A field of eight horses will burst from the gate, clockwise, over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course in Friday's opening race as Woodbine Entertainment Group's innovative EuroTurf Series gets underway.
The five furlong “starter allowance” event, for 3-year-olds and upward, drew a full field of eight plus three also eligibles ensuring the first EuroTurf race will be at capacity.
“Friday will be an historic day at Woodbine as we our run first ever clockwise race,” said Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment Group. “All sectors of the local horse racing industry have worked together to offer the core and new racing fan a chance to witness something truly special. We wanted to do something different here and to bring new energy to our sport and we've done that with EuroTurf.”
By running races clockwise, more of the Woodbine's world-class E.P. Taylor Turf course will be utilized, allowing for more turf races, which are popular with fans at Woodbine.
As expected, a number of speed types have signed on for the historic event including Omar, a 14-time winner from 36 career starts; Leo's Lookin' a runaway winner on Tapeta in his Woodbine debut on April 29; Fireball Merlin, an improving five-year-old Curlin bay; and Red Fever, a five-year-old Where's the Ring gelding with :44 flat half-mile speed, ready to fire from the inside post.
Omar, trained by Robertino Diodoro for owners Randy Exelby, Tim Gordon and Rick Runn, is a seven-year-old Bertrando gelding with serious early foot. The well-travelled fellow, a multiple stakes winner, has won races at Woodbine, Northlands Park, Turf Paradise, Sunland Park, Golden Gate, Hollywood Park and Fairplex Park.
He made his Woodbine debut a winning one with a front-running tour de force over the Woodbine Tapeta on April 16 in a five furlong claiming sprint. Emma-Jayne Wilson, who won the EuroTurf trial run held on May 16, retains the mount.
Leo's Lookin, a five-year-old son of Leonnatus Anteas, was claimed from the Diodoro barn for $16,000 after a stunning 2 ¼-length score that earned an 89 Beyer Speed Figure. The hard-knocking gelding, now trained by Ross Armata for S A Racing Stable Inc., has won eight of 26 starts but has yet to score on the turf in two attempts. Jesse Campbell, aboard for the last out score, will pilot Leo's Lookin on Friday.
Fireball Merlin, a Gustav Schickedanz homebred trained by Mike Keogh, needed nine attempts to graduate finally breaking through in a seven furlong main track sprint on September 16. In three starts since the breakthrough, the improving sort has won a five furlong claiming sprint and last time out finished second, defeated just a neck, while stepping up in class in an allowance sprint. Luis Contreras will ride.
Red Fever, trained by Dan Vella for Joey Gee Thoroughbreds, will leave from the coveted inside post in Friday's clockwise opener. A repeat effort of his February 24 race at Gulfstream Park when a gate-to-wire winner in a grassy five furlong claiming sprint could be good enough to win this event. On that afternoon, Red Fever burst from the gate and set splits of :21.1 and :44 flat en route to a 3 1/4-length score. Emile Ramsammy will ride.
Bet On Jack, Beezie, Northern Hammer and Between Drinks complete the field.
Up to 40 races are expected to be contested clockwise over Woodbine's expansive turf course throughout the 2016 season.
First race post time on Friday's nine-race card is 1 p.m. Fans can watch and wager on all the action via HPIBet.com.
FIELD FOR FRIDAY'S INAUGURAL #EUROTURF RACE
POST / HORSE / JOCKEY / TRAINER
1 / Red Fever / Emile Ramsammy / Dan Vella
2 / Bet On Jack / Eurico Rosa da Silva / Ross Armata
3 / Fireball Merlin / Luis Contreras / Mike Keogh
4 / Beezie / David Garcia / Ricky Singh
5 / Northern Hammer / Jeffrey Alderson / Shane Learn
6 / Between Drinks / Juan Crawford / Desmond Maynard
7 / Omar / Emma-Jayne Wilson / Robertino Diodoro
8 / Leo's Lookin / Jesse Campbell / Ross Armata
9 / Last Minute Lucy / David Moran / Danny O'Callaghan
10/ Pretty Bird / Eurico Rosa da Silva / Saul McHugh
11/ Bear's Romeo / Emma-Jayne Wilson / Robertino Diodoro
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