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Western star moves east
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – It’s been a long time coming, but Quincy Welch has left western Canada and moved his tack east to Woodbine.
“I had the opportunity to come here last year, but I decided not to,” said Welch, who has hooked up with agent Tom Patton. “I decided to try it this year.”
The 32-year-old Welch, who was born in the Barbados, rode there and elsewhere in the Caribbean for year or so before moving to Alberta in 1997.
“They were looking for riders, and you didn’t need to be a landed immigrant,” said Welch. “I figured it would be a good stepping-stone to better things. I ended up staying there.”
Welch, married with two children, made a home in Edmonton and was based at Northlands Park.
“I’ve been quite successful in Alberta,” said Welch. “I’ve also been fortunate enough to win races in British Columbia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.”
Welch’s deeds suit his words, as he arrived at Woodbine with a career record of 1,734 wins, 1444 seconds, and 1,246 thirds for earnings of more than $20 million.
His 99 career stakes scores have included four Grade 3 races – the British Columbia Oaks with Alpine Garden in 2007, the Premier’s with True Metropolitan at Hastings in 2006, the Manitoba Derby at Assiniboia Downs with Lord Shogun in 2002, and the Speed to Spare with Rancour at Northlands in 2001.
Welch was Canada’s leading rider with 174 wins in 2004 and with 154 wins in 2006, and has won six meet titles at Northlands and seven at the now-defunct Stampede Park. But Welch’s r é sum é does not include a Sovereign Award, even though he was a finalist in 2002 and 2004. And it does not include a win at Woodbine, although that can hardly be counted as a strike against him, as his only previous mounts here came on a May weekend in 2007 when he piloted True Metropolitan to a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Eclipse.
“I was in awe,” said Welch, recalling his first impression of Woodbine.
Welch’s decision to relocate here did not come without careful consideration, particularly since he had his 2010 campaign cut short by injury.
“I broke my elbow at Northlands last July, and took the rest of the year off,” said Welch. “I wanted to make sure I was 100 percent, before committing to come east, so I started out this spring at Hastings.”
Welch rode a couple of winners in the first two weekends of the Vancouver meeting and then pronounced himself fit and ready.
“Everything went well,” said Welch, who then contacted friend and fellow Woodbine rider Jono Jones to set up a meeting with Patton. “We met in person for the first time last Saturday. I already know a few people here, and I’ve got on horses in the morning, on the main track and the training track.”
Welch will be getting on horses in the afternoon here this Friday, with his two mounts including the probable favorite, Sovereign Grace ,in the first race.
Bear’s Chill to try stakes company
Bear’s Chill, an impressive winner of a seven-furlong first-level allowance race his local seasonal debut, will be making his stakes debut here in Saturday’s $150,000 Queenston. The Queenston, a seven-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-olds, has attracted a solid field, including Oh Canada and Black N Beauty, the one-two finishers from the six-furlong Woodstock on April 16.
“Obviously, it’s a lot tougher competition,” said Reade Baker, who trains Bear’s Chill for the Bear Stable of Danny Dion. “But, I think he’ll run good.”
Bear’s Chill, a towering individual, was late coming into the track last year.
“He got hurt on the farm, in Ocala,” said Baker. “When you look at a horse that size, you wonder how they’re going to make it as a 2-year-old. But, it was no problem.”
Bear’s Chill made it to the post twice last fall, running second at seven furlongs on Nov. 7 and then romping home over the same distance four weeks later. Sent south for winter training at Palm Meadows, Bear’s Chill returned to action at Gulfstream on March 20 and finished a good fourth in a first-level allowance/optional claimer over 1 1/16 miles of turf.
“For some reason, I really had trouble getting him fit,” said Baker. “I kept working him, but nothing seemed to happen. I ran him in the race to tighten him up. I didn’t expect much.”
Baker expected more when Bear’s Chill resurfaced here on April 17, and the colt delivered with a front-running 3 1/2-length score under regular rider Emile Ramsammy.
Baker, however, admits to some concern over Bear’s Chill’s deportment since his return to the north.
“I don’t know if the heat bothered him in Florida, but he was an easy horse to saddle there,” said Baker. “He certainly wasn’t easy to saddle the other day. He’s a big horse that wants his own way. Ever since he came back from Florida he’s really got rammy.”
Inglorious has bullet work
Inglorious, a leading candidate for this year’s Woodbine Oaks, breezed five furlongs in 59.60 seconds, the fastest of 57 works at the distance here Wednesday morning.
“She was due to have a good work,” said Josie Carroll, who conditions Inglorious for the Donver Stable of Donna and Verne Dubinsky. “She needed to track a horse. The work went precisely according to plan.”
Inglorious was undefeated in her two starts here last year, which came in the six-furlong Fanfreluche and the 1 1/16-mile Ontario Lassie. Wintering with Carroll at the Fair Grounds, Inglorious finished second to the Kentucky Oaks contender Kathmanblu in the 1 1/16-mile Rachel Alexandra but then was fourth as the favorite in the Fair Grounds Oaks at the same distance in her most recent start on March 26.
Carroll said it was “very, very likely” that Inglorious would use the $150,000 La Lorgnette, an open 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies here May 15, as her stepping-stone to the Woodbine Oaks.
A $500,000 race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies, the Woodbine Oaks will be run on June 5.
◗ Woodbine and its teletheatres will offer advance wagering on the Kentucky Derby Day card at Churchill Downs, beginning at 3 p.m. on Friday.
Pick three, pick four and pick six pools will not open until the conclusion of Friday’s card at Churchill Downs. The Kentucky Oaks-Kentucky Derby double and the Kentucky Oaks-Turf Classic-Derby pick three will be available. Both the Friday and Saturday cards will start at 10:30 a.m. with the mutuels at Woodbine and its offtrack sites opening at 10 a.m.