TORONTO, February 26 – Welcome to the eighth edition of our weekly Snowbirds report chronicling the winter adventures of Woodbine-based trainers currently plying their trade south of the border.
It was yet another successful week for our travelling trainers with five wins, including a pair of pictures snapped in the winning $3.5-million Pick 6 Jackpot sequence at Gulfstream.
But, let’s start with Malcolm Pierce’s talented three-year-old filly, Deceptive Vision.
A gorgeous bay daughter of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner A. P. Indy, Deceptive Vision is a full sister to Sam-Son Farms’ 2009 Queen’s Plate winner Eye of the Leopard.
Pierce, who has compiled five wins and three thirds from 11 starts in 2013, saddled the filly for her maiden score on Jan. 4 at the Fair Grounds, dominating a field of six by 3 ¼-lengths.
Deceptive Vision returned to action on Feb. 22, in a $47,000 allowance and $50,000 optional claiming event at a mile and 70 yards, raced over a muddy track.
“I thought the track was going to dry out a little better than it did as we hadn’t had rain most of the afternoon,” said Pierce. “It was late and we’d had our Lasix, and I probably wouldn’t have run her except the timing of the race was perfect for her to get her to the next step.”
Pierce is pointing Deceptive Vision at the Woodbine Oaks, a race her dam, Eye of the Sphynx, captured in 2004.
Sent to post as the mutuel favourite under rider Shaun Bridgmohan, Deceptive Vision raced wide, from third position, through the early going behind pacesetter Truly Majestic and second-choice Irish Lute.
Irish Lute commanded the lead at the three-quarter pole and briefly fended off Deceptive Vision at the quarter-pole, but Bridgmohan persevered with the Sam-Son filly who powered by for a half-length score.
“I didn’t think she was going to get by Irish Lute,” said Pierce. “At one point, it looked like Shaun gave her a little breather and asked her to run again and she just tried so hard. She’s got a lot of determination that filly.”
Deceptive Vision stopped the clock in 1:44.26, good for a career-best 81 Beyer Speed Figure.
Despite a slight issue coming out of the race, Pierce notes the filly is still on track to try stakes company next time out.
“She actually bruised a foot in the race. It will be a couple days setback, but we’ll be okay with that,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of options with her now, and I’d say she’ll go to a stakes race.”
Three potential races for the Sam-Son Farm homebred are the $500,000 Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks (Mar. 30), raced at 1 1/16-mile on the dirt; the $500,000 Grade 1 Ashland (Apr. 6), raced at 1 1/16-mile on the Keeneland synthetic; or the $100,000 Grade 3 Appalachian (Apr. 18), raced at one mile on the Keeneland turf.
“We’ve got three good options for her and we’ll let her tell us when she’s ready to run again, but we definitely want to space her races out and have a fresh horse come June at Woodbine,” said Pierce.
Pierce, who has taken his time preparing the filly, is confident Deceptive Vision is ready to take the next step.
“She’s improved. Shaun Bridgmohan has ridden her both starts here at the Fair Grounds. He’s been breezing her in-between and he’s noticed a big difference with her,” offered Pierce. “She’s more focused, still learning, but she’s getting better every week. Shaun is very happy with her and she’s going in the right direction. She’s filling out and still growing.”
Pierce, who also sent out Checkered Past to a third-place finish on Feb. 23 at Fair Grounds, is excited about returning to Woodbine in April with a strong group of three-year-olds that includes Coronation Futurity champ Up With The Birds and improving fillies Dance Again and Smartyfly.
“Sam-Son Farms likes to race at Woodbine and it’s always nice to win at home,” said Pierce.
Two Woodbine-based horses were part of a record $3.5-million Rainbow Pick 6 payout at Gulfstream Park last week – – a wager that pays out when one ticket correctly selects six-consecutive winners.
Keyner Veloz (56-1) got the Pick 6 rolling, and was followed by Original Cast, a four-year-old gelding trained by Brian Lynch for the Up Hill Stable, who rallied for the win at odds of 9-2, in a five-furlong turf sprint defeating favoured D’Pepjo by 1 ½-lengths.
