TORONTO, February 5, 2019 – Welcome to the fifth edition of the weekly Woodbine Snowbirds report, now in its eighth year, chronicling the winter adventures of Woodbine-based trainers and jockeys currently plying their trade south of the border.
This week, we check in with trainer Barb Minshall, who currently has a string of 12 horses with her at Winding Oaks Farm in Ocala, Florida, with more set to join her soon. Minshall had just one starter last week, as Majestic Melody finished fourth at Tampa Bay Downs on February 2.
Overall, it’s been a successful start to the winter so far for Minshall, who’s already raced much more this winter than she has in the past. Minshall has recorded seven starters at the current Tampa Bay Downs meet, with a pair of wins from Admiralty Pier and Blue Eyed Girl.
“I haven’t raced this much for 10 years,” said Minshall. “I might have raced the odd one but not like this. I’ve got several horses up here in Ocala and every horse I’ve got is supposed to race. We’re trying to find a level on some horses. We’re trying to get some horses running and see what happens, and see which ones fit and which ones don’t.”
A big weekend is ahead for Minshall, who will send out a pair of horses in graded stakes events on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs. Minshall will run Admiralty Pier in the Grade 3, $175,000 Tampa Bay Stakes for four-year-olds and upward over 1 1/16-miles on turf, and she’ll also send out Get Explicit in the Grade 3, $175,000 Endeavour Stakes for four-year-old and upward fillies and mares, also over 1 1/16-miles on turf.
Admiralty Pier will come into the Tampa Bay Stakes off of a victory in an allowance event at Tampa Bay Downs on January 18. Minshall said Admiralty Pier got hurt following a start in the Grade 2 American Turf Stakes at Churchill Downs back in May and missed six months of action during the 2018 campaign.
“I just got him back and it was the last day of racing (at Woodbine),” she said. “He wasn’t 100 per cent ready and he was very rank that day. He got a race under him. We definitely couldn’t stop on him because he was turf anyways. I got to race him at Tampa in an allowance race to try and regroup, and we’re going to run him this coming weekend.”
Minshall is hopeful that a strong winter could lay the foundation for Admiralty Pier to be competitive in longer turf stakes at Woodbine that will come in the summer and into the fall.
“It’s going to be a step up racing against older horses on turf in a stakes race, but it’s where he has to go now,” she said. “I think if he gets to go longer on the turf that will be an advantage for him. I’m hoping he will be good for Woodbine for some of those later races in the year.”
Get Explicit, meanwhile, will make her first start since finishing second in the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere Stakes at Churchill Downs in November. After winning an allowance race on the turf at Woodbine in October, Get Explicit ran strong back-to-back finishes in graded stakes in the Grade 3 Valley View Stakes at Keeneland in October and the Mrs. Revere. Minshall said she’s been pleased with the way Get Explicit has been training in the lead up to the Endeavour.
“She’s training great,” she said. “She had a little layoff, which she deserved. She enjoyed it enough that she kind of got a little chubby on me and I’ve been training her pretty hard to get her back fit. With her last two breezes, I feel like she’s fit now and she’s in good shape. We’ll get her back in action and hopefully it’s the start of another progressive year.”
Another promising horse in the Minshall barn is three-year-old Kentucky-bred filly Another Time. Another Time won back-to-back races at Woodbine to finish the 2018 season and then ran a strong third in her stakes debut in the Gasparilla Stakes over seven furlongs on dirt at Tampa Bay Downs on January 19. Minshall said she is targeting the Grade 2, $200,000 Davona Dale Stakes over one mile on dirt at Gulfstream Park on March 2 for Another Time’s next start.
“I think she’ll go a little farther,” she said. “The last race she ran in was seven-eighths. It was a very speed favouring track that day and I thought she ran well taking a lot of dirt in her face the first time. I think she might stretch out. I think that’s something we’ll look at and then we’ll have the option to back up a little bit if need be.”
While it’s been a successful start so far for Minshall, expect to see more of Minshall’s horses in the entry box at both Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Park through February and March before the stable moves north for the Keeneland meet in April on the way back to Woodbine.
