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Desert Ride steals the spotlight in the Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser

Last of 10 at the first quarter, Desert Ride circled the field to win the 64th running of the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser, the first leg of the Triple Tiara for Canada’s finest three-year-old fillies, on Saturday at Woodbine.

Steve Bahen worked out the winning trip in the 1-1/8-mile feature aboard the Sam-Son Farm homebred, who reeled in the dueling front-runners Intanga Rose and Speedy Soul then collared late leader Bold Script at the wire in 1:50.43.

“I’ve watched her races and she’s come from behind,” said Bahen, who was partnered with the Neil Howard trainee for the first time in her four starts. “Neil said just get her settled in and try to give her a good trip. Down the backside, it looked like I’m going to get out now and give her a shot to run at them, and I started a little early with her, but when she turned for home, she gave me a huge run like she did in her previous races.”

Bahen collected his third Oaks trophy following prior wins with Silent Fleet (1996) and Nipissing (2013).

While Desert Ride was gearing up for her big stretch run, Intanga Rosa, who set panels of :23.48, :48.01, and 1:12.55, was confronted by Speedy Soul in the final turn and those two engaged in a head-to-head battle at the top of the lane.  Bold Script, who had followed in mid-pack, swept past the pair with a furlong to go, but Desert Ride was closing with a fury and got up in time to score the victory by a neck. Speedy Soul edged out Intanga Rose for third.

The daughter of Candy Ride out of Fun in the Desert was making her Woodbine debut and is now a three-time winner from four starts. The lightly raced filly has finished no worse than second.

 “A fantastic filly from a fantastic family and we’re just so happy to be back up here again,” said Rick Balaz, President & General Manager of Sam-Son Farm. “It’s been a little while for us and it’s pretty exciting. We’ll see where we go next with her, but hopefully she’s got a great future.”

Whether the $1 million Queen’s Plate (June 29) is in her future has yet to be determined.

“If I’m taking a line from the Raptors, you play it one game at a time and we just got this one on the scoreboard and we’ll see how she comes out of it and then we’ll have a conversation as we always do about what to do next,” said Sam-Son Farm’s CEO, Mark Samuel. “But we’re very excited by her and we love our good fillies.”

Sent postward at odds of 8-1, Desert Ride paid $18.50 to win.

“She’s a lovely filly,” echoed Howard. “The mile and an eighth was obviously something that we were looking forward to and she needed every bit of that. We couldn’t be more thrilled as Mr. Samuel and Mr. Balaz said. She’s just a just a lovely filly, easy to train and the boy [Bahen] rode her beautiful.”

The Woodbine Oaks has served as a stepping-stone for the fairer sex to the Queen’s Plate with recent winners of both races including Holy Helena (2017), Lexie Lou (2014), Inglorious (2011) and Dancethruthedawn (2001). Last year, Oaks runner-up Wonder Gadot went on to win the Queen’s Plate.

Desert Ride, Bold Script (second), Intanga Rose (fourth), Preferred Guest (fifth) and Souciologist (seventh) have all been nominated to the Queen’s Plate, the first leg of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown.


Pay for Peace pulls off 19-1 upset in the Plate Trial Stakes

TORONTO, June 8, 2019 – Pay for Peace overtook 9-5 favourite Federal Law in mid-stretch to pull off a 19-1 upset in the $125,000 Plate Trial Stakes on Saturday afternoon at Woodbine.

With Luis Contreras aboard for trainer Rachel Halden, the Silent Name-Dancing Bay gelding stepped up his game to notch his first stakes victory and entered the Queen’s Plate conversation.

In the traditional prep for the first leg of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown, Federal Law emerged with the lead up the rail into the first turn and built up a four-length advantage on his foes through fractions of :24.17, :48.64 and 1:12.73. 

Meanwhile, Dun Drum followed in second-place with Contreras getting what he described as a “dream trip” aboard Pay for Peace, who settled back in third.

For Federal Law, it was a game of ‘catch me if you can’ and Pay for Peace caught him after rallying three-wide in the final turn of the 1-1/8-mile Tapeta test for Canadian-foaled three-year-olds.

He hit the mile mark in 1:38.25 and prevailed by 1-3/4 lengths in a final time of 1:51.63. Federal Law held on in a photo finish for second-place between Rising Star and Moon Swings.

A one-time winner from seven previous starts, Pay for Peace returned $41.90 for a $2 win ticket.

