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Owner Rick Balaz leads Desert Ride to the winner's circle after the Woodbine Oaks
Saturday at Woodbine, the two major local preps for the Queen's Plate Stakes, the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, were contested over the Tapeta main track. Conditions were excellent at the Toronto oval next to Pearson International Airport, with sunny skies and a race time temperature of 23 C (73 F). The highlight race of the afternoon was the $500,000 Budweiser Woodbine Oaks, featuring top Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/8 miles. A field of 10 faced the starter, with Speedy Soul sent off as the lukewarm 11-4 favorite off her win in the Fury Stakes. In to challenge her included 3-1 second choice Intanga Rose, 4th in both the Star Shoot and the Fury, and 7-2 third choice Hastalavistababy, 2nd in both the Ontario Lassie and the Fury.
Down the stretch with Desert Ride rallying on the outside.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 4 Desert Ride Bahen 18.50 8.30 5.10 9 Bold Script Boulanger 6.30 4.30 5 Speedy Soul Husbands 3.20 Winning Time: 1:50.43 $1 Exacta 4-9 55.30 $1 Trifecta 4-9-5 324.75 $1 Superfecta 4-9-5-7 1,249.00
Left: Desert Ride in the winner's circle. Rick Balaz, president of winning owner-breeder Sam-Son Farm said, "A fantastic filly from a fantastic family and we're just so happy to be back up here again. It's been a little while for us and it's pretty exciting. We'll see where we go next with her, but hopefully she's got a great future."
Right: Desert Ride gets a drink while she gets hosed off after the race. Winning trainer Neil Howard said, "She's a lovely filly. The mile and an eighth was obviously something that we were looking forward to and she needed every bit of that. We couldn't be more thrilled as Mr. Samuel and Mr. Balaz said. She's just a just a lovely filly, easy to train and Steven rode her beautiful."
Left: Desert Ride in the paddock before the race. Sam-Son Farms CEO Mark Samuel said, "If I'm taking a line from the Raptors, you play it one game at a time and we just got this one on the scoreboard and we'll see how she comes out of it and then we'll have a conversation as we always do about what to do next. But we're very excited by her and we love our good fillies."
Right: Desert Ride in the post parade. Winning jockey Steven Bahen said, "I've watched her races and she's come from behind. Neil (Howard) said just get her settled in and try to give her a good trip. Down the backside, it looked like I'm going to get out now and give her a shot to run at them, and I started a little early with her, but when she turned for home, she gave me a huge run like she did in her previous races."
Left: Second place finisher Bold Script races in 6th first time by. The 5-1 fourth choice raced 6th early under Gary Boulanger then rallied, led late in the stretch but was outfinished. The Stuart Simon trainee improved her record to 2 wins, 2 seconds, and 3 thirds in 8 starts, earning $297,721 for owner-breeder Chiefswood Stables.
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Speedy Soul in the post parade. The 11-4 choice pressed the pace under jockey Gary Boulanger and held on to get third beaten 2 lengths. The Mark Casse trainee improved her record to 3 wins, 0 seconds, and 1 third in 5 starts, earning $196,388 for owner-breeder Joe Guerrieri (Joey Gee Thoroughbreds).
Jockey Gary Boulanger sent favorite Federal Law to the lead first time by and he set fractions of 24.17, 48.64, and 1:12.73 while pressed by Dun Drum and stalked by 20-1 Pay for Peace. Federal Law continued to lead to midstretch through 1 mile in 1:38.25, but jockey Luis Contreras aboard Pay for Peace sent the longshot through at the 1/16 pole and he drew off late to win by 1 3/4 lengths in 1:51.63. It was a head back to late-running 26-1 Rising Star third.
Left: Pay for Peace in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Luis Contreras said, "You've got a chance to win if you're in the race. You never know. I told Rachel before, I think he likes to run, and he likes to run all day, so he can run further. I think it's his style to be in the long races. I can tell you he had a good break and I saw the one break a little bit and he kind of rushed to the lead and I think that kind of helped a little."
Right: Pay for Peace takes a drink while getting hosed off after the race. Winning trainer Rachel Halden said, "I'm just absolutely delighted. Obviously, he's just taken a little while to come back around this year for us. He did run a very good race his last start against older horses and looking at this race, we were hoping to maybe get a piece of it because it didn't look like it was going to be a huge field. We weren't thinking about (the Plate). Like I say, he's just a real big old galloper. I think this horse will step up on the turf and we've been kind of thinking Breeders' Stakes. He did jump up and run a big race today. We will definitely be thinking about it now and we'll see how he comes out of it and have a discussion with his owners and see."
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Federal Law returns after the race. The 9-5 choice set the pace under Gary Boulanger but was no match for the winner late. The Mark Casse trainee improved his record to 3 wins, 4 seconds, and 1 third in 11 starts, earning $166,688 for owner Qatar Racing Stable.
Right: Third place finisher Rising Star takes off after the post parade. The 26-1 shot was last early under Justin Stein but rallied to get third beaten 1 3/4 lengths. The Mike DePaulo trainee improved his record to 0 wins, 0 seconds, and 3 thirds in 8 starts, earning $27,823 for owner Zilli Racing Stables.
Jockey Jerome Lermyte sent 24-1 Silent Mistake to the lead at the start through an opening quarter of 22.45 before Sister Peacock took over on the turn through a half in 44.67. Entering the stretch, Sister Peacock opened up a 4 length lead through 3/4 in 1:07.51. 35-1 Double Meda, 6th early under Justin Stein, put in a strong late rally to no avail as Sister Peacock cruised to a 2 1/4 length win in 1:13.80. It was another 1 3/4 length back to 20-1 Lady Grace third.
Sister Peacock in the winner's circle. Winning co-owner and trainer Stuart Simon, celebrating his 800th win as a trainer said, "I've got to give all the credit to my crew – my assistant and grooms. They do a very hard job every day. They brought her over about four or five times and schooled her well. They deserve the credit. We named her after a guy (Cecil Peacock) that I trained for for about 30 years. He was one of the nicest men you'll ever meet. So, I wanted to pay tribute to him and name her that."
Winning jockey Jesse Campbell said, "She's a racehorse. Stuart said to ride her like the best horse, I did. She went out and did her thing."
Frank Barroby receives the Avelino Gomez award from Avelino Gomez's widow Patricia surrounded by the Woodbine jockey colony and officials.
Frank Barroby shows off his trophy
Barroby joins Ron Turcotte, Johnny Longden, Sandy Hawley, Don MacBeth, Chris Rogers, Jeff Fell, Lloyd Duffy, Hugo Dittfach, Robin Platts, Larry Attard, Don Seymour, David Gall, Richard Grubb, Irwin Driedger, David Clark, Jim McKnight, Chris Loseth, Richard Dos Ramos, Robert Landry, Francine Villeneuve, Sam Krasner, John LeBlanc Sr., George Ho Sang, Jack Lauzon, Robert King Jr., Stewart Elliott, Emile Ramsammy, Steve Bahen, Mickey Walls, Patrick Husbands, Quincy Welch, Gary Stahlbaum, Gary Boulanger and last year's recipient, Emma-Jayne Wilson, as Gomez honourees.
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