12/03/2007 1:00AM

Delaforce makes up for stablemate's absence

EmailETOBICOKE, Ontario - One stable's ups and downs in the world of horse racing were illustrated in a single race here at Woodbine last Saturday.

Trainer Nick Gonzalez had entered both Stuck in Traffic, the favorite for the $125,000 Kingarvie, and Delaforce, an outsider in the 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds.

But a bizarre starting-gate incident led to the scratch of Stuck in Traffic, who was the even-money favorite at the time; Grazettes Landing, who was the 2-1 second choice; and Dancingall Theway.

Then, in a field reduced to five, Delaforce rallied to a neck victory.

Grazettes Landing had initiated the prerace brouhaha when he reared in the gate, "got his legs over the side partition, and struck both horses to his left," said John McNie, the Ontario Racing Commission veterinarian who was on gate duty. "That was the first time I've ever seen a horse reach across two stalls. I've seen them get horses on both sides of them."

Grazettes Landing suffered cuts and bruises but was fine Sunday morning, according to McNie, who checked on all three horses.

Delaforce, meanwhile, had come into the Kingarvie off a sixth-place finish in a first-level allowance at seven furlongs.

His owners, Ken Parsley and Rick Pettifer, had campaigned My Vintage Port, the multiple stakes winner and 2003 Canadian champion 2-year-old filly.

My Vintage Port is by Porto Foricos, who stands at Gustav Schickedanz's Schonberg Farm in Ontario.

And, Delaforce actually owes his existence to the exploits of My Vintage Port.

"They were so thrilled with what she did for Porto Foricos that they gave us a free season to him," said Pettifer.

Sheza a Nine Plus, another Parsley runner, was the mare who went to Porto Foricos, and Delaforce is her first foal.

Plans for Stuck in Traffic uncertain

Gonzalez has already set up shop in warm and sunny Florida, and his wife and assistant, Martha Gonzalez, continues to run the show in the less temperate Woodbine climes.

Whether Stuck in Traffic will join Nick Gonzalez down south now is up in the air.

The Kingarvie was to be the first try around two turns for Stuck in Traffic, and his performance would have determined whether he would go south to prepare for a possible run at next year's Queen's Plate or stay here in Ontario.

"I'm still throwing it around in my mind," said Gonzalez. "I've got a nice spot for him here, if I want to bring him down and get ready to go long next year. I'm really not leaning one way or the other right now."

Stuck in Traffic won 3 of 7 starts this year, including the six-furlong Vandal and seven-furlong Frost King, and earned $250,000.

In addition to his Ocala, Fla., outfit, Nick Gonzalez also has 10 stalls at Gulfstream.

"I'll bring down a bunch of mid-claiming horses," said Gonzalez. "I want to do some claiming for the Tuccis."

Carlo and Lou Tucci, who race as Tucci Stable, are fond of the claiming game, and their Gulfstream acquisitions last winter included Artie Hot and Name in Lights.

Artie Hot, a 3-year-old gelding, was haltered for $30,000 and won three races here this year, including the $150,000 Ontario Derby.

Name in Lights, a 3-year-old filly, was taken for $32,000. Her three wins at Woodbine included a pair of allowances.

Ailing Pizarro done for the meet

Tyler Pizarro, Canada's leading apprentice rider, will not see action again this season.

"He's got the same problem with his lungs that he had last year," said Kerri Beauclaire, Pizarro's sister and agent. "It's the cold weather."

Pizzaro missed the last eight days of the 2006 Woodbine meeting after developing bronchitis.

Pizarro rode last Wednesday evening but then booked off for the next three cards, which already had been drawn. His mounts for Saturday had included Delaforce.

Jono Jones picked up the mount on Delaforce and recorded his 11th stakes win of the meeting.

Pizarro will finish the meeting with 124 wins and purses of more than $5.1 million (U.S.) from 895 mounts.

Heading into the final five cards of the meeting, Pizarro is third in the standings behind runaway leader Patrick Husbands, who has ridden 143 winners, and Emma-Jayne Wilson, with 128.

Wilson is in Hong Kong for a jockey competition and will miss the Wednesday through Friday cards.

Husbands also is the leading jockey at the meeting in money won, with $8.58 million (U.S.), and in stakes races won, with 21.

Trainer Mark Casse has continued his potent partnership with Husbands at this meeting, as the pair have combined for 75 wins from 285 starts, a 26 percent strike rate.

Casse, who is the runaway leader in races won at the meeting with 83, also is tops in money won with $5.4omillion (U.S.) and in stakes winners with 13.

Soul Rebel preps for Sir Barton

Soul Rebel, preparing for Saturday's $125,000 Sir Barton, worked a sharp five furlongs in 59.60 seconds under Jono Jones here last Saturday.

"He started off in behind two other horses, relaxed nicely, then circled them and drew away," said trainer Catherine Day Phillips. "Obviously, he's a nice horse."

A 5-year-old gelding formerly trained by John Charalambous, Soul Rebel came over to the Day Phillips barn at the beginning of October. He will be making his first start since June 9 in the Sir Barton, a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward.

Two $35K mares top mixed sale

Two mares brought $35,000 each to headline the 2007 Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society's Winter Mixed Sale at the Woodbine Sales Pavilion on Saturday.

The first sale topper was Aoife, who was bought by Jack Johnston from Schonberg Farm, as agent for Gustav Schickedanz.

Aoife, a 4-year-old by One Way Love, is in foal to Canadian Horse of the Year Wando.

The other $35,000 purchase, Red Skimmer, was bought by Paul O'Brien from the partnership of Frank and Paul O'Brien.

Red Skimmer, a 4-year-old by Gulch, is in foal to leading sire Langfuhr.

Paul O'Brien paid $23,000 for the highest-priced weanling, a daughter of Bold Executive and Northernset, from the same partnership.

A total of 45 mares grossed $287,100 while averaging $6,380, a 19opercent increase over last year. The 38 weanlings that sold brought $158,300, for an average of $4,166, up 7 percent from 2006. The 22 yearlings that sold grossed $80,400, while averaging $3,655, a 39 percent drop from last year.

- additional reporting by Ron Gierkink