JC / Railbird


Wrong-Way Goes Okay

Neat — Woodbine tested a clockwise turf race on Monday:

“There were no major problems, and that was one of the key things,” [jockey Emma-Jayne] Wilson said. “That’s the biggest thing. We wanted to make sure that everything would go smoothly. This was as close to a race scenario as possible and everyone handled it well. There is still a learning curve to it. The horses that have never done it will take a second to say, ‘Ok, now I get it, I’ve got to take a right turn.’”

Woodbine management will run as many as 40 clockwise turf races during the 2016 meet. The intent is to spice up the racing programs and to use a part of the turf course (the clubhouse turn) that is rarely run over since most normal races over Woodbine’s expansive grass course are run around one turn. The first clockwise pari-mutuel race is scheduled for June 10.

Sounds as though the “wrong-way” races could be dramatic:

“It’s a very short homestretch,” Ramsammy said. “You are looking for a horse that has a good spurt early, definitely a speed horse.”

A Good One

He’ll be missed:

Strait of Dover often wore a quizzical gaze and his cocky personality won over his handlers along the backstretch. He had an unusually large head, so they called him “Potato.”

The 4-year-old 2012 Queen’s Plate winner died of colic on July 14. Robert MacLeod’s account of his final days is heartbreaking.

How Things Change

Jeremy Plonk has a realization re: how betting is changing at Woodbine:

It reminds me a lot of playing online through Xpressbet and other ADW outlets. We trust ourselves and trust the technology every single day we play. We just don’t typically do it at the racetrack, because we’re often too stuck on tradition to realize how society has changed.

Journalism changes, too: Steven Crist on 35 years at Saratoga.

Woodbine Wrap-Up

The horse, the jockey, and, of course, the roast beef sandwich. It’s Canadian International day 2012, as seen by Ernie Munick:

A few odds and ends from International weekend …

Next Question will be the sole Breeders’ Cup Challenge winner from Sunday to ship to Santa Anita. Prepping for the Turf Sprint in the Nearctic Stakes worked for Regally Ready in 2011, but Next Question will have to contend with the downhill turf course and reproduce the best race of his career to win.

Is there a bigger international racing star than Frankie Dettori? People love him. They love his exuberance. They love his flying leap. It’s no exaggeration that the second loudest cheer of International day, after the cheer at the International finish, came from the crowd when the rider launched himself off Joshua Tree in the Woodbine winner’s circle.

The roast beef sandwich sold in the grandstand really was as good as it looks in Ernie’s video, but the dishes and desserts — seasonal cold salads and roasted vegetables, short rib sliders and spicy shrimp and fava bean croquettes, pumpkin brûlée and florentines dipped in chocolate — turned out by the Woodbine kitchen, headed by chefs Joseph Lesch and Michael Mortensen, and served at the Canadian International draw luncheon and cocktail party, were exceptional. I haven’t eaten so well at a racetrack, ever.

Also notable was Chef Joseph’s chocolate plum cake.

And the avocado panna cotta, part of the raw bar spread.

My thanks to Woodbine media coordinator Keith McCalmont (@tripledeadheat) for inviting me to visit, and to everyone I met for their hospitality. It was a terrific weekend, and I hope to make it back next year.

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