TORONTO, December 11, 2022 – Kazushi Kimura earned his second consecutive Woodbine jockey crown with 152 wins at the meet, while his mounts earned $8.9 million (CDN).
Born in Hokkaido, Kimura joined the Woodbine jockey colony as a 19-year-old apprentice in 2018 and made a strong first impression. He finished his first Woodbine campaign sixth in the standings with 89 wins and his mounts totalled more than $2.3 million in earnings. His first victory came aboard 70-1 longshot Tornado Cat, and his first stakes win came aboard Speedy Soul in the Muskoka. The Eclipse Award winner as North America’s outstanding apprentice, Kimura also won the Sovereign Award equivalent in both 2018 and 2019. He won the 2021 Sovereign as Canada’s outstanding rider.
This year, Kimura won 15 stakes, six of them graded, at the Toronto oval, including the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor with Rougir (FR), the Grade 2 King Edward aboard Filo Di Arianna (BRZ), the Grade 3 Dominion Day with Frosted Over, and the Cup and Saucer with Philip My Dear.
Rafael Hernandez, who finished second with 122 wins, led the way with 17 stakes victories, including the Queen’s Plate (now known as the King’s Plate) with Kevin Attard trainee Moira.
Mark Casse topped the trainer leaderboard for the 14th time courtesy of 119 wins and $9.9 million (CDN) in purse earnings.
Casse recorded 22 Woodbine stakes victories, 13 of them graded. A lifetime winner of over 3,400 races, the dual Hall of Fame inductee took the Breeders’ Stakes, third jewel in the Canadian Triple Crown Series, with Sir for Sure. His graded scores included the Grade 2 King Edward and Connaught Cup with Filo Di Arianna (BRZ), and three with Who’s the Star (Grade 2 Autumn, Grade 3 Valedictory, Grade 3 Durham Cup), who also won the Niagara.
Al and Bill Ulwelling were the leading money-winning owner of the meet for the first time with $1.6 million (CDN) in purses. Bruno Schickedanz led all owners with 45 wins.
Epilogue and Who’s the Star led all horses with five wins each at the meet.
Live Thoroughbred racing will return to Woodbine next spring. Visit woodbine.com throughout the winter for news, notes, features, and other coverage of Woodbine-based horse people.
TORONTO, December 11, 2022 – Avoman, sent off at 13-1, pulled out all the stops to win Sunday’s $100,000 Steady Growth Stakes, the headliner on the final card of the 2022 Woodbine Thoroughbred season.
Lac Macaza, also at 13-1, broke sharply and took the lead in the 1 1/16-mile Tapeta race for Ontario-sired three-year-olds and up, while Justin Stein, aboard Avoman, tucked the 4-year-old son of Old Forester into second spot as the field of eight passed navigated the opening turn.
Reaching the opening quarter in :25.08, Lac Macaza held a two-length advantage over Avoman, who was followed by Dun Drum and Artie’s Storm. That lead ballooned to three lengths after a half reached in :49.76, as Avoman continued to track in second.
Rounding the turn for home, the two leaders began to separate themselves from the pack and started a throwdown that would last the length of the stretch, Lac Macaza digging in on the inside, and Avoman keeping pace with every stride to the outside of his rival.
At the wire, it was Avoman who prevailed by a hard-fought half-length in a time of 1:44.89. Multiple stakes winner Artie’s Storm was third and even-money choice Candy Overload, supplemented to the race, finished fourth.
Stein, who has enjoyed another strong season in the saddle, was happy to come out on top at the end of the grueling stretch battle.
“I got great position early with my horse,” said Stein. “We were watching the horse [Lac Macaza] that Daisuke [Fukumoto] was riding. His horse was cruising along pretty easily, but he looked like he was maybe putting in a bit more energy than what I wanted to keep up with. So, my horse was comfortable and when I asked him to run, the other horse kicked on a little bit more and they really duked it out down the lane. It was fun. It was pretty awesome to be a witness to, and as a rider, when you come out on the better end of the stick, it’s always nice. It is thrilling watching two horses really slug it out and really try to get the best of each other. You know they’re real racehorses and it’s a privilege to be on them.”
Claimed for $40,000 in May, trainer John Charalambous wasn’t quite certain how Avoman would fare after he missed out on his last scheduled race.
“He got sick before his last race, so we had to scratch him. And he only had one work coming into this race, but he trained really strong last week. We were fortunate, everything worked out. He had a great trip. He had a little bit of racing luck which he hasn’t had for a few races.”
Charalambous was also pleased to see owners Paul Braverman and Timothy Pinch celebrate a stakes victory at the Toronto oval.
“They are American owners, but they put a lot of money in this game. Not just racing horses, but breeding horses, and I’m happy for them.”
Bred by Joey Gee Thoroughbreds, Avoman won the Bull Page Stakes in 2020 and the Plate Trial Stakes in 2021.
The dark bay paid $28.50, $11.50, and $5, combining with Lac Macaza ($11.40 and $5) for a $300.60 exactor. Artie’s Storm ($3) completed a $1,143.30 triactor. A $1 superfecta with Candy Overload came back $1,974.60.
Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @WoodbineComms