As Club I members will already know, our three-year-old Shrug filly, Star Launch has unfortunately been retired from racing. A $9,000 BC Bred purchase, Star Launch appeared in the white and blue of Club I a total of three times.
Club I members should already have the initial details (and email us to let us know if you are in Club I and did not get the earlier email) we have regarding her retirement, however we are happy to share that the re-training and re-homing process is underway to ensure that she has the secure and productive future that she deserves.
The Racing Club would be amiss not to offer our thanks to everyone who has supported her throughout her racing journey. A special note of thanks to trainer Keith Pedersen and his staff for ensuring that her well-being was always the top priority and welcoming her fan-club at the barn.
While we are always disappointed when a horse we had high hopes for does not find success on the track, as we discovered with Catch Twenty One there is a a large element of pride that we can all take in knowing that they have the chance to find success in one of the many disciplines former racehorses can end up working in.
We look forward to keeping everyone up to date about her future endeavors.
As eagle-eyed Racing Clubbers will have noticed, Club II filly Warrior’s Promise was nominated to both Stakes races this coming weekend and has been entered into the Emerald Downs Stakes which attracted only four entrants. The Emerald Downs is one of two three-year-old Stakes races this weekend, with the colts and geldings going on Sunday with a much larger field in the River Rock Casino Stakes. The Emerald Downs springs no surprises and Warrior’s Promise will be joined by familiar foes in Notice, Dancin’ Shoes and the winner of the Ross McLeod., Summerland.
After shaking off any doubts that the winter would have given her foes time to catch up with her, Summerland took care of business in her first outing of 2019 and will almost certainly be entering the starting gate as an odds-on favourite. Having won six races out of six starts in Canada and possessing the ability to dictate the pace with effortless looking early speed, her rivals will have to step up their efforts last time out to dislodge the Kentucky Bred daughter of He’s Tops.
Notice made a bold attempt to track the early lead of Summerland in the Ross McLeod. Although she eventually faded, she did end up holding on for a commendable third place. A neck behind Notice was the 2018 Sadie Diamond Futurity winner, Dancin Shoes who has been backed in to the second favourite. Sitting at the back of the pack, Dancin’ Shoes would have hoped for a strong leading pace and some tiring front runners to pick off, however Summerland saw all early challengers off early and only Warrior’s Promise was able to finish within touching distance of her.
Club members will be understandably excited after the first run of the season from Warrior’s Promise, finishing within two lengths of Summerland. The smaller field may suit Summerland better than the rest, given her ability to break consistently well and show early speed that rivals struggle to maintain. Save for a change of tactics, both Warrior’s Promise and Dancin’ Shoes would likely have hoped for a few more entrants who were willing to force Summerland into an honest pace at the front end of the pack of four.
We’ll be crossing our fingers that Warrior’s Promise can repeat and build on her superb seasonal debut. Having a runner is always exciting, but cheering on a horse that is running in Stakes races takes things to another level, so we hope all the club members can make it to the track and have a great day out.
Ready To Dance
A special thank you goes out this week to club member Austin Baril who had the Sunday morning alarm set and took this video of Square Dancer doing his stuff. Dancer completed his first 6 furlong workout of his preseason in 1:14:60 and is looking in fine condition. Members of his fanclub will be happy to know that as the calendars turn to June the longer distance races begin at Hastings, so Dancer shouldn’t have too much longer to wait before he gets back to what he enjoys the most.
Club I got in on the racing action on Sunday with their first runner of the season and the three-year-old debut for CTHS BC Sale purchase, Star Launch. As mentioned in the race preview after getting unlucky and missing out on an Opening Day race, this $8,000 Maiden Claimer came out tough for her, featuring three runners with 2019 starts under their belts already.
Our filly took interest look at the crowd of people snapping photographs of her but was well-mannered throughout showing none of the signs of over-excitement that some can show for their first outing of the year.
Romario Saunders took the mount on the Star Launch having built up quite a familiarity with her over the pre-season training period and had picked up a 2nd on fellow three-year-old filly DoobieDoobieDoobie in the previous race.
After an uneventful post-parade all of the competitors went into the gate without problem – which was a welcome reprieve from the late scratch and five minute race delay that Club II filly Warrior’s Promise had experienced a week earlier.
Coming out of the gate without incident Star Launch look up position along the rail sitting closely behind a front running trio of Snappy Ginger, Battle of Arras and Durdle Door. Down the backstretch those who have read the race chart will have seen that she ducked out a little bit after Bequest moved alongside her up the rail.
Moving through the turn for home a distance opened up ahead of her and Ruby With Diamonds with Star Launch finishing a few lengths ahead of the last place finisher, but around 20 lengths back from the worthy race winner, Snappy Ginger.
As we knew before the race, she was up against a tall order. With 2019 runners Battle of Arras (who was claimed for $8,000), Bequest (a closing second on opening weekend) and Snappy Ginger (who was dropping from the Maiden Special Weight category) in the gate. That said, obviously everyone would have hoped for a finish closer to the leading four finishers.
After her final run of 2018 which saw her on the receiving end of some contact with other horses it was positive to see her go about her business without any fuss and we’ll wait and see what impact on her fitness her first race of the season will have on her. Of the highest importance, Keith Pedersen did report she came out of the race in good physical shape, ate well and is no worse for wear following her seasonal debut.
Some Club I members were determined they got as much Racing Club action as they could on Sunday, coming out to the track to have some breakfast at Trackers and see Square Dancer post his first five-furlong work of his pre-season. He traveled the distance in 1:00:80 with the pilot of his solo 2018 win, Scott Williams guiding him around the Hastings oval.
