TORONTO, February 6, 2018 – Welcome to the eighth edition of the weekly Woodbine Snowbirds Report, now in its seventh year, chronicling the winter adventures of Woodbine-based trainers and jockeys currently plying their trade south of the border.
This week, we check in with trainer Barb Minshall, who had a pair of now three-year-olds named as Sovereign Award finalists last week for their success as two-year-olds last season, including filly Dream It Is and gelding Admiralty Pier.
Dream It Is was undefeated in three starts last season, which included stakes wins in the My Dear Stakes at Woodbine and a nine-length victory in the Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga, while Admiralty Pier won the Display Stakes and finished third in the Grade 2 Summer Stakes at Woodbine in 2017. Minshall said both horses are back in training at Webb Carroll Training Center in Saint Matthews, South Carolina.
“They’re doing great,” she said. “I was just there the other day and they both worked really well. Dream It Is worked a half in :48 and out in 1:01 on that training track. She’s doing very, very well and she’s right on track for a comeback. Same with Admiralty Pier. He obviously ran late in the year, so we gave him a few weeks off, but he’s had a few half-miles. He’s right on track to race as well.”
Dream It Is and Admiralty Pier are among Minshall’s 30-horse string at Webb Carroll this winter under the care of Travis Durr. Minshall is based in Ocala, Florida for the winter and said she makes a trip to Webb Carroll every couple of weeks to check in on the horses.
“Travis is the man there and we have a great relationship,” she said. “He does a great job. My horses have always come out of there in good shape and ready. I’ve been coming up to Ocala and then going back every two weeks for a few days. It’s not too far from Ocala, so it’s an easy trip.”
Minshall said she is preparing to have her horses ready to race at the Keeneland meet in Lexington, Kentucky in April. While that meet will be the springboard for the three-year-old campaigns of Dream It Is and Admiralty Pier, the Kentucky-breds may not race often at Woodbine this season.
“There’s not a lot at Woodbine for a Kentucky three-year-old,” Minshall said. “Woodbine’s great once you get older than three for options, but there’s not much for a three-year-old in Ontario for horses of that quality. It definitely looks like we’re going to be traveling quite a bit. We’ve got a tentative plan scheduled for them, but everything has to stay right.”
Outside of her two star three-year-olds, Minshall is also looking forward to seeing Hollywood Hideaway return to the races this season. While Hollywood Hideaway recorded a pair of third-place finishes in four starts in 2017, including a third-place run in the Artie Schiller Stakes at Aqueduct in November, he was beaten only a combined 3 3/4-lengths in the Grade 2 Connaught Cup and Grade 2 King Edward Stakes at Woodbine last season. Minshall said Hollywood Hideaway missed some time following the King Edward Stakes last July, but is showing signs that he could be ready for a strong 2018 campaign.
“He’s really matured a lot,” she said. “With a little luck, it could be his best season. He came out of the King Eddie and he had a little chip in his ankle and we had to stop. I got him back to that race in New York and we kind of had to push him because I wanted to get him there. He was just really ready to run again, but we decided we would back off a little bit. He’s training very well. He’s right on track and he’s also aiming for Keeneland.”
With Dream It Is and Admiralty Pier back in training, and Hollywood Hideaway moving forward as a five-year-old, Minshall said she is looking forward to the year ahead.
“We’ve got a lot of nice horses and I’m cautiously optimistic,” she said. “I’ve got a lot of nice three-year-olds. We’re hoping to regroup this year, and the ones that do come to Woodbine will be ready to run. Hopefully, Dream It Is and Admiralty Pier move forward still. Dream It Is is training amazingly well, so I’m really looking forward to seeing her run again.”
Six Woodbine trainers made trips to the winner’s circle last week, including Willie Armata, who won a pair of races at Penn National on January 31 with Miss Mew and Wingaway. Armata had four starters in all last week, as Extremist finished second and Poly Anna finished fifth on February 3.
Nick Mileni Jr. also won a pair of races at Penn National last week, as Im On It and Into the Mystic won on February 3.
Mark Casse, who will be looking to win his 10th Sovereign Award as Outstanding Trainer in April, recorded a win from 12 starters last week, as New Atlas won at Gulfstream Park on February 3. Casse also recorded a runner-up finish from Mississippi at Gulfstream on February 4.
Nicholas Gonzalez won with his only starter last week, as Tenacity Zip was victorious at Gulfstream Park on February 2.
Norm McKnight, who earned his first career Sovereign Award nomination, recorded a win from six starters at Oaklawn Park last week, as The Craic won the eighth race on February 4.
William Tharrenos saw both of his runners hit the board at Gulfstream Park last week, as Stormbeam won on January 31 and Trajecly Hipp finished third on February 1.
