As we learned yesterday from Patty Leaney, Warrior’s Promise was nominated to The Ross McLeod on opening day. We are going to provide an early preview of the race and then an overview of how horses end up loading into the gate for Stakes races.
As we will learn below, there is no guarantee that all 10 nominees will end up running next Saturday, however we do know the potential rivals to the $50,000 purse.
Leading the local nominations are SUMMERLAND and DANCIN’ SHOES. Anyone who followed the 2018 season will need no introduction to these two who ran 1st and 2nd in the Fantasy Stakes and may have been the best 2 year olds at Hastings of either sex. There are no surprises these 2 names are on the nomination list and any form of improvement over the winter will only cement these as very formidable foes.
A new face will be IM EVIN IM LEAVIN who (should she run) will make her first start at Hastings. Many keen handicappers place a large premium on horses who have ran down south during our off-season and Im Evin Im Leavin holds a pair of allowance wins already in 2019 down at Sunland Park (winning those 2 races by a combined 8 lengths). Finishing only 3 lengths behind Summerland in the 2018 Freedom of the City Stakes in Calgary, the fitness edge from her winter racing may be enough to earn her first Stakes win.
NOTICE earned almost $80,000 in 2018, picking up a couple of wins in CTHS Sales stakes in 2018 and held on for second during Dancin’ Shoes’ romp in the Sadie Diamond Futurity earning almost $80,000 for the season. She deployed a front running style with devastating effect in both her CTHS wins but this may be tougher to replicate with the larger and more accomplished field that the Ross McLeod will hold.
A few of the remaining horses shook off their maiden condition, but either haven’t made an impact at or stepped up to the Stakes level yet.:
- GMT BABY and GIFTED GREY both won their first race early in the year at Hastings and struggled to make the same impact in the Stakes races they entered.
- ONE FOR MOM fired in a Maiden Special Weight first time out and finished third in a competitive Allowance race ran on the same day the BC Breds were fighting for the Sadie Diamond Futurity.
- MRS TAYLOR made her only 3 starts down the I-5 at Emerald Downs winning a Maiden Special Weight at the 3rd time of asking with a stretch run that put her 6+ lengths ahead of her rivals.
The remaining challenger (and the only maiden other than our Club II filly) is SUZY MASCARA – still somewhat of an unknown quantity. Making only one start at 2 in the Sadie Diamond Futurity she hopped out of the gate and trailed early. As the race progressed she settled, picked off a few of her more experienced rivals to finish 5th, showing a glimpse of what had given her connections the confidence to enter her in such a challenging first race.
And so, the million dollar question – where does our girl, WARRIOR’S PROMISE fit into this group? Although she hasn’t earned her first win yet, her 2 seconds in Maiden Special Weight company were encouraging. She also showed potential at this level in her 4th place BC Cup Debutante showing, finishing better above Saturday’s potential foes Notice and GMT Baby. More importantly, she has had a good month of training and after an encouraging series of workouts has earned the right to test herself against the upper levels of her division. Under the conditions of the race Warrior’s Promise would also be carrying less weight than some of her rivals – another potential aid to bridge the gap between her and the top contenders.
The first 3 year old races of the season are always a lesson that picking an eventual Derby or Oaks winner in the pre-season is more of a lottery than a science. We’ll be crossing our fingers along with all the Club Members that we’ve got the lucky ticket!
UPDATE 01/05/2019 – The entries were just announced and Warrior’s Promise will be coming out of Gate 3, with the reigning 2 year old champion Summerland to the inside of her in Gate 2. There were 8 horses entered for the race (Suzy Mascara opted for a Maiden Special Weight on Sunday and Gifted Grey isn’t running at all this weekend) with all of the nominated heavyweights still in contention. Good luck WP and we’ll see all you Racing Club members on Saturday!
Getting to the Gate
One club member asked us a good question on Twitter – does this nomination mean that our filly is 100% in? The answer is best explained by looking at the process you go through to enter a stakes race. As the nomination list at the top of this post shows, there are multiple steps to get into the gate:
- Nomination. In the case of the this race, the connections of all 10 horses have paid $100 to get onto this initial list. On Saturday morning most (if not all) would have been hoping to have their horse run on Opening Day. That said, dealing with wonderfully imperfect athletes like thoroughbred racehorses, small physical setbacks can sometimes occur between nomination time (Saturday) and entry time (Wednesday) resulting in a horse not being entered. A further consideration is that a horse’s connections may nominate a horse who may not be a favourite with the intention of seeing how strong the race is and then deciding whether it is worth entering their horse in.
- Entry. Once you’ve decided all things are a-go, another $750 goes in to the office to enter your horse. Entries for weekend races at Hastings happen on Wednesdays. Given the extra money being handed over, trainers will be fully expecting their horse to start the race. At this point you have your gate positions drawn and can start getting excited, pacing your living rooms and waiting for the good folks at Handicappers Corner to release their race preview and tell you exactly what chance they think your horse has.
- To start. You’ve made it! A final $1,000 payment to finish filling up the purse (which is set at $50,000) and you can enter the gate and roll the dice. A swift 2 minutes will then decide if you have a story of a lifetime repeat to your friends until they stop taking your calls or are shooting your “winners photo” in the shedrow while feeding your charge some consolation mints.