Star Shoot headlines the first card of 2024 Woodbine season / “Good-natured” Tunechi set for Woodstock Stakes test

Star Shoot headlines the first card of 2024 Woodbine season / “Good-natured” Tunechi set for Woodstock Stakes test

TORONTO, April 26, 2024– Saturday’s $125,000 Star Shoot Stakes is the feature race on the opening day card of the 2024 Woodbine Thoroughbred season.

The six-furlong Star Shoot, for 3-year-old fillies, has traditionally been a key prep for the Woodbine Oaks presented by Stella Artois, the first leg of the prestigious Canadian Triple Tiara series, slated for July 20.

Mystic Lake, trained by Saffie Joseph, Jr., will make her fourth start of the year, which has already yielded a pair of wins, including the Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies Stakes on March 24 at Tampa Bay Downs.

Sent on her way as the 3-5 choice in the seven-furlong main track affair, Mystic Lake coasted to a 3 ½-length victory in a time of 1:23.37.

“I thought that was one of her better efforts,” said Joseph. “She finished off the race much stronger than in some of her previous races. We were very happy with how she did it.”

It was the second lifetime stakes score for the dark bay daughter of Mo Town-Salty Soul, who took the Gasparilla Stakes, also at Tampa Bay, on January 13.

“I liked her from the time we started breezing her,” said Joseph, of the filly who has compiled a 3-1-1 mark from seven starts. “But she did not fire at all in her debut [ninth, beaten 24 lengths in a 5 ½-furlong main track sprint at Gulfstream last August].

“She missed the break even though she had been very fast working from the gate. I thought she would break on top, but she came out very slowly, got shuffled back and she never showed anything.”

Bred in Florida by Peggy Costanzo, Mystic Lake, owned by C2 Racing Stable LLC and Stefania Farms, LLC, had better luck at Woodbine.

Three of her seven engagements have come at the Toronto oval, including a maiden-breaking effort last September in a six-furlong triumph over the all-weather track.

“After that tough first race at Gulfstream, she came back and showed she had the talent we thought she had.”

Mystic Lake was runner-up in the Glorious Song and third in the Mazarine (G3) in her two other Woodbine appearances.

“She has run well there in the past. Hopefully, she can come up with another nice effort again on Saturday. She seems to enjoy it at Woodbine, so we are happy to get her back there.

“As you expect, she has matured and grown from last year to this year. She is taller. She always had a good hind end, but she has an even broader hind end now.”

Mystic Lake is a two-time OBS graduate, sold by Summerfield (Francis & Barbara Vanlangendonck), Agent, at the 2022 October Yearling Sale and then purchased for $130,000 out of the Tom McCrocklin consignment at the 2023 March Sale after breezing an Under Tack quarter in :20 4/5.

“She is very easy-going around the barn and very kind,” praised Joseph. “She can be a little keen when she gallops, but overall, she is very easy-going.”

Mystic Lake will be joined in the starting gate by a trio of Mark Casse runners, C C Royal, Dancing Duchess, and Winsome Beauty, along with Miss Roberts (GB), Rosa, and Sabatini.

Named for Star Shoot, sire of Sir Barton, the race was first run in 1956 at Greenwood, with Orchestra winning the inaugural edition.

The Star Shoot is Race 8 on Saturday's 10-race card. First post time is 1:10 p.m. 

Fans can watch and wager on all the action via,, and the Dark Horse Bets app. 

Field for the $125,000 Star Shoot

Post - Horse - Jockey - Trainer

1 – Rosa – Rafael Hernandez – Kevin Attard

2 – Mystic Lake – Tyler Conner – Saffie Joseph, Jr.

3 – Sabatini – Sofia Vives – Josie Carroll

4 – Miss Roberts (GB) – Luis Contreras – James Begg

5 – Dancing Duchess – Sahin Civaci – Mark Casse

6 – C C Royal – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse

7 – Winsome Beauty – Sahin Civaci – Mark Casse

Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications/ @WoodbineComms

Mystic Lake and jockey Tyler Conner winning Race 7 on September 9, 2023 at Woodbine (Michael Burns Photo)
Mystic Lake and jockey Tyler Conner winning Race 7 on September 9, 2023 at Woodbine (Michael Burns Photo)

“Good-natured” Tunechi set for Woodstock Stakes test 

Six contenders, including Tunechi, will contest the $125,000 Woodstock Stakes, Sunday at Woodbine.   

