05/25/2011 4:57PM

River Downs: Woodard's runners a dominant force


Trainer Joe Woodard has been winning with great regularity at River Downs and some horsemen and horseplayers are not thrilled about the way he is dominating the game.

Woodard won three races on each of the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday cards. Through the first eight days of racing, Woodard has won with 12 of 23 starters for owner Billy Hays.

Woodard’s horses have been paying short prices and winning by large margins. Woodard won with Forest Lord ($3.20), Intentional ($3.60) and Just Call’er ($2.60), who scored by 11  1/4 lengths. On Friday it was Oliver’s Cove ($4.60), Poetic Riches ($2.40) and Big Blue Fever ($2.80), a nine-length winner. Saturday, there was a Woodard/Hays pick three in races 2 to 4 with Griffinstown ($5); Starship Uhura ($2.60), who won by 18 lengths; and East End Housewife ($2.80). The pick 3 paid $11.80.

Several of Woodard’s winners last ran and were purchased in California.

“We have an agent out there that knows what we are looking for and he will get 8 to 10 and we will buy them,” Woodard said. “They are horses that owners are tired of paying the high day rate out there on and that don’t fit there. A byproduct of that is they usually have lifetime conditions and we take advantage of that.”

In response to reports that other trainers are unhappy about having their horses outclassed time and again, Woodard said: “We just work hard and do things the right way. We look at six condition books every day and find the best spots for each horse. We work from our training center and ship them where they fit best. I know the economics are tough for everybody right now, but we need to win races too.”

Woodard races at Presque Isle Downs, Mountaineer Racetrack, and at tracks in Chicago, Kentucky, and Indiana.