TORONTO, April 20, 2019 – And they’re off… The 2019 Thoroughbred meet kicked off on Saturday afternoon at Woodbine Racetrack and trainer Kevin Attard picked up where he left off as Shakopee Town was victorious in the first stakes event of the season.
Attard, who won the final stakes of the 2018 meet with Al and Bill Ulwelling’s Valedictory champion Pumpkin Rumble, was back in the spotlight on Opening Day of the new season with their Woodbine newcomer Shakopee Town.
After posting a pair of wins at Fair Grounds early this year, Shakopee Town made her Woodbine debut a winning one in the Grade 3 Whimsical Stakes Presented by Irish Thoroughbred Marketing for older fillies and mares.
Tarawa and Alnilah took turns on the lead early through opening fractions of :22.22 and :45.35 with Shakopee Town gaining ground inside to challenge at the top of the stretch. She then rallied 3-1/4 lengths clear to take the lion’s share of the $125,000 purse and complete six furlongs in 1:09.55 under jockey Alan Garcia. Sly Beauty and Zestina finished second and third, respectively. Alnilah, Magic Spell and Tarawa completed the order of finish.
Previously trained by Gary Scherer, Shakopee Town earned her fifth career win from 11 starts. The four-year-old Jersey Town-Shakopee filly returned $4.90 to win as the 7-5 favourite.
“Gary sure did a wonderful job with her. He’s managed her great. She came to me looking fabulous,” said Attard of the Ulwelling’s homebred filly. “They were looking for some black type. They breed and they own this family so this was obviously a good opportunity and we passed with flying colours.
“They’ve really supported Canadian racing. They’re breeding a lot of horses here in Canada now and in Ontario, and they’re great people to work for. It’s been a pleasure. We enjoy having these good horses come our way.”
Attard has ranked among the top three trainers at the Toronto oval for the past four years, with his stable amassing a career-best local win tally of 55 last year including six stakes at Woodbine.
“We’ve got some nice horses I think,” he said of his stable’s 2019 prospects. “We’ve got a lot of younger horses so hopefully they’ll get to the races and show some potential and develop into good horses later on. We might be a little slow to start, but usually we get rolling towards the end action-wise. We’re hoping for a big year.”
Jockey Luis Contreras kicked off the meet with a victory in the first race aboard the maiden-breaking three-year-old filly Brookies Bear ($3.40) for trainer Ashlee Brnjas and owners Colebrook Farms, Bear Stables Ltd., and Mickey Demers.
Woodbine’s Opening Weekend of live Thoroughbred racing continues on Sunday with an eight-race program, featuring the $100,000 Star Shoot Stakes. First race post time is 1 p.m.