Odalys Halo (17-1) romped the next leg followed by Artie’s Jasper (7-1).
In the penultimate leg of the Pick 6, Mays Treasuretrove (10-1), owned and trained by Mike DePaulo, chased the early pace of Backstage Magic (14-1) before tipping out to win by a neck under jockey Luis Contreras.
The $3.5-million payday concluded with Feline Forum (10-1) drawing clear by 3 ¼-lengths over the favoured Green Waters – – trained by Woodbine-based Dan Vella.
Additional Woodbine winners through the week included Shane Learn who saddled Chief Thundercloud for a narrow neck score on Feb. 25, at Parx.
Learn, sporting a smart record of three wins and three seconds from nine starts in 2013, also sent out World Record for a fifth-place finish on Feb. 23 at the Pennsylvania oval.
Completing the winner’s ledger for the relevant period was Lady Geegee who romped by 4 3/4-lengths for James Smith at Laurel Park, on Feb. 21.
And now, let’s take a run through the rest of the results in alphabetical order.
Exactor bettors got their money’s worth, when Tino Attard’s Money’s Worth rallied to be second at odds of 19-1 on Feb. 24, completing a nifty $362.60 payout in a one-mile turf tilt won by Corinthiano.
Roger Attfield sent out Lime Drop Kid for a fourth-place finish at Gulfstream on Feb. 22.
No delight for Reade Baker last week as his lone starter, Turkish, finished fourth, defeated just a length.
A busy week for Josie Carroll who compiled a record of a second and a third from five starters: Forgotten Vow (2nd, Feb. 21 at FG), Tactful Cathy (8th, Feb. 22 at FG), Hall’s Village (3rd, Feb. 23 at FG), Tesseron (4th, Feb. 23 at GP) and One Foxy Grey (5th, Feb. 24 at GP).
Mark Casse, enduring a bit of a cold spell at the moment while racing in Florida, saddled Gentleman Jackson for a second-place effort at Gulfstream on Feb. 22.
Casse, who will be buoyed by Kentucky Derby hopeful Uncaptured’s smart five-panel breeze in :59.80 this morning at Ocala Training Center, also sent out five starters at Tampa Bay downs last week: Egg Hunt (8th, Feb. 20), Bingo (6th, Feb. 20), Cheerful Heart (6th, Feb. 21), Art of Bourbon (6th, Feb. 21) and Favorite Melody (DNF as the saddle slipped, Feb. 24).
Jim Ensom has yet to start a horse in 2013, but he did claim a pair of horses last week at Fair Grounds including Holiday Ballad ($5,000) and At the Sagamore ($20,000).
At the Sagamore won a pair of sprints at Woodbine last year while racing for Terry Jordan. Perhaps Ensom, who won last year’s season opener with Absolute Heaven, is already planning a quick start to his 2013 meet.
Love Me or Not (4th, Feb. 22), Milwaukee Blitz (9th, Feb. 23) and Chokurei (7th, Feb. 24) raced for a busy Mark Frostad at Gulfstream through the relevant period.
Safety Zone (11th, Feb. 24) didn’t factor as the lone starter for Nick Gonzalez.
John Mattine saddled English Crossing to a sixth-place effort on Feb. 23, at Gulfstream.
Elite Warrior is still seeking his maiden score for Michael McDonald following a game second-place run, defeated just a length, at Gulfstream on Feb. 22.
John Simms sent out a quartet of starters at Tampa Bay Downs: Dani’s Regal Lady (5th, Feb. 20), Clever King (5th, Feb. 21), River Slaney (3rd, Feb. 23) and Zee’s Surprise (3rd, Feb. 24).
Zip It Nance (7th, Feb. 24) was the lone starter for Katerina Vassilieva at Gulfstream.
And finally, Dan Vella, who sent out the previously mentioned Green Waters to be second in the final leg of the lucrative Pick 6, also saddled Piper Future to a ninth-place effort on Feb. 24, at Gulfstream.