The six-furlong Woodstock, for 3-year-olds, has traditionally been a key prep race leading up to The King’s Plate, set for August 17, the first leg of the storied Canadian Triple Crown series. 

Trained by Barbara Minshall for the ownership group of Hoolie Racing Stable, LLC, Legion Racing, Conover Stable and Ribble Farms LLC, Tunechi, 1-0-2 from 5 starts, will make his first start of 2024 on Sunday.

“I liked him right off the bat,” recalled Minshall. “He came from Travis Durr [training centre in South Carolina] and was purchased by the group. As soon as I saw the horse – I had seen him a couple of times over the winter – on the track, I knew he was a nice one. He’s very good-natured. He’s a colt, but he’s good-natured.”

The son of Outwork-Stasha Minasha was a model of consistency in his first year.

After a third at 4 ½ panels over the Woodbine all-weather track in his career bow last May, Tunechi was fourth, placed third, in a six-furlong race that was originally scheduled for the turf.

He broke his maiden in style courtesy of a 3 ¾-length score at 6 ½-furlongs over the E.P. Taylor turf on July 23.

“This is a nice horse, and he has good gears to him,” said Minshall, Canada’s champion trainer in 1996. “It was a very nice effort. He came home very strong and kept going right through the wire.”

Seven weeks later, the bay colt was fourth in the Summer Stakes (G1T). Tunechi closed out his campaign with a fourth in the Grey Stakes (G3) on November 4.

The Kentucky-bred, who has had a steady diet of works ahead of the Woodstock, including a four-furlong breeze in :49.00 on April 21, is coming into his seasonal debut in sharp form.

“He’s easy to train,” said Minshall, who eclipsed $1 million in purse earnings in 2023, marking the second straight year she achieved the feat. “He’s just a nice horse and we’re happy to have him. I always thought he was a turf horse, but we aren’t there yet.

“But he can handle this surface. We’ll focus on this race and then eventually, he’ll be on the turf once that gets going.”

Tunechi spent the winter months at Travis Durr in preparation for his 3-year-old campaign.

“He’s filled out and grown up a bit. He’s a big horse. You like to see them grow from the first year to the next and he has.”

Bred by Fred Hertrich III and John Fielding, Tunechi originally sold for $20,000 (U.S.) at the 2021 Keeneland Association November Breeding Stock Sale. He was purchased by the current connections for $40,000 (U.S.) at the 2022 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Selected Yearling Sale.

Edwin Weekes is the groom.

The Woodstock is Race 8 on Sunday’s 10-race card. First post time is 1:10 p.m. 

Fans can watch and wager on all the action via,, and the Dark Horse app.

Field for the $125,000 Woodstock

Post - Horse - Jockey - Trainer

1 – Adios Now – Sahin Civaci – Bill Tharrenos

2 – Midnight Mascot – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse

3 – Countryboysurvive – Eswan Flores – Nick Gonzalez

4 – Tunechi – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Barbara Minshall

5 – Break the Spell – Skye Chernetz – David Cotey

6 – Naptown – Rafael Hernandez – Graham Motion

Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications/ @WoodbineComms

Grace Martin
Grace Martin Communications Specialist, Woodbine Entertainment
Horse Racing - TB
About Woodbine Entertainment

Woodbine Entertainment is the largest horse racing operator in Canada, with Thoroughbred horse racing at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, and Standardbred horse racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Milton. Woodbine Entertaiment also owns and operates HPIbet, Canada’s only betting platform dedicated to horse racing. Woodbine and Mohawk Park are host to several world-class racing events including The King’s Plate, three Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races, and the Pepsi North America Cup. Run without share capital, Woodbine Entertainment has a mandate to financially invest all profit back into the horse racing industry and the 25,000 jobs it supports across Ontario.   

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