Honorary drawmaster Marlene Stewart Streit and Oaks entrant Touchnow pose for a shot on the Woodbine turf course.
Now that the American Triple Crown has drawn to a close, we now shift our focus north of the border as the Canadian classics begin. The Labatt Woodbine Oaks (formerly the Canadian Oaks) offers a purse of $500,000 and features some of Canada's finest 3-year-old fillies. At 1 1/8 miles, it is the first leg of the Canadian Triple Tiara which also includes the Bison City Stakes at Fort Erie and the Wonder Where Stakes at Woodbine. A $350,000 bonus is offered for any horse who can sweep the series, but so far this has yet to happen. Some nice fillies have won the race in the past such as Wonder Where, Laurie's Dancer, Blondeinamotel, Dance Smartly, and Dance Smartly's daughter Dancethruthedawn. History was made in 2001 when Dancethruthedawn repeated her mother's feat, winning the Oaks and then defeating males in the Queen's Plate two weeks later.
Marlene Stewart Streit is the only golfer to have won the Canadian, United States, British and Australian amateur championships.
In this, the Oaks' 49th running, last year's Sovereign Award winner as champion juvenile filly My Vintage Port, attempts to continue her stakes-winning ways at three, and she drew the middle post 3 in the compact field of five and is the 6-1 fourth choice. Trainer and co-owner Ken Parsley said, "My co-owner (Richard Pettifer) is a bit of a wine connoisseur, so he named her. It's a nice catchy name. His wife pointed out her initials are MVP, so I guess that worked out pretty well. I'd love to see a nice honest pace in front of her and give her some speed to run at. She'll try and I don't think the 1 1/8-mile distance will be a problem for her. She likes to lay off the pace and make her run. If we can get that, I think she'll have a good showing. She's very feisty in her own stall and wants her own way. But I think most good fillies are on the feisty side and she falls into that category."
Perennial champion owner Sam-Son Farm will also be represented by the undefeated Eye of the Sphynx, a daughter of Smart Strike who won the Selene Stakes in her final prep. Eye of the Sphynx drew the 2 post and is the 6-5 morning line favorite. Confident trainer Mark Frostad said, "She does everything well. She's had a lot thrown at her in a hurry, but she's a wonderful filly. When a horse hooks her, she wants to go." Regular rider Todd Kabel will be aboard. Of her Selene Stakes win, Kabel said, "She's determined and fought back hard. She wanted to win the race."
Track announcer Dan Loiselle, drawmaster Marlene Stewart Streit, and racing secretary Steve Lim draw the post positions for the Oaks.
Silver Bird, a grey daughter of Lit de Justice, was second to Eye of the Sphynx in her last two starts, and is looking to turn the tables on Sunday. Baker said of her neck loss in the Selene, "She ran sper. I just don't think she was fit enough. We didn't get a race into her over the wintertime so I ran a short horse. She came out of it better than any horse I've ever trained. So I think she'll be super tough in the Oaks." Hong Kong Dancer is the least experienced filly in the field, but is 2 for 2 in her short career, but each win she drew off by open lengths. Baker said, "Only time will tell how good she is. We haven't gotten to the bottom yet, that's for sure. She won pretty easy both times she ran."
The Labatt Woodbine Oaks is scheduled as the eighth race on an eleven-race card on Sunday at Woodbine, going to post at 4:37 PM EDT. The whole card will be televised on the Score network in Canada as well as on TRN Canada. On the undercard of the Oaks is the $125,000 Victoria Park Stakes for three year old colts and geldings. Queen's Plate contender Burst of Fire takes on open company including Judith's Wild Rush in this 1 1/8 mile main track event.
|1||Silver Bird||Reade Baker||Jim McAleney||2-1|
|2||Eye of the Sphynx||Mark Frostad||Todd Kabel||6-5|
|3||My Vintage Port||Ken Parsley||Jono Jones||6-1|
|4||Touchnow||Reade Baker||Patrick Husbands||15-1|
|5||Hong Kong Dancer||Reade Baker||Rui Pimentel||7-2|
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