TORONTO, April 4 – Welcome to the 14th and final edition of the weekly Snowbirds report, now in its sixth year, chronicling the winter adventures of Woodbine-based trainers and jockeys currently plying their trade south of the border.
Seven Woodbine trainers found the winner’s circle in racing action last week, including Malcolm Pierce, who sent out Quiet Sea to a win in his second career start over 1 1/16-miles on the Tampa Bay Downs turf on March 31.
“It was nice to get his maiden broke,” Pierce said. “He ran well in his first start, but he came back and ran even better in his second start. He’s always acted like a nice horse. It’s just taken a long time to get him to the races, but the patience has paid off.”
Pierce has now wrapped up his winter at Tampa Bay Downs, recording three wins and eight in-the-money finishes in 14 starts, and will be shipping his horses back to Woodbine later this week. Pierce said he expects his stable will be fairly active to start the Woodbine season.
“We didn’t run very many horses (at Tampa Bay Downs), but hopefully, we’re going to make up for it when we get home,” he said. “I think I’m bringing a bunch of fit horses up the road. We’re going to be in action pretty early, starting the second week at Woodbine. I have nothing for opening week, but I think the second weekend there are some spots that fit my horses. Hopefully, the races fill and we can get rolling pretty quick when we get home.”
Mythical Mission… (Courtesy of Mike Burns)
Pierce was also hopeful his Canadian-bred 3-year olds will be active for some big races at Woodbine in the coming months, including the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks and $1-million Queen’s Plate. One of Pierce’s Oaks hopefuls is Mythical Mission, a full-sister to multiple graded stakes winner, Irish Mission. Mythical Mission has been working regularly at Tampa Bay Downs in recent weeks, and Pierce said it was likely she will make her 3-year old debut in the $125,000 Fury Stakes over seven furlongs on Tapeta on April 30.
“She’s been working here,” he said. “We had thought about running her at Keeneland in the Appalachian, but we decided to just bring her home and wait for a spot at Woodbine. It looks like the Fury might be the only place to get her started and get her season going. We’re sure hoping she takes to the Tapeta in the Fury.”
Pierce added that he’s looking forward to seeing Mythical Mission get back on the turf later this year.
“We’re thinking that she’s going to be a better horse once she gets back on the turf again, but unfortunately, there won’t be any turf for a while up at Woodbine,” he said.
Pierce said he also had a pair of Queen’s Plate hopefuls in Malibu Secret and Clutch Catch. Malibu Secret made his career debut last August at Woodbine with a runner-up finish behind Channel Maker in the Vandal Stakes over yielding turf, but has not raced since then.
“We’re a little behind schedule with him,” Pierce said. “We’re still hoping he can get (to the Queen’s Plate), but he’s still a maiden. There’s lots of options and places to run him in a maiden race at Woodbine.”
Clutch Catch, meanwhile, recorded a pair of turf starts in maiden special weight events at Tampa Bay Downs this winter, finishing second on December 30 and fourth on March 26.
“I have a little horse here that hasn’t run bad, Clutch Catch,” Pierce said. “We gelded him and lost some time over the winter, but he’s coming around now. He’s a possibility. We’ll find out how much talent he has in the next couple of months.”
Pierce said Tidal Dancer, who finished second behind Tiz a Slam in the Cup and Saucer Stakes on turf at Woodbine in October, likely won’t make the Queen’s Plate after suffering an injury.
“He had an injury and he had some time off,” he said. “He’s way behind the eight ball.”
Other Woodbine trainers to record wins last week included Mark Casse, who had a Kentucky Oaks contender emerge on Saturday when Salty captured the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks. Casse then recorded his second stakes win of the weekend with World Approval in the EG Vodka Turf Classic Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Sunday. Casse also had another three runners finish second in stakes events last week, including Queen’s Plate nominee State of Honor in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and Mississippi Delta in the Grade 2 Honey Fox Stakes at Gulfstream Park, and Salute With Honor in the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
Salty… (Courtesy of Gulfstream Park)
Sid Attard sent out Gilded Warrior to a win at Gulfstream Park on March 31. Attard’s other starter of the week, Supreme Commander, finished sixth at Gulfstream on April 2.
