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Nine rookies look to make the grade in Grade 3 Grey Stakes

October 24, 2019

TORONTO, October 24, 2019 – Nine two-year-olds, including Torres Del Paine and Bel Bimbo, are set to go postward in Sunday’s Grade 3 $125,000 Grey Stakes, at Woodbine, a day that also showcases the third annual $50,000 Grey Handicap featuring an all-grey field.

Trained by Graham Motion, Torres Del Paine, a son of 2014 Breeders’ Cup Mile champ Karakontie, will make his first start outside of the U.S. when he loads into the gate for the 1 1/16-mile main track Grey Stakes.

“We bought him at the OBS,” started Motion, who won the Grey with Globetrotter in 2007. “The interest for (owner) Flaxman was the Karakontie aspect, being that it’s his first crop, and a stallion they are very involved with, and raced.”

The New York-bred (Gainesway Thoroughbreds Ltd.) Torres Del Paine, who has a record of 1-1-1 from four lifetime starts, heads into Sunday’s added-money affair off a narrow loss to Irish Mias, another Motion trainee, in the Laurel Futurity on September 21.

Sent off at 15-1, Torres Del Paine, a half-length in front at the stretch call of the 1 1/16-mile turf event, dug in gamely in the final yards, but finished a head back at the wire.

“He was very unlucky in the Futurity, running against my other horse,” said Motion. “He was a little bit hampered by him, to be honest. That’s not exactly what you want when you run an entry in a stake.”

Torres Del Paine launched his career in winning style, taking a five-and-a-half furlong grass race at Laurel on June 28.

“I thought he won pretty impressively first time out,” said Motion. “He’s always been a tough horse to train in the morning, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when he ran the first time. I knew he had plenty of ability.”

Next time out, on July 17, in the Rick Violette, the chestnut finished fifth in the six-furlong stake that was run over a sloppy Saratoga strip.

“I wanted to take a shot in that New York-bred stake because he had always trained okay on the dirt, even though it makes more sense that he was a turf horse,” offered Motion. “In fairness, I’m not even sure it was really a fair test because it was a crazy day. It was just run under bizarre conditions… sideways rain, on a terrible track.”

On August 31, Torres Del Paine finished third, less than five lengths behind Four Wheel Drive in the five-and-a-half furlong Rosie’s Stakes, run at Colonial Downs.

Owned by Breeze Easy LLC, Four Wheel Drive moved on to take the Grade 3, $150,000 Futurity at Belmont Park and earned an all-expenses paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint on November 1 at Santa Anita Park.

Motion was impressed with his charge’s effort in the Rosie’s against the Wesley Ward-trained son of American Pharoah, who was bred in Kentucky by Glenvale Stud.

“I gelded him between the two races (Violette and Rosie’s) just because he was such a handful in the morning to train,” noted Motion. “I thought he ran really well that day. Wesley’s horse was first time out, and he came back to win the race at Belmont. I’m guessing he’s running in the Breeders’ Cup, so it really wasn’t any disgrace to be beaten by him.”

Torres Del Paine will now get his first racing action on the Tapeta, a surface Motion doesn’t anticipate presenting any problems.

“So, here we are. He trained on the synthetic, and I don’t know why he wouldn’t handle it. This seemed like a logical spot. He is keen – tough in the morning. But he’s a very kind horse. He’s just tough to train, but he has plenty of ability.”

Trainer Mike De Paulo, who recently eclipsed 850 career wins, sends out Bel Bimbo, a Kentucky-bred son of Verrazano.

Owned by Frank Russo, the chestnut gelding will throw his saddle into the stakes ring after an impressive maiden score at Woodbine on October 2.

Bel Bimbo took a five-length lead at the stretch call and turned it into a 6 ¼-length victory in the seven-furlong main track race.

Prior to the milestone victory, he had finished sixth in a pair of turf races at the Toronto oval.

“He was bought as a weanling, a nice kind of colt,” noted De Paulo. “In his first start (August 11), I thought he got into a bit of trouble, got checked a bit. Since we’ve put him on the [synthetic track], he’s been a new horse. It’s tough going from that win (a $25,000 maiden claimer) to a stake, but he’s doing well.”

De Paulo is hoping Bel Bimbo can carry that momentum into the Grey.

“He always trained well, but it was just a matter of putting it all together in the afternoon. I won’t say it was any bright light that just happened. Who knows? Maybe he got happy, and off he went. I think he should like the distance… Verrazano was a two-turn horse. There’s certainly that in his pedigree.”

Bel Bimbo, under jockey Rafael Hernandez, winning on October 2 at Woodbine Racetrack. (Michael Burns Photo)

Last year, Solidify, owned by Paul Braverman and Thomas Pinch, won the Grey in a time of 1:43.90. Owner J.K.L Ross won five straight editions of the race, from 1921-25. Wando, Canada’s most recent Triple Crown champion (in 2003), won the Grey in 2002. Mine That Bird, the 2009 Kentucky Derby winner, took the race in 2008.

The Grey Stakes is slated as race eight on Sunday’s 10-race card. The Grey Handicap, at one mile over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course, is race seven with Gray Phantom looking to defend his title while facing familiar foes in Epilogue and Kapellmeister. First post time is 1:05 p.m. Fans can also watch and wager on all the action via

$125,000 GREY STAKES

Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer

1 – Finalist – Luis Contreras – Mark Casse

2 – Bel Bimbo – Gary Boulanger – Mike De Paulo

3 – Inside Risk – Rafael Hernandez – Thomas Morley

4 – Lookinatamiracle – Leo Salles – Sandra Dominguez

5 – Northern Thunder – Kazushi Kimura – Sid Attard

6 – Green Growth – Eurico Rosa da Silva – Catherine Day Phillips

7 – Chapalu – Patrick Husbands – Arnaud Delacour

8 – Torres Del Paine – Weston Hamilton – Graham Motion

9 – Muskoka Gold – Jerome Lermyte – Mark Casse


Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer

1 – Epilogue – Justin Stein – Richard Morden

2 – Kapellmeister – Rafael Hernandez – Norm McKnight

3 – Dani’s Victory – Daisuke Fukumoto – John Charalambous

4 – Tale of Vienna – Leo Salles – Laurie Silvera

5 – Curlin Grey – Luis Contreras – Martin Drexler

6 – Gray Phantom – Eurico Rosa Da Silva – Martin Drexler

7 – Zephan – Simon Husbands – Lenore Dubois

8 – First Spring – Kazushi Kimura – Alex ‘Sandy’ McPherson

9 – Bold Rally – Jeffery Alderson – Daryl Ezra

10 – Grimgrinnin’ Ghost – Gary Boulanger – Anthony Pottinger

11 – Detroit Steel (IRE) – Kirk Johnson – Clint Abraham

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