“You’ve got a chance to win if you’re in the race,” said Contreras, who previously won back-to-back editions of the Plate Trial Stakes with Danish Dynaformer (2015) and Amis Gizmo (2016). “You never know. I told Rachel before, I think he likes to run, and he likes to run all day, so he can run further. I think it’s his style to be in the long races.

“I can tell you he had a good break and I saw the one break a little bit and he kind of rushed to the lead and I think that kind of helped a little.”

Bred by Brian Lynch Racing and owned by Team Penney Racing and Carem Stables, Pay for Peace broke his maiden over one-mile and 70 yards last November at Woodbine, but had been winless in his first two sophomore starts.

“I’m just absolutely delighted,” said Halden. “Obviously, he’s just taken a little while to come back around this year for us. He did run a very good race his last start against older horses and looking at this race, we were hoping to maybe get a piece of it because it didn’t look like it was going to be a huge field.”

The winning effort has put the $1 million Queen’s Plate, set for June 29, on the gelding’s radar.

“We weren’t thinking about it,” admitted Halden. “Like I say, he’s just a real big old galloper. I think this horse will step up on the turf and we’ve been kind of thinking Breeders’. He did jump up and run a big race today. We will definitely be thinking about it now and we’ll see how he comes out of it and have a discussion with his owners and see.”

Krachenwagen completed the top five, with Dun Drum, Jammin Still, The Newfie Express and Hesathriller rounding out the order of finish.

Live Thoroughbred racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Woodbine, featuring the $125,000 Hendrie Stakes (Grade 3). First race post time scheduled for 1:05 p.m.


Sister Peacock struts her stuff in inaugural running of the William D. Graham Memorial Stakes

By: Chris Lomon for Woodbine Communications

TORONTO, June 8, 2019 – Sister Peacock, a bay daughter of Real Solution, won the first edition of the $100,000 William D. Graham Memorial Stakes, Saturday at Woodbine.

Named in honour of the former Woodbine Entertainment director and Hall of Fame breeder who passed away in January, the 6 ½-furlong grass sprint attracted 13 runners on a card that also featured two key stakes events, the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks presented by Budweiser, and the $125,000 Plate Trial.

It was an early tussle for the lead in the Graham Memorial, with Silent Mistake striking front, as Sister Peacock, who left the gate from the outside post 13, sitting just to her outside in second. Charmaine’s Mia was third and Pearl Heist sat fourth through an opening quarter-mile timed in :22.45.

Silent Mistake and Sister Peacock continued their battle through a half-mile in :44.67, as Jesse Campbell, aboard the latter, waited confidently and patiently to make a bid for the lead.

As the field straightened for home down the long E.P. Taylor Turf Course stretch, Campbell and Sister Peacock, four lengths on top at the stretch call, left no question as to who would take all the spoils.

The duo crossed the wire the easiest of winners, posting a 2 ¼-length victory in a time of 1:13.80 over ‘firm’ going.

The win was the fourth in six starts for the three-year-old filly that has also fashioned a pair of runner-up finishes. Trainer Stuart Simon co-owns Sister Peacock with Brent and Russell McLellan.

“She’s a racehorse,” said Campbell. “Stuart said to ride her like the best horse, I did. She went out and did her thing.”

In the midst of another strong season, Simon recorded his 800th career win with the Graham Memorial victory.

“I’ve got to give all the credit to my crew – my assistant and grooms,” said Simon. “They do a very hard job every day. They brought her over about four or five times and schooled her well. They deserve the credit.”

Simon named the horse with a certain person in mind.

“We named her after a guy (Cecil Peacock) that I trained for… for about 30 years. He was one of the nicest men you’ll ever meet. So, I wanted to pay tribute to him and name her that.”

Sent off as the 5-2 favourite, Sister Peacock returned $7.20, $4.30 and $3.50 and topped a 13-3 exactor with Double Medal ($24.60, $12.10) worth $219. The 13-3-1 triactor with Lady Grace ($10.20) paid $1,792.90 and the 13-3-1-10 superfecta ending with Miss Behave was worth $16,593.55 for $1.

For more on Graham’s contributions to Thoroughbred racing, read his Hall of Fame bio here:





Desert Ride and jockey Steve Bahen winning the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser on Saturday, June 8 at Woodbine Racetrack. (Michael Burns Photo)

Sister Peacock and jockey Jesse Campbell winning the $100,000 William D. Graham Memorial Stakes on Saturday, June 8 at Woodbine Racetrack. (Michael Burns Photo)


Woodbine Oaks Presented By Budweiser –
Plate Trial Stakes –
William D. Graham Memorial Stakes –

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