TORONTO, September 28 – Woodbine Racetrack will host Grey Day this Sunday, Oct. 1 featuring the $125,000 Grey Stakes (Grade 3) for two-year-olds as well as the track’s first-ever all-grey horse race.
With the most experience in the field, five-time starter Like What I See headlines the 1-1/16 mile Grey Stakes following back-to-back victories that include a stakes score over six furlongs last time out at Woodbine. Like What I See bested three foes in the $100,000 Colin Stakes on September 2 with Emma-Jayne Wilson aboard, holding off the late-rallying Piven, who he will face again on Sunday.
“Obviously it was his best performance and we found that he had been getting better with his races and getting more racing experience,” said Nicholas Gonzalez, who trains the New Jersey-bred Bold Warrior-After the Applause gelding for his wife Martha and co-owners Julianne Lewis, Richard Rizzo and Ralph Klicker. “Besides being overjoyed with him winning a stake, we kind of had a plan for him and we’ve done it with a couple of other two-year-olds in the past, winning a sprint stakes and going to the Grey, but I guess we’re just going to have see if he can carry his speed that extra distance.”
Gonzalez has watched Like What I See progress from race to race and is hoping the Grey Stakes will allow him to take another step forward in his career development.
“He came out his race great, it boosted his confidence. He’s got lots of experience now because he’s had four good two-year-old races and he’s good and fit. The cool down in the weather is going to help him a lot. We’re just excited and looking forward to running around two turns because that’s going to answer a question regarding his future in years to come.”
Other Grey Stakes contenders include Lookin to Strike, Tale of Vienna, Leopold, Archaggelos and Peppered, who each scored maiden-breaking wins in their last starts.
Sunday’s fifth race will offer a unique sight at the Toronto oval with only grey and/or roan coloured horses competing in the $50,000 Grey Handicap. In addition to the unique registered colour restriction, the one-mile turf event for three-year-olds and up is restricted to horses that have started for a claiming price of $20,000 or less in 2016-2017.
Belle Mahone Stakes runner-up Silver Sidney and top money-earner Hampstead Heath will be handicapped with the most weight among the 10 starters in the field, each assigned 124 pounds.
Four-year-old filly Silver Sidney, whose name reflects her beautiful dappled grey colouring, is campaigned by trainer Warren Wilcox and co-owner Murray Wilcox. A $20,000 claim last May, the Sidney’s Candy-Silver Lullaby filly fit the conditions with the distance also appealing to her connections.
“I don’t think the turf or Tapeta makes a difference, she runs on either track,” said Warren Wilcox. “I like the distance. I think the mile and a sixteenth is probably just a bit too far for her even though she won at it. I think the mile is perfect.”
Silver Sidney prevailed by a neck going 1-1/16 miles on the Woodbine main in early August before finishing second over the same course in the Belle Mahone on September 2.
“I expected a big race out of her,” said Wilcox of Silver Sidney’s recent stakes debut. “She’s improving all the time. She’s getting better with age I guess you could say.
“She runs aggressive. She likes competition, that’s how she is. You put her amongst other horses and she just gets tough and wants to do her thing.”
Silver Sidney’s regular jockey Slade Callaghan will be back aboard on Sunday as she vies for her fifth career win.
Hampstead Head has earned the bulk of his big $588,849 bankroll while racing on the turf. The eight-year-old gelding was claimed by trainer Pat Parente and Hans Surjit for $16,000 off his eighth career winning performance going 1-1/16 miles at Gulfstream Park in early April and has picked up cheques over a mile or longer in three subsequent starts on Woodbine’s turf course. Luis Contreras, who rode last year for a few starts, will be reunited with the son of Macho Uno and Love Kiss.
Gray Phantom is another well named top contender who will be looking to carry his winning momentum into the Grey Handicap. Last time out on August 27 going 1-1/16 miles on the Tapeta, the five-year-old Hard Spun-Down gelding earned his first win since being claimed in mid-July for $20,000 by Augusto Onesi. The Martin Drexler trainee will carry 122 pounds with Eurico Rosa Da Silva listed to ride.
Bangla Dancer, Primordia, Fleetway, Tale of Ronin, Golden Jiggs, Deesse Nike, and Arthur’s Pass complete the field.
Specialty cocktails and signature dishes will be served up on track to complete the Grey Day experience this Sunday, courtesy of Woodbine’s culinary team. For more information on the delicious locally harvested, apple-themed dishes featured on the menu, click here.
Sunday’s 10-race program kicks off at 1 p.m. Here is a complete look at the fields for the afternoon’s featured races:
$125,000 Grey Stakes (Grade 3) – Race 8
Post Position – Jockey – Trainer
1. Lookin to Strike – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse
2. Piven – Eurico Rosa Da Silva – Kevin Attard
3. Tale of Vienna – Omar Moreno – Laurie Silvera
4. Like What I See – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Nicholas Gonzalez
5. Leopold – Gary Boulanger – Eoin Harty
6. Archaggelos – Rafael Hernandez – Michael Dickinson
7. Peppered – Luis Contreras – Reade Baker
$50,000 Grey Handicap – Race 5
Post Position – Jockey – Trainer – Weight
1. Bangla Dancer – Steven Bahen – Daryl Hasmatali – 115
2. Primordia – Juan Crawford – Alison Crook – 114
3. Silver Sidney – Slade Callaghan – Warren Wilcox – 124
4. Fleetway – Jesse Campbell – Jon Cowan – 120
5. Tale of Ronin – Omar Moreno – Reade Baker – 116
6. Golden Jiggs – Christopher Husbands – Mario Williams – 116
7. Hampstead Heath – Luis Contreras – Pat Parente – 124
8. Deesse Nike – Jeffrey Alderson – Julie Belhumeur – 114
9. Arthur’s Pass – Alan Garcia – Donald MacRae – 119
10. Gray Phantom – Eurico Rosa Da Silva – Martin Drexler – 122