09/27/2006 11:00PM

Track asks to drop some Thursdays in '07


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Woodbine has applied for 167 live Thoroughbred racing dates for 2007, one fewer than the 168 originally awarded for this year's meeting.

Woodbine's application to the Ontario Racing Commission requests that the meeting begin Saturday, March 31, and end Sunday, Dec. 9.

"We're actually running a little longer schedule," said Jim Ormiston, Woodbine's executive vice president and chief operating officer.

This year's meeting began April 1 and originally was scheduled to end on Dec. 3, but now will end on Dec. 10 after five days were added to the schedule to make up for days lost during the Polytrack conversion.

Next year's proposal calls for racing to be conducted Fridays through Sundays in April, with Wednesdays added in May and Thursdays in June.

This year, Woodbine added both Wednesdays and Thursdays in May.

"We thought it would be better to take a more gradual approach," said Ormiston. "We started out pretty strong this year, but then our field size dipped in early May and came back again in June."

But the most significant change involves all Thursday racing being dropped from the schedule for August.

"We always go through a bit of a lull, and field size becomes an issue in August," Ormiston said. "If we're not carding good fields, it reflects on the quality of the horse racing product."

Also, the Thursdays following holiday Mondays have been dark days in recent years, but now Thursday cards prior to the long weekends will be dropped.

"Our thought there is it may be more effective doing it before," he said. "If horses are ready to go, by cutting the Thursday off they're more likely to enter on our long weekends. It was our racing department that came up with the idea.

"We do two-thirds of our business on weekends. We really need field size on Friday, Saturdays, Sundays, and the holiday Mondays."

Nick Coukos, executive director of the local Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, said the Woodbine dates application has the full support of his organization.

"We negotiated with them to get the three days right off the bat in the month of April," said Coukos. "And we actually recommended the Thursdays off in the summertime."

Post times would remain at 1:10 p.m. for all days except Wednesdays, when racing would begin at 6:45 p.m. This year's Wednesday post time was 6:50 p.m.

No Ontario Derby for Edenwold

Edenwold, winner of this year's Queen's Plate, was among the nominees for Sunday's Grade 3, $200,000 Ontario Derby but will not be participating.

"We decided to pass on this one," said Josie Carroll, who trains Edenwold for Jim and Alice Sapara.

On Thursday morning, Edenwold worked six furlongs in 1:14.60 under regular rider Emile Ramsammy while going in company with an older stakes-winning stablemate, Estevan, who was clocked in 1:14.80.

Carroll, meanwhile, had not confirmed plans for Edenwold's next outing.

"I'm going to see how he comes out of the work, and I'll know better in the next few days," said Carroll.

Despite Edenwold's absence, the Ontario Derby came up with a strong field of seven, headed by Shillelagh Slew and Royal Challenger.

Shillelagh Slew is coming off a smashing score in the Grade 3 Canadian Derby at 1 3/8 miles at Northlands Park, while Royal Challenger dead-heated for the win here last time out in the 1 1/16-mile allowance prep for the Canadian Derby.

Callaghan wins appeal on whip use

Jockeys Todd Kabel and Gerry Olguin came out on the wrong end of the stick but their fellow Woodbine rider Slade Callaghan won his case at their Ontario Racing Commission appeals into whip violations.

Kabel had been fined $500 while Olguin and Callaghan both had been fined $200 in rulings issued by the stewards in June.

Their appeals were heard by the commission on Aug. 22, and the decisions were not released until late Wednesday afternoon.

Kabel's fine was for "excessive use of his whip and raising his whip over his head" when riding Andalusian in the second race here June 17. Andalusian had finished second, beaten a neck.

Olguin's fine was for excessive use of the whip in his ride aboard Bright Engagement in the first race here June 14. Bright Engagement had finished second, beaten a nose.

Callaghan also had been cited for excessive use of the whip aboard Very Professional when he won the sixth race here June 15 by a nose.

For all three cases, Luisa Ritacca appeared on behalf of the commission, while Harvey Schwartz, secretary-manager of the Jockey's Benefit of Association of Canada, represented the jockeys.

The panel of Lynda Tanaka, chairwoman of the ORC, and commissioners Davie Gorman and Brenda Walker ruled on the appeals.

Gunnar Lindberg, a former jockey, represented the Ontario stewards who had been on duty during the races in question.

Riders Ray Sabourin, Robert Landry, and Emma-Jayne Wilson made submissions on behalf of the jockeys, as did Nick Coukos from the local HBPA.

Sabourin is the president of the Jockey's Benefit Association.

Woodbine to offer Arc simulcast

Woodbine will offer common-pool simulcast wagering on the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and other races from Longchamp on Sunday morning.

Arlington Park will be the North American host for the pools.

The first simulcast race, the Prix Marcel Boussac, is scheduled for 10:05 a.m. with the Grand Criterium following at 10:45 a.m. Those two races will be available only on HorsePlayer Interactive, the telephone and Internet wagering service.

The Arc at 11:30 a.m. and the Prix du Grand Hotel Barrieire at 12:15 p.m. will be carried on HorsePlayer Interactive and at Woodbine, Mohawk, Greenwood, and the other Champion teletheatres.

Exotic wagering will include a pick four, a pick three, a daily double beginning with the third race, and exactors, triactors, and superfectas on each race.