right: Heathcote in the post parade. Winning jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson said, "He is a big horse with a big, long stride. We knew the 1 3/4 miles wasn't going to hurt him at all, and when I got him just cruising along with his ears up the whole way, I thought it would take a race horse to beat him. He just started getting going at the 3/8 pole. No matter how good they are, and how much they handle that distance, they do seem to get a little tired. But, he would have went around again."

Left: Second place finisher Peyton in the post parade. The 5-2 second choice settled in 6th early about 20 lengths off the pace under jockey Luis Contreras, then rallied late to get second beaten 12 1/4 lengths. The Mike Doyle trainee improved his record to 3 wins, 3 seconds, and 0 thirds in 17 starts, earning $226,955 for owner Windhaven Farms.

Right: Third place finisher Quaesitor in the post parade. The 7-1 fifth choice stalked the pace in second under jockey Justin Stein, but could not keep up with the winner, finishing third beaten 14 lengths. The Ian Howard trainee improved his record to 3 wins, 1 second, and 4 thirds in 11 starts, earning $257,835 for owner Wayward Stable.

Bloody Caesar wins the final race of 2012 at Woodbine.
The final race of the 2012 Woodbine season was a $25,000 claiming race for older horses going 7 furlongs for a $22,000 purse. 5-1 Bloody Caesar went gate-to-wire for the win in a slow 1:24.08 under jockey Steven Bahen, who also won the very first race of the meeting back in April. The race may well mark the end of an era , as the highly successful Slots at Racetracks program was cancelled by the government of Ontario and racing will lose its share of the revenues at the end of March 2013 unless the deal is reinstated. This sudden loss of revenues could lead to severely cut purses and cancelled stakes races, reduced racing days, or the extreme result of Woodbine closing for good, a threat made by management during the Queen's Plate post position draw in June. Discussions are apparently underway between the government, horsemen's groups, and track operators to negotiate a new funding deal but this is being done behind closed doors with minimal updates made public. Woodbine has not yet requested dates for the 2013 Thoroughbred season. We hope that Bloody Caesar (named after a Canadian cocktail - a Bloody Mary using Mott's Clamato in place of the tomato juice) is not the last Thoroughbred winner at Woodbine.

Results chart

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