Another win of note last week came from 2017 Queen’s Plate winner Holy Helena, who was victorious in her 2018 debut at Gulfstream Park on February 4. It was her first start since her runner-up finish behind Tiz a Slam in the Grade 3 Ontario Derby at Woodbine in October, and it was also her first start on turf. Jose Ortiz rode the Stronach Stables homebred for trainer Jimmy Jerkens.
Four Woodbine jockeys made trips to the winner’s circle last week, including Sovereign Award finalist Luis Contreras, who won a pair of races at Oaklawn Park last week on Conquest Hiosilver and Title Ready, who generated some Kentucky Derby buzz in his 3 1/2-length victory. In all, Contreras recorded two wins and a runner-up finish from nine starters at Oaklawn Park last week.
Rafael Hernandez recorded a win from three starters at Aqueduct last week, as War Eagle’s Return romped to a 6 1/4-length victory on February 3.
Kirk Johnson recorded a win and a runner-up finish from 12 starters between Mahoning Valley and Charles Town last week, as Chairman Garey won at Mahoning Valley on January 31.
Ismael Mosqueira recorded a win and two runner-up finishes from nine starters at Turf Paradise last week, as His Way won by 7 1/2-lengths on January 31.
Alan Garcia recorded a runner-up finish from two starters at Oaklawn Park last week, as Bo Tee finished second on February 4.
Sheena Ryan recorded a runner-up finish from four starters at Tampa Bay Downs last week, as Bourbon Trace ran second on February 2.
Jermaine Bridgmohan recorded a third-place finish from three starters at Sam Houston last week.
Michelle Rainford recorded a third-place finish from four starters across Penn National and Laurel Park last week.
Here’s a look at how the other Woodbine trainers fared last week, in alphabetical order, starting with Kevin Attard, who sent out three runners at Gulfstream Park, including Limehouse Stakes winner Piven, who ran sixth in the Grade 3 Swale Stakes on February 3. Attard’s other starters of the week included Bee Quiet (third, Feb. 2) and Park Lane (fourth, Feb. 4).
Roger Attfield saddled Kylla Instinct to a runner-up finish and Y’all to a seventh-place finish on February 4 at Gulfstream Park.
Brasstown finished seventh on February 3 at Gulfstream Park for Reade Baker.
Julie Belhumeur sent out Kyslios’s Justice to a seventh-place finish at Tampa Bay Downs on February 4.
Steven Chircop continued his strong start to 2018 with a runner-up finish from He Started It at Penn National on January 31.
Catherine Day Phillips, who earned a Sovereign Award nomination as Outstanding Trainer last week, sent out Leviathan to a sixth-place at Gulfstream Park on February 1.
Michael De Paulo had a pair of starters at Gulfstream Park last week, including Beyond Smart (fourth, Feb. 3) and Liberty Kitten (fifth, Feb. 4).
Scott Fairlie had a pair of runners hit the board from five starters last week, as Another Girl finished second at Penn National on February 2 and Light My Path finished third at Penn National on February 1. Fairlie’s other starters of the week included Hemmin and Hawin (sixth, Jan. 31) and Priddy Fair (eighth, Feb. 2) at Penn National, and Triple Chocolate (fifth, Feb. 4) at Laurel Park.
Eldorado’s Soul finished fourth at Turfway Park on February 3 for Preston Ferris.
Shane Learn sent out Viva Forever to a fourth-place finish at Tampa Bay Downs on January 31.
Paula Loescher recorded a runner-up finish from three starters at Tampa Bay Downs last week, as Prison Padre finished second on January 31. Loescher’s other starters of the week included Patton’s Girl (sixth, Feb. 3) and Golden Pineapple (eighth, Feb. 4).
John Mattine sent out four starters at Gulfstream Park last week, including Signature Twirl (fourth, Feb. 1), Opening Remark (sixth, Feb. 1), Vaughan (4th, Feb. 2), and Budding (seventh, Feb. 2).
Head Hunter finished seventh at Gulfstream Park on February 3 for Steve Owens.
Malcolm Pierce sent out Malibu Secret to a sixth-place finish at Tampa Bay Downs on February 3.
John Simms recorded a pair of starts at Tampa Bay Downs last week, including Sweet Deal (seventh, Jan. 31) and Gasparilla Trove (fourth, Feb. 4).
Monetary System recorded a runner-up finish at Gulfstream Park on February 2 for Daniel Vella.
Michael Wright recorded a pair of runner-up finishes from four starters at Tampa Bay Downs last week, as Aaronic Blessing was second on January 31 and Unbridled Piper was second on February 2. Wright’s other starters of the week included Laser Focus (fourth, Jan. 31) and Spunsational (fourth, Feb. 2).