Keith McCalmont – Woodbine Entertainment Group
There were familiar names on top of the leader board at the end of Sunday’s 14-race season-ending card at Woodbine which featured a record closing day handle of $6,546,737 as the 133-day meet came to a close on November 29, eclipsing the $5,406,444 wagered a year ago.
Mark Casse recorded his ninth straight training title and tenth overall, winning 80 races, after notching 93 wins in 2014. Casse recorded a record 119 wins in 2011. Casse also led in the purse earnings category, with $6,239,151 compared to $7,780,240 in 2014.
Trainer Kevin Attard, who sent out Melmich to a track record performance in the closing day Grade 3 Valedictory Stakes, landed in the top 5 of the trainer standings for the first time finishing second with 48 wins improving on his 29 triumphs in 2014. Nick Gonzalez and Mike DePaulo tied for third with 43 wins.
Eurico Rosa da Silva, a Sovereign Award winner as outstanding rider in 2010 and 2013, won four races on Sunday’s card to finish as the leading rider with 201 wins in 2015 improving on his 144 wins a year ago. It marks the second riding title for da Silva who led all riders in 2010 with 190 victories. Luis Contreras, three times the meet’s leading rider, finished second with 177 wins.
Mickey Walls’ classic 1991 record of 221 wins remains the most victories posted in a single meet.
Sam-Son Farm led all owners at Woodbine with $2,270,899 in purse earnings, compared to $1,807,655 in 2014. The Milton, Ontario based outfit, who captured the Grade 3 Singspiel with Aldous Snow and the Grade 3 Durham Cup with Golden Sabre, also finished second in wins with 26. Sam-Son are five-time winners (2000, 2001, 2004, 2006 and 2010) of the Sovereign Award as the nation’s outstanding owner. Bruno Schickedanz recorded the most wins with 34. Conquest Stables finished second in purse earnings with $1,954,356 and third in wins with 24.
In July, Stronach Stables’ homebred Shaman Ghost ($8.60), ridden by Rafael Hernandez, hauled down Danish Dynaformer inside the sixteenth pole to win a thrilling 156th edition of the $1 million Queen’s Plate, Canada’s most famous horse race, by one and one-quarter lengths.
It marked the third Plate win for Frank Stronach, following two other homebreds, Basqueian in 1994 and Awesome Again in 1997, but it was the first for trainer Brian Lynch and the first for Hernandez, with his first Plate mount. Shaman Ghost went on to finish second in the Prince of Wales Stakes, second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown, at Fort Erie, falling a neck shy of Breaking Lucky.
Irish-bred Mondialiste ($9.60) and jockey Feargal Lynch rallied furiously down the stretch to edge favoured Lea and win the $1-million, Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile for co-owners Geoff and Sandra Turnbull and trainer David O’Meara. Mondialiste went on to finish second to Tepin in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile.
World champion jockey Ryan Moore took centre stage in October taking the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor aboard favoured Curvy ($6.90) and returned to the winner’s circle 45 minutes later after impressively winning the Grade 1 $1-million, mile and one-half Pattison Canadian International aboard another slight favourite, Cannock Chase ($7.50.)
It marked a record-breaking third consecutive win in the Pattison for Moore, after directing Joshua Tree in 2013 and Hillstar in 2014, the first rider to do so since the race became a turf classic in 1958. It was also the third International win for trainer Sir Michael Stoute, following champion Singspiel in 1996 and last year with Hillstar.
Both Mondialiste and Cannock Chase are slated to take part in the Longines Hong Kong International Races on December 14 at Sha Tin competing in the Group 1 Hong Kong Mile and Group 1 Hong Kong Vase respectively.
Miss Victoria, with six wins from eight starts in the claiming ranks, tied with Grade 3 Valedictory champ Melmich to lead all horses in wins at the meet. The Plate winner, Shaman Ghost, who also captured the Grade 3 Marine Stakes in May, was the leading purse earner with $690,000.
Live thoroughbred racing returns to Woodbine on Saturday, April 9.