TORONTO, June 1, 2023 – Artie’s Storm will face 10 rivals in the Grade 2 $175,000 Eclipse Stakes Presented by Don Julio, Sunday at Woodbine.
A 1 1/16-mile main track event for 4-year-olds and upwards, the Eclipse has attracted a competitive field that includes multiple graded stakes placed Wolfie’s Dynaghost, graded stakes winners Rondure, and War Bomber (IRE), along with seven-time winner Carrothers.
Trained and owned by Paul Buttigieg, Artie’s Storm, a 5-year-old son of We Miss Artie-Tiz Stormy Now, made his seasonal debut in last year’s Eclipse, and went on to cross the wire a one-length winner at 7-1.
It’s the same scenario this time for the dark bay who went 1-3-1 from seven starts in 2022, the runner-up efforts coming in three Grade 3 events, the Dominion Day, Seagram Cup and Durham Cup.
“That would be nice, to get it done again,” said regular rider David Moran. “It’s a big field, a tough race with horses who have a race under their belt, but Artie is training well and working good. He’s in good shape coming into it. He won last year off the shelf, so hopefully he does the same again this time around.”
The gelding concluded the 2022 campaign with a third in the 1 1/16-mile Steady Growth Stakes on December 11.
Moran believes the lifetime earner of $455,995 (U.S.) is ready for his most recent challenge.
“He’s a lovely horse to ride and a lovely horse to be around. He’s been doing everything he’s supposed to do leading up to this. Hopefully, he’s good enough, but he seems to be checking the boxes in all the right places.”
Bred in Ontario by Sunrise Farm, Artie’s Storm debuted in October 2020 at the Toronto oval, rallying to finish third, a neck away from taking top spot in the 5 ½-furlong Tapeta race. He broke his maiden next time out, on June 20, in his three-year-old debut, over seven panels on the main track. After a runner-up result in the Queenston Stakes, he was back in the winner’s circle, notching a half-length score in a 1 1/16-mile turf race on July 24.
“Artie, he’s a very straightforward horse,” said Moran. “He’s a gentleman, even on race day. He’s so kind to be around and does everything you ask of him.”
Also on tap Sunday is the running of the $100,000 Pink Lloyd Stakes (formerly known as the Ontario Jockey Club Stakes), a six-furlong Tapeta race for Ontario-sired 4-year-olds and up.
Thirteen starters, including Rockcrest, will contest the race named after the gelding who was recently named to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
A 6-year-old son of Old Forester (Pink Lloyd’s sire), Rockcrest, owned and trained by Nigel Burke, heads into his latest test off a front-running 9-1 score at 5 ½ panels on April 9. The roan gelding earned a half-length victory over last year’s Canadian champion male sprinter, Filo Di Arianna (BRZ), who was also a finalist for horse of the year.
“I definitely have to give respect to the champion sprinter of 2022,” praised Burke. “He’s exceptional. I knew the only way we could beat this horse is if we were in front of him at the top of the stretch. If he was sitting level with us, he would explode and go by us. We broke well and were able to slow the pace down, and he [Filo Di Arianna] was trapped in a bit of a pocket, and by the time he had come, the race was over. It was a bit of racing luck, some winter training, and a big effort from Rocky.”
Bred in Ontario by Northern Dawn Stables Inc., Rockcrest will chase his first stakes score since taking the 2019 Simcoe. He was second in the Grade 3 Vigil to close out his 2022 campaign.
“He’s definitely a horse that tries every time he’s out there,” praised Burke. “He might not be the most talented, but he’s definitely going to give it his all nine times out of 10. And that’s all you can really ask of them. He’s just very special to me. He was my first winner in Canada and first stakes winner. I’m a small operation but he makes feel like I can compete with the big ones to a certain extent.”
Bred in Ontario in 20212, sprint superstar Pink Lloyd won 29 of 38 starts and earned $2.4 million (CDN) under the tutelage of Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame trainer Robert Tiller. Bred by John Carey and owned by Entourage Stable, Jr., the gelding's first major triumph came early in 2017 when he captured the Jacques Cartier Stakes, a race he would win three more times. It would be the start of 26 career stakes wins, all at Woodbine. His perfect season of eight stakes scores garnered him Sovereign Awards as Champion Older Horse, Outstanding Sprinter and Horse of the Year. Over the course of the next four years, he earned five more Sovereigns.
Following his retirement from the track, Pink Lloyd's connections donated him to LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society, where he continues to be a popular draw with racing fans who visit the farm.
The Eclipse is race eighth on Sunday’s nine-race card. The Pink Lloyd is race six. First post time is 1:10 p.m. Fans can also watch and wager on all the action through HPIbet.com and the Dark Horse Bets app.
ECLIPSE STAKES FIELD
Post - Horse - Jockey - Trainer
1 – Avoman – Justin Stein – John Charalambous
2 – War Bomber (IRE) – Sahin Civaci – Norm McKnight
3 – Wolfie’s Dynaghost – John Velazquez – Jonathan Thomas
4 – Tyson – Patrick Husbands – Josie Carroll
5 – Artie’s Storm – David Moran – Paul Buttigieg
6 – Bringer of Rain – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Barbara Minshall
7 – Treason – Kazushi Kimura – Josie Carroll
8 – Conglomerate – Ryan Munger – Martin Drexler
9 – Luckman – Luis Contreras – Vito Armata
10 – Carrothers – Declan Carroll – Martin Drexler
11 – Rondure – Rafael Hernandez – Katerina Vassilieva
PINK LLOYD FIELD
Post - Horse - Jockey - Trainer
1 – Reload’s Rascal – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Michelle Love
2 – Last American Exit (S) – Jose Campos – Harold Ladouceur
3 – Mason’s Gamble – Patrick Husbands – Josie Carroll
4 – Bossy Holiday – Luis Contreras – Josie Carroll
5 – Miss Speedy – Kazushi Kimura – Mark Casse
6 – Poseidon Steel – Ryan Munger – Gordon Colbourne
7 – Commander Joe – Eswan Flores – John Ross
8 – Secret Reserve – Rafael Hernandez – Mike Mattine
9 – Rockcrest – Keveh Nicholls – Nigel Burke
10 – Dun Drum – Declan Carroll – Ian Black
11 – Maakwa – Justin Stein – Shana Lopez
12 – Forester’s Fortune – Daisuke Fukumoto – Rodney Barrow
13 – Candy Overload – Sahin Civaci – Mark Casse
Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @WoodbineComms