Members of Club I were forced to wait a little longer after their filly Star Launch entered an oversubscribed race on opening day. Happily, the daughter of Shrug has now found a landing spot on Sunday’s card for her first race as a three year old – an $8,000 maiden claiming event. The entries on Equibase are listed here.
Although her race only features 7 horses, it will be an event that will have handicappers reading and re-reading the form book given the stark differences in fitness, experience and class that the entrants have ran at.
One of the first to jump off the page will be Snappy Ginger, who opening weekend attendees will remember ran on opening Sunday in a Maiden Special Weight. Although she did not trouble the judges in her first 2019 run, the daughter of Stephanotis did hit the board a couple of times in MSWs during her two year old year. Combining this class drop with the fitness boost her first 2019 run will have given her, she’ll likely be a popular selection on the mutuel board to break her maiden at the 6th time of asking.
Also familiar to opening weekenders will be the only four year old in the race, Bequest who ran a game 2nd on Opening Day, bested by only free-running pace-setter Exorbitant. Although only running at the $4,000 level last week, the fitness boost, combined with a reduced weight thanks to apprentice Lenny Seecharan and buying her claiming price down to $6,000 will make her a factor to consider as well.
Battle of Arras suffered a similar fate to Star Launch on opening day, drawing 12th in a 10 horse field that would have seen her as morning line favorite should the required 2 horses have scratched from the main body of the race. The daughter of Violence has enjoyed a winter in the sunshine down at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, last seen in mid-March coming second by a little over a length in a Maiden $5,000 claiming event.
Adding intrigue to the handicapping game is Durdle Door who will start on the West Coast for the first time. Racing exclusively at Woodbine, racing aficionados will know that this will be a change of surface from the Tapeta that Woodbine has to the dirt oval of Hastings. In her short career she has only hit the board once, but has ran against tougher company. Her two best races in Toronto saw her leading the field for much of the way which (if she is able to employ these tactics again) may give her an edge, given a lot of the opening weekend winners were frontrunners or close to the pacesetter.
Occupying the four hole will be Ruby With Diamonds, who comes into this race with a 4 career starts at 2 year old without placing yet. Rounding out the field will be She’s Irish who will be making her career debut under hot jock Amadeo Perez who added 5 win photos to his wall during a superb afternoon of riding on the second day of opening weekend.
Our Club I filly, Star Launch will certainly not be short of competition this weekend in only her second 6+ furlong race. A recurring trend at Hastings (backed up during opening weekend) is that horses who have ran throughout the winter have a significant fitness edge at the start of the season. The three horses that have ran already in 2019 will naturally figure to be a handful. Club I trainer Keith Pedersen did have a perfect opening weekend though, going 2 for 2 – taking trips to the winners circle with Silvertown and Whiskey Bound. Star Launch’s 300 owners will be hoping that some of that early season form rubs off on their favourite filly, who will enlist the services of her regular workout rider Romario Saunders.
With 4 stakes races, a controversial Kentucky Derby and one of the biggest crowds we’ve seen for a while, the stage was well set for what proved to be a phenomenal introduction to the 2019 season.
The duty of being the first to represent the racing clubs fell to Warrior’s Promise in the Ross McLeod Stakes – which saw the return of many of the top 2 old fillies of 2018 for their season debuts.
After a solid 2018 season which didn’t produce a win, one could assume that her entry was more out of optimism rather than expectation. Along with some respectable showings last year, a strong slate of workouts in the preseason gave enough reason to roll the dice and test her against the best of her division.
Her morning line odds of 15/1 proved to be shorter than her eventual race time odds of 20/1. No doubt the injury to her scheduled jockey Keishan Balgobin earlier on Saturday’s card had only cemented her outsider status with the betting public. The club owes a great deal of thanks to Jeff Burningham who stepped into the mount at late notice.
After a thankfully uneventful paddocking session, the race faced a delay shortly before loading as second favourite Im Evin Im Leavin was scratched by the track veterinarian.
Leaving a field of 7 runners, heavy favourite and reigning 2 year old champion Summerland look to the lead being challenged first by Mrs Taylor and then by Notice. Jeff took a patient approach, sitting Warrior’s Promise around mid-pack and waiting for the challengers to make their bid against Summerland.
Coming up to the home turn, he gave his cue and the club filly started cutting into Summerland’s lead, hitting second before the home stretch. A bold effort at the top of the lane looked for a second like it may be enough to pass the eventual winner, however as she did throughout her 2 year old campaign, Summerland dug deep once again and showed enough stamina to hold on for her first stakes victory as a 3 year old.
It was a gap of 8 lengths behind Warrior’s Promise to find third place Notice – showing the dominance of the leading two fillies on the day.
Club members will be excited that our filly finished the race so strongly and trainer Patty Leaney was encouraged about her ability to travel further as the season progresses and the races get longer in distance.
We checked in with her on Sunday after the race. She came out of the race well and was able to take some time out of her busy hay munching schedule to receive some scratches and petting. It appears that she is learning from Club 1 star Square Dancer how to manage the spike in visitors and photo opportunities that a Stakes challenging club horses can receive.
Square Dancer went another 4 furlongs for Club Won on the morning of opening day. Travelling in 48 seconds flat, Dancer ranked 4th out of 12 workers.
Trainer Steve Henson remains adamant that at this stage in his career Dancer is training himself and he is merely taking his training fees for his ability to read the condition book (which Dancer still struggles with).
Dancer remains on schedule and will be looking to get into the first suitable race when the longer distance races begin in late May/early June.