TORONTO, January 4, 2019 – Woodbine track announcer Robert Geller has one of the best seats in the house with his view from the booth and the charismatic race caller has shared some of the highlights he witnessed from the 2018 Thoroughbred meet.
1. Eurico da Silva breaking the record (December 1, Race 10, #10 Souciologist)
The record-breaking season by Eurico was even more impressive given he had to give others a head start by commencing the season two weeks late. The milestone 222nd win came at the start of December, eclipsing Mickey Walls’ 1991 Woodbine seasonal tally. Eurico’s desire to win and fine judgement remained unwavering all season long, excelling in multiple stakes wins, many of which were won in the final stride.
2. Japanese apprentice riders Daisuke Fukomoto and Kazushi Kimura (November 23, Race 5, #8 Meet You At Home – Daisuke Fukomoto & September 29, Race 9, #4 Singandcryindubai – Kazushi Kimura)
Both riders added flair and flavour to the Woodbine meet. Daisuke showed ongoing maturity from his first season with a good sense of timing in his wins. Kazushi burst on the scene and wasted little time in tipping his hand as to his raw talent, attracting mounts from leading barns.
3. Emma-Jayne Wilson’s return from injury (October 21, Race 8/Grade 3 Grey Stakes, #8 Solidify)
Despite being sidelined for several months, Emma-Jayne bounced back from injury with a vengeance. A worthy recipient of the Avelino Gomez Award, her stakes-winning rides came via Red Cabernet (Victoriana), Wallace (Soaring Free), Solidify (Grade 3 Grey), Dun Drum (Kingarvie) and Artilena (Ontario Lassie). Emma-Jayne also enjoyed high percentage success on turf in a rewarding return to the track throughout the second half of the season.
4. Pink Lloyd breaking the million-dollar mark and more (June 3, Race 8/Achievement Stakes, #4 Pink Lloyd)
His streak of 11 on end was broken in the Shepperton Stakes but the champ rebounded with two more stakes victories before tapering off. His return as a six-year-old sprinter included four repeat stakes wins with Pink Lloyd eclipsing the million-dollar earnings mark.
5. Mr Havercamp (November 3, Race 8/Grade 2 Autumn Stakes, #9 Mr Havercamp)
A game runner-up to Oscar Performance in the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile, Mr Havercamp had a perfect season against locals with three stakes wins – the Steady Growth, Grade 2 Play the King and Grade 2 Autumn Stakes – and continued to show an affinity for both surfaces at a variety of distances.
6. Wonder Gadot (June 30, Race 10/Queen’s Plate, #11 Wonder Gadot)
For everything that seemed to go wrong in the Woodbine Oaks, the reverse was true in the Queen’s Plate in which everything went right. A dominant winner, Wonder Gadot backed up with another resounding win in the Prince of Wales in the slop. She looked spent after that from the Travers on but Woodbine fans witnessed her at her peak.
7. Kingsport (December 12, Race 8/Sir Barton Stakes, #6 Kingsport)
This perennial stakes winner added four more impressive trophies to the cabinet. His upset win in the Shepperton Stakes was followed by turf success in the Elgin and two starts later the Bunty Lawless before wrapping up his campaign with a stylish repeat win in the Sir Barton Stakes. Trainer Sid Attard once again brought the best out of the six-year-old son of Milwaukee Brew.
8. Avie’s Flatter (November 18, Race 8/ Coronation Futurity, #3 Avie’s Flatter)
Capped off by a masterful win in the Coronation Futurity, Avie’s Flatter stamped himself as a Queen’s Plate contender. A dominant winner on turf in the Cup and Saucer after a game fourth in open company to Fog of War and the promising War of Will in the Summer Stakes, trainer Josie Carroll appears to have plenty of options.
9. Johnny Bear (September 15, Race 11/Northern Dancer Turf, #4 Johnny Bear)
Rounding back into form at just the right time, Johnny Bear successfully defended his Northern Dancer title against a highly competitive field off a rail-saving trip under Luis Contreras. The stretch battle was ferocious, staving off multiple threats right down to the wire. It was a sterling training feat by Ashlee Bjrnas whose barn enjoyed a solid meet.
10. Gamble’s Ghost (September 9, Race 8/Belle Mahone Stakes, #2 Gamble’s Ghost)
Gamble’s Ghost rattled off three thrilling come-from-behind stakes wins in the Grade 3 Trillium, Grade 3 Ontario Matron and Belle Mahone Stakes, snatching honours in the final strides each time. Back to her best as a five-year-old mare, her ability to relax was matched by her brilliant turn of foot.
Honourable Mention: Shamrock Rose from Woodbine stakes success to Breeders’ Cup success (September 18, Race 8/La Lorgnette Stakes, #2 Shamrock Rose & November 3, Churchill Downs Race 3/Breeders’ Cup F&M Sprint, #14 Shamrock Rose)
It took a magical ride by Irad Ortiz to stage a memorable last to first victory on Shamrock Rose, capturing the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at big odds. The win vindicated the strong faith placed in her by trainer Mark Casse and owner Conrad Farms. Shamrock Rose had put the writing on the wall with a dominant local win under Jerome Lermyte in the La Lorgnette followed by Keeneland stakes success.