TORONTO, April 19 – Uncle B, a runner-up in the Swynford Stakes here in November, takes on a talented field of eight sprinters in Saturday’s $100,000 Woodstock Stakes, at Woodbine.
Trained by Nick Gonzalez for his wife Martha Gonzalez and co-owner Lou Tucci, Uncle B arrives home to Woodbine from a trio of winter races in Florida including a sharp score in the OBS Sprint Stakes on January 24. A son of Zensational, Uncle B blasted clear of six rivals in the $50,000 OBS Sprint Stakes at Ocala Training Center en route to setting a six-furlong track record of 1:08.60 over the synthetic surface. Uncle B came out of that event to run a strong second in the Texas Glitter Stakes, a five furlong turf sprint at Gulfstream Park on February 25.
The handsome grey, a 6 1/4-length winner at second asking under returning rider Emma-Jayne Wilson, showed talent early.
"I always thought he could do just about anything," said Gonzalez. "If you look at the turf race he ran last time, he got shuffled around on the backside and closed ground. So, I think this (the Woodstock) is one of those races where if we break a step slow or some horse goes crazy down the backside he could sit. He’s rateable. Maybe down the line we can try him a little farther."
Gonzalez enjoyed a good winter at Gulfstream Park boasting a record of 6-14-9 from 49 starts through the December to April meet. The veteran conditioner, who won the Queen’s Plate with Big Red Mike in 2010 and again in 2013 with Midnight Aria, is a believer in preparing horses south of the border for the Woodbine meet.
"That’s important," agreed Gonzalez. "We’ve been planning on running in this race and that’s why I got Uncle B into those races in Florida and spaced them out with the Woodstock in mind."
Uncle B breezed four furlongs in :47.60 on April 12 over the Woodbine main in preparation for Saturday’s test.
"We wanted him fresh and the cool weather coming back from Florida inspired him," said Gonzalez of the sharp breeze. "We didn’t overdo it this winter. He’s an easy trainer and goes through the motions quite easy for us. We’re looking forward to Saturday."
The Woodstock, a six furlong sprint for three-year-olds, features four Queen’s Plate nominated runners including Sailing Home, Woodbridge, Yorkton and Marten River.
Sailing Home, an impressive 9 3/4-length maiden on debut at Woodbine, finished third behind Uncle B in the Swynford to complete his juvenile campaign for trainer Mark Casse and owner Conrad Farms. The Mast Track chestnut has raced three times as a sophomore including a good fourth, defeated less than three lengths, in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 4. Patrick Husbands will ride.
Woodbridge, trained by Mike Keogh for co-owner and breeder Gus Schickedanz, kept strong company in his five start juvenile campaign that included a third in the Vandal Stakes when sprinting 6 1/2-furlongs on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course. A maiden winner around two turns at Woodbine, Woodbridge wintered in South Carolina where he won the City of Aiken Trophy at the Aiken Trials. Jesse Campbell has the call.
Yorkton, a Chiefswood Stable homebred son of Speightstown trained by Stu Simon, won second time out at Woodbine when sprinting six furlongs in a maiden allowance tilt. The bay has raced twice at Gulfstream Park this winter but was off the board both times. Leading rider Eurico Rosa da Silva jumps aboard for the first time.
Marten River was a well backed winner on debut for owner-trainer David Bell. The dark bay son of Silent Name sprinted gate to wire for a 4 1/4-length score on June 5 when piloted by Jesse Campbell. Marten River has posted a series of impressive works in the morning over the Woodbine Tapeta in preparation for his seasonal debut including an April 8 bullet breeze in :59 flat. David Moran will ride.
Night Watchman, First Goal and Lokinforpursemonee complete a wide-open affair.
The Woodstock is slated as Race 8 on Saturday’s 10-race card. First post time is 1PM. Fans can watch and wager on all the action via HPIBet.com.
FIELD FOR THE $100,000 WOODSTOCK STAKES
POST / HORSE / JOCKEY / TRAINER
1 / Sailing Home / Patrick Husbands / Mark Casse
2 / Night Watchman / Rafael Hernandez / Barb Minshall
3 / First Goal / Gary Boulanger / Mike DePaulo
4 / Uncle B / Emma-Jayne Wilson / Nick Gonzalez
5 / Woodbridge / Jesse Campbell / Mike Keogh
6 / Yorkton / Eurico Rosa da Silva / Stu Simon
7 / Marten River / David Moran / David Bell
8 / Lokinforpursemonee / Luis Contreras / John Ross