Ashlee Brnjas recorded a win and two runner-up finishes from three starters at Tampa Bay Downs last week. Brnjas saddled Krz Princess to victory on March 31, while both Trajecly Hipp and Into the Mystic ran second in their respective races on March 29.
Josie Carroll got her first win of the Gulfstream Park meet when Lukes Alley recorded a dead-heat victory on April 1. Carroll also sent out Involuntary to a runner-up finish on March 30 and Tesseron to a third-place finish on March 29.
Lukes Alley… (Courtesy of Gulfstream Park)
Scott Fairlie sent out Sick Love to victory at Penn National on March 29. The win was the 998th of Fairlie’s career.
Queen’s Plate nominee Time to Travel recorded a 4 3/4-length victory at Gulfstream Park on April 1 for Rachel Halden.
Time to Travel… (Courtesy of Gulfstream Park)
A pair of Woodbine jockeys also picked up wins last week, including Luis Contreras and Rafael Hernandez. Contreras recorded a win from 16 starts at Oaklawn Park last week, and also guided Breaking Lucky to a runner-up finish in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds on Saturday. Hernandez, meanwhile, recorded a win from 12 starts at Hawthorne last week.
Here’s a look at how the other Woodbine trainers fared last week, in alphabetical order, starting with Tino Attard, who had two horses dead-heat for third in the 10th race at Gulfstream Park on Sunday. Both Entwistle and Rock Eagle shared third-place in the $16,000 claiming event over 1 1/16-miles on turf, while Hidden Turn finished sixth at Gulfstream on March 30.
Queen’s Plate nominee Final Copy finished seventh at Tampa Bay Downs on March 31 for Roger Attfield.
Reade Baker sent out Breaking Lucky to a narrow defeat in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds on April 1.
Breaking Lucky… (Courtesy of Janis Maine)
Hammerstein finished sixth at Tampa Bay Downs on April 1 for Darwin Banach.
Julie Belhumeur saddled Dostoyevsky to a fifth-place finish at Tampa Bay Downs on March 29.
Boo finished seventh at Gulfstream Park on March 30 for Gail Cox.
Mike Doyle sent out Grizzel to a fourth-place finish in the Sanibel Island Stakes at Gulfstream Park on April 1.
Nicholas Gonzalez recorded a pair of in-the-money finishes from three starters last week at Gulfstream Park, as Into the Future finished second on March 29, while Camaria finished third on March 31. Gonzalez’s other starter of the week, Flashy Val, finished fifth on March 29.
Brian Lynch had three runners hit the board from five starters at Gulfstream Park last week, as Hammers Vision was second on April 1, while both Meantime and Infinite Wisdom were third on the same day. Lynch’s other starters of the week included Narrow Escape (7th, Mar. 31) and Lowi Vene (7th, Apr. 2).
John Mattine sent out four starters at Gulfstream Park last week, including Citrus Storm (7th, Mar. 29), Tonedaddy (6th, Mar. 31), Red At Last (7th, Mar. 31), and Slam (8th, Apr. 2).
Virga finished fourth at Gulfstream Park on March 31 for Michael McDonald.
Pat Parente saddled one runner at Gulfstream Park last week, as Dynamite Kid finished seventh on March 31.
Julie Robillard sent out a pair of runners at Tampa Bay Downs last week, including R Quick Temper, who finished second on April 1, and Mousquetaire, who finished fourth on March 29.
John Simms recorded three starts at Tampa Bay Downs last week, including Asian Moonlady (7th, Mar. 29), Leave Er B (4th, Mar. 31), and Reel Good Movie (8th, Mar. 31).
Michael Wright sent out Unbridled Majesty to a fifth-place finish at Tampa Bay Downs on April 1 and Spunsational to an eighth-place finish at Tampa Bay Downs on April 2.