TORONTO, March 6, 2023 – Each week, in the lead-up to Opening Day (April 22) of the 2023 Woodbine Thoroughbred season, the Woodbine Communications department will spotlight Woodbine-based horses and horse people ahead of the new season.
From horses on the King’s Plate trail, to Woodbine trainers and jockeys sharing their views on 2022 and the upcoming campaign, to some of the stars to keep tabs on 2023, the Woodbine Winter Watch will cover key players, horses and horse people, at Canada’s Showplace of Racing.
In this week’s report, trainer Gail Cox shares her thoughts on the 2022 campaign and looks ahead to the upcoming 2023 Woodbine season.
Inside Track: Gail Cox
* 152 career wins
* 16 career stakes wins
* Top horses include Something Extra, Simply Splendid, Hard Not to Like, Rideforthecause, Say the Word, El Tormenta, Dancin in Da’nile, Ready to Repeat and Tio Magico.
* Won 14 races and posted 45 top-three finishes, to go along with $919,979 in purse earnings in 2022. Swoop to Finish was second in the $250,000 Wonder Where Stakes, and Silent Fortune took runner-up honours in the Frost King. Ladywearsthering finished third in the Grade 3 Ontario Colleen.
The 2022 campaign
“I think Whimsical Dance was a big highlight. Swoop to Finish was also one that stands out for us too. She ran so well in the Wonder Where. We have Confusing, who broke his maiden with a really nice effort at Woodbine in October. Overall, I was happy with the year. We didn’t have the stakes success we were chasing, but I thought in the grand scheme of things we did have a really good year. Just like everyone else, you strive for that consistency throughout the season. The purses are so good at Woodbine, including the stakes, so it’s an ideal place to race your horses.”
All systems go
“It’s really been pretty good here at Payson Park. We’ve only run a couple and we don’t have many to run here in Florida. There might be a few we have to run at Keeneland before we head back to Woodbine. We have some new 2-year-olds here that are pretty nice. I have a Malibu Moon colt out of Scarlett Flutter, and he’s really nice. I also have a half to All Canadian, who we also like. I have some other new 2-year-olds that aren’t with me but are in Ocala. There, I have a Palace Malice colt who came out of the Canadian sale and a Mendelssohn, who is Ontario-bred but came out of the Keeneland sale. I have Silent Fortune in Ocala, a Silent Name (JPN), who won his first start, and was second in a stakes race. He needed a little bit of time after that, so we didn’t run him back. He should have a good year in the Ontario sired division.
“We managed to keep (multiple stakes winner) Dancin in Da’nile as well. He has a new ownership now and he’s training great. We’re hoping to have a race in Keeneland on the turf for him before we come back to Woodbine. I also have Whimsical Dance, who is a really nice filly. She won the day before she went to the November sale. She sold very well. She’ll run at Woodbine this year and might have one start at Keeneland ahead of that. Winston Blue, who ran once, is also training very well. He has another start coming up soon on the Tapeta at Gulfstream. Ready to Repeat will be back. He’s doing really well.”
A good mix
“We have a nice blend of younger and older horses. With the 2-year-olds, you always look forward to seeing them develop, and watching that journey. The older ones, you know what to expect, and it’s always nice to have those familiar faces in the barn. I’m very happy with the balance we have this year and hopefully, the young ones keep pushing forward and the older ones do what they are capable of.”
“When everybody is closer to running – most of my horses here in Florida had time off – that’s when you really start to get excited about the Woodbine season. When they start working 5/8ths and getting closer to running, you really begin to feel that excitement.”
“It’s nice to have time down here in Florida to get out and ride the bike, go walking or go for a swim. It’s just that little bit of time where you can relax, unwind and give yourself a chance to exhale.”
Jock Talk: David Moran
* 550 career wins
* 40 stakes victories
* Top horses include Roan Inish, Artie’s Storm, Grand Arch, Dimension (GB), I’m a Kittyhawk, Crumlin Spirit, The Minkster, Silent Runner
* Won 44 races in 2022 and reached $2.3 million (U.S.) in earnings for the second straight year. Notched three stakes scores (Grade 2 Stella Artois Eclipse, with Artie’s Storm, Queenston, with The Minkster, and Lake Huron, with Silent Runner). Teamed with Silent Farewell to deliver Canadian Hall of Fame trainer Mike Keogh his final victory.
“I’ve been keeping fit, just getting back into the swing of things. Usually, in February, I’m back in the pool and doing a lot of swimming. I swim an hour a day, five days a week, and play a lot of squash as well. That keeps you ticking too. But there’s nothing like riding horses. It’s amazing, all the different muscles that you use. It’s an incredible feeling when you are in that saddle. The treadmill is fine, but I find it very daunting. I’ll do it when I have to, but being in the pool and playing squash, those things make you more tired and you don’t even realize it when you’re in the middle of it.”
A solid season
“It was a decent year, overall. The earnings were pretty good, and I was happy enough with it. I had a lot of seconds in stakes, where if some of them had won, it would have been a super year. We finished second with Flirting Bridge (IRE) in the [Grade 1] E.P. Taylor, so the horses ran well, very well, but it would have been an amazing year if we could have gone one better with a few. Artie’s Storm, Paul Buttigieg’s horse, he was fantastic. He won the Grade 2 Eclipse, and he was top three in several other stakes too. He had a big year.”
“The most memorable race for me last year was giving [trainer] Mike Keogh his last winner [with Silent Farewell, on October 2, 2022]. That meant a lot. Mike is such a super, super person, and amazing horse trainer. It was sad to see him retire, but that was like winning a stakes race. It was emotional. I met up with him this winter and he’s in good spirits. He’s happy. I also rode the last winner, Spring Mountain, for [trainer] Danny Vella, who retired this winter after a great career.”
“The name of the game is winning races. That’s the bottom line. If the horses are running well, hitting the board, it keeps everyone happy. That was what happened in 2022. A lot of the horses finished in the top three or four, so I was having a good year that way. In terms of goals for this year or any year, I just try and win as many races as I can. That’s about it. I go out there with the aim of riding winners and trying to keep everyone happy. You hope you can ride for a barn that gets on that hot streak and ride that wave. This year, I have a few horses that I think look pretty promising. There were a few that were on the up last year and hopefully they make that jump forward this year.”
“When the spring comes and the better weather arrives, that’s when you really start getting excited ahead of the season. There is always something to look forward to. When the horses start breezing in the spring and the temperature starts to go up, you can’t wait for the racing to start.”
2022 Race Rewind:
Watch David Moran and 11-1 Silent Farewell take the opening race at Woodbine on October 2, 2022,
Click here to watch the race.
Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @WoodbineComms