Woodbine Diaries, Day 4
I woke up excited this morning, and headed directly from my hotel to the track on a pristine morning. Once I got to the main Woodbine entrance, I was greeted by the jockey colony just inside the doors. They were introducing themselves to fans, signing autographs, and chatting with everyone who stopped by.
There was also a trio of musicians at the entrance, making the people feel welcome as they arrived at the track on Ontario’s signature day of racing.
After that, it was post time for the first race on the Woodbine Mile Stakes (Can-G1) program, and jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson started the day off right by earning her 1000th career victory aboard D’wildcat Gold.
I caught up with her right after the race and asked her about the experience.
“As we started to pull away from Jermaine [Bridgemohan]’s horse [runner-up Perfect Balance] I kind of had a little giggle. It was surreal to enjoy the moment for the last eighth of a mile,” Wilson said. “I knew he was running well, so I just kinda giggled through the last sixteenth (of a mile.) It’s good to get that milestone, and now we’re counting to 1,001 – let’s go!”
She added that it was great to get her 1000th win on Woodbine Mile day: “It’s good to do it on a big day and have a lot of people out here.”
After that, I met up with some bloggers and social media figures who were guests of the track that day. We met up in the paddock to see the contenders up close and take in the sights.
We then got to go on a tour of the Jockeys’ room, which was very cool. We got to see where the riders’ saddles were kept between races:
And then we caught top jockey Garret Gomez watching some T.V. Jockeys: they’re just like us!
After that, we headed into the Colors Room. This is the area of the track where all of the silks are kept. It’s really incredible to imagine the kind of organization it takes to make sure that each rider goes out in the correct silks for each race. Fortunately, Woodbine has Tyrone Harding in charge. He’s an ex-jockey himself, so he really understands the importance of the job, and he keeps everything in meticulous order.
While we were there, too, we got to see apprentice jockey Skye Chernetz practicing her riding on an Equicizer. This is a machine that not only helps riders stay fit, but teaches them to really work on rhythm and balance. You can tell how fast she was going since my trusty Nikon can take five frames a second.
After our tour, it was time for the Canadian Stakes (Can-G2) for fillies three years old and older, and a big crowd was lined up at the rail to enjoy the beautiful day and take in some top-notch racing.
Nine fillies went to post, and it was #4 Barefoot Lady who emerged the victor. Jockey David Moran picked up the mount that morning on the Irish-bred filly, and he certainly proved to be up to the task after winning by a length and a half!
He was all smiles as he headed to the winner’s circle after the race.
Barefoot Lady seemed quite pleased with herself, too, as she enjoyed a bath after her win.
Up next was the Ontario Derby (Can-G3), and Stealcase took home the lion’s share of the $150,000 purse.
Here he is in the winner’s circle – my friends Chris and Steve were invited to join the connections, which was awesome!
The Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (Can-G1) was two races before before the Woodbine Mile, and it attracted some serious contenders from around the globe. There were three buglers who summoned the horses to the racetrack from the paddock, and they were dressed for the occasion in their finest and played brilliantly.
Ireland scored another win that day when Wigmore Hall took home the Northern Dancer, besting second-place finisher Al Khali by only a neck after 1 ½ miles of racing. I love racing, especially when it comes down to a tight finish!
After that, it was time for the feature of the day – the Woodbine Mile! Every horse looked fantastic in the paddock, and excitement was mounting as we got closer and closer to post time.
In minutes before the race, Woodbine representatives went into the crowd and gave away T-shirts. It was tons of fun to watch the fans compete to get one!
Then, it was post time! Favorite Wise Dan ruled the day, winning impressively by daylight.
His trainer Charles Lopresti came up to the press box after the race. He was clearly thrilled (and, it seems, a bit superstitious, too – he was wearing the same exact outfit he wore last year when he won the race with Turallure!) Lopresti indicated that he wasn’t 100% sure where Wise Dan would run next, but they’re leaning toward the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). Should make for a great race!
That’s about it for this weekend, but I’ll leave you with some more photos of fabulous Woodbine as I make my way back to the Big Apple. Thanks to all of the wonderful folks at Woodbine for making my trip so enjoyable, and I hope to be back at your beautiful track soon! I’ll see you guys on my next adventure, and hope you have great racing luck until then.
To read Penelope's Day 1 Woodbine Diary, click here.
For the Day 2 Woodbine Diary, click here.
To read Penelope's Day 3 Woodbine Diary, click here.