Three Woodbine trainers made trips to the winner’s circle last week, including Mark Casse, who won a pair of races. Casse’s week was highlighted by Power Gal’s victory in the Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn Park on February 2 and he also sent out Our Braintrust to a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct on February 2. Casse’s other victory of the week came with Souper Scat Daddy at Gulfstream Park on January 31 and he finished the week with two wins, two runner-up finishes and two third-place finishes from 15 total starters.
Norm McKnight also made a pair of trips to the winner’s circle last week at Oaklawn Park, as Giant Pulpit won on February 1 and Rock n’ Candy won on February 2. In all, McKnight recorded two wins and a runner-up finish from nine total starters at Oaklawn Park last week.
Michael Maker recorded a win with Sapphire Jubilee at Gulfstream Park on February 3 and also recorded three third-place finishes from Blue Lute (January 31), Victor Lounge (January 31) and Cover Photo (February 1) from 10 total starters last week.
Four Woodbine jockeys also won races last week, led by Luis Contreras, who rode six winners at Sunland Park. Among the six winners for Contreras was Hustle Up, who won the Red Hedeman Mile Stakes. Contreras also rode Ruffy Stick (January 29), Seams Discreet (January 29), Howdy (January 29), Soaring Cid (February 2) and Hereditary (February 3) to wins at Sunland. In all, Contreras recorded six wins, two second-place finishes and five third-place finishes from 22 starts last week.
Gary Boulanger won his first race of the winter in his first start with Two to Go at Tampa Bay Downs on February 3. Boulanger also rode Monkey Money to a third-place finish on the same card.
Chantal Sutherland was back in the winner’s circle with Outback Jack at Fair Grounds on January 28. In all, Sutherland recorded a win, two runner-up finishes and three third-place finishes from 12 starts at Fair Grounds last week.
Kirk Johnson won with Jay Wow at Mahoning Valley on February 2. Johnson also recorded in-the-money finishes with Commissioned (2nd, January 29), Martinkelly (3rd, January 29), and Lovetobehappy (3rd, January 29) last week.
Rafael Hernandez recorded a pair of runner-up finishes from nine starters at Aqueduct last week, as Deep Sea and Short Kakes were both second on the February 1 card.
Ademar Santos had a runner-up finish and two third-place finishes at Tampa Bay Downs last week. Santos rode Neuqua to a second-place finish on January 30, while All This Jazz and Peppi the Hunter were both third on the February 3 card.
Jerome Lermyte rode Furiously Fast to a fourth-place finish at Fair Grounds on January 28.
Isabelle Wenc also recorded a fourth-place finish with her only mount of the week at Mahoning Valley when Edging finished fourth on February 2.
Here’s a look at how the other Woodbine trainers fared last week, in alphabetical order, starting with Kevin Attard, who sent out Carlos Sixes to a fourth-place finish at Gulfstream Park on January 31.
Sid Attard sent out a pair of starters at Gulfstream Park last week, including Almost Perfect, who finished second on February 1. Attard’s other starter of the week was Red Sahara, who finished eighth on February 1.
Roger Attfield also had a pair of starters at Gulfstream Park last week, including Music Major, who finished seventh on January 31, and Kylla Instinct, who finished sixth on February 3.
I Wonder finished eighth at Gulfstream Park on February 3 for Josie Carroll.
Steven Chircop sent out Bilky Bluz to a fourth-place finish at Laurel Park on February 1.
Strict Vow finished ninth at Gulfstream Park on February 3 for Gail Cox.
Catherine Day Phillips saddled Abe Froman to a ninth-place finish at Gulfstream Park on January 30.
Blakey was placed eighth at Gulfstream Park on February 2 for Michael De Paulo.
John Mattine sent out three starters at Gulfstream Park last week, including Caspian Jewel (4th, January 31), Rock You (7th, February 1), and Calais Cove (5th, February 3).
Charmaine’s Mia finished fifth at Gulfstream Park on January 31 for Michael McDonald.
Gerald Seymour sent out Wage Acceleration to a ninth-place finish at Aqueduct on February 2.
John Simms saddled a pair of runners at Tampa Bay Downs last week, including Wolf’s Cry (6th, January 30) and Gold Shark (5th, February 2).
Queen’s Plate prospect My Silencer finished eighth in his first start as a three-year-old in the Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park on February 3 for William Tharrenos.