Woodbine Diaries, Day 3
Have I mentioned yet how beautiful Woodbine is? The track is clean and modern, and the racing has been a pleasure to watch.
My raceday started out with a journey to the paddock, which is right in front of the Woodbine grandstand. The paddock is populated by huge weeping willows, and the backdrop of the façade of the building provides an arresting scene.
My next stop was to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, located on the first floor of the track.
I was especially taken with the sculpture of the immortal Northern Dancer right at the entrance. His influence on the Thoroughbred breed can’t be overstated, and he’s definitely the pride of Ontario racing – there’s even a Grade 1 stakes named after him that will be run on Sunday.
Once you go inside the Hall of Fame, there are countless pieces of memorabilia commemorating the great horses of Canada.
The Countess Adios Trophy
The saddle towel worn by 2001 Queen’s Plate winner Dancethruthedawn
I also loved the vintage advertisements adorning the columns in the Hall of Fame.
My favorite piece in the Canadian Hall of Fame was probably the George Hendrie Memorial Trophy from 1913. It was absolutely exquisite up close.
My next stop was to check out the life-size sculpture of Northern Dancer overlooking the paddock. He truly is an omnipresent figure here.
After I was done exploring, I was delighted to take in the racing on a beautiful afternoon. The action was great and I was getting the hang of betting here.
Then I met up with a few friends of mine, Chris Heeley and Stephen Gersztoff, who are some of the biggest racing fans I know. These guys can be found at almost every major racing day across North America, and have made friends with pretty much everyone they meet.
Keith McCalmont with Stephen and Chris
This was their first trip to Woodbine, too, but the second I met up with them they had already been invited to the winner’s circle by jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson and trainer John Charalambous (whom they had just met.)
That’s one of the things I love most about horse racing. The stars of the sport are almost universally approachable and are happy to interact with all fans of the game.
After hanging out with Chris and Stephen for a while, it was time for the Grade 2 Natalma Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. The race is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race, meaning that the race winner gets an all-expenses-paid trip to run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2). Fourteen fillies lined up to take their chance, and at the end of the race, Spring Venture took home top honors.
After that, I enjoyed a few races until it was time for the Grade 2 Summer Stakes, another Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” test that would send the victor to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). This one went to I’m Boundtoscore, who came in at odds of 10-1. Good payout!
That’s it for today, and I’ll have more tomorrow on Woodbine Mile (Can-G1) Day!
To read Penelope's Day 1 Woodbine Diary, click here.
For the Day 2 Woodbine Diary, click here.