TORONTO, January 9 – Welcome to the fourth edition of the weekly Woodbine Snowbirds Report, now in its seventh year, chronicling the winter adventures of Woodbine-based trainers and jockeys currently plying their trade south of the border.
A number of Woodbine trainers kicked off 2018 on a high note last week, including Mike De Paulo, who’s first starter of the new year was a stakes winner. De Paulo sent out Code Warrior to a win in the Abundantia Stakes over five furlongs on turf at Gulfstream Park on January 1.
“She ran a real good race,” De Paulo said. “We weren’t sure if she would really like five-eighths, but she looked like she won pretty easy. She got it done.”
Code Warrior was making her first start for De Paulo and owner Robert Marzilli after being purchased at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale for $190,000. Prior to the sale, Code Warrior was under the care of trainer Rachel Halden, and recorded a win in the Grade 3 Hendrie Stakes at Woodbine on Tapeta on June 4.
Following the sale, De Paulo said Code Warrior was sent to Ocala, Florida to prepare for winter racing at Gulfstream Park.
“When we bought her, we sent her to Ocala instead of shipping her home,” he said. “We were going to try and get her ready for the Bessarabian, but it was going to be a little tight and we just decided we would send her to Ocala, give her a little time there, and move her on to Gulfstream. That seemed to work out real well. They need a little time to acclimatize a little bit.”
Moving forward, De Paulo said Code Warrior would likely run again on Pegasus World Cup day at Gulfstream Park on January 27, in either the $125,000 Ladies’ Turf Sprint over five furlongs or the Grade 3, $125,000 Hurricane Bertie Stakes over seven furlongs on the dirt.
“Our main goal will be at Woodbine, but we’re going to nominate her to a couple of stakes on Pegasus day,” De Paulo said. “The way she ran five-eighths the other day, we’re kind of leaning towards that race right now. It’s back in 26 days so it’s a little quick, but so far, with the way she’s come out of her race, it might be a good spot.”
De Paulo currently has nine horses with him at Gulfstream Park, but is expecting that a few more will be shipped into his barn as the winter moves along. One horse that De Paulo is excited to get back to the races is 2016 Canadian male sprint champion, Noholdingback Bear. Noholdingback Bear recorded a three-furlong breeze in 37.40 seconds on the dirt at Gulfstream Park on January 5, and is working his way back from throat surgery.
“We have Noholdingback Bear here and we’re kind of excited about that,” De Paulo said. “He had his first three-eighths, so we’re a little ways away. He had a throat surgery and it looks like things are doing well in that department, so we’re hoping to get him back.”
In all, De Paulo at three starters at Gulfstream Park last week. Along with Code Warrior, De Paulo also sent out First Goal to a seventh-place finish on January 4 and Beyond Smart to a fourth-place finish on January 6.
Five other Woodbine trainers found the winner’s circle last week, including a pair of trainers that sent out stakes winners. Mark Casse recorded a stakes win with Queen’s Plate prospect Flameaway in the Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Gulfstream Park on January 6. In all, Casse recorded three wins over the week from 14 starters, as he also sent out Pretty Lady and Ride a Comet to wins at Fair Grounds on January 1 and January 6, respectively. Another pair of Casse horses also placed in stakes last week, including Closer Still, who ran second in the Ginger Brew Stakes at Gulfstream Park on January 6, and Win the War, who finished third in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes at Santa Anita on January 7.
Kevin Attard picked up his first winner of the Gulfstream Park meet when Piven won the Limehouse Stakes by four lengths on January 6. Attard also sent out Trini Pleasure (seventh, Jan. 4) and Bold Animaux (11th, Jan. 6) last week.
Nick Gonzalez continued his strong start to the Gulfstream meeting with a win by Savannah Roxanna on January 4.
Steve Owens won the first race of the 2018 calendar year at Gulfstream Park when White Moon won the opener on January 1.
Pat Parente also recorded a winner on New Year’s Day with Titochip at Gulfstream Park on January 1.
A pair of Woodbine jockeys also made it to the winner’s circle last week, including Luis Contreras, who had two winners during the weekend at Sunland Park. Contreras rode Shining Source to a stakes win in the Albert Dominguez Memorial Handicap on January 7 and also rode Snowbound Jones to a win on January 6. Contreras also recorded three runner-up finishes from his seven starters last week.
Ismael Mosqueira recorded a win with Royal Privacy at Turf Paradise on January 7. His other starter of the week, Amber Ale, finished eighth on January 6.
Kirk Johnson picked up a runner-up finish from three starters at Mahoning Valley last week, as Barnesland ran second on January 2.
Michelle Rainford also hit the board with Hemmin and Hawin, who ran second at Penn National on January 3.
Sheena Ryan recorded three starters at Tampa Bay Downs last week, with her best finish coming on Cobras Dragon Lady, who ran fourth in the ninth race on January 7.
Here’s a look at how the other Woodbine trainers fared last week, in alphabetical order, starting with, Sid Attard, who recorded a fifth-place finish with Storm Ruler at Gulfstream Park on January 3.
Roger Attfield sent out Delamar to a fourth-place finish in the Ginger Brew Stakes at Gulfstream Park on January 6.
Thalias Fire finished seventh at Tampa Bay Downs on January 3 for Julie Belhumeur.
Michael Blake recorded a fifth-place finish with Ole Ole Ole at Laurel Park on January 7.
Orbortunistic finished seventh at Gulfstream Park on January 7 for Gail Cox.
Mike Doyle sent out his first starter of the Gulfstream meet, Honig, who finished 11th on January 6.
Scott Fairlie recorded a runner-up finish from Hemmin and Hawin at Penn National on January 3.
Eldorado’s Soul finished seventh at Turfway Park on January 6 for Preston Ferris.
Paula Loescher sent out Perfetto to a fifth-place finish at Tampa Bay Downs on January 3.
Niigon’s Legacy finished sixth at Laurel Park on January 7 as the only starter for Donald MacRae last week.
Michael McDonald had one starter last week, Red Sails, who finished 11th at Gulfstream Park on January 7.
John Simms sent out Magic Holiday to a sixth-place finish at Tampa Bay Downs on January 3.
Houdini Affair hit the board with a third-place finish at Gulfstream Park on January 5 for Stuart Simon.
William Tharrenos sent out a trio of starters at Gulfstream Park last week, including Trajecly Hipp, who finished third on January 4. Tharrenos’ other starters of the week both finished fourth, including Stormbeam on January 3 and Paddy